Back in April, we celebrated our 5-year blog anniversary…but we’re not the only blog celebrating five years in 2015. In fact, we’ve teamed up with several other blogs — thanks to the organizing wizardry of Amber at Me, Myshelf & I and Jaime at Two Chicks on Books — to celebrate the FANTASTIC FIVES.
Fantastic Fives: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
YA Book Shelf: My name is Melissa. I’m a Canadian, who grew up about 30 minutes away from Niagara Falls, Canada, but I’ve been living for three years in Toronto, Canada with my partner John and our two cats, P’tite Folle and Gollum. All of my immediate family members and most of my extended family still lives in the Niagara Region, and I try to visit there very regularly.
I have an M.A. in English Literature. Several years ago…pre-blog…I went to night school to get some additional accreditation in marketing, and I’ve worked in several different industries, including the vegan packaged goods, in part because I’m live on a vegan and gluten-free diet. (Yes, it can be done!)
I now work as the TEEN Publicist for Entangled Publishing, which means I get to come up with a lot of fun marketing and publicity campaigns for my favorite category of books. Some of the books that I’ve worked on, like Pintip Dunn’s Forget Tomorrow, have been listed as the YA Best Books of the Month from Goodreads, gotten exposure on sites like BuzzFeed.com, and positively reviewed by Kirkus. It’s kind of my dream job.
Fantastic Fives: How did you get started blogging?
YA Book Shelf: In 2010 when I started YABookShelf.com, I was working for an online marketing firm. I enjoyed working with my colleagues, but the work itself wasn’t as fulfilling as my academic work during my undergrad and grad days. I was thinking about expanding my writing portfolio, so why I learned that an IRL friend of mine was running a book blog (now defunct), I thought that it would be a good opportunity to create content that more closely aligned with my educational background while using the marketing skills I’d developed on the job.
From there, YA Book Shelf was born.
Fantastic Fives: How did you pick the name for your blog?
YA Book Shelf: Honestly, I looked very closely at the young adult book blogs that existed at the time to see what names had been taken and to create something unique and easily recognizable. After brainstorming many other blog names, I settled on this one, in part, because I thought people who didn’t know that YA was an acronym for young adult books might read “ya” as a recognizable slang word.
Fantastic Fives: If you could go back in time and tell your newbie blogger self 1 thing what would it be?
YA Book Shelf: Save, save, and save some more. You never know when you may wake up and find all of your blog posts deleted (this actually happened to me in the fall of 2012) and not have a recent back up saved. Here’s a post I wrote about the ordeal a few months later.
Fantastic Fives: What have you learned in your 5 years of blogging?
YA Book Shelf: Doing something that you’re passionate about will not only never feel like work, but also will lead to future opportunities, some of which you will never anticipate and others, you’ll only dream of before hand. I earned my two most recent full-time jobs and several speaking and freelance review opportunities as a direct result of the skills I learned and demonstrated through developing YABookShelf.com.
What was the first ARC or book you ever received from a publisher?
I believe it was Nonna’s Book of Mysteries by Mary Osborne. Around the same time I received a bunch of other books to review – and I even won my first eReader in a contest that Cheryl Rainfield ran for her debut novel, Scars. However, I’m pretty sure that Mary Osborne’s book from a small publisher called Lake Street Press was the first book that I received for review.
Fantastic Fives: When you’re not reading or blogging, what can we find you doing?
YA Book Shelf: During the days (and some of the evenings) I develop and carry out the marketing and publicity plans for all the print and digital books on the Entangled TEEN, Crush, and Crave lines for Entangled Publishing, which definitely requires a lot of my creativity. In addition, I love cooking healthy, vegan and gluten-free recipes, talking about YA fiction with my IRL book club, knitting (sometimes), and spending time with my family, friends, and kitties, P’tite Folle and Gollum.
The Fives: (and yes, you can ONLY have 5! *muwhahahah*)
5 Favorite Books
1) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2) Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
3) Hold Still by Nina LaCour
4) The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5) The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald
5 Favorite Book Boyfriends
1) Josh from Stephanie Perkins’ Isla and the Happily Ever After
2) Lio from Hannah Moskowitz’s Gone, Gone, Gone
3) Prince Maxon from Kiera Cass’ The Selection Series
5) Park from Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park
5 Favorite Book Quotes
1) “‘You love me. Real or not real.’
I tell him, ‘Real.'” – Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay
2) “But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.” - Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
3) “Just wanted to let you know I got in all right. And also that my chest hurts as if I MAY BE DYING, because I accidentally left my heart on your kitchen counter. I hate when that happens.” - Hannah Moskowitz, Gone, Gone, Gone
4) “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am souless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!” - Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
5) “Love is an intervention. Why do we not choose it?” - Jeanette Winterson, The Stone Gods
5 Blogging Tips For New Bloggers:
1) Always be saving.
2) No matter what you’re blogging about, be authentic. People will respond to you, being you, and of course, you’ll meet IRL friends eventually because of it.
3) Always be honest with your reviews. If you aren’t honest, people will eventually stop trusting the things you have to say. Of course, not everyone will have the same opinion as you, but they will respect you.
4) When you have criticism of a book, be constructive in the way you present it. You don’t have to follow this advice – I know that not everyone does – but that’s my advice. Take it or leave it.
5) Enjoy every moment of it.
5 Blogs You Want The World To Know About:
5) Candid Cover
And now, it’s giveaway time….
I thought that it would be fitting to offer up a copy of the sequel to the first review copy I ever received on YA Book Shelf. So today and until midnight EST on Saturday, November 28th, U.S. and Canadian residents will have the chance to win Alchemy’s Daughter and this awesome swag pack, pictured below!