Time has flown, guys.
I want to thank everyone – all my readers, followers, acquaintances, and friends – for their support, encouragement, and love. I started this blog three years ago writing and did not expect that my blog would grow to be what it is today. You are all absolutely wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I asked on Twitter a few weeks ago asking all of you what I could do for my blogiversary (even though the answers were pretty much giveaway or giveaway and a Q&A…). Thank you to everyone who voted! I have never done a giveaway before, so I hope you guys will like the giveaways that I have organized for you. But, more on that later.
QUESTIONS (FROM YOU) & ANSWERS (FROM ME)!
First, here’s a Q&A section! Thank you to everyone who responded to my tweet and gave me some questions to answer. You guys are so awesome, and all of you need to visit their blogs and witness their awesomeness with your eyeballs. (As a note, some of these tweets also mention books that they’re excited for — keep reading, because they helped me decide on my giveaways!)
Be forewarned: this Q&A is loooooong.
I started blogging just as I finished my last semester and was looking for a job. Without my classes to engage me intellectually, I sought for a way that would keep me thinking. I had just recently picked up reading as a hobby again, so I thought I would write book reviews as an intellectual exercise. So, I guess they weren’t really book reviews – more like book analyses. (This was my first review/analysis that I posted on Read Think Ponder.) I didn’t join or learn about the community until last year, so even though I wrote for no one for two years, I still enjoyed it.
If you guys haven’t checked out Ava’s incredible blog — well, what are you waiting for?
Most of you probably wouldn’t know (though some of you may remember!), I had a co-blogger for a time at Read, Think, Ponder. She and I started this endeavour because both of us a) liked to read, and b) liked to think critically about books and think deeply about things. The blog name came from how we imagined our thought processes to be like when and after reading.
I know Jess as a blogger with insightful discussion posts, so if you haven’t seen Princessica of Books, you muuuust visit!
I like to participate in Twitter chats, but I usually can’t! Two main reasons why: there is one on when I’m working or I just have no idea that there’s one on. When I do though, I usually find it hard to keep up and have five tabs going at once just to keep track of what is being asked, what I have to answer, what everyone is saying, or what people are saying when they’re replying to me. So I struggle to get a hang of them too!
I adore Alexa’s blog (though I adore her MORE), but you guys have to visit her blog, Words Off The Page, and check out her awesome reviews and really, really thoughtful discussion posts.
I have many favourite things about blogging, but the two things I like are:
- The community. Sure, there’s some drama, but that’s with every family. I just love that we all love books, we love writing about books, and I love that we bond over books. Even though most of us are separated by oceans, we can still connect and share something. I think that’s mindblowingly awesome.
- Having my own space. I like creating and expressing myself, and my blog is a way to do it. Sure, it’s mostly about books, but it works well enough for me. I genuinely enjoy writing reviews and the process of putting my thoughts into words and opinions. It’s so exciting to me!
As for my favourite book of all time: I’m sorry Marie but I’m going to have to cheat and give you three – and this was a decision made after twenty minutes of deciding. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
My biggest dream: hmmmm… ask me again after in three years.
Biggest blogger accomplishment: this is unorthodox, but my biggest blogger accomplishment was when my family found out about my blog — and I could tell they were proud of me and what I had done. I never needed validation, but when they gave it to me, it was really, really validating and it meant a lot to me.
I don’t really have a dream destination, but I really want to see more of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore, and maybe Europe. I would travel more but alas, New Zealand is so far away and it is thus very expensive to travel.
Marie does not need to grow up to be just like me because she is absolutely flawless, amazing and perfect just the way she is and I want to grow up just like her! So. there. ♥
Marie is a blogger that needs no introduction; I love her to bits and she is the sun and flowers of my day. If you don’t know her, STOP and check out her wonderful blog, Drizzle and Hurricanes.
Good lord, I love food. And because I love food so much, I don’t really have a favourite. I have favourites! So, my favourites are steak, peking duck, chocolate ice cream, and fried anchovies. NOW I AM HUNGRY.
Joan’s blog and personality are utterly wonderful. Her reviews and opinions are ones that I trust so do yourself a favour and check out Fiddler Blue?
ARGH why must you you make me choose! After sitting here for fifteen minutes trying to choose between three favourites — I have to go with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam. Good grief, that book made me laugh. As for a book released in 2016 though (aha!), I would definitely say One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
As for Sydney… I heard you guys have double-decker trains that run along the waterfront. And I’d like to eat your amazinglicious desserts and food. And I’d like to visit a book store with Jenna. ♥
As some of you may or may not know, New Zealand is home to a lot of sheep. In the 1970’s, there were about 70,000,000 sheep (so that would have been 20 sheep per person in New Zealand). But as of 2015, there is only 29,500,000 sheep. To answer the question, maybe, but I think I’d buy an alpaca first.
I actually love the first question. *rolls up sleeves*
On NZ Flag Referendum (sit down kids, it’s storytime) – I was, generally, not in favour of having it changed. Context for those who don’t know much about it: New Zealand held two referendums late 2015 (to discern what design) and early 2016 (popular design from 1st ref vs current flag) to change our national flag. Designs here. If you think they look terrible, you’re right. (If you think they look cool, that’s cool too.) I voted for the Red Peak (also called First of the Light). The Red Peak was initially not part of the referendum, but was included following a social media campaign and online petition to have it included. Despite not wanting a flag change, I voted for the Red Peak because of its Maori (indigenous peoples of New Zealand) influences and homage to Maori history and mythology. To me, this was an opportunity for New Zealand to take a step away from its colonialist history, and adopt a flag that recognized the bicultural nature (Maori vs non-Maori) of New Zealand. Alas, Red Peak was not chosen. I digress.
With the results of the first referendum, I voted for the current flag in the second referendum. First, I did not think New Zealand needed a new flag. The money should have gone to better things (e.g. housing crisis, child poverty, poverty, homelessness, education, etc.). People argued that because we had already spent the $26 million on the referendum, we should just vote for the change anyway. (To which I say – fuck no.) Second, as said before, I did not like the design and as a New Zealander, I would not have been proud to wave, bear, or represent it. Third, there was no recognition and representation of Maori culture and heritage, entailing that New Zealand could have endorsed a flag that signified our failure to learn from our history.
So was I pleased that our current flag won? Yes but also not really. I was mostly frustrated that the whole thing had happened in the first place, especially since no one talks about it now.
Best thing about Auckland – ME. But seriously, our 49 (dormant) volcanoes which offer great views, the fact that we are one of the most diverse cities in the world (we have 220 ethnic groups living here), and our (generally) relaxed and friendly people.
Best thing about sheep – they may smell weird but they give us wool, I guess? (I’ve stopped loving sheep since watching Black Sheep.)
I could write a full research report about this but to simplify: there is an ongoing debate between Australians and New Zealanders over where the pavlova originated from. As a New Zealander, I say New Zealand. Jenna will 99% say that it is Australian. Historians and anthopologists have tried to figure it out. It is still a mystery. (Well to be honest it turns out it was neither of us, but ssssh.)
Jenna never fails to put a smile on my face — and I wish I had her godly reading powers. Though all of you are probably well-acquainted with her awesomeness, you should visit Reading with Jenna to remind yourselves of its awesomeness.
Aside from blogging and reading, I am pretty passionate about fitness (specifically my own fitness). I lift weights and do high-intensity cardio. I started out doing it because I was tired of people assuming I was weak, meek, defenceless, etc. because I am short but now I do it because it makes me feel good and strong, it has REALLY helped me build self-confidence and self-esteem, and it’s a part of my life now. I also enjoy volunteering, video games, baking cookies, and oil painting!
I actually hadn’t talked to Kay before but she loves To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before so she is definitely awesome.
My favourite book recommendation from bloggers – to be honest, 95% of the books I have read are from recommendations. I essentially live off your recommendations, guys. I’ve had sooo many people recommending me books, but ones that really stick out to me (for no particular reason) right now are Second Chance Summer recommended by Marie, A Thousand Pieces of You recommended by Brett, Rebel Belle recommended by Summer, and Highly Illogical Behaviour recommended by Jenna.
Jeann is my fellow gamer and I love her blog, Happy Indulgence, as well as her gorgeous cobloggers, Jenna and Aila. I mean, SMILING CLOUDS. Her blog makes me so happy.
GOSH Windie is so kind! I really do think I owe my discussion posts to my Sociology degree. It implored me to think critically, and it helped me develop skills to articulate my thoughts. My process involves, first and foremost, thinking of a good topic (80% of the work) → researching the topic/theory/concept → find books associated with the topic → compile evidence/quotes → decide on three main points → RAMBLE.
I love so many video games. I love Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy X, Life is Strange, Transistor, Borderlands, Bioshock series, and Dragon Age series. The game that holds my heart at the moment though is Undertale.
Windie is so kind and my bright ray of sunshine. Plus, she loves Final Fantasy too so she is awesome. Her blog, Geek Apprentice, has these wonderful reviews that I love to read – they’re so succinct!!
Concerning my book art process – usually while reading, I’ll try and pick out objects/symbols to draw for the book’s review. I usually base the book art on the book’s cover, just so that it is recognizable to readers (e.g. the one I did for A Court of Thorns and Roses). And to avoid rambling and trying to explain it all, I made a thing that shows my illustration process (500kb). The process is 100% messier and more organic, and sometimes I render object by object, but the outlining takes the longest.
I would love to see non-Western fairytales being retold. Cultures are rich with stories and mythology, and it would be wonderful for writers to explore and retell stories linked to their own heritage or culture.
I don’t regard myself as an individual that reads a variety of genres, but I am trying to – and I think everyone should too every once in awhile. Similarly to what Murakami said – ‘If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.’ – if you only read books of the same genre, you’ll never broaden your perspective. I think that’s why I love YA – it’s paired with a variety of genres, and it typically features characters who are going through significant growth.
If y’all haven’t heard of Aentee and Read at Midnight, there is an 89% chance you are living under a rock. She has the most gorgeous graphics, she is super lovely, and her reviews are always on point.
I have already answered Ari’s questions but y’all should check out her incredible blog, The Daydreaming Bookworm. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I love Ari’s discussion posts. They are so on point – and I feel like Ari is saying all the things that I have been thinking.
Everyone has their own writing style and I think people should follow what suits them best! Personally, while I am reading books I take notes about them – either on my phone or in a notebook that I keep. The notes, most of the time don’t make much sense and are my unfiltered feelings or whatever thoughts or emotions the book evokes. So when it comes to writing reviews, I’m turning those word-salads into coherent feedback or critique. But yes, tips from my own experience:
- I find it really helpful to brainstorm the main points of your review, and write them down somewhere.
- When in doubt, break the book down and address the plot/story, the characters, and the themes.
- Have an ending/conclusion that answers this question: should I read this book?
- If you feel indifferent about something in the book, that’s an opinion in itself.
- At the end of the day, it is your review and you should write however you wish. Embrace your own writing style!
Bianca’s blog has an INCREDIBLE and diverse amount of content, so be sure to check out The Ultimate Fangirl.
Gah, don’t hate me friends, but my least favourite book this year was Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I am now willing to accept the fact that Clare’s books and I just do not get along. I’m due to publish my review for this sometime soon, but to summarize: boring characters, boring plot, and I just do not get Jem and Will! I’m sorry! So if Jem and Will are your bookish husbands, please have my share. Have them all.
Bea is so lovely and her blog is just as wonderful! Make sure you visit her blog, Confessions of a Pinay Bookaholic!
I did! When I was in high school, instead of studying I wrote four stories – three of them high fantasy; one was about a big group of magic-using friends, the second was the same group of friends but as adults and how they grew apart, the third were about two runaways running from their destiny as warriors, and the last was my attempt to write a better vampire x human love story. Their combined word counts would have amounted to 500,000 words, I think. I’ve been entertaining the idea of writing again but argh, time is such an obstacle.
I would love to meet Taylor Jenkins Reid, Cary Denault and Haruki Murakami! I missed an opportunity to meet Murakami last year when he attended the NZ Writers Festival… I’ve been kicking myself for it every since.
I’ve met Sarah J. Maas! I was the last person to see her for the day, but she was still super nice and she said my name was cool! I’ll never forget that. But if I was to meet the three authors above, I’d do what I did when I met Sarah: be super awkward and struggle how to convey how much I love their work and settle for generic ‘I LOVE your books!’
I love Kat’s blog and the variety of stuff she posts about – movies, TV shows, and books; you absolutely must visit her blog, Life and Other Disasters!
AND NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY PART
I know this is the part you’ve all been waiting for (or probably skipped to) so let’s get started!
Since I never do giveaways, I wanted to be a little more generous. It’s not much (I genuinely wish I could’ve given each and every one of you books) but I hope you guys will enjoy it. *fingers crossed that you win!*
- Both giveaways will end on June 30th 2016, 11:59PM NZT (New Zealand Time).
- You are entitled to enter both giveaways.
- There will be one winner for Giveaway One and two winners for Giveaway Two. Winners are chosen at random and will be selected by Rafflecopter.
- Winners of each giveaway will be contacted; if no response is received after 48 hours, another winner will be selected at random.
- If you are under 18, please make sure you have parental permission to give me your postal address. (Your postal address, once given and your books ordered, will not be retained.)
- As the books will be sent via Book Depository, please check if Book Depository delivers to your country. I take no responsibility for damaged or lost goods.
GIVEAWAY ONE: WIN ONE PRE-ORDER OF YOUR CHOICE
I was going to choose five books that you could pre-order, but it was clear from the responses to my tweet that everyone is excited for ALL kinds of books! Yay for so many new books to be excited for! The preorder must be under $30NZD. Excited for Crooked Kingdom? Anxiously awaiting The Midnight Star? Want to know what happens in Empire of Storms?
THE GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. THANK YOU ALL FOR PARTICIPATING!
GIVEAWAY TWO: WIN ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BOOKS OF YOUR CHOICE
I want to share my loves and joys with you. And because I really wish I could send all of you books, in this giveaway two winners will win one of my favourite books. The books to be won are shown above and listed below:
- Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Book Depository)
- Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (Book Depository)
- The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Book Depository)
- Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami (Book Depository)
- Unteachable by Leah Raeder/Elliot Wake (Book Depository)
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Book Depository)
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adam (Book Depository)
- Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Book Depository)
- Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn (Book Depository)
- Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Book Depository)
THE GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED. THANK YOU ALL FOR PARTICIPATING!
PHEW. This is the longest blog post I’ve written, by far. Thank you all for reading, even if you read a minute part of it, and thank you again for all of your support and kindness.
Good luck for the giveaways, and here’s to another year of reading and blogging!