Four years ago today, I made my very first post on this blog! I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for four whole years already. I’d love to be able to do something exciting, like host a giveaway, or something creative, but I’m too broke and too unimaginative! I still feel like I should give you something back, something to thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I can offer you this completely unrelated graphic of an owl that I designed, if you’d like. Click here to download a full quality image. You never know, you might require an owl graphic in the future!
My blog idea was born during the Christmas period of 2010. I was accepted as a reviewer by a teen girl magazine, and they sent me a book in exchange for a paragraph of my thoughts on it. I had no control over which type of book I’d receive. It turned out to be a book called Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. It was her debut novel, and I received it a few months before its release in the UK.
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.
Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
I’ll admit, at first I was pretty disappointed. At the time, it wasn’t the type of book I wanted to read. As much as I enjoyed learning about history, my taste in books was girly romances, anything by Meg Cabot, Harry Potter, and fantasy. I had no interest in reading a book set during the second World War. But I had no choice. I had to read it. And boy, am I glad I did. The book still remains one of my all-time favourites to this day, and it inspired me to learn more about that lesser-known part of history. It was such an incredible story, and I wanted to talk about it. None of my friends at the time were big readers, so I didn’t really have anyone to discuss books with apart from my mum. That was how I found the book blogging community, and I decided to set up my blog.
|My first ever logo for the blog|
I had no idea what I was doing. I knew very little about blogs, my writing was atrocious, and I didn’t have a clue how to promote my site. All I knew for certain was that I wanted to tell people about awesome stories, so that’s what I did.
Since then, I’ve learnt a lot about blogging, and I’ve connected with some fantastic readers and fellow bloggers. I’ve also learnt a great deal about design! I’ve always tried to design my blog myself, because as a poor little student, I could never afford to buy professional designs. But in a way, I’m glad. Even though it frustrates the life out of me sometimes, I know more about graphics and basic HTML, and it’s helped me a lot outside of my blogging!
|How my logo has changed through the years|
My blogiversary also got me thinking about why I’m still blogging. I do it for the same reason why I first set up this blog: I love talking about books. But what is it that’s kept me motivated to write reviews over the years? The main reason is that I love sharing my passion for certain stories. And through this blog, I’ve discovered some wonderful hidden gems by debut and independent authors, and I love having the chance to encourage other people to pick up their work.
Another reason I’ve managed to stay a happy blogger is by keeping this site to what I always intended it to be. A hobby. I never force myself into strict schedules like many other awesome and hardworking bloggers. Instead, I simply read and review at my leisure. Otherwise, my blog would feel like a chore to me, and I never want it to come to that. I don’t make money from what I do, so I don’t treat it like a business. It’s simply my own little world of all things bookish. I’m also not the most formal person in the world with my reviews. I try to keep it casual. I’m no professional when it comes to writing, but that doesn’t stop me from sharing my opinions.
I have, over the years, had some fantastic opportunities because of my blog. I’ve interviewed some wonderful authors, I’ve been invited to take part in virtual blog tours, I’ve had tweets from some of my favourite authors of all time, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive some fabulous books and merchandise. I still get pathetically excited whenever I get an ARC, because I’m still astounded that I’m getting such an amazing opportunity!
I honestly can’t even begin to describe what this blog has done for me over the years. It’s sounds cheesy as hell, but in a way, I guess it really has changed my life. There have been too many highlights for me to condense them down into one post. It’s done so much more for me than just being a place to post my opinions. It’s encouraged me to do my own writing, and tell my own stories. It’s built my confidence in talking with new people. I’m painfully shy, but as a blogger, I have to communicate with a wide variety of people, and it’s made me more comfortable striking up conversations and conducting interviews. I never imagined how much it would do for me when I decided to write that first post four years ago.
Most of all, I have to thank YOU. The awesome people who take the time to read my reviews (which, let’s face it, aren’t the most professional reviews in the world!). And you authors and publishers who take the time to get in touch, and ask me to read your work. I’m so lucky to have the chance to do that. I can’t thank you enough for helping me to continue doing what I love.
So here’s to the next year of The Queen of Teen Fiction!