Thursday, November 6, 2014

Blogoversary Part 1: A Reflection

Five years ago today my first ever post went live on the blog. If you promise not to judge I'll leave a link. It's hard to believe that it was that long ago (mostly because I didn't do much with it around then). But in general it just feels like so long ago.

Five years ago, I was living in Providence, Rhode Island and working as an Americorps volunteer at an all girls middle school. The only place that they could give us for an "office" was the library. So we staked out a corner and I would spend a lot of time hanging out alone in that library. Being surrounded by those books reminded me how much I love reading and especially how much I love YA and Middle Grade. I decided to read a bunch of books I never read as a kid including The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Westing Game. Meanwhile Twilight was at the height of popularity and if you wanted the thirteen year old girls you were mentoring to listen to you, then you read Twilight. But on the whole I mostly read a lot of Literary Fiction, Historical Mysteries, and Chick Lit. I decided to start my blog to talk about a particular book that I loved (The Alchemist) and to have something creative to do in my very limited free time.

Then a year and a half ago my job, working for an environmental non-profit, moved me to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In the process of the move I found it really hard to find a book that I enjoyed. I read one in particular that I truly hated. I wanted to complain about it and I needed an outlet! At the time I had a lot more free time than I used to, my working hours were more normal, and I didn't have any cable so I was watching a lot of YouTube videos. I found BookTube and decided that would be a great way to complain about this book. But then I remembered that I had a very neglected blog. I decided I should see if I can maintain a blog before a YouTube channel. So came back and committed to doing this more full-time and along the way two things happened.

First I found a whole community of people who also had book blogs. I started following a few blogs, commenting on a few blogs, testing the water. I found some great memes that helped me connect with the community. Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and The Bookish and Feature and Follow Friday hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee really helped me feel like part of this community. And then I decided to put my blog on Twitter. I was already a fan of Twitter but the opportunity to interact with so many of you as well as authors and publishers has been an amazing experience. I still freak out when someone responds to one of my tweets!

And because I felt like a part of the community I went to BEA! I had seen someones post about it when I first started creeping around the blogosphere and I just decided I'm going to do it. It was an amazing experience and I'm so glad I went. I got to meet so many fellow bloggers and book fans there. At first I was extremely nervous to say hi to bloggers I look up to and have been friendly with but everyone was so amazing! It was such a pleasure to meet everyone who I wasn't too embarassed to say hello too like all the ladies I shared a table with at BEA Bloggers Con, Elizabeth from Book YAbber, Octavia and Shelley from Read Sleep Repeat, and Nikki from There Were Books Involved. I can't wait to go back next year. It feels like going back to summer camp. Getting to see old friends, do things that you loved, and meet new people. I hope I get to meet more of you, especially those I was too embarrassed to say hi to last year! Oh and did I mention the authors? So many amazing an super sweet authors. Check out my recap.

But the second thing that happened was that I found my voice. I've never been very confident in my writing. I'm a voracious reader but I've never been a great writer. But forcing myself to do five posts a week, including at least two reviews has caused me to become much more confident with my writing. But it's more than that. I've come up with a system, a plan. When I decided to come back to blogging it was October so naturally I decided to read spooky Halloween books. But then the next month I realized my books also had a theme to them. And, my themed months were born. But my voice goes even further. A year ago I never would have responded to an author's tweet, asked them a question on a chat or book signing, requested an advance copy of a book I was excited about, or put myself out there in the way that I have. I did try the YouTube thing and as much as I liked it, I just don't think it's for me. I'm going to continue this blog thing. It's been so amazing coming up with creative content on the site.

But I'm looking forward to the next five years! I can't wait to continue to grow personally and within this community. It has been such a pleasure being a part of it! I'm already thinking about what I can do to make more interesting content for the site, how I can make it my own, and how I can keep going strong in the future. Okay enough with that, on to the gushy stuff. I wouldn't still be here if it wasn't for all of you. It is my fellow bloggers who made me feel like I can do this, that I am part of something larger than just me writing my thoughts about books just for myself. So thank you to anyone who has ever subscribed, commented, tweeted, or followed me. I'm still amazing that people read my posts!

So to say thank you I have planned a special giveaway. Because it's one year that is actually five I've decided to give away five books in one package/theme. But I'm feeling generous, and like I have too many books, so I have two separate packages with books from my two favorite genres. To win all you have to do is follow the rafflecopter down below. I will pick one winner for each prize pack so please let me know which one you want. You must be subscribed to My Thoughts Literally to be eligible and I'm sorry but it's US only, it's too much to ship internationally!

Historical Fiction Prize Pack

1.) The Nest by Esther Ehrlich (MG)
2.) Signed Copy of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (YA)
3.) ARC Copy of Salt & Storm by Kendal Hulper (YA)
4.) ARC Copy of Neverhome by Laird Hunt (Adult)
5.) ARC Copy of Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth (Adult and my favorite book of the year)

Bonus: Harlequin Tote Bag

Fantasy/Supernatural Prize Pack

1.) Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagan (MG)
2.) Signed ARC of Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater (YA)
3.) ARC Copy of Jackaby by William Ritter (YA and one of my faves of the year)
4.) Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa De La Cruz (NA)
5.) ARC Copy of Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas (YA)

Bonus: Epic Reads Tote

Thank you to everyone who has made this past year so much fun to be book blogging. And of course HAPPY READING!


  1. Whoop whoop! Congrats on your 1 year Cassi! I'm so glad I got to know you and will definetly be hangin out together at BEA this year!! Keep up the fantastic fangirl work!
    ❤️Britt @ please feed the bookworm @kalebsmome

    1. Also my fav thing about book is being able to shut my brain off and see through someone else's eyes for a bit and my fav thing about blogging is finally feeling at home with a ton of awesome like minded people even if we don't always like the same thing we all love books in general and it makes my heart so happy!

  2. Yay Cassi!!!! Happy Blogoversary!!!!
    I am so happy that I started following your blog and for our Twitter chats. I am also really happy that you are the first blogger friend that I met in person. I had a lot of fun at the Maggie Stiefvater signing with you. :D
    I love the book community so much. There are times when I am feeling a bit lonely or sad and then someone will comment on my blog or tweet at me and it just instantly brightens my day. Plus I love being able to actually talk books with someone that likes the same books as me. I love reading because it allows me to be someone that I am not in real life. I get taken to interesting worlds and meet fascinating characters that are just amazing.
    Congrats and I am so happy for you!

  3. My favorite thing about book blogs are that I get to read the blogger's reviews and hear their opinions on what they thought of the book. I think it's pretty cool because one's own thoughts are different. You might not have liked the book, but I might have enjoyed it. It's nice for a whole bunch of people to read the book together and talk about it. I also love participating in the giveaways! Thank you for this amazing chance! Happy Blogoversary! :)

  4. I love seeing other people's opinions of books and discussing and fangirling together :D Happy blogoversary <3

  5. Happy Anniversary! 5 years is awesome. I love reading your blog. One of my favorite thing about book blogs is all the great book recommendations it gives me! There are so many books and series that I found through other book bloggers, and I'm so happy to have a group of people with whom to gush over my favorite books/characters. This book blogging world is pretty awesome :)

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  7. My favorite thing about blogging is meeting friendly bloggers, like you, and being able to not only share the book love, but laugh , cry, and grimmace about other things going on in our lives (especially on Twitter). FIVE YEARS!!!! Oh my gravy!! You deserve a seven layer cake topped with sparklers. I am thrilled you are returning to BEA next year. I am sure Britter already said we are going to be there (I saw she has a comment up above), so we can all meet and give real ((hugs))). Congratulations on FIVE YEARS!!!! Can I say this enough? FIVE YEARS!!! You are one of the few blogs I first started following after I got on Twitter that I am still following. I am also looking forward to your next five years. Thank-you for the fab gvie, too. :D

  8. I love the reviews on books blogs and of course the giveaways. I find new books to read both of these ways and have enjoyed many. I also saved some time with the low reviews. I just skip those books.
    magic5905 at embarqmail dot com