South Louisiana based book enthusiast who enjoys all things bookish and delicious. 

Bookstagram Birthday Feature!!!  Interviews with the lovely ladies behind some of my favorite accounts

Bookstagram Birthday Feature!!! Interviews with the lovely ladies behind some of my favorite accounts

I can not believe that it has already been a year since I began my book account on Instagram.  I have had so many awesome things happen this year, but more importantly, I have met so many amazing, inspiring women through this wonderful book community.  I wanted to take some time today and acknowledge those women and the influence that they have had on me as I began my bookstagram journey.  While Instagram is an amazing source of information and community, it can also be very a daunting place.  It is a visual platform of social media and there are perfectly posed, magazine worthy pictures of books, coffee and libraries everywhere you look.  The majority of the reviews that are written are incredibly intelligent and well constructed, and I lean on them heavily when making my book selections.  I did not know a thing about "how to bookstagram" when I made my very first post last December and while I was excited to be posting my thoughts on books, I was also incredibly intimidated.  

I can't remember exactly how I found Kourtney, but we were both in the same boat in that our accounts were brand new and we didn't really know anything about bookstagram other than we were crazy passionate about books and loved discussing them with anyone who would listen.  Our bond was immediate and today I count her as one of my best friends.  We text/call each other constantly.... she is one of the funniest people that I have ever known and I absolutely adore her.  Her blog is Kourtney's Bookshelf and her Instagram feed has the same name.  Her reviews are creative and insightful and she also co-curates our book club, Salt Water Reads.  Kourtney was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule and answer some questions for me recently.  I am always so interested in the people behind the accounts that I follow, so I thought you would enjoy getting to know her a little better.  

 

 

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SA:  What is your favorite genre to read and why?

KD:  I read across a variety of genres, but my absolute favorite to read are Thrillers. This includes all the subgenres, psychological, domestic, emotional, suspense, all. of. them.  I am drawn to thrillers for the non-stop pacing of the plot.  I love that when I read thrillers I am constantly engaged in the story and I never have time to be bored with it. 

SA:  What made you decide to start a blog/bookstagram account?

KD:  I started my bookstagram account first for the simple reason of wanting to chat books with other book lovers.  Most of my IRL friends aren’t readers (gasp!) and I did attempt to join a local book club, but it ended up fizzling out.  I needed an outlet for my passion and I found that in the bookstagram community.  My blog followed shortly after as another outlet to continue spreading book love.  What I love about book blogs is that it is a space that is uncluttered.  Sometimes my Instagram feed is cluttered with random old posts, and new posts from some of my favorite accounts get lost.   

SA:  What do you do by day when you aren't reading?

KD:  I am currently a stay-at-home mom to two sweet and very active boys.  They constantly have me running just to keep up. I am also a Dental Hygienist on hold. I miss cleaning up dirty mouths but not enough to go back, yet. I could literally sit and talk oral hygiene all day long.  I am exceptionally passionate about proper oral healthcare in children.    

SA:  What has been your favorite thing about blogging/bookstagram? 

KD:  The. Community.  The book loving community is unlike any other social media community you will find.  Everyone is so welcoming, generous and genuinely compassionate.  Yes, we are primarily here to chat about books, but it has grown to so much more than that.  This is a community that will take you beyond the book covers, and in doing so you meet some of the most incredible humans.  The friendships and relationships I have formed from the book community were completely unexpected.  For that alone, I am thankful. 

SA:  As we all know, things aren't always perfect as depicted in the pictures that we post and we have all had to deal with difficulties behind the scenes.  What has been your worst experience as a blogger/bookstagrammer?

KD:  I think my worst experience is having someone copy my content.  Your blog posts and your Instagram feed are what you make it.  I don’t post as often as I would like, and I don’t read as many books as I hope to each month, but what I do read and post I put thought and effort into and it belongs to me.  I think we all learn from one another and we take those tips and tricks and make them our own and I have no problem with that.  I am all about lifting one another up, supporting each other.  There is room for all of us in this space.  I just want you to do you and let me do me.       

SA:  How do you balance work, reading and life?  What's your best organizational secret?

KD:  Ha! I do not have any organizational secrets.  To be honest, I do not have my life together.  I do the best I can, and I am okay with that sometimes not being enough.  I read when I can.  I am never found without a book in my bag.  I read in the car when my Husband is driving, even if it is for five minutes.  Life is hectic with two kids and I rarely have time during the day to read.  I do not have a lunch break to eat and read like I used to.  I have chosen to abandon all my tv shows to make time to read.  Once the boys are in bed at night I spend that ‘me time’ reading.  Reading helps me clear my mind of the busy schedules we keep and rejuvenates me to wake up tomorrow and do it all over again.

 

SA:  If you could go to dinner with three authors (living or dead) who would they be and why?

KD:  1.     Karin Slaughter is easily on this list.  Her book Pretty Girls is the reason I ventured into this exclusive world of book lovers.  I had the pleasure of attending a book signing she had at my local indie book store, Murder by the Book.  She was witty which I of course expected but she was also hilariously funny.  The stories she shared of her childhood, growing up and then of course her experience as a writer were all fascinating.

2.     I am going to mention someone that I hope I have the pleasure of having dinner with someday, Britney King.  I met her through the bookstagram community and she is so genuine.  I feel as though I have known her for much longer.  I love following her for all the book related things and for the special tidbits she shares about life.  She manages to give me all the feels with some of her posts.  I have no doubt we could chat over margaritas and queso all evening without running out of things to talk about. 

3.     I saved the dead for last, Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I read The Scarlet Letter as part of an assigned reading project in high school.  I think this is truly where my love for literature made a major turn in a new direction.  Sweet Valley High was great and all, but this one showed me there was more out there. My love for psychological fiction was born.  I believe I read The Scarlet Letter three times in a row. Hawthorne gave me a book hangover before I even knew what a book hangover was.

SA:  What was your favorite book of 2017?

KD:  My favorite book of 2017 was hands down Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.  Yes, I know it was published in 2015, but I read it this year.  That book changed my life.  It is the reason I started my bookstagram account and subsequently my blog.  I had to talk to someone about that book. 

SA:  What book are you most excited about reading in 2018?

KD:  I am most looking forward to reading The Chalk Man, it’s a debut novel which are some of my absolute favorites to read and the early reviews have me dying to read it!  Thankfully, I don’t have to wait much longer!

SA:  What advice would you give someone just starting a bookstagram account?

KD:  Be genuine, be honest and above all be kind.  Don’t feel pressured to be anything other than who you are.  Be engaging, the more you chat with others the more they will chat with you.  It’s so much more than simply clicking the heart under a photo if you want it to be.      

SA:  Is there anything else you would like to mention about your blog/insta account?

KD:  I won’t spam your inbox if you choose to follow my blog, “ain’t nobody got time for that”, so please do!  I would also love to chat with you on Instagram @kourtneysbookshelf about all the book things and more because there is a human behind the bookshelf. Lastly, if buddy reads and book clubs are your thing please join my book bestie, Stacey, and me over @saltwaterreads for our online book club.  You won’t find a book club that has more fun than we do!    

You can follow Kourtney and all her reviews at the following links: 

 

https://www.kourtneysbookshelf.com/

https://www.instagram.com/kourtneysbookshelf/

 

 

 

 

My next featured blogger is the first of two ladies that reached out to me within a few weeks of my account going up and basically took me under her wing.  I was amazed at her kindness, at her willingness to answer my questions, and at how she was always there for me to bounce ideas off of and show me the ropes, so to speak.   She's a pool pro, her Insta stories always make me hungry because she is also an incredible cook, she runs a very successful book and lifestyle blog and she is a reviewer for CJS Reads   I was so excited when Chandra of Where the Reader Grows agreed to answer a few questions for this post.  

 

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SA:  What is your favorite genre to read and why?

CP:  I've always been keen on horror and the macabre.  Growing up I couldn't my hands on enough King and Koontz with a side of V.C. Andrews and anything that put you in a darker, weirder place of mind.  I was a huge fan of horror movies when I was little and my parents never really censored what I watched.  Then to find horror books, it was like playing a movie in my mind and that was IT.  From there I grew to my love for psychological thrillers, which (to me) are just a smidge off of horror anyways.  The human mind is a crazy organ and to see what craziness authors come up with has always been fascinating.

SA:  What made you decide to start a blog/bookstagram account?

CP:  When I got back into my love for reading, I started posting more books on my personal account.  Then Tange (who is taking a break from IG these days) reached out and informed me of the bookstagram community.  So I decided to open a new account just for my books and ended up finding a community that appreciated my posts! haha.  Once I got into the habit of actually reviewing and people asking about recipes of meals I was cooking in my stories, I decided to launch my blog at the beginning of this year.  It's a lot of work but so worth it!  

SA:  What do you do by day when you aren't reading?

CP:  I actually am transitioning jobs right now and will be starting a paralegal position here in less than two weeks!  I think it's going to cut considerably into my reading time (grrr) but you do what you have to. ;)

SA:  What has been your favorite thing about blogging/bookstagram? 

CP:  Finding books that I otherwise never would have probably even heard about.  Also, becoming friends with not only other bookstagrammers, but authors as well.  It's been a pleasure to have been able to meet a few in real life!

 

SA:  As we all know, things aren't always perfect as depicted in the pictures that we post and we have all had to deal with difficulties behind the scenes.  What has been your worst experience as a blogger/bookstagrammer?

CP:  Amazingly, for having my account for almost 2 years now, only one bad experience has happened to me and that was recently.  I had written an honest, but still respectful, review of a book and the author blasted me on my insta post... saying I was disrespectful, immature and based on other reviews, I should've thought about this and that.. then said that "after all" she doesn't see my name on any published books.  Sigh.  I understand that books are an extension of the author and it's difficult when they don't get a glowing review.  This is why I always try and be respectful if I am writing one for a book that just didn't work for me.  I responded to her in a nice manner and my booksta-friends were nice enough to have my back.  

SA:  How do you balance work, reading and life?  What's your best organizational secret?

CP:  Luckily I've had a job where I'm allowed to read during my downtime which is why I get through as many books as I do each month.  But I make sure to still get out and socialize and not be such a hermit.  I live my life in organized chaos.  However, when it comes to my books, reviewing schedule and such, I have a spreadsheet that helps me keep on top of my game.

SA:  If you could go to dinner with three authors (living or dead) who would they be and why?

CP:  I've had the absolute pleasure of dining with James Fahy and Beverley Lee when I was in England.  If I could pick three more.. hmmm.... of course I would choose King since I've been reading his work all my life.  Not to mention just how witty and funny he is!  I would LOVE to dine with Wilson Rawls since he's the author of my favorite book EVER, Where The Red Fern Grows.  Just goes to show that your favorite book doesn't have to belong to your favorite genre. ;)  I would also be thrilled to sit down with Carol Wyer.  As you know, she's recently blown up on Bookstagram and writes an amazing series.  I've interacted with her a few times and you can just tell she's down to earth.  She also writes in multiple genres so picking her brain would be a lot of fun.

SA:  What was your favorite book of 2017?

CP:  Uff, this is such a hard question.  So I'm just going to go with the first one that pops up in my head and that is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.  I think that this one always comes to mind because of how much it surprised me.  I'd totally break a tooth on a TV for this book ;)

SA:  What book are you most excited about reading in 2018?

CP:  SO MANY! But probably Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough.  I just love her writing style.

SA:  What advice would you give someone just starting a bookstagram account?

CP:  Do whatever you want with it!  Don't worry about themes, likes, how many followers you have, etc.  Use it as a platform to show what YOU love.  And interact.  Everyone is in this community because we have a love for one thing - BOOKS.  There are NO RULES to Bookstagram.  Be polite, agree to disagree, show your love for what you love and just DO YOU.

SA:  Is there anything else you would like to mention about your blog/insta account?

CP:  I have no idea! Haha.  These are just platforms for my reading and cooking diary.  The fact that so many people are interested in what I have to say is thrilling and it's a pleasure to meet new people on there everyday

For more of Chandra's amazing reviews and recipes, head on over to: 

http://www.wherethereadergrows.com/

https://www.instagram.com/wherethereadergrows/

 

 

 

 

The second blogger who reached out to me very early on is the bad ass book babe, Jessica Map.  She's sassy, book savvy and I always get major nail envy when I see her pictures.  In fact, (she doesn't know this), but when I first was getting started I went and got fake nails because I loved hers so. I loved how they looked in all her pictures and thought they would look just as fabulous on me.  HA!!  That turned out to be a complete hot mess disaster --  I couldn't type, I couldn't open anything and I couldn't take pictures. They lasted about three days and off they came.  While I love how they look on her, I learned first hand the #1 bookstagram rule:  you do you.  Be yourself and don't try to be anyone else.  (I am sure she is dying laughing right now as she reads this, but hey! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)   Jessica is a rep for several bookish brands, and  I am completely obsessed with her two chocolate labs, Watson and Ellie.  She and Chandra were kind enough to include Kourtney and myself in one of their book giveaways and we have been close ever since.  Jessica is an avid thriller and horror reader, a blogger and also a reviewer for CJS Reads.

 

 

     

 

 

 

SA:  What is your favorite genre to read and why?

JR:  Typically I gravitate towards thrillers and horror. I've loved these genres since I picked up CARRIE back when I was 10 or 11. I haven't come across any other genres that keep me flipping the pages quite like these do (even if I end up getting that paranoid "someone is behind me" vibe when I'm done!) True Crime is another one to throw in there. Those are scarier than any horror or Stephen King book I've ever read. 

SA:  What made you decide to start a blog/bookstagram account?

JR:  My Instagram started out as a personal account - hence the not very bookish username. I came across @kingandcoffee and other profiles that only posted books and I thought that was really cool. I never would have guessed that there was a huge community that was all brought together because of books. I now keep it to a strictly bookstagram account and I did delete some of my original photos from the personal side of my profile (minus my dog pictures - it feels like a crime to delete those!) I started my blog earlier this year so that I could post in more places for #allthebookreviews and #CJSReads. 

SA:  What do you do by day when you aren't reading?

JR:  Does work count? Throughout the normal work week I'm managing a small business. It's Jeremy's family's online business (there's a mouthful) and we specialize in low and no sodium food items. With it being a small business I have about 10 job titles. It can get hectic, but I love the variety of jobs and it's never the same thing everyday! Outside of work and reading, the dogs (Watson and Ellie) keep me plenty busy and entertained. Two hobbies of mine have always been martial arts and kickboxing (I have my second degree black belt) and playing the piano. One day I'll own a piano again!

SA:  What has been your favorite thing about blogging/bookstagram? 

JR:  The community. I've met some incredible people through the mutual love of books and it makes my heart happy. I've never had any friends that have loved reading like I do, so it was something I never got to talk about. Despite it being online, I'd say that I've made some great friends (some I've even met up with in person!). That's the best part about bookstagramming. 

SA:  What has been your worst experience as a blogger/bookstagrammer?

JR:  I'm awful at remembering to post things some days. So then it turns into an overload of posts in the same day (I'm working on it!). There are times where I think some profiles become too focused on follower counts and likes that they are no longer doing it for the fun of it. Not giving credit where credit is due has been another issue. If you're going to use my photo (or anyone else's) you need to give credit - there are many other areas I feel this needs to be done as well, but that's a whole other rant!

SA:  How do you balance work, reading and life?  What's your best organizational secret?

JR:  I try my best to keep reading separate from work. I may get reviews and posting done during work hours (lunch breaks or when its slow) but I try not to read at work. I have before and I get so distracted that I don't really absorb what I'm reading. As for balancing reading and life...with how far away I live from most places (usually an hour drive anywhere) I don't have too many distractions at night or on the weekends. If Jeremy and I are busy after work, then I usually can squeeze in some chapters before falling asleep. As for the organization side of things, I always take the books for each month off the shelf and keep them in a stack near me. That way I know what I want/need to get done. I also have a spreadsheet I keep up with constantly. 

SA:  If you could go to dinner with three authors (living or dead) who would they be and why?

JR:  I'd love to actually meet Stephen King - I loved going to the SLEEPING BEAUTIES event and hearing him and Owen speak. J. Arthur Squiers is another one - he's a Minnesota author and I LOVED his two books (CRIMINAL UTOPIA and WILDFIRE) and can't recommend them enough. It's so hard to pick just one more because there are so many great authors that I've encountered because of Instagram. It makes me happy when authors are so active with their followers and readers. 

SA:  What was your favorite book of 2017?

JR:  Right now the top contender is THE WIFE BETWEEN US by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (yes, it technically releases next year). Some others include THE CUTAWAY by Christina Kovac, THE DRY by Jane Harper, and the DI Robyn Carter series by Carol Wyer. I could keep going!

SA:  What book are you most excited about reading in 2018?

JR:  There are so many books coming out in 2018 to be excited about. Stephen King will have another book releasing next year (one of my insta-buy authors) I'm very excited for the second book in the UNSUB series (INTO THE BLACK NOWHERE) and the next Riley Sager novel (THE LAST TIME I LIED). 

SA:  What advice would you give someone just starting a bookstagram account?

JR:  I would tell them to stay true to what they want to do. So many people compare their content to other profiles and think they need to do specific themes or read specific authors/genres to get a lot of attention. This is a platform to express yourself and share the books that you love. If you want to post books in the same pose or with the same background, then do it. If you want to have props and stick to a specific theme, then do it. It can be hard sometimes, but don't get too discouraged on follower count or number of likes on your photos - it will drive you nuts. Don't be afraid to interact with others or ask for recommendations - that's how I've found many great bookish friends and equally amazing books to read. 

For your daily dose of all things Jessica, head over to:

https://www.instagram.com/jessicamap/

https://jessicamapreviews.com/

 

 

 

Last but certainly not least, is the lovely Ashley from BookwormStatus.  We connected very early on through our love of books and also our shared passion of giving back to our communities on a local and global scale.  Ashley  recently left her job in the corporate world and founded her own business, Knit-able,  knit wear with a purpose.  When she is not making incredibly gorgeous scarves,  you can find her reading any and everything that piques her interest and trying to find ways to help those in need.  She is one of the kindest, most compassionate women that I know and I feel very lucky to have connected with her through social media.  

 

 

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SA:  What is your favorite genre to read and why? 
AP:  I don't have one! Yes, that's right. No favorites here. Why, you ask? The reason being, I love to switch up what I'm reading. I tend to get bored with just one genre. That said, if I had to choose two I would say fiction and memoir. 

 

SA:  What made you decide to start a blog/bookstagram account? 

AP:  I started my bookstagram account without ever knowing about the bookstagram community. I was leaving yoga one day and feeling very anxious (yes, the complete opposite of how you should feel). I loved to read, but felt like it wasn't a proper "hobby". On my walk home I strolled by my local bookstore when it hit me that yes, reading IS a hobby and I wanted to share that with the world. I went home immediately, pulled up Instagram and searched names until I found one that wasn't taken. That's how bookwormstatus came about. 

 

SA:  What do you do by day when you aren't reading? 

AP:  When I'm not reading I'm off dreaming up ideas and starting side businesses that will help create a better world. I'm passionate about giving back to the community and making a positive impact on others. I'm also a runner and completed 5 half marathons with the hopes of some day going for the gold and completing a full! 

 

SA:  What has been your favorite thing about blogging/bookstagram? 

AP:  Two things. First, I found a community of like-mined book lovers who I never thought existed in this world. I've made great friends near and far. Some I've met in person and some I only hope to get the chance to meet in person. The second is that this community has empowered me to find my creative self. If you asked me a year ago I would say "I wasn't creative". Fast forward and I've now been able to confidently identify with being creative. It's allowed me to find that part of me that was always there, but just hiding under insecurities. 

 

SA:  As we all know, things aren't always perfect as depicted in the pictures that we post and we have all had to deal with difficulties behind the scenes.  What has been your worst experience as a blogger/bookstagrammer and how did you handle it? 

AP:  Wow, isn't this the truth. I've tried to be as real as possible when I post my comments, but we know there's always more to the story. I would say my worst experience was the pressure I put on myself to make it something bigger then what it really was. This was a hard truth to face. I naturally run at a million miles an hour and one day, sitting in a coffee shop with an author, I crashed. I had what we believed to be my first panic attack. Yes, very scary stuff. The pressure I was putting on myself led to severe anxiety that turned into panic attacks. It took me about 2 months to fully recover and in that period I put down my bookstagram account. It's only now that I'm starting to become active again, but with a different mindset. I found out that it was okay to pause and it was also okay to remind myself I didn't start this account to "make it my FT job". I also shut down my website and stopped blogging - moving everything to my IG Account as I wasn't able to keep up. 

 

SA:  How do you balance work, reading and life?  What's your best organizational secret?

AP:   Ah! If someone has cracked this, please let me know. JK. No organizational secrets here. The balance is a struggle, but I think I figured out ways to make it work. I approach my day in a structured manner. I also stopped posting as much on IG so I have time to really enjoy my books. In the mornings I journal and then on my commute, at lunch and after work I will read a few pages. I also spend a lot of weekend time reading since that's when I'm the most relaxed. 

 

SA:  If you could go to dinner with three authors (living or dead) who would they be and why? 

AP:  Joan Didion. Her writing is incredible. She's seen a lot and living a full life. I would love to talk to her about growing up in the 60s and 70s in California and being a journalist. Rebecca Solnit. Her views can come across as strong, but I would love to talk to her about her books live. Ann Martin. Because of her books (The Babysitters Club) I started reading at a young age. I have her to thank for some of my love of reading! 

 

SA:  What was your favorite book of 2017? 

AP:  The book I'm reading now - The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

SA:  What book are you most excited about reading in 2018?

AP:  Unsure! Someone send me a recommendation please! 

 

SA:  What advice would you give someone just starting a bookstagram account?

AP:   I was once given some great advice that I must pass on. Don't compare your mile 1 to someone else's mile 19. Be happy with where you're at and don't get discouraged because you aren't as far along as others. Don't compare yourself to other accounts. There's only one you, so be unique, be you. Post something different and avoid being the status quo. Don't give up. It's easy to want to give up - I almost did - but keep going, but only if it makes you happy. 

 To follow Ashley's journey as she navigates the book and fashion world while making her mark and making a difference, go to: 

https://www.instagram.com/bookwormstatus/

      https://www.knit-able.com/

 

Many thanks to  Kourtney, Chandra, Jessica and Ashley for taking time out of their hectic holiday schedules to answer these questions.  I am so thankful for the roles that they have played in my journey in this wonderful community and I hope you enjoyed getting to know them a little better.  I am constantly amazed at the generosity, the intelligence and the kindness that can be found through out the bookstagram community.  I am so glad I took the leap last year and started Prose and Palate and I can not wait to see what 2018 brings!!

December Salt Water Reads Pick:  Little Broken Things Review

December Salt Water Reads Pick: Little Broken Things Review

Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart - The December Salt Water Reads Book Club Pick

Little Broken Things by Nicole Baart - The December Salt Water Reads Book Club Pick