Tag Archives: BBAW

BBAW: An interview with Melissa of Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2012I always enjoy the interview swap portion of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, but this year’s is my favorite of all the interview swaps! So much easier to interestingly interview someone you already know and have blogged alongside for years. So, without further ado, here’s my interview of Melissa of Scuffed Slippers and Wormy Books, or @BalletBookworm, as I like to think of her:

Chaucer, front, and Dante look up to see what Melissa is doing with the camera. Photo courtesy.

You work at a bookstore? How does that impact your reading?

I’m not sure anymore. I was always a an omnivore reader — a bit of this and that. I had just finished grad school when I started working at the store so I was catching up on a lot of things I’d meant to read or re-read: classics, award-winners, etc. I’ve come back around to genres that I’d burnt out on in high school — mainly SF and romance novels — and working as a bookseller means that not only do I have a feel for what’s good/popular in a genre, I also work with other book-loving people who offer suggestions. For example, right now we’re having a buy-two-get-one-free sale on DC Comics — I’ve always meant to catch up on graphic novels so a few fellow booksellers gave me suggestions on where to start (I went with Fables, Sandman, and Watchmen — I actually read Watchmen back in junior high and it was sooo over my head that it was suggested I give it a re-read). The best part of being a bookseller, though, is getting to recommend books — that never gets old!

I love that you’re from Iowa (I lived there for 9 or 10 years growing up). Have you been there your whole life? What do you like/dislike about where you live?

I’ve lived here since I was almost 2 years old. My dad took a job at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids so we moved from Ohio (both my little brothers were born in Iowa). I went to college at the University of Iowa, just down the road in Iowa City, and since I work there, too, I’ve never really been too far from home. Which is nice — close enough to see my family often but not so close that they would ever come stay. Living in a college town means that there’s a lot of bustle for most of the year, good coffee shops, lots of different people — so like a larger city — but without all the major problems of urban areas. The UI is a major part of the City of Literature designation recently bestowed on Iowa City by UNESCO so there’s always a reading or a signing going on. It’s the best combination of quiet and busy!

I love living in a college town! I miss it, actually. How do you find time to read (and knit) and blog with all your work / the rest of life?

Sadly, the blogging has suffered a bit of late. Writing up a book is never so much fun as reading it! But I usually get about 20 minutes or so each way from the hospital job (I try to take the bus) to either knit or read (usually read since knitting seems to make the nosiest people want to talk to me, oy), I knit during conference calls, and I usually read when I get home from work. I’m a singleton — who wishes she had more of a life. Le sigh. (If I had more time I would just fill it up by reading more, of course, so I don’t know what I’m sighing about.) I’m actually a pretty fast reader if I’m just reading fiction. I can polish off a 250 page mass-market-sized novel in about two hours (less, if I’m reading on my NOOK since I don’t have to turn the pages).

That sounds pretty fast to me, yep. 🙂 Do you enjoy the same genres in movies and/or television that you are consistently drawn to in books?

Dudes, if it’s an adaptation of a nineteenth-century British novel I am so down for watching that (double points if it’s a BBC miniseries): North and South, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wives and Daughters, and on and on and on! I collect Criterion Collection DVDs — current favorites are M, Topsy-Turvy, and The Third Man — and try to see indie films when they hit the Bijou. Rom-coms like You’ve Got Mail and The Holiday are always favorites. [So let’s see … that’s classics, literary fiction, and romance novels (regencies, contemporaries just don’t it for me) …] James Bond movies are some of my favorite action films but the books aren’t favorites of mine (I’ve read them all, and I think they’re fine, but I have an abiding fondness for Sean Connery and Daniel Craig). Criminal Minds is still one of my favorite TV shows (along with the cancelled Numb3rs) but thrillers have never been a big draw for me in books.

Ooh, I really liked Numb3rs, too. What’s the best book you’ve read this year, and why?

Oh, no! It would almost be easier to tell you which ones I didn’t like (seriously, do not read The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands — such a disappointment)! [Cheating and looking at my Goodreads stats page for help …] The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (the first in the Mary Russell series) is one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a long time — very intricate, a mystery for inquisitive people. Devil’s Cub is one of Georgette Heyer’s best works (although it’s best to read These Old Shades first for storyline) — champagne bubbles with solid historical research underneath. The knitter in me has to recommend Clara Parkes’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks because it dovetailed so well with her previous books and provided even more sock patterns to peruse. And since I fell headlong back into Regency romance this year I discovered the wonderful Eloisa James — so many things are woven in with her plots (chess masters for the six Duchesses, Jacobean and Shakespearean drama for the Essex sisters, and her new Fairy Tales series is wonderfully inventive) that I have to recommend them for anyone looking into the genre.

Ha, I totally had to look at my books-read list to answer that question, too. Totally not cheating. I’ve been meaning to read the Mary Russell series for ages! Glad you liked it. And I’ve been drooling over that Clara Parkes book, also. How long have you been blogging, and what’s been your most meaningful blogging experience?

I started SSWB almost exactly six years ago but didn’t really do much with it. I was all over the map — a book review here, a movie/DVD review there, some random news tidbit, then a post whining about life in general. I became more serious about “the Blog” in 2009 — I got pitched my first ever book (The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club) that spring and joined the time-suck-that-is-Twitter — and found a whole community of like-minded readers, bloggers, and generally enthusiastic book people. I probably overdid it that year (oh, the memes, too many memes) but I really found things that resonated with me like BBAW, Dewey’s Readathon, and writing about Banned Books Week. A much-appreciated personal experience came through reading Havi Carel’s book Illness (review) — it was the first book I’d ever requested and reading/reviewing that slim volume led to a very nice email conversation with the author. However, all this blogging and thinking and finding new books to read finally unlocked the place in my brain that used to write — I finally wrote a book! It’s nowhere near done/readable — I’m still working on a seventh draft and trying to iron out a major plot SNAFU — but it’s finally out of my head for the first time since high school.

That’s awesome about getting a book written, Melissa! So excellent. Thanks for being my interview swap partner, it was fun!

And be sure to check out Melissa’s blog for her interview with me — including a photo with me and the not-so-little one.


Amy and I look back at five years of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, at the BBAW site: A BBAW Retrospective.

BBAW: Appreciating a new discovery

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2012Hooray, it’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week again! I’m really excited for this, the fifth annual celebration of all things book blogger. I’m thinking it might help renew my personal blogging mojo.

Today’s prompt asks us to share some of the blogs we enjoy and why.

I wanted to tell you all about a long-standing blog I’ve discovered recently and fallen in love with.

Sarah Bessey: The Intersections of a Spirit-Filled Life

Sarah Bessey lives on the west coast of Canada. She isn’t really a book blogger — more of a life and faith blogger if I had to categorize her — but she did recently sign a two-book contract with Howard Books. The first one, due out in 2013, is titled Jesus Feminist: Life on the Other Side of our Church’s Gender Debates. The second is tentatively named Recovering Know-It-All: How a Cynical Follower of Jesus Fell Back in Love with the Church.

She’s also on Twitter, among other places.

Why do I love this blog? Well,
• it reads as authentic,
• vulnerable, and
• True.
• She tackles topics I care about,
• from a perspective I don’t hear that often elsewhere.
• I also love her voice (as much as I know it so far). (I did mention this was a new discovery, yes?)

So if this sounds like a blog you’d enjoy too, I encourage you to head over and check it out in more detail.

BBAW: Future treasures

We’ve nearly reached the end of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010! Today’s prompt asks: “share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!

Although I’ve been more than a little overwhelmed at a number of points this week (This thing is huge, y’all!), I’ve enjoyed BBAW immensely.

But first, I wanted to answer yesterday’s prompt, since I didn’t yesterday. A book that I love, that I feel deserves more attention: Lying Awake by Mark Salzman [my review]. While I haven’t been nearly as impressed with the other Salzman books I’ve read, this one was fantastic. But OK, enough of that. Back to today’s topic.

In particular, I’ve enjoyed:

  • Seeing the immensity of the book-blogosphere anew.
  • Finding more than a few fabulous new-to-me blogs to add to my Google Reader. (Not too many, Honey, I promise!)
  • Getting to know a few bloggers a bit better, by reading their interviews, for example.
  • My husband getting in on the action by designing a fun BBAW mascot.
  • Knowing I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by this thing.

And now for the other half of that prompt.


  • In October:
    • New theme (I’ve got it all picked out, I just need to take the time and implement it.)
    • New buttons, etc., to go along with it.
  • ASAP:
    • New medallion, and a post explaining it.
    • Reading Manifesto (finish, polish, publish)
  • Ongoing (but I haven’t told you about it yet, and still relatively new):
    • Be more open, vulnerable, real.

I realize some of this may be cryptic, and I promise that isn’t my intention. I want to write posts as I roll out these new things, and if I explained it all here, this post would be entirely too long to read (or write!) at the end of a very long week. So, I guess if it’s cryptic, that’s the way it’ll have to be. For now.

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BBAW: Unexpected Treasure

Today’s prompt for Book Blogger Appreciation Week: “Share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger. What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?”

I always feel bad, or at least a little guilty, when I try to answer this prompt (and others like it). I’m not one of those bloggers who has picked up a book from a genre she’s totally opposed to on the sole basis of another blogger’s recommendation. Does that mean I shouldn’t be answering the question? I think I’m still justified.

One book I picked up because of a blogger: Wounded: A Love Story by Claudia Mair Burney. It’s one of my faves of the whole year, and I probably wouldn’t even have heard of this author if it hadn’t been for My Friend Amy — and now I’m seeking out her entire back list.

But. It’s a book I would have totally read. Although I likely wouldn’t have found it apart from this (Alas).


So, I do read books based on bloggers’ recommendations.

On a larger scale, perhaps I’m stubborn. Or cautious. Just slow?

I am definitely ready to explore more young adult literature, and this is largely because of book bloggers. It’s taken me a long time to get this far, though. Hopefully the rest of the journey won’t be nearly as long.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

BBAW interview swap: Rachel from Under a Star-Studded Sky

This is, I think, my favorite part of Book Blogger Appreciation Week: The book blogger interview swap! This year I’m pleased to interview Rachel Star from Under a Star Studded Sky (@UnderAStarSS). She’s a teenager from England, and she blogs mostly about young adult (YA) books.

Word Lily: Under a Star Studded Sky is actually your second blog. Tell us about your first blog and why you decided to ditch it and start afresh.

Rachel Star: Well, I discovered book blogging in June ’09 and I started my own blog pretty much straight away. I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I didn’t do it very well! I then moved house in October ’09 and I lost my internet, and then I was very distracted by other events that were happening in my life at the time, and I felt that it wasn’t fair to just leave it, so I closed it down. Then, in January ’10, I started Under A Star Studded Sky, with a three month break between March and June, where I focused on my GCSE exams, and I feel as though I know so much more about what I’m doing now, although of course, I’m not claiming to be an expert!

Word Lily: What’s the origin / meaning of your blog name, Under a Star Studded Sky?

Rachel Star: I love the sky. I think it’s beautiful, especially at night, when the stars are out, and I find it fascinating; astrophysics/cosmology is something that I find incredibly interesting. And right now, I’m sitting at the window, Under A Star Studded Sky.

Word Lily: I love that! You just moved and were away from the internet for a couple weeks. What did you miss most?

Rachel Star: OK, this is going to sound awful, and teenagerish, but Facebook and Msn. I wasn’t at college, and I didn’t have a phone signal and I couldn’t chat to people, or arrange to meet up with them, which made me feel very isolated, to be honest. It’s kind of scary how much I depend on it, and it’s made me much more grateful for it!

Word Lily: What do you do when you’re not reading/blogging?

Rachel Star: Books are a pretty big part of my life, but the other stuff that helps keep me busy includes climbing, studying, volunteering and acting, as well as the occasional bit of cooking and looking after my newly acquired bonsai tree (I’ve named it Beryl. It was house-warming gift).

Word Lily: Why did you start blogging? What keeps you blogging?

Rachel Star: Well, I happened to chance across a book blog, and I thought, this person is like me; they read. A lot. And then I found loads, this massive linked up community of people all reading, and it just seemed the sort of thing that I’d love to be part of. And I was right; I love it.

Word Lily: That’s awesome. Tell us about a bookish pet peeve.

Rachel Star: SEQUELS THAT AREN’T CLEARLY MARKED AS SUCH. Gosh, that really, really annoys me.

Word Lily: Oh, ugh. Me too. Turning your hardest question back to you: What’s the first book you can remember reading, or having read to you?

Rachel Star: Agreed, that’s a pretty hard question! I guess the first book I can remember being able to read on my own would be a book called The Giant Jam Sandwich. It might not have been the first, but it’s the one I remember the most. It was awesome, about this town that was plagued by wasps, so created an enormous jam sandwich to trap them.

Word Lily: Describe your perfect/ideal book (genre, length, characters, setting, etc.).

Rachel Star: About 500 pages, completely gripping plot, not too many characters and beautiful writing style, would be the ingredients for my ideal book, I think. But so often I am surprised and pleased by books that I read for review purposes, ones that are perhaps different to what I might normally read, that I don’t really have any definitive “recipe” for an amazing book.

Word Lily: Thanks so much, Rachel, for being my BBAW interview swap partner! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you a little.

To see Rachel’s interview of me, visit her blog: http://underastarstuddedsky.blogspot.com.

BBAW 2010: First Treasure

Yay! Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010 is finally underway, and I’m thrilled! As part of the festivities (in addition to tons of giveaways and awards and just general book blogging frivolity) there are specific blogging prompts for each day this week.

Today’s prompt asks us all “to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year! [If you are new to BBAW or book blogging, share with us the very first book blog you discovered.] Tell us why this blog rocks your socks off and why you keep going back for more.”

    The Lost Entwife
    Why do I love this Lydia’s blog?

  • She a Nebraska fan, for starters.
  • She’s incredibly prolific in her reading and blogging.
  • She’s emboldening me, I think, to stretch that reading comfort zone in a direction I’ve wanted to for quite awhile now but haven’t quite managed thus far. (fantasy and young adult, mainly)
  • Plus, how could I not love her blog, with the great Lord of the Rings reference to the Entwives, I ask you?!?!

I could list several more here, but the rules request a singular response, not a whole list. So I’ll stop there. What new (to you) book blog(s) are you loving right now?

To learn about the blogs others are raving about today, visit Book Blogger Appreciation Week headquarters.

BBAW registration

I always look forward to Book Blogger Appreciation Week for months beforehand, and this year is no exception. This year’s awards process is a bit different than in years past, but I think the changes are for the best. After careful consideration, I’ve decided to register, in the Best Spiritual, Inspirational or Religious Book Blog niche.

Best Spiritual, Inspirational, or Religious Book Blog — This blog features the best consistently excellent reviews, recommendations, analyses and other content on books that address a life of faith. This blog is not necessarily associated with an organized religion and may discuss either fiction or nonfiction books.

My posts for consideration:

Have YOU registered yet? There’s not much time left!