Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

I missed yesterday’s inaugural post regarding favorite blogs.  However, I wasn’t about to miss today’s when I can introduce everyone to a great new blogger!  I give to you Jordyn from Ten Cent Notes.  She’s a fabulous new blogger focusing mostly on YA.  Enjoy!

So, why did you start blogging?

There are a million reasons for this, but mostly I was inspired by Jocelyn of Teen Book Review ( to give book blogging a go. I like analyzing books (and other types of stories such as television and movies) to see what makes them work or not work – I think it’s my writer’s brain. The first book blog I had lasted a few months before I got busy with other things and it went under, but at the start of 2009 I started Ten Cent Notes and that’s still going strong. I really love it.

Have you found that your focus on your blog has changed since you started?  Why?

A little bit. The vision at first was for it to be both YA and music. While I do post about one music-related post a week, the focus is now definitely books and the music part is more of a side thing. This is probably because while I can fangirl over music and I love it, I’m much more comfortable actually reviewing writing – I feel like I know what I’m doing with that.

What’s the one thing that has surprised you the most since you started blogging?

I don’t know. I’m one of those people who rarely knows what to expect. I prefer to be a bit surprised in life, so I can’t say whether blogging has been what I expected or not because I had no expectations. 

You give very little in the way of information about yourself.  Please tell me more about yourself – likes, dislikes, what you do when you aren’t blogging, any personal information you feel comfortable sharing.

Sure! Here’s a bunch of statements about me. I’m a nineteen year old girl going to college to become an elementary school teacher who really really really really wants to write YA books. I still live with my parents and younger sister (who is often referred to as “the lovely” on my blog). I have a cat named Waldo because it makes it funny when she gets lost in the house (“Where’s Waldo?” get it?). I love puns. I get very emotionally involved (/obsessed?) with my tv shows. I’m really close to my family. I live near the beach but never go. I’d rather write than almost anything else. I have strong opinions about bumper stickers. I’m honest to the point of it being a fault. I’m quiet but not shy and I hate when people confuse the two. I love twitter. (

Why do you review books?  What makes you continue to blog?

It’s selfish, I admit. I love analyzing books – seeing what works and what doesn’t. The fact that I get to do this and call it “productive” instead of “weird” is incredible. And, of course, I love when people (especially the authors whose books I’ve reviewed!) notice the work I put into it or my site. Right now I think I keep blogging just because I love it, because it’s fun for me.

You divide each review into different sections.  Did you try other formats before settling for this one?  What made you choose that?

I did try another format but the only real differences were that it was only five sections instead of ten and it was out of 25 points instead of 100. I decided on a rubric with different sections because it keeps me on track, I’m less likely to forget about something important I wanted to point out, and I like reviews that are more in-depth. I’m all about the writing so I enjoy going over the more detailed aspects – how the writer handles characters, plot, and setting as three separate ingredients because often one or more of those things is done well while something else isn’t. If you’re a reader who loves exciting plot-driven books, you might not care so much if character development isn’t strong, but a character-driven reader will. I like to think that my reviews are very informative this way.

How do you feel about negative reviews?  Do you review every book you read?

I don’t review every book I read, but if it falls into the YA category and I don’t absolutely hate it I usually review it. I don’t have a policy against negative reviews but I have no problem with not finishing a book and if that happens I don’t review it – which means a lot of the books that would get negative reviews don’t get reviewed at all. Also I’m pretty selective in what I read – if I can tell I won’t like something I don’t read it. I don’t like writing negative reviews, but if a book warrants it I have to be honest about that, or else not review it at all.

Do your friends and family read your blog?  What are their thoughts on it?

I think my mom occasionally reads it, and I don’t think she dislikes it, but she reads it more because I’m her daughter and less because she’s into books. But no, I don’t think any of them read it regularly and I like it that way.

Have you met any blogging friends in real life?  Would you like to do so?

I have, actually. My first blogging friend was a girl whose blog I’d been reading since she started it and then we met in real life kind of accidentally – we both had essays published in the same book and were in NYC for the launch. Her blog is now dead but since then I’ve met one of my blog friends (the wonderful Khyrinthia of Frenetic Reader) at various book events. There are others I’d love to meet but we’re all so spread out! (Here’s hoping I make it to BEA is 2010!)

Other than YA, what are some of your favorite books?  Any particular genres that interest you more than others?  Movies?  Music?

Ah! I do read things other than YA though I don’t usually blog about them (and obviously I love YA the best). When I was a kid my dad was always telling me to read more nonfiction so I’ve read a lot of really good nonfiction books – Columbine by Dave Cullen is amazing. Freakonomics and Blink are both good. After Red (a book of personal essays that I contributed to) came out, I read a few compilations of essays. I really enjoyed It’s A Wonderful Lie, which is all about life in your 20s, as well as The Friend Who Got Away, about lost friendships. I love a well-written memoir and both Stop Pretending by Sonya Sones and I Don’t Want to Be Crazy helped me out a lot when I was going through tough times. (Incidentally, both of these are written in verse.) As for other genres, the bulk of my fiction is YA but I’ve found a few adult titles I really loved – Jodi Picoult is a great author though I’ve only read two of her books (Plain Truth and Nineteen Minutes), and the book A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby is pretty spectacular. 
As far as music goes, I listen to a cornucopia of things, but at heart I’m definitely a country girl. A few of my favorite artists are Taylor Swift, Meiko, Skyler Stonestreet, Fountains of Wayne, Band of Horses, Ingrid Michaelson, Avril Lavigne, Zella Day, Owl City, Marie Digby, and Missy Higgins. Also every single country artist, especially from the early 90s. Alan Jackson is win.
I have precious little tolerance for movies usually. It’s strange that I can dedicate days to watching entire seasons of television shows, but to sit through a two-hour movie is too much. I don’t know why it is. I do have a few that I adore though – You’ve Got Mail, Kicking & Screaming, Say Anything, and In the Land of Women
Let’s play the ABC Game:

  • Available or single? Um, don’t those mean the same thing? Single. Available.
  • Best Friend? My little sister. Plus many others, but my sister is my best best friend.
  • Cake or Pie? Depends what kind of cake v. what kind of pie.
  • Drink of choice? Arizona sweet tea. Or any iced tea, really.
  • Essential item for every day use? Cellphone.
  • Favorite color? All of them. When I was a kid I used to change my favorite color on a daily basis – now I just refuse to choose.
  • Google? Yes and everything.
  • Hometown? A small, isolated city in northern Arizona.
  • Indulgences? Iced tea.
  • January or February? January!
  • Kids and their names? I am nineteen, so it’s good I don’t have kids just yet. I am a bit obsessed with names though. Right now the names of the main characters in my novel (which, you know, is kind of LIKE a child) are Grayson, Ainsley, Willa (all girls), and Hunter (the boy).
  • Life is incomplete without…? Love. Wait, no, that’s too cliche. True, but cliche. Life is incomplete without hugs!
  • Marriage date? I don’t know. I need to meet someone first. I want to get married in the winter though, because I’m weird.
  • Number of siblings? One.
  • Oranges or apples? Oranges.
  • Phobias and fears? Rollercoasters, dentist (gahhh!!!), bee/wasp stings and black widow spiders.
  • Quote for the day? “That’s how we roll in the shire!” from Leonard on The Big Bang Theory. I actually have never seen LOTR and only read The Hobbit, which I didn’t like, but I just think this line is hilarious.
  • Reason to smile? I’m listening to good music. (Right now it’s Half Past Two, my newly discovered music crush.)
  • Season? Winter, please! (I tell my mom I have the opposite of SAD – too much sun makes me sad.)
  • Three people you would tag for this exercise: Michelle (best friend/cousin), Becca (best friend/awesome person), and Jocelyn. (I know, I have a lot of best-friend-type people.)
  • Unknown fact about me? I always (yes, always) have the theme song to Elmo’s World stuck in my head. For probably years now.
  • Vegetable you hate? I’m not to keen on onions, but I wouldn’t say I hate them exactly. I actually really love vegetables. I was that kid who was like YAY PEAS!
  • Worst habit? Letting the mess pile up. I’m a slob.
  • X-rays you’ve had? Geez. Um. Lemme think. Arm (broke it when I was three or four), numerous chest x-rays (at least once a year) and numerous back/spine x-rays.
  • Your fave food? I don’t know if it’s my absolute FAVORITE, but I really like creamed peas. And avocados.
  • Zodiac sign? I don’t know. 

What advice do you have for anyone thinking about starting a blog, whether it is specifically for books or not?

Do it because you love it, because it’s fun, because it adds something to your life. Don’t feel obligated to it. Don’t let it become a burden. Enjoy it and make up your own “rules for blogging” along the way.

 Thank you, Jordyn!  It was fun getting to know you and your blog!  Now, everyone, head on over to her blog, Ten Cent Notes, and check her out!

Image: Signature Block
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