Armchair BEA 2016 – Day 5: Wrap-Up

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Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!

 

Day 5: Wrap-Up

 
It was another great year of Armchair BEA! I really enjoy participating, and I love finding new blogs and interacting with the blogging community. We don’t do a lot of discussion posts here at EFC, but Armchair BEA is a great way for us to write some discussion posts and get some ideas for future posts. We will have to do more in the future. What would you like to see us discuss?

Here are the links to the linkys for each day of Armchair BEA! Check out the other blogs and posts!

  1. Introductions and Diversity in Books
  2. Aesthetic Concerns – Books and Blogs
  3. Beyond the Books and Blog
  4. Surviving Fictional Worlds and Giveaways

 

chrissysig melissasig
efchappy

 

Armchair BEA 20106 – Day 4: Surviving Fictional Worlds and Giveaway

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Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!

 

Day 4: Surviving Fictional Worlds & Giveaways

Today we’ll talk about surviving fictional worlds. We all know that sometimes, the worlds we love in fiction can be dangerous. Which fictional worlds would you want to live in? Which worlds do you never want to dive into? Which worlds are you content to stay behind the glass, so to speak, rather than wishing to dive through the page? And once you get there, what would you do?

I’m a sci/fi fantasy girl (read: big, big nerd), so you’d have trouble keeping me away from places like Narnia and Gallifrey. I’ve recently been fielding random questions from my four-year-old about magic, superpowers, and why we don’t have them in real life, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. You can pop me into a world with magic any day of the week (who knows? maybe I live in one now . . .), and I bet my son would gladly come along for the adventure. Hogwarts? Done. Oz? You betcha. Oh, but ain’t no way I’m going to Westeros. You can’t make me.

melissasig
giveaway

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efchappy

Armchair BEA 2016 – Day 3: Beyond the Books and Blog

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Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!

 

Day 3: Beyond the Books and Blog

Here on Day 3, we are moving our focus beyond the traditional format of the media we consume and create! 

Beyond the traditional form of the novel, what are your favorite alternative forms (graphic novels, audiobooks, webcomics, etc)? Do you have any favorite works within these alternate forms? How do you think the changing format affects the reading experience? 

Our secondary topic, beyond the blog could focus on the ways you engage in talking about books outside of your blog. Do you participate in book clubs, take classes, meticulously maintain your Goodreads profile? Let the world know!

Beyond books and blog. Wow! What a topic!! Looking at the first question, I can honestly say that I do not listen to audiobooks. I’ve tried. I really have, but I can’t seem to stay focused on the story. My mind wanders too much. I even tried to listen while painting, and I found painting my bathroom more interesting. I have read one graphic novel. In fact, I won it last year during Armchair BEA. It was Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash. (You can check out my review here.) I would like to try more graphic novels.

Beyond the blog is a bit easier to answer. I have been a member of a few book clubs. I am currently in my neighborhood’s book club. We have a lot of fun, and I really enjoy talking about books and catching up with my neighbors. The thing I like the most about book clubs is that I often read books that I wouldn’t normally choose. I read a lot of different genres, but it is always great to dive into a book that you may not pick for yourself.

chrissysig

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Armchair BEA 2016 – Day 2: Aesthetic Concerns – Books & Blogs

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Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!

 

Day 2: Aesthetic Concerns – Books & Blogs

Today is all about aesthetics! The first part of this topic is concerned specifically with the books, the second with our blogs. Here are some guiding questions to get you started!

The Books: How often do you judge a book by its cover? How often are you surprised by what you find? Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to) and type? How important is it for the visual art on the outside of the book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside?

 The Blog: As a book blogger, in whatever form that takes, branding is important. Your colors, your fonts, your style of review, all of these things come together to make the “brand” of your blog – something that makes your reviews and posts and websites, all your various content, immediately recognizable to the people looking for you. What do you do to create a brand on your site? Do you think about these things?

The Books: 97% of the books I read these days are in some sort of electronic format, so I rarely see the cover until I’m scrolling through at the end for publication info to write my review. I’ll admit I’m sometimes surprised to find a really excellent book with a sub-par cover . . . I suppose I’d prefer just a title page to a clip-art style DIY cover: If I’d seen the covers of the books first, I’d have passed right over them.

I’m reminded of a self-published book I read a few years ago. I won’t mention the title, but it was clear the author didn’t value artwork as much as his prose. Not only was his cover art a shoddy clip-art image printed on a home printer, but he also included a picture of sand in the body of the book. Yes, you read that correctly. No, it wasn’t a picture of the desert. It was honestly, literally a Google-searched picture of SAND.

So yes. Cover art is important. I think the words themselves are MORE important, but I am guilty nonetheless of sometimes judging a book by its cover (and I heartily apologize for the cliche).

The Blog: Chrissy and I are always thinking about branding. Whether it’s the graphics we’ll need for a new feature or simply a new reviewer’s signature, it’s a big part of our blogging. I’d say the biggest struggle we have is finding an appropriate color balance. We love the subtle, pastel colors our designer uses, but we often wonder if we’re not alienating certain readers because our design choices are too, well, feminine. The majority of our readers are indeed female, but without, you know, a marketing division, we don’t know if that’s because more females are interested in our content or because our page design has tiny cartoon versions of us sitting on big pink armchairs.

We’ve been trying to subtly shift our color scheme to a more gender-neutral one. We recently added a new feature with graphics in the same color family but with a warmer tone, but changing over the blog style completely is a huge task, and we’re taking it slowly. We also added our first male reviewer this year, so the changes will keep coming. For the record, though, we’re super glad Jeff hasn’t complained about the pink in his signature graphic. Thanks, Jeff! We’re working on it.

melissasig
efchappy

Armchair BEA 2016 – Day 1: Introductions

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Welcome to Armchair BEA! This is the seventh annual Armchair BEA, and this is EFC’s third year participating! We are so excited to take part again this year!

 

Day 1: Introductions

 

1.  What is the name you prefer to use?
  • There are two of us posting this year for Armchair BEA: Chrissy and Melissa.
2.  How long have you been a book blogger?
  • Chrissy started EFC in 2011 and Melissa joined in 2012.
3.  Have you participated in ABEA before?
  • YES! EFC participated in 2014 and 2015. We had a blast both years, and we are looking forward to this year.
4.  Do you have a favorite book?
  • Chrissy: the Harry Potter series
  • Melissa: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
5.  What is your favorite genre and why?
  • Chrissy: Chick lit – Happily ever afters make me smile.
  • Melissa: Fantasy/SciFi – I like to escape reality.
6.  How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all?
  • Chrissy: I arrange my shelves mainly by favorites and genres. The books on the shelves are not in alphabetical order or size or anything like that. It’s my own “system.”
This is a small portion of my bookshelves. =)

This is a small portion of my bookshelves. =)

My favorite shelf. ;-)

My favorite shelf. 😉

A portion of Melissa's shelves.

A portion of Melissa’s shelves.

7.  What book are you most excited for on your TBR?

 

chrissysig melissasig
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Armchair BEA 2015 – Day 4: Giveaway and Book-to-Movie Adaptations

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Book to Movie Adaptions: What books do you want to be made into a movie or television show? What are some of your favorites? We’ll explore more about this topic, especially what works and what doesn’t.  Are there any upcoming shows or movies that you’re excited for? What are your recommendations?



I think book to movie or tv show adaptations can be tricky. There are so many that disappointed me. The one that sticks out in my mind is the Eragon film. The book was so much better than what they were able to create for the silver screen.  Not to mention they changed so many things that the whole film was a train wreck.

Recently, one of my favorite book series has been turned into a television series on STARZ. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon could not have been done in film form. It’s absolutely the perfect book series to be done for TV. The actors and the costumes are brilliant. I feel like I have been transported in time when I watch it. The writers for the series have been in touch with Diana, which I think is important and have given the fans of the books what they wanted. Sure there are some disappointments I’m sure, but as a lover of the books and a viewer, I have no complaints.

One of the films I am very curious about is The Scorch Trials. It is the second film based on the books by James Dashner. The first film had some differences that I didn’t love and already I can see from the trailer from The Scorch Trials there have been changes. I’m really hoping that they find some way of bringing together the characters and action sequences that I loved from The Scorch Trials. What I also hope is that there is better chemistry between the cast. There were so many times I felt that the interactions were truly awkward during The Maze Runner. And I think that’s the challenge for everyone involved with a film or TV series from a book, you have to find a way to please not only the age group you’re making it for but the avid readers.

ginasig

 

giveaway

It is the end of another wonderful Armchair BEA, and that means it’s time for a giveaway!! I’m giving two prizes–one is a tote bag filled with a few of our favorite reads. (It will be a surprise, but you’ll love it! This one is open to the US only.) The other prize will be a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or $25 in books from the Book Depository if you are an international winner!!!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

efchappy

Armchair BEA 2015 – Day 3: Character Chatter and Blogging Q&A

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Character Chatter-It’s time to give your favorite characters some love! Characters are essential to a story, and they can make or break a book for some readers. Now’s your chance to shine the spotlight on your favorite characters, or maybe your least favorite. Who’s your favorite couple? What are the components of a well-written character? What are you favorite or least favorite cliches associated with characters?

Dear Bad Guy,

Yeah, I know you’ve got an evil plan. I know you’ve spent months, possibly years, of your fictional life plotting, scheming, and scheduling countless nefarious activities, but let’s be honest with each other, shall we? I ALREADY KNOW. I’ve been reading your story now for a couple hundred pages, and I’m not a moron. I’ve picked up on your motivations, your deep-seated emotional scars, your wounded childhood. I know you’re complicated. But listen. I’ve got about ten minutes to sit and read your story before I’ve got to rescue the baby from drowning himself in the toilet, make sure dinner’s on the table, drive the toddler to gymnastics, and make sure my husband’s lucky boxers are clean for his business trip in the morning. I don’t have time for you to rehash your entire evil scheme ten pages before the end of the book. I don’t know for certain, but I’m fairly sure you’re only delaying the inevitable: the hero is going to sneakily untie his restraints and blast you with his ultrasonic save-the-day gun while you’re talking. You’re going to lose, and I’ve got STUFF to do, okay?  So just SHUSH. Please?

Love, Melissa

melissasig

Blogging Q&A-Blogging 101. All kinds of tips and tricks to get you started or keep you going. Talk about ARCs, reviewing in general, web design, etc.  What blogging platform do you use? How do you network? What are some of your favorite web designs?  Or maybe you want to talk about your own blogging journey, and how you got to where you are now. Either way, we want you to share your knowledge with the rest of the community!

I will not tell you “how to blog” or “the rules of blogging” because there is no right or wrong way to blog, and there are no rules set in stone concerning blogging. (And, yes, there are a few exceptions–don’t plagiarize, and if you use affiliate links or have received a book or product from free in exchange for a review, tell everyone that.) I’ve read a lot of posts over the years that say you must do this, you must do that, you can’t do this, you should never do that. You know what? Your blog is your space. Do what works best for you. (I’ve seen quite a few posts that say that as well.) I can only tell you what worked for us here at EFC.

When I decided to start blogging, I spent a month or so reading other blogs. I read mainly book blogs because I knew I wanted to start a book blog, but I also read mommy blogs, food blogs, life blogs–you get the point. I saw how other blogs were designed, their layouts, the content, you name it. I took it all in and then developed “my” blog and how I wanted it. I started on Blogger because it was free and because I didn’t want to completely commit until I knew I was going to take the blog somewhere. Now, I’m with WordPress, self-hosted, and I haven’t looked back. Over the years, we have added reviewers, features, blog tours, etc., and we have backed away from features, tours, etc. You learn and change as you go. You have to do what works best for you and go for it.

If you have any questions about blogging, or if you want to know more about what we do (or have done) here at EFC, please comment or email or find me on Facebook or Twitter. I would be happy to chat with you about it. I will help in any way I can. That’s one thing I love about this community, most bloggers and authors will help each other out, give advice, or just be there for one another. It’s fantastic.

chrissysig

 

efchappy

Armchair BEA 2015 – Day 2: Visual Expressions and Social Media

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Visual Expressions–There are so many ways to tell stories. Whether it’s comic books, graphic novels, visual novels, webcomics, etc, there are quite a lot of other mediums to tell a story. On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just words and use other ways to experience a story.

You know what? I’m going to talk about memes. Yeah, I know–there isn’t much writing (or reading) involved, but if you spend enough time on the Internet, you know exactly how a little penguin on a blue background is supposed to make you feel. You know as soon as you see the guy dressed in brown with his hat on backwards that you’re about to read a tidbit about someone being an a**hole. You know the little green square with the dinosaur inside means you’re reading someone’s deep, “philosoraptor-y” thoughts.

Memes aren’t exactly, um, literature, but let’s face it–they’re pretty gosh darn accessible, and even if it’s only a few words, they’re a way people (even non-writers) express themselves through writing. Flash fiction in a .jpeg, anyone? Memes are concise little bites of word and image that prove a familiar picture, and in some cases even just a color, is a powerful method of expression.

melissasig

Social Media–How do you use social media to expand your blogging/writing horizons?  Social Media is all about networking and connections, and utilizing today’s technology to the fullest.

There are so many different social media outlets–Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, to name a few. It’s hard to know which to choose and which to stay active on. For me, I interact the most on Facebook and Twitter. I post my reviews to Goodreads and Pinterest. I also post non-bookish things on Pinterest as well. One thing that I really enjoy on Pinterest is looking at authors’ character boards and other book-related boards. It’s fun to see the inspiration for their stories.

Social media is a must for any blogger or writer. You have to be able to connect with one another. Without it, where will your blog go? Who will find out about your book? What fun would you have? Didn’t you start your blog to chat about books with other bibliophiles? I know that without it, EFC wouldn’t be as popular as it is, and I wouldn’t have the blogger and author friends that I am so close to. And without social media, EFC wouldn’t have the followers whom I love interacting with and chatting about wonderful bookish things.

The bottom line: choose something, get active, and have fun!!!

Please connect with me! I would love to chat!!! Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads

chrissysig

 

efchappy

Armchair BEA 2015 – Day 1: Introductions and Library Love

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Introductions: We have to answer a few questions about ourselves to kick off this year’s Armchair BEA!

 

How long have you been blogging? How did you get into blogging? I have been blogging for almost 4 years. I can’t believe it’s been 4 years; the time has truly flown by. I started blogging because I love to read, obviously, and because I wanted to see what I could do with it. I wanted to see where, if anywhere, it would take me. And, boy, has it taken me places!! 

 

Why do you love reading and blogging? I have always loved reading, ever since I was young. I love that you can get lost in the pages of book–entering a new world and getting wrapped up in a story. I love blogging because I love to share my thoughts about the books I read. I love it when someone reads a book because I recommended it. I love it when I can get into a “debate” about a book with another book lover. And I love that I have made so many friends from across the country and around the world. It is truly amazing. 

 

What book are you reading right now? I am reading “The Grown Ups” by Robin Antalek. I should be finished soon.  
chrissysig

 

What is your theme song? I’ve got a 3-year-old. If Daniel Tiger sings it, so do I (usually nine or ten thousand times a day) :::singing::: “If you have to go potty, STOP, and go right away. . .”

What does diversity mean to you? It means that most of the things we’re worried about aren’t that important. Skin color? Little deal. A boy whose favorite color is pink? So what? A family comprised of two moms or two dads? Meh. Atheism? Feminism? A language <gasp> other than English? NO. BIG. DEAL. We, the human race, have a lot of chilling out to do. Celebrating diversity (and realizing how much energy we’re wasting on trivialities) is a step in the right direction.

 

What is one book everyone should read? You know what? I don’t care what you read . . . I just really, really hope you do.
melissasig

 

Library Love–Librarians are awesome. Not only are they helpful, they’re very fun to talk to and give great recommendations. Show your library some love, and the wonderful men and women that run it. Why is your library fantastic? Got any funny stories? Feature your library on your blog? Do an interview with a librarian?

 

My children and I are in LOVE with libraries! In fact, we often frequent several different libraries, which each excel at slightly different things. One offers wonderful programs like StoryTime, Parachute Play, Preschool Dance Parties, and Reading to a Therapy Dog. We travel a little farther to experience these awesome programs that promote learning, exploration, and most importantly, FUN! Some of the other libraries have much better children’s book collections, and some are just close to home (best for the times when you can’t stand reading that book ONE MORE TIME and you need a new one to replace it). One of my favorite things about visiting different libraries is that my children get to meet and play with a more diverse group of children and are not stuck in the same socioeconomic station as dictated by where we live. Visiting the library is one of our favorite fun activities, and I know that my children are learning and growing as well as gaining an appreciation for a lifelong love of reading!

sarasig

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Armchair BEA – Day 6: Wrap-Up

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WRAP-UP

 

Well, it has been an excellent week here at EFC. We have truly enjoyed participating in Armchair BEA this year. Last year, I was a mere observer. This year, we participated with posts, giveaways, Twitter parties, and so much more. I have found more wonderful blogs and blogging friends because of this event. I can’t wait until next year. (In fact, I’m already thinking about things for next year.)

Here is a recap of posts and links:

Day 1: Introduction and Literature

Day 2: Author Interaction and More Than Just Words

Day 3: Expanding Blogging Horizons and Novellas/Short Stories

Day 4: Giveaways and Beyond the Borders

Day 5: Topic of Choice and Middle Grade/Young Adult

Day 6: Wrap Up

Thank you for an awesome week, Armchair BEA!!! See you next year.

 

chrissysig

efchappy