May 1, 2012

Those Were the Days: How I Discovered Book Blogs

Part of my daily routine is reading book blogs. First I watch the news and read the paper, and then go for the book blogs, I do that every morning. The other day I visited The Romance Reader and realized that I haven’t been there in months, and I couldn’t believe that I had been neglecting the first book blog I ever read. So I started thinking about the good old days where sites like TRR where my only contact with the book world.

This post is not about why I became a book blogger but about the blogs that introduced me to some of my favorite books and made me fall in love with the community. 

When I first discovered the genre I was clueless. I barely knew how to use Amazon and I didn’t know there was such a thing as blogs. So at first I got all my recs from Amazon and the “costumers who bought this item also bought” carrousel and a site called that was very helpful because it had book synopsis, including details like setting, percentage of violence, and my personal favorite: sex and type of sex (the first time I read that a book had “male nudity” and “the big P” I was pleasantly surprised and bought it immediately, sigh, I was easy to please back in the day, and by “back in the day” I mean now). I was so clueless that I used that site to buy backlists, the first time I read a Nora Roberts book I went to Allreaders, clicked on her name and went through that whole list, same with Linda Howard, Julie Garwood, Jude Deveraux, Johanna Lindsey, Judith McNaught (yes, I went through a “J” phase) and a bunch of other authors that I latter found out where a big deal. I’m talking about this site as if it’s an obscure and unknown place and I’m sure I’m wrong, but I never see it mentioned so I wonder if I’m the only one who uses it.

Once I became more proficient in the art of “Googling”, I discovered that by typing Author + Title+ Review, I could be redirected to websites dedicated to discussing books in a much more interesting way than AllReaders, because there were actual opinions and recommendations. That’s when I discovered The Romance Reader, and what a difference that site made. Now the “Big P” wasn’t enough to keep me happy, this site introduced me to actual reviews that, in my mind, where more reliable than those in Amazon, because if you have your own site you must know what you’re talking about, right? Right? Yes, I was young and impressionable, and did I mention clueless?

Soon after, I found a site called All About Romance, this one also had reviews, but I never truly became a fan mostly because I couldn’t figure out how it worked, and even today I’m just an occasional visitor. Again, I didn’t know anything about the Romance community, so I didn’t have a clue as to how big these sites were. One thing I learned here, though, was that there was a lot of webmaster/reader interaction, and that the people behind those sites where regular people like me.

The last blog I discovered, and one I still regularly visit and its part of my daily routine, was Dear Author. I like that blog because of the reviews, but also because of the discussions. Due to its format, I noticed that it was a very dynamic place fit for great chat and debate. Lots of drama as well, and who doesn’t love good drama?  

Now I know all about blogs and more recently (two or three years ago) I discovered blogs like Smexy Books, The Book Pushers and Fiction Vixen among others. Blogs that have their own unique style and content that make them interesting and worth following. These sites are particularly useful to find new books, something I’m grateful for since Allreaders covered backlists and old school authors and I need more.

Then I became a blogger and the rest you already know, including how I found awesome blogs and bloggers that I’ve come to admire and call friends, and that make reading books a whole new experience that has nothing to do with how it was when I read my first Romance.  

And before you ask, I’ve been reading Romance for over 12 years, I know I make it sound as if I’m really old, but I’m not. I was just really, really clueless and I didn’t have anyone to guide me through it and tell me what to read first. I was lucky enough to discover old-school Romances first, I haven’t read them all, but I can tell the difference between now and then, and I appreciate and notice how far the genre has come.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Which was the first book blog/review site you ever read? Do you have a favorite blog you visit regularly? Is there a blog you used to read but no longer caters to your interests? If you’re a blogger, is there a blog that inspired you to create your blog? Are you familiar with any of the sites I mention? If you started reading Romance before there were blogs, how did you discover new books? Am I asking too many questions? 
I know this picture has nothing to do
with the post but it was too funny not to use.

More Someecards here, and more Historic LOL here


  1. You have a great memory. I cannot for the life of me remember the first blog I visited. You have made me start to think though. I posted my reviews on Amazon. Then a friend introduced me to Goodreads. I LOVED Goodreads and from there I decided to put my reviews on my own personal blog. It grew from there and this week, after many format changes, I'm celebrating my 1 year Blog Anniversary. Yeah!

    I remember on Amazon always reading "Joyfully reviewed by Joy" so I think that may have been the first site I visited. I also remember frequenting Smart Bitches. I also remember getting my first tweets and Facebook comments from my favourite authors and being ridiculously giddy. (still do)

    Great post and a great walk down memory lane.

    1. I discovered GoodReads really late, like two years ago or so. Finding blogs/book sites is painfully slow for me, probably because once I find one I like I stay there and that’s it, maybe that’s why I also discovered Smart Bitches late. By the time I went to SBTB I was already reading DA and I never made it part of my routine (that’s the reason I don’t mention them on the post even though I enjoy the site as well).

      I never wrote reviews before I started blogging. One of the reasons I created the blog was because I wanted to review but didn’t like Amazon or GoodReads, I wanted my own place.

      Congrats on your anniversary, ours was a month ago so I know how exciting it is, the first year is extra special, I can’t believe we made it this far LOL!

  2. One of the first blogs I really felt connected to was Babbling About Books and More. She has a humor I enjoy :) Dear Author has always been there as well as Fiction Vixen and Book Pushers and this blog called Romance Around the Corner. Not sure if you've heard of it. I have many favorites in my folder, those are just a few.

    Before that - I got romance recs from my mom. :) Or I would google things like - "If I like Mary Balogh romances, what should I try?"

    Getting recs from blogs, twitter and GR work out much better these days :)

    1. Never heard of it, sorry! ;-) It sounds like the best blog ever so I'll go check it out right now.

      Babbling About Books is another recent discovery. I found that blog about a year ago, just before I started the blog. I really like the mix of serious and fun.

      See, googling thinks like "if you like..." is something I never thought of, I don't know what was wrong with me.

      But the online community has come a long way and as you say, getting recs it's easier now . Just spying on a couple of twitter conversations will do.

  3. For me it started with AAR then Booksmugglers, Lurve Ala Mode and then LB Gregg and Carolyn Crane before they were published.

    Then Smexybooks, Fiction Vixen and an awesome blog called Romance Around the Corner...

    Goodreads is my crack.

    Aw Mandi *sniff*

    1. Speak of the devil... :)

      I didn't know LB Gregg and Carolyn Crane were bloggers first!

      The Book Smugglers and Kenda's blog are all new to me, well, new as in I've been reading them for less than two years. But they are all so great and have so many good things to offer. My list of blogs I admire and love is almost as long as my TBR list, and that's saying a lot!

      You're like a war correspondent when it comes to Goodreads and the drama llamas, so thanks for keeping us all informed. :)

  4. LB and CC were two of the first bloggers I came in contact with when I broke out from my lurking mode back in 2007.

    I'm the Walter Cronkite of Goodreads.

  5. I remember exactly the site I stumbled upon first. It was The Book Worms owned by Tawni. And that was the site that inspired me to start BB myself. I was searching for something new and when I came across that site I thought it was perfect since I loved to read and could have consistent (well when my health allows) material.

    Immediately after discovering that site and others through her, I searched for and registered my blog name, and then got started building my site. It seems like such a long time ago but it's only been just over a year.

    Before I really don't know what my rhyme or reason was to picking books. I read what I liked. Wasn't afraid to try new things and would devour any author whose first book I read I ended up loving. Took a lot of suggestions from my mom but other than that, maybe a friend suggestion here and there.

    It seems we both have memories like elephants when it comes to this. But I'm really happy I found the BB community. Despite recent drama, I absolutely love it and love being a part of it, if a very small one.

    Great discussion post!

    1. Thanks Jade!

      So you're relatively new to the blog world. I like that you saw what you liked and decided to take action and create your own blog.

      I think the fact that you have a diverse taste helped you because you can pick anything and you'll probably like it. When I discovered romance I only wanted to read that so I needed more guidance to pick the right books, at least books with HEA's...

      Drama has been and always will be part of this. But it's not just in Romance or YA or book blogging in general, if there's a community or a couple of people together sharing something eventually drama will come, it is what it is and you just have to take it with humor.

  6. Goodreads was one of the first bookish sites I used. I remember stumbling upon book blogs when I found a book giveaway (sorry, can't remember which blog or book it was). I didn't know book blogs existed until about 3 years ago. Then I thought hey, I can do that and started my own blog.

    I still can't believe I didn't find your blog until recently. We have pretty similar tastes so I enjoy reading your reviews :)

    1. Thank you Brianna! As a fan of your blog I do tiny happy dances every time you comment LOL! Although to be fair, I do happy dances every time anyone comments including spammers (being spam-worthy makes me feel special).

  7. You know, the thing is back then, most people were clueless about the internet! Not just you. I can't imagine how hard it probably was to start some of those websites... and also, thank God they had to patience to persevere!! :)

    Hmmm, the first website I came across talked about romance and had a list of blogs on the sidebar. I went through a few before finding Kristie and I really fell in love with her blog. And from there on, I built on, looking for more blogs. It took a few months before I decided to also start my blog :)

    I did visit The Romance Reader at first, but not very long. I don't know, there's something about the layout... it's just not really attractive and there are so many reviewers. I did follow All about Romance for a time, but not any longer. I much prefer personalized/individualized blogs :)

  8. I love TRR! Even the clean, minimalistic, slightly corny look (not that this blog isn’t slightly corny as well *grins*). And when I discovered I didn’t even know there were places where readers could actually comment on the reviews, to me what they said was the truth! LOLOL But now that I think about it, when I first read TRR, the other blogs didn’t exist, so no comments anywhere. What a difference readers’ feedback makes, right?

    Who’s Kristie?

    1. Oh! You mean The Story Siren? *face palm* I can’t believe I didn’t recognize her name given that she’s been en vogue for the past few days, LOL. And also, yikes!

  9. NO!!!!! I don't mean The Story Siren!!! I mean KristieJ: Ramblings on Romance, etc. She doesn't blog as much anymore, but still :) She's a fellow Canadian blogger too :P

    I actually never visit The Story Siren ^_^; I don't follow many YA blogs as you know.

  10. I used to get my picks from the library. I'd just browse whatever was new and through trial and error I found what I liked. Then when my husband gave the idea to start a book blog. I started googling and I found Juju from Tales of Whimsy. From there I've found all the other bloggers I now call friends. It makes me smile to think back to when I didn't even know about book blogs.


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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.