I am a huge fan of our next blogger. Her content is really awesome, and she creates fantastic discussion posts. Time to meet Jo @ Book Lovers Blog!
Let’s start with an introduction: Tell me a little bit about yourself!
Okay well, start with the basics I guess, my name is Jo, I’m 21 years old, I’ve been blogging for four years now. I’m a University student, will be starting my final year of Uni in September and I’m studying History and Journalism. I review a wide range of books on my blog, the majority are YA, but I’ve also reviewed some adult fantasy, crime and contemporary fiction. I’m a UK based blogger, I split my time between Uni in Stirling and my family’s home in Cambridge.
Congrats on heading into your final year at uni!
Can you tell me more about your blog? Why you started it, how you chose the name and any unique features that it has.
Thanks! Okay, so basically four years ago, when I was still in sixth form (last two years of school in the U.K.) I saw someone doing book reviews on Tumblr. I thought it was a cool idea so I decided to start doing the same thing myself. Soon after I was looking into best ways to get into Journalism (as our my school was encouraging us to start thinking about future careers) and one of the pieces of advice that a lot of the sites I looked at gave, was starting a blog. Books seemed like the most natural topic for me, I’ve always been a reader (and a writer) so I decided to give it a go, looked up how to start a blog, set up a WordPress account and four years later I’m still here! The name is a bit less interesting, I’m not the most creative person in the world when it comes to naming things, so I just went for the most straightforward thing I could think of: I was running a blog based on my love of books, so BookLoversBlog seemed like a good fit. Honestly, if I could go back and change it, I probably would, but it’s been my blog’s name for four years now, so it’s pretty set!
As for unique features, as far as book blogs go, I guess mine is pretty standard and honestly I borrowed a lot of the features on my blog! I did start my Writing Corner this year, a specific feature for me to talk about my writing, so that’s new and pretty unique to my blog. I’m also planning on starting up a book/movie comparison feature for adaptations hopefully next year, so that will be exciting! I like to think that what makes my blog different isn’t necessarily the features I do, it’s me, my personality. I want my readers to feel like I could be just sitting there chatting to them when they read my blog, so I hope I have achieved this!
I personally think that you have achieved your goal! Especially with “Jo Talks Books” and the different topics that you bring up. It’s always a genuine conversation and I love how honest you are. I’ve seen a lot of people who just post things for likes or only interact with people to try to force them to follow them.
How do you manage finding time to read while you’re at uni and have to stay on top of school work?
Oh well thank you, I’m really glad to hear that! Jo Talks Books is honestly probably the part of my blog that I’m most proud of, it takes me a long time to write those posts, and it’s always stuff that I feel quite passionate that I talk about, so it’s great for me when people really engage with them. One of my posts that I did last year around Valentine’s Day, about my frustration with romance in YA and how I wished there were more single characters, I wrote basically because I was feeling frustrated and wanted to vent, but it got such a positive response from people and started a real conversation, which I absolutely loved. For me, I’ve never really been chasing followers, I mean I have my blog link on my Twitter and publicise my posts through it, but I want people to follow me because they are interested in what I have to say, not because I tell them to! And it seems to have worked, because my blog has grown a lot since I started doing Jo Talks, which is lovely for me to see (sorry that was really rambly!).
As for finding time to read whilst at Uni, it’s not easy! One of the things that really helps me with reading alongside my workload, is that I tend to pick shorter reads during term time-usually between 300-500 pages and save my longer reads for summer when I have more time to devote to them. I’m quite a slow reader anyway, so this method helps me not be bogged down by the same book for a month! It’s all about judging your workload-if I have a lighter workload, I’ll go for a book on the higher end, if I have a heavy workload, like during exam season, I’ll pick something shorter. Travel is also your best friend! I get a lot of reading done in journeys between Uni and home because my home is 5 hours away by train, but also whenever I have a short trip, like into Edinburgh or Glasgow, or London (when I’m at home) I read, when I have to get the bus somewhere I read. If I have to wait somewhere, I usually have a book with me! I also make the most of my holidays when I have more spare time to catch up on my reading, especially summer. I’ve always had the habit of reading for an hour or so before I go to bed, which is something I’ve continued at Uni and I tend to multitask with reading my e-ARCs from Netgalley, whilst I’ve got something on Netflix in the background. It’s all about balance really, and that’s something you kind of just figure out when you have to!
Do you create a TBR to help you decide what you read?
To an extent, I choose one book that I want to make sure I read each month and I usually have something from Netgalley on the go as well, but anything else I read is usually what I feel like at the time. I like having some structure in my reading, so I’ll have an idea of a TBR in my head for each month but if I’m not feeling a book or I really want to read something else, I will change it. I never want to feel penned in by a TBR if I’m in the mood for reading something else because then I won’t enjoy it!
I personally have a hard time DNFing only because I want to know the ending. If you’re not really into a book that you’re reading with you stop and just leave it alone or try again later?
I also have a difficult time DNFing! My DNF shelf only has 12 books on it, so yeah, it’s not something I do often. Honestly I always say I want to go back and give them a second chance, but I have so many other books to read that it tends to not happen. There are some Netgalley books that I do feel a bit guilty about not finishing because I mostly DNFed them because I ran out of time to read them!
Same! My shelf is pretty small but sometimes I regret getting to the end of a book that ended up not being worth it.
As a History major, how do you feel about historical fiction?
Yeah exactly, I hate regretting reading a book to the end when I have so many others on my shelves that I could have enjoyed!
I actually really like historical fiction, though the YA options that seem to be out there (which I prefer as a lot of adult historical seems to be romance based!) are about WWII, which is a period I do like, but I wish there were slightly more variety available! In terms of historical accuracy, I’ve never picked up any glaringly bad historical errors in historical fiction, authors seem to be really great at doing their research.
I also think historical fiction is great, because it’s a gateway, if you get really interested, then you want to go and look up the real events!
TV for me is much worse than books at accurately portraying History. Oftentimes I will watch a historical TV show just to see how much they get wrong-it’s usually a lot!
Exactly, my overall TBR is just way too big to waste any time!
Do you have any favorite historical fiction works?
Oh so many! The Book Thief is definitely one of my favourites, I also really love Elizabeth Wein’s books, I loved Code Name Verity and really enjoyed Rose Under Fire and The Pearl Thief. Between Shades of Grey is another favourite, I love how Ruta Sepetys explores lesser known historical topics even within the framework of such a famous event like WWII. Jodi Picoult’s The Storyteller is another great one. I would love to discover more historical fiction outside the WWII era though, I’m reading Things A Bright Girl Can Do at the moment and it’s nice to be in a different time period for a change.
I used to read the Dear America series when I was younger but I’ve heard that some of them were not historically accurate. I have The Storyteller, but haven’t read it yet. I’m hoping to get to it at some point this year!
What are some of your favorite YA books that’s aren’t historical fiction?
I’ve never read those ones. Oh I hope you enjoy it, it’s really good.
I have so many! The Raven Cycle, Throne of Glass series, Noughts and Crosses series (which were my first real YA books), Skulduggery Pleasant series, Six of Crows, Timekeeper, the Unwind dystology, Rebel of The Sands and The Hunger Games are probably top of the list.
Jodi Picoult is my favorite so I’m sure I’ll love it!
Have you watched the Hunger Games movies? If so, how did you feel about the adaptation? Also, how do you feel about Throne of Glass being opted as a TV series?
What’s your favourite book of hers? Mine is My Sister’s Keeper. Yes I watched The Hunger Games movies and I really liked them, definitely some of the better adaptations that I’ve seen, though I don’t think Mockingjay needed to be two films.
I’m really excited about it, I’m glad they’re doing it as TV, not film because I think that world gets far too big in the later books for it to work on film. I actually don’t know if I’ll get to watch it though because it’s it’s being adapted by Hulu and I can’t access that in the U.K., so I’ll have to hope it gets picked up by a U.K. channel like The Handmaid’s Tale was!
My Sister’s Keeper is my second favorite behind Small Great Things! I’m excited for her new one but I’m sad her book tour isn’t coming to my city 😦
ToG is pretty popular, do you think it’s likely to be picked up?
I love that one too, honestly I have read very few Jodi Picoult books that I haven’t enjoyed. I’m really excited for her new one as well, I’ve been hoping she would do a book focused on abortion for a while, and it feels quite timely given everything that has been happening here lately, first with the Irish referendum and now all the debates about Northern Ireland. I would love to get to see her again, I’ve been to a couple of her events and she’s such an engaging speaker, she always talks a lot about the research she’s done for her books and it’s really fascinating. She’s not coming to Scotland this year but I’m hoping I might be able to get to her event in London since it’s just at the end of reading week.
I hope so! There’s a pretty big U.K. fan base for the series, so hopefully it will get picked up.
I hope you make it to see her London!
We’ve reached the end of our interview. So let me know if there’s anything else that you would like to add about yourself or your blog.
I hope so too!
Thank you, this has been great! As for other things….I’m looking for other writers who want to talk about their writing for my writing feature on my blog, so anyone who wants to take part can get in touch with me via my blog or Twitter. I’m also a massive Rick Riordan fan and Harry Potter is the series that really got me into reading which I didn’t mention when you asked about the YA books I like as both are generally classed as children’s fiction. Also in terms of adult fantasy, I’m massively into VE Schwab and Samantha Shannon’s books at the moment, particularly VE Schwab, she’s one of my biggest writing inspirations.
Outside of reading, I love Netflix binges, watching films, listening to music (my iPod is 90% musicals and Taylor Swift and 10% other stuff), writing YA fantasy, horse riding and trampolining. I also love travelling!
I think that’s all I can really add that’s interesting about me.
Omg who doesn’t love HP?! I have a golden snitch necklace and the matching HP Alex and Ani ring and earrings 🙂
Thank you so much for doing this. I really enjoyed talking to you!
I have honestly yet to meet anyone-I did have one friend who wasn’t so keen but we converted her! I went to the HP studios in London for my friend’s birthday last year and it was so much fun. I have several Hufflepuff notebooks, a Deathly Hallows necklace and a Fantastic Beasts newsprint.
Great! No, thank you, it was really fun talking to you as well 🙂
If you want to connect with Jo or are interesting in her writing feature, you can connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and check her writer’s profile on the National Student to see some things that she’s written outside of her blog!