This all began in January of 2011, when I was starting to rediscover the YA genre and read a lot. A fellow friend from livejournal (Ashley) started talking to me about book blogging. The more we chatted, the more I wanted to start my own.
That February, I decided to go all in and I created The Irish Banana Review - you know, the blog you're currently reading. And it was a glorious day. But I was also a little scared.
It was in this moment I knew I would quickly own the blogosphere with my awesome ability to be ... awesome. Yeah.
But then suddenly (and by suddenly I mean 3 months later) it wasn't so glamorous. Where were the hoards of people that were supposed to adore my every written word? Where were these magical, mystical creations called "ARCs" that were supposed to arrive at my door?
And where were the other bloggers that were going to embrace me with open arms and welcome me into their fold?
So, my friends, this newbie blogger found herself at a crossroads. She could walk away from the blog (and really, who of the 56 followers she had amassed would notice? Surely not the robots that outsmarted the captcha to get here.) or she could dig in and keep going.
Spoiler Alert: I kept going!
Even in the face of dire straits like no comments, minimal page views, and a low GFC number (because back in my day, kids, that was the only number that mattered), I decide to press onward.
I worked hard. I reviewed often, participated in enough memes/giveaways to bring in new followers, but not so many that I was one of "those bloggers" that I heard whispers and rumors about. And then, this one glorious day, a package arrived in my mailbox.
It was my first ARC. A shiny, advanced copy of Half-Blood by then-unknown author Jennifer L. Armentrout. It. Was. EPIC.
Not too long after this, the online world exploded in a flurry and fury of twitter fights, plagiarism scandals, and rampant cases of authors behaving badly.
I took one simplistic approach that I try to maintain in my life: If it doesn't involve me, I generally stay out of it.
Then, this one day, I saw this strange little word on Twitter: BEA.
After some careful research, I discovered that this was a place, really a mecca, for book lovers. And as a book lover, I would make my pilgrimage there the following year. So I kept working hard at my blog and decided to go to my first BEA.
That week in NYC went something like this:
I met a lot of cool people and started making friends with other bloggers. Like, I started texting them, and tweeting them, and facebooking them,
and stalking them. But we were friends now and that that made it OK.
But seriously, I came back from BEA and took a small break from blogging because of weddings and jobs and vacations ... But then I was refreshed and ready to go. And go I did; doubling and sometimes tripling the number of page views/visitors per month compared to what I had been averaging before.
Life was good ... but it was also getting overwhelming. I was getting burnt out, and was suffocating under a pile of unread books I had committed to reviewing.
Enter my partner-in-crime, Gabrielle. It's always a plus having a cousin you adore who is also a book lover. So Gabrielle became my co-blogger and helped shoulder a lot of the reviewing duties.
So with Gabrielle came a lot of freedom. I was able to read books for pleasure - not just like a mindless reviewing robot. And because things were going so well, Gabrielle accompanied me to BEA in 2013.
And of course by this time those people I had actually become real-life friends with were there. It was like an awesome reunion. With books! And there were even parties that I got to go to! It went like this:
That pretty much brings us up to now. Now, where I am a happy blogger who gets to do cool things, hang out with pretty awesome people and get the inside scoop in fantastical books.
Until next time, guys!