BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes—From Cleopatra to Camus

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes—From Cleopatra to Camus

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

BLOG TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Historical Heartthrobs: 50 Timeless Crushes—From Cleopatra to CamusHistorical Heartthrobs by Hallie Fryd, Kelly Murphy
Published by Zest Books (2014), Hardcover, 224pg
Filed under: Biography, History, Non-Fiction, Young Adult
Got my copy from: Book Tour, Publisher
Buy your own copy at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate links | info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf

History comes alive in Historical Heartthrobs, especially when reading it causes you stop and consider the likes of Eva Peron, Lord Byron and Ernest Hemingway as potential members of your dating pool. Some items for consideration: Nikola Tesla was a brilliant inventor who made Victorians swoon, but he seems incapable of swooning back. Che Guevara had the smoldering good looks, but would he only look out for himself in a relationship? And what about Nelly Bly? Was it legal to look that good in 1884? Historical Heartthrobs includes both men and women from a wide range of countries, ethnicities, and historical epochs. Some are artists, some are scientists, and many are political or military leaders, but all have had a lasting impact on human life—and a sizable impact on their admirers as well.

The only thing I love more than history is the people who lived it! And I especially love books who go beyond what you’d expect from a history book. Like a quirky who’s who of hotness, Historical Heartthrobs has a ton of interesting people in it. It starts with Cleopatra and ends with Benazir Bhutto, and between those two are some amazing mini-biographies.

There’s a good mix of people here, both good and bad. I did question the choice of including people like John Wilkes Booth, because, uh, I don’t find assassins hot? But it fits with the quirkiness of the book as a whole, and it was very refreshing to have other people than your standard “important historical peoples we should all admire” kind of thing you usually find in teen history books. And it never actually said you should want to date the nastier folks in here; in fact, all the worst people got low ratings on their hotness scale. So yay for that! And then…

My 2014 TBR Project

I have been talking about my 2014 To be Read Project for a few weeks now but have neglected to actually explain it! It’s actually not that big of a deal: basically I’m going to read a crapload of my TBR books this year.

At the end of December I went through my unread books and got rid of the ones I couldn’t see myself reading within the next year. Mostly that meant old ARCs from various book conferences (including BEA 2011!), and as of the start of 2014 I had approximately 275 TBR books in both ebook and paper format. (I’m not counting audiobooks because I decided to be lenient on myself.)

My goal is to either read or remove 100 of those books by the end of 2014.

There are rules! Here are the Rules:

  1. For every two TBR books read, 1 new book (non-review/gift) can come in.
  2. For every new book (non-review/gift), two TBR books leave.
  3. After 6 months, re-evaluate pile. Remove books as needed.
  4. Electronic ARCs only from now on.
  5. Celebrate milestones! 10, 25, 50, 75, 100 TBR books read = something awesome happens.

Books that I’ve had for over two years are high priority, but I’m giving myself a little leeway with ones which are part of a series and I either haven’t GOT the rest of the series or it’s been a long time since I read the earlier books and I need to reread them beforehand. For example, I’ve got A Wrinkle in Time (Time #1) and A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time #3), but not A Wind in the Door (Time #2), so I’m not in a huge rush to get to A Swiftly Tilting Planet this year.

So far I’ve read 4 books from my TBR shelf and have added 2. Pretty good, I think!

Do you have a TBR plan for 2014?

How to freshen up a stinky blog

You COULD just sniff your books instead, but let's be a bit more proactive

You COULD just sniff your books instead, but let’s be a bit more proactive

There’s a discussion over at about keeping your blog’s content fresh and unstinky, particularly when there’s so much of the same sort of content (promo blitz cover reveals, for example) on dozens of blogs. I started off writing a little comment in response, and then it bloomed into this…

I don’t think it’s necessarily the promo stuff that’s the problem; it’s the lack of spirit in them that sucks all the interesting out. If you just copy-paste stuff the publisher sends you it’s super boring, and I do think it turns people off. As long as there’s a bit of personality in your posts people will like them, even if ALL you post is cover reveals.

That said, here’s some ways to keep things fresh on your blog:
Reviewing/talking about backlist books! All of the promo stuff is for new and upcoming releases– having content about older books may result in less overall hits, but it’s way more interesting than cover reveal #5000009. You don’t even have to backtrack entirely into the backlist; the Book Smugglers have a good mix of new and older releases, for example, and reading their blog is always fun because of that.

Also community events are good! Like readalongs, or Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner‘s end of the year survey. They gets people talking with each other and it can be a lot of fun hosting and participating in them.

Discussion posts are great, too. They don’t even have to be long and/or detailed, just interesting. You could post a paragraph about a weird bug you found inside an old book (for example) and get 50 comments from people who also found weird bugs! (Weird bug post coming soon.)

So basically: be personal, be personable, and don’t be afraid to be weird.

How do you keep things from getting boring on your blog?

Get rid of the clutter: better writing through deletion

Write better posts has been on my blogging goals every year that I’ve been blogging, but doing it is easier said than done. First off, what does “better” mean? And second, how do I know I’ve achieved it?
I recently read a post about breaking your to do list down into smaller, easily achievable steps, and I’ve (kinda) figured out a way to apply that to my goal of writing better.

Steps towards writing better blog posts:
1) identify problem areas (being sure to focus on problems that’re actually fixable)
2) break down those fixable problems into small chunks
3) fix those chunks -> fix the problem
4) success!

The biggest problem I could see is my bad habit of using the same few words and phrases over and over again. Not only is that annoying to read, but it’s lazy and boring.

Postmaster General James A. Farley During National Air Mail Week, 1938

Not that mail is clutter. Unless it’s junk mail.

For example, I noticed I use the phrase “[something] was interesting” in almost EVERY review I write. I’ve been finding it super hard to get rid of the habit of using it, too.

What I do to fix this is to write two or three more sentences focusing on WHAT I found interesting instead. When I read other people’s reviews, I want to know about the interesting thing, not just the fact that it was interesting, so I figured I’d better do the same thing in my own reviews.

And then…

The Graveyard of Lost Posts

This post USED to be a kick-ass review of The Ruby in the Smoke, until my computer crashed and I LOST IT ALL.



Jon Stewart annoyed gif

This is not the first this has happened to me, and it’s why I specifically set up my various word doc programs to auto-save every three minutes. Somehow, my magnificent post slipped through the cracks and disappeared into the ether. LE SIGH.

So now I have to rewrite it somehow UGH. Since I can’t remember anything I wrote five minutes after I write it, it’s like starting from scratch all over again and I HATES IT MY PRECIOUS I HATES IT

Have you ever lost a post before? And how do you get the energy to rewrite it? Usually I just whine for about three days and then I’ve gotten over it enough to just forge ahead. What about you?

Happy 5th blogoversary to me! (also, some plans for the next year)

Thanksgiving cheer distributed for men in service. New York City turned host to the boys in service today and cared for every man in uniform. Underwood and Underwood: ca. 1918
Last week was the 5th anniversary of this blog! That’s a long time in internet years. I’m practically ancient now! Thanks so much to everyone who stuck with me the entire time AND to everyone who’s just joined me recently! Here’s to another five years, eh?

This here post is a kind of retrospective of some of the things I’ve done in the last 5 years, as well as a future-spective of what I’m planning to do in the future! Basically, the past was awesome, the future WILL be awesome, and though the present is only so-so, I’m not gonna settle for that.

Things that have happened in the five years I’ve been blogging!

I graduated from college, got a job, moved to another state, and finally got a smartphone.

I’ve written 1,533 posts. That’s about 306 posts a year! Holy crap.

I’ve read approx. 1,063 books. That’s about 212 a year! Again, holy crap.

I’ve interviewed two authors: Courtney Eldridge and Frank Portman And then…