Book Blogger Spotlight- Books and Babbles

Hey guys!!

I’m so excited for this post because it is the first in my new series of book blogger spotlights!!!

Today I am asking the wonderful Ayla @ Books and Babbles some questions about her blogging journey! She also is amazing (to the point where I suspect the use of magic) at taking pictures of books, and you’ll be able to see a few of her pictures too!!

Q: How long have you been blogging?
A: I’ve been blogging for a really long time! It’s actually been so long I don’t even remember when I started… I must’ve had over 10 blogs about the most random things before I started Books & Babbles in May 2016.
Q: Why did you start blogging?

A: I started my book blog because I had another blog I shared my reviews on and didn’t like it. It was supposed to be a lifestyle blog that turned into a book blog and that just wasn’t what I wanted for it. Then I decided to make a separate blog for all my bookish things and eventually it became my main blog. 🙂

Q: What advice can you give to other bloggers?

A: Do whatever you want! For the longest time I tried to do what others did and it wasn’t making me very happy at all. The book blogging community is so different from other niches/communities because as long as it’s about books, it’s all good! (And even if you do both books and lifestyle, it’s still good because, I mean, there’s books!)

Q: What is your favorite book or series and why?

A: This is a difficult one! Ehm… I really love The Orphan Queen duology by Jodi Meadows. (And I don’t know anyone who’s read these books!) And V.E. Schwab and Sarah J. Maas are my favourite authors, so I love pretty much every book they’ve written.

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Q: Have you ever bought a book for it’s cover?

A: Yes, all the time! I’m Dutch and I read mostly English so I have to order 99% of the books I want to read. Most of the time I chose the edition that I like best.

Q: Do you prefer buying books in person or online?

A: I’d love to buy my books in a bookshop, and I occasionally do so. But like I said, I order most online because it’s easier and much, much cheaper for me to get them online.

Q: E-books, audiobooks, or physical books?

A: All of them? Hahah! I definitely prefer physical books, because I just really love hardcover books, but I also read a lot of eBooks (which I get from Amazon on sale – Thanks, Bookbub!) and I love to listen to an audiobook every now and then, especially when travelling and I don’t want to risk damaging my book.

Q: Besides reading and blogging, what do you like to do in your spare time?

A: I listen to music all the time (also while reading and blogging), so I really love and enjoy music and going to concerts. I also love watching movies and TV shows and I love video gaming! I absolutely suck at it for sure, but I can get “lost” in my favourite videogame (The Legend of Zelda) just as much as when I’m reading a good fantasy book.

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Q: What is something that everyone should know?

A: I think this is a very unpopular opinion, but it’s okay if you don’t read books critically. Some people can call out problematic details of every book and say how this character is wrong and that character is even worse, etc… And for a long time I felt bad about not reviewing books like that myself, since I’m generally always positive about books. Then I realised everyone is entitled to their own opinions and some people like to be critical and others just like to read without thinking too much of it. It’s okay to not be critical, if you know what I mean.

Check Ayla out online:



Instagram (and never miss one of her amazing pictures!!)

Thanks for reading!!

July Wrap Up: Where did the summer go?!? How did I read 25 books?!?



No but seriously I’m having a crisis here. Where did July go?

I haven’t done a wrap up in forever. Probably because last time I checked it was still May 2nd and no where near the end of a month… much less the end of the summer! AHHHHH

Breathe Emma, breathe.

I’m just now realizing the sheer number of books I have read this month.

I’ve kind of been in a reading binge, which has been wonderful. BUT THAT MEANS I’VE BEEN POSTING SO MANY REVIEWS!!

There are also a bunch of books that I read that I haven’t posted reviews for yet… so I’m gonna split this up into two sections:

Books I have Reviewed This Month:


Links to the Reviews:

5 ‘s:  The Anatomical Shape of a Heart //  King’s Cage //  A Midsummer’s Nightmare
4 ‘s:  The Hidden Oracle //  Glass Sword //  How To Hang A Witch //  Just Friends //  Cress //  The Wood //  Traveler
3 ‘s: Illuminae // Winter // Caraval
2 ‘s:  The Book Jumper // #famous //  Romeo and/or Juliet
1 ‘s:  As I Wake

Books I have Read this Month but Haven’t Posted Reviews for Yet:

The Infinity of You & Me and Scrappy Little Nobody were actually both DNFs, so I’m going to be publishing a post on DNFs pretty soon.

The Throne of Glass series is amazing so far, and I’m going through them like nobody’s business. I’m planning a series review rather than individual reviews, because why not?

I am going to be a part of the “A Short History of the Girl Next Door” blog tour in September, so my review for that will be in the blog tour post.

And the other two reviews are drafted, I just haven’t had a chance to post them yet!

Woah… I have read 25 books this month?! I’m in awe of myself. I might need to go get ice cream to celebrate.

Any excuse for ice cream, am I right?!

So, along with reading a record amount of books, here are some of the posts and tags I have published this month:

The Dreaded Book Slump: Why they happen and how to beat them

Why did I write this post? I was so obviously not in a book slump. Maybe I just wanted more people to join my book binge? Idk…

Author Q&A with Peyton Garver

It’s been a while since I posted an author Q&A, but I’m so glad I got to interview Peyton! She is so nice, and her book, Sublime Karma, sounds amazing!! (I have a copy of it sitting on my TBR pile, so I’ll write a review of it eventually!)

Discussion: WHAT’S WITH ALL THE GREEN EYES IN YA? Have all other eye colors been banned?

In which I talk about the over abundance of green eyes. Seriously, I know like 3 people with green eyes. Something is wrong here.

Comparing US and Foreign Edition Covers

Because book covers are beautiful, and I love looking at foreign edition covers!

The Book Titles Tag

Welcome to the title of my life. Read at your own risk. Featuring: Food: A Love Story

You are probably wondering right now if I have a life offline. That’s a good question. I’m not really sure anymore. Here is what I have done this month:

  • Binge watched The Night Shift (in which Jill Flint plays Jordan, a female doctor)
  • Binge watched (this is an ongoing binge) Royal Pains (in which Jill Flint plays Jill, who runs the hospital) (totally coincidence by the way..  I had no idea she was in either show)
  • Wrote 40,000 words for Camp Nano (a project that will probably never see the light of day)
  • Became a volunteer librarian at my local library
  • Stayed over at a friends house because I haven’t seen her in forever (it was a blast!)
  • Got a head cold from my younger brother when he (and my two other brothers and dad) visited me (seriously dude, cough into your arm)
  • Had three (yes 3!!!) picnics while my family visited.
  • Mowed the lawn, twice
  • Went to target to buy dorm essentials for the school year (which is coming wayyy to fast)
  • Chopped my hair off (waist length to shoulder length) and got bangs.

When did I sleep? What’s my secret?

HAHAHAHA good question. I don’t sleep. As I said in my Book Titles Tag, I am the Queen of Shadows.

AKA I am never asleep. It’s becoming a problem.



Also, I’ll be running a giveaway when I do hit 500. I’m thinking either a book of the winner’s choosing (from book depository) or maybe an ARC? Let me know in the comments what you would want to win!!

And finally, to wrap up this wrap up, here are some of my favorite posts from other bloggers this month!

The “Never Have I Ever” vlog from Paper Fury and her sister!

I love Paper Fury! Her blog is amazing and 100% goals. Also this vlog was hilarious and I was laughing the whole time!

Ten Weird Habits of Mine from Bionic Book Worm

These habits are so relatable!!

Books that aren’t set in/inspired by The Western World from My Bookish Dream

This post showcases some amazing books (like The Forbidden Wish ) that are set away from the Western World.

The Dreamy Book Covers Tag from Reactionary Tales

Because I think we all know by now how much I love a pretty book cover!

August is on the horizon.

I’m not a big planner (which I why I don’t do monthly TBRs), but I do have some pretty exciting plans for this month.

  • I have a friend from school coming to stay with me for a week (probably, she hasn’t gotten her tickets quite yet)
  • My best friend and I are going on a road trip together!!!!!
  • I have an ARC of Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco to read (and I can’t wait to start it)
  • I have some AMAZING blog posts lined up for you guys (or at least I think they are amazing… hopefully you’ll agree)
  • and of course I’m going to be doing a lot of blog surfing, so I can see all of your amazing posts!

And that’s my July Wrap up! What have you guys been up to this month?

Thanks for reading!!

Author Q&A- Peyton Garver

It is been quite a while since I’ve posted an Q&A, but I am so excited to have had the opportunity to interview Peyton Garver and share it with you guys! Peyton Garver is a high school teacher and a YA author, and has recently published a book called Sublime Karma.

Author Q&A With Peyton Garver

Q:Hi! Peyton! Thank you so much for doing this Q&A! What is something you think everyone should know about you?

A: What I like most about teaching is making a difference in the lives of my students. I want to inspire them and give them the confidence to pursue their dreams.

Q: Tell me about your book, Sublime Karma. Where did the idea for this book come from?

mA: Sublime Karma is about a girl who transfers to a new high school as a senior and doesn’t quite fit in. But, there’s a reason why she is the way she is and Jake is intent on finding out her story. It is an emotional novel, but what I hope my readers get from it are the morals. I hope I did the job of promoting advocacy for self and others and to stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone. I tried to get the message across that you never know the story behind the mask.

The idea for Sublime Karma came from years of my experience teaching teens. I have been witness to challenges, heartaches, and triumphs. And, although bullying has been in the headlines these past few years, it’s not a new phenomenon. I have seen introverts become victims and unlikely students become advocates, standing up against the crowd. So in essence, the idea for Sublime Karma came from my students and thus my book is dedicated to them.

Q:Do you have any writing rituals? How do you find your inspiration?

hgA: I don’t have any rituals per se, but I get my inspiration from my students. My novel is purely fiction but the situations could be very real in any school. The issues that are present in Sublime Karma are not uncommon among adolescents.  Another form of inspiration is music. Sometimes I’ll hear a song on the radio and it inspires a whole scene. I’ve actually posted a playlist of songs that have been the inspiration for portions of Sublime Karma.

*The last song on the list is by the fictional band, Sublime Karma, in the novel.

Q:What is something you want the world to know?

If everyone followed the Golden Rule think about how much better our world would be. I love this Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Author Bio

imageWhen not writing, Peyton is a full time teacher. She has developed characters who resemble real world teens dealing with real issues: relationships, jealousy, bullying, and depression. Her newest novel, Sublime Karma, is a contemporary story filled with emotion, depth, wit, and suspense. Sublime Karma was published in the fall of 2016 as an ebook by Soulmate Publishing. The print copy was released in 2017.

When she’s not teaching or writing, Peyton enjoys traveling. The Caribbean Islands have become a favorite vacation getaway for Peyton and her husband. “Nothing is better than sitting on a beach, in front of the crystal sea, enveloped in the warmth of the tropical sun with a frosty piña colada and a good book that I just can’t put down.

Find Peyton Online

Visit her website

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I’d like to say a big thank you to Peyton for doing this interview, and to you for reading it!

Author Q&A- Jim Steinberg

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Steinberg, an author and co-host of the Lost Coast Writers Retreat. Read the interview below!coffee%20with%20Jim%20on%20the%20Square

Q: How long have you been writing? Why did you start?

A: While teaching Language Arts and Social Studies in middle school in the mid eighties and early nineties, I had to give kids creative writing assignments and evaluate them. Having been a history major in college, then a lawyer as a young man, I had no experience with creative writing. History and law are built upon analysis directed toward reaching “objective” understandings and to some extent involve persuading people to accept certain conclusions. That’s quite different from storytelling in which the writer invites readers into an experience. In spite of my lack of experience writing stories, I managed to get by pretty well in the classroom, but I knew it would help to learn the craft from the inside. To remedy what I saw as a deficiency, I enrolled in the Redwood Writing Project, Humboldt State University’s summer institute for teachers involved in any type of writing curriculum. This was in 1990. I didn’t realize that I was on my way.

The_Vistacafe_Front1One of our assignments was to write a “crystal memory.” I fell in love with writing stories. Soon after, I found myself inspired to change the crystal memory into fiction. I found myself “following my nose” – allowing my imagination, expressed through point of view characters – to show me where to go. Once I welcomed in my imagination and sense of wonder, that crystal memory, “The Journey,” became “First Passage,” a piece of fiction. It was published in The New Renaissance in 2002 and now appears in my second collection: Last Night At The Vista Café, Stories.

Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?

A: I regard my muse, which I take to mean my source of inspiration, in different ways. Sometimes I think of it as my imagination, sense of wonder, and desire to communicate in a heartfelt manner. Other times it feels like the part of me that wants me to scratch any itch by giving attention to persistent impulses rising from within me. Sometimes when that happens, I wonder whether the impulse is related to something arising from my past to ask me to find it a place of greater repose. On a deeper level, I think of the muse as my soul, which I like to believe is the aspect of me that yearns to hold, express, and share all of my experience – both good and bad, real and imagined.

Here is an example. Boundaries, my first novel, was inspired by two actual experiences: first, a rather dramatic child custody case in the 1970’s when I was practicing law for a public firm representing people who could not afford private counsel; second, in the early 1980’s, a chance encounter with a woman I met in a restaurant under very unusual circumstances. The client was a very powerful woman who had great influence on the way I conducted the proceedings. The woman in the restaurant got my attention in a more personal way. In a kind of writer’s alchemy, I combined the two into a single character for a story about a lawyer and a client who have a most unusual relationship that gets them in quite a bind. I like to think that the alchemy was the result of my muse speaking to me, asking me to wonder and imagine as a way into a deeply personal, authentic story that others might appreciate. The result was a story quite different from what actually happened with either of the women. Ben Snow and Sydney Bouquet were born. I am comfortable saying that my muse is responsible for their genesis.

Q: Tell me about your writing process. Is there a lot of ‘grunt work’ involved?

Filling-Up-Front2_2A: I literally follow my nose. When the inspiration comes, I may wonder or ponder for a while, but very soon I find myself at the beginning of a story trail with no outline, synopsis, timeline, character sketch, or setting description. The impulse demands immediate attention. To prewrite would feel like scratching the itch with a feather, like being unwilling to directly engage the inspiration. Nor can I discover a story by planning it in advance. I’ve got to jump right in.

Writing never feels like grunt work, not even during revision. Revising is as much fun as writing the first draft because I am still finding the story – its depth, its emotional honesty, who its characters really are, what happens to them, and what they do with it. One draft can’t fill the canvas. Even the wordsmithing part of revision is fun – making every sentence just right. Of course, that’s not really possible, but it’s a labor of love.

Late in the first draft of a novel – but never in a short story – I might write a timeline of where the story has been so that I can keep track of it and keep the arc sensible. But I never take the timeline where I haven’t been because I know I’m not likely to get right there or, if I do, not by the route I expected.

In short, writing is discovery for me. Prewriting doesn’t feel like a part of that. When I am at the beginning of a story trail, only following my nose does.

Q: Which of your characters is most like you? In what way?

boundaries-jim-steinbergA: Several of the POV characters are rather like me. I think it’s hard for most writers to avoid that no matter how much they want to. A writer’s experience and nature have a way of sneaking in. To answer your question, I’m going to go with Ben Snow in Boundaries. Like me, Ben is introspective and sometimes brooding. Also like me, once he makes up his mind, his brooding doesn’t get in the way of passions that may take him down difficult paths that later require him to work through pain and push past self-imposed limitations. But that’s true for so many people. I suppose that Ben does it like I once did! He is also as private as I have become. And cautious. Until he meets Sydney. There are parallels there, too!

Q: What has been the biggest challenge in your writing career? What have you done to overcome it?

A: My biggest challenge is maintaining my discipline to write as regularly as I must if I am going to get a lot done. Life gets in the way! I don’t always find as much time for it every day as I would like. When I get on a roll, I do, but I have other passions that take time: my small mediation practice, my garden, family, important friendships, and reading. Then there are all the regular distractions. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to leave other things a bit undone so that I have more time to write. That’s what I’m doing to overcome it: leaving other things undone. The older I get the more important that is.

Q: What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self?

A: To pay closer attention to the person I felt inside me rather than the one I tried to be based on my attachment to pleasing the expectations of others. Said another way, the person who might have lived his whole life in the manner I choose to write: by following my nose, responding to the impulses, scratching the itches.

Q: You run a writers retreat during the summer. Tell me a little more about it.

A: I am one of several who “run” it. It’s a cooperative affair: The Lost Coast Writers Retreat. It meets for the last nine days of every June on the beautiful Mattole River on California’s remote Northcoast. There is no cell phone reception, no internet, and just one telephone for 25 people – our maximum. Many are returnees, but we invite new people. The affair actually runs itself. Everybody helps make whatever decisions need to be made, and we make them easily.

I’ve been going for fifteen years, and each time it is the best week of my year. There is very little structure beyond the basics: living together, writing, responding in small groups (as small as two, often three), making meals cooperatively, and doing whatever else grows organically each year. We introduce our “procedures” on the first day, then go about writing, responding, putting on spontaneous little workshops (always voluntary), reading aloud at Authors’ Chair, swimming in a gorgeous river, walking the country roads, sleeping in cabins or the lodge or camping in tents, playing games and singing at night (or not), making friends, renewing old ties, and feeling like a tribe of writers. All for $300 including meals and lodging. Not your regular writers retreat or workshop. It is divine and addictive.

Q: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

A: Probably the Scottish Highlands. The landscape and the passion I think it must evoke in its people (as far as I understand it) has always fascinated me and made me think I’d feel at home there.

Q: What is something you can’t live without?

A: Family, dear friends, writing, and roses.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: That storytelling with wonder and imagination is the best way we can get to know each other, ourselves, our time, our culture. I believe that narrative surpasses discourse (premise, theory, analysis, conclusion, etc.) in getting to know ourselves. For me, stories get to the heart of any matter in a way that contains truths much easier to see and feel than any other form of writing save, perhaps for poetry. The stories can be true or imagined and still get it done because, like a good friend says, “It’s all true, and it’s all fiction.”

Find Jim Online:



Lost Coast Writers Retreat