My Local Library

My Local Library: A Behind The Scenes Tour

Close by our apartment we have a special children's library called Casa Dei Bimbi (the house of children). I love this little library and so do my kids. I thought I'd share it with you and give you a quick tour of a library in Rome.

Welcome to L'isola delle fiabe (which translates as the island of fairy tales).

My Local Library: A Behind The Scenes Tour

As soon as you walk in you can tell it's a children's library. Colourful painted walls welcome you where ever you look. The staff are all super nice and helpful too. 

This is the main area. As it's a children's library there are plenty of kids sized tables and chairs for the little ones. 

My Local Library: A Behind The Scenes Tour

They have a huge selection of children's books as you would imagine in a children's library. Obviously the most part are in Italian as we live in Italy, but they do have a section dedicated to other language books too. You can also order in titles you particularly want from the other libraries in Rome. 

My Local Library: A Behind The Scenes Tour

As well as all the picture story books and books for early readers, they have an extensive section for older kids too. Plus lots of teen and YA books.

My Local Library: A Behind The Scenes Tour

Then there's the mutlimedia area. They have a good selection of DVDs and Audio discs you can borrow. There's actually two sections for the DVDs; one for the kids and another separate one for adults. 

They have a special area upstairs with books on parenting, and education.

My Local Library: A Behind The Scenes Tour

The library also organises lots of events and even have a special room for hosting in. I love the super sized book decor in the corner.

My Local Library: A Behind The Scenes Tour

So there you go, our local library. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into one of our favourite places. 

Do you have a library close to where you live? What's it like? 

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Blog Audit Challenge: Graphics

Blog Audit Challenge: Graphics #BookBlogging #Blogging

This week's topic: Graphics

Welcome back for another installment of our blog audit challenge. I hope this challenge is helping you learn more about blogging, and helping you improve your own book blogs. This week we're focusing on graphics. 

Blogging is not just about plain written text on a page. A good blog will have a combination of written text, images, and other multimedia content. As a minimum all blog posts should have at least one image in them. 

Why should blog posts include images?

Good question.

1) Because it makes the blog post more visually appealing.
2) Image search engine traffic.
3) More social shares.
4) Helps readers remember the post.
5) A picture is worth a thousand words.

Now let's take a closer look at each of these:

Visually appealing

Images help break up the text and add interest to the article. 

"Related posts" and "popular posts" in the side bar will use an image from the post as a thumbnail image and can help increase your CTR and decrease your bounce rate.

Blog Audit Challenge: Graphics #BookBlogging #Blogging

Search engine traffic

Make sure you use Alt text and add a description to your images and you can grab traffic from image search engines. Don't forget to include your keywords!

Social shares

Image do well on social media. People like to share content especially when it makes their newsfeed look pretty and eye catching. Whether it's Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn, images stand out and are more often shared. Then there's image based social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest that can drive huge amounts of traffic to your site. 

I recommend using an add-on like Sumo to make image sharing via social media super easy for your readers. I've been using it for a while now and love it. 

Make it memorable

Images help people see the things we're talking about. In the case of tutorial posts, including screenshots can really help get your message across. To be even more memorable, add branding to your images. A quality, well branded image will make your article stick in the readers mind much better than a plain text post would.

A picture is worth a thousand words

The right image can quickly convey the message of your post. On a book blog, for example, images of books and/or people reading will automatically make it clear about the content of the website. 

You may also want to try including infographics in your blog posts. A visual representation of the highlights from your post can be helpful to readers (especially those that don't have much time to read longer posts). 

There are loads of sites online where you can create professional looking images for you blog posts free of charge. My personal favourite is Canva, but there are loads of others.

Blog Audit Challenge: Graphics #BookBlogging #Blogging

This week's task: 

- Make sure every blog post has at least one image.
- Update older posts so that all blog posts have consistent branding.

Missed a post? Here's a round up of what we've covered so far:

A Bookish Summer Blog Hop: Bookmarks or Dog Ears?

A Bookish Summer Blog Hop: Bookmarks or Dog Ears?

Welcome back for another stop on the A Bookish Summer Blog Hop. Today's topic has been dividing book lovers for years and caused more than a few arguments... bookmarks or dog ears?

I personally can't bring myself to dog ear a book. It gives me chills if I see someone else do it. Unsurprisingly I'm also not a fan of cracked spines or writing notes in books either. I like to take care of them and keep them looking pretty. Sure I'll stuff them full of paper and post-it notes, but never anything that will damage the book.

Here's a little fun fact about me, I collect bookmarks. I have so many of them! Some have been sent to me by authors and publishers along with copies of books to review, some came as part of a swag pack, some I've picked up at events, and some I've purchased. This doesn't mean I won't use an old bus ticket or random piece of paper as a bookmark though if I don't have my collection to hand. 

I've also made a few bookmarks with my kids. We love doing creative craft projects and whenever they make a bookmark they suddenly feel the need to read something so they can use it. #Winning ;) 

Here's what the gang had to say on the topic:

Kelli Quintos

A Bookish Summer Blog Hop: Bookmarks or Dog Ears?I am 100% not an advocate of supporting the dog ear. That hurts my heart a little bit, that people might crinkle their book on purpose. I usually am caught using straw wrappers, ticket stubs, currently a wedding invitation that I still haven’t RSVP'd to. I can always find something to use as a placeholder. I’ve only recently discovered that bookmarks can be gorgeous and not just trash, so I don’t see how anyone could not be excited and choose bookmarks over dog ears. I’ve bought rainbow gorgeous long bookmarks and cute little harry potter themed magnet ones. They come in all shapes and sizes, so go look around and try a bookmark, for the sake of your poor book.

A Bookish Summer Blog Hop: Bookmarks or Dog Ears?Leslie Conzatti

Umm, why is this even a discussion? Get yourself a bookmark, if you cannot possibly recall the page number. Dog-ears? Are you some kind of monster? I guess dog ears are better than flattening the spine… But still! Marring the book in any way just speeds up the deterioration, and if you read a book enough that the corner eventually falls off, what then? You’re better off using a bookmark.

Brandy Potter

A Bookish Summer Blog Hop: Bookmarks or Dog Ears?I’m afraid to answer… don’t hurt me ladies. I am playing. I used what I can to avoid doing a dog ear, but if I can’t find something, I would rather dog ear than flatten the spine. I have books from my great grandmother and she definitely dog-earred. She has “The Life of Thomas More” from the 1700’s and aside from the dog ears’ it is in decent shape.

But I also have books from the other and they are falling apart, because she was a lay-it-face-down-on-the-table-and-break-the-dag-on-thing-er. Which sucks because she was WWII nurse and one of the first people to join the Edgar Casey foundation, so they are great insights into that time, but her books are falling apart and I am desperately trying to preserve them and get them fixed one at a time.

I try so hard to use bookmarks, but I always seem to lose them! So I am guilty of digesting my books!

Now it's your turn, bookmarks or dog ears? I promise we won't kill you if you choose dog ear ;)

The schedule:

A Bookish Summer Blog Hop

A Bookish Summer Blog Hop: Bookmarks or Dog Ears?

Join us late? No problem! 
Find the first stop of the blog hop here: with a clickable list of all the stops.

Book Review: Pressure by Betsy Reavley

Book Review: Pressure by Betsy Reavley

Disclosure: I got sent a free copy of this book via Net Galley.

Book Review: Pressure by Betsy Reavley
When the submarine departed, none of the ten people on board knew it would turn into a nightmare.

Trapped on the sunken vessel and unable to escape, one of them is discovered dead. The tension escalates as the survivors realise there is a murderer among them, who is preparing to strike again and again…
With mounting desperation, people begin to turn on each other. While they struggle to identify who is responsible, each must contend with their own past and the secrets they are hiding.
But who is who? And which of them will be next to die?

Book Review: Pressure by Betsy Reavley

Interview with Stacey from Whispering Stories

Interview with Stacey from Whispering Stories #BookBlogger #BookBlogging

Last week we got to know Megan from Ginger Mom and the Kindle Quest when we kicked off a new series of posts here on the blog to get to know book bloggers, and show some insight into what goes on behind the scenes of running a book blog. 

This week my special guest is Stacey from Whispering Stories. Let's make her feel at home.

Introduce yourself. Who are you? Where are you from? and Where do you blog?

Hi, I’m Stacey, 40, married to Steve and mother to three boys (well two boys and one man seen as the eldest is 21). I live in Manchester, UK and I run Whispering Stories Book Blog.

I used to blog via my laptop which I loved, but in January this year I bought a desktop after some issues with my laptop. I’ve found that in one sense it is better, such as it is quicker and the screen is bigger, but I can’t move about like I used to. I’ve also had to invest in a notebook for when I go away so I can continue blogging.

Why and how do you blog? What made you start?

I started blogging back in February 2015, my hubby bought the domain to the blog as a Valentines gift and the first posts went live on the 15th.

I started blogging after doing a creative writing course and deciding that writing wasn’t for me, but I read a lot and reviewed a lot so I decided if I couldn’t write that maybe the next best thing would be to help those that could.

How long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging for just under three-and-a-half-years.

What advice do you wish you'd had when you started?

To understand that having a wordpress site run through GoDaddy doesn’t work like a normal Wordpress site. My posts don’t copy over to Wordpress even-though I have a site with them, so I don’t have many followers through them.

Also to set up an email subscription straight away. I was blogging for about two years before I bothered to sort it out.

Learn to say no.  Within about a month of blogging I was getting lots of requests from authors to review their books. I was so in awe that people valued my opinion that I said yes to everyone and then panicked that I wasn’t getting them done quick enough and also I was having to read books in genres I knew I wouldn’t enjoy as much as others.

Be aware that although most book bloggers are lovely, some are most certainly not. I’ve been told that I’m too old to old and that I should leave it to the youngsters as being in your twenties is the age to blog (this was when I was 38 too). If you get any nasty comments or people ignoring you, just let them be, it says more about them than you.

How much time do you devote to blogging each day/week/month?

I’m not sure time-wise.  Too much time I think some days. I blog everyday and normally for a few hours each day too.  Sunday’s are the days I tend to spend least on the site as I spend time with my family - when the kids are not playing Fortnite that is.

How often do you post to your blog?

I try to post daily with the exception of Sundays, unless I have a blog tour book in.

Interview with Stacey from Whispering Stories #BookBlogger #BookBlogging

What motivates you to keep blogging about books?

Gosh lots of things. I love meeting new authors, I love finding out about books I most likely wouldn’t of heard of if I didn’t blog. I enjoy getting to know other bloggers. I enjoy sharing my reviews with people and love it when people tell me they have bought the book because of my review, or seeing my review on the front cover of a book.

Is there something you wish authors knew about your blog or blogging?

Firstly that I have a name - Hi I’m Stacey!! The amount of requests I get from people who don’t bother using it, or use someone elses is laughable. (I’ll let you in to a secret - call me by someone else’s name and I delete your email without reading it.)

I also have a review policy on the blog and would love authors to check it out before contacting me. It gives them information on what books we read, how long a review could take, what formats we accept and also whether we are even open to review requests. It only takes two mins to read it, but again a lot of authors don’t bother - I’m very grateful to those that do.

We have lives outside of the blogging. I don’t think I need to say anymore.

Lastly, it is okay to say THANK YOU. This is something that really bugs the life out of me. I get a lovely email asking us to review a book for an author. We take the time to read it, to write up a review, to make a post up, add the artwork for the book and search out the authors social media details to add to the post. We then post it on the blog and advertise it, as well as put the review on Amazon/Goodreads/Waterstone/Kobo/Barnes and Noble etc.

The above all takes time. We don’t charge a penny for any of that work and some authors can’t even be bother to say ‘Thank You’, even when I’ve copied them in the post on Twitter/Facebook and sent them an email. I find it damn rude.

What's your most popular blog post?

Surprisingly, after our review policy and meet the team pages, the review with the most hits is ‘The Invisible Man’ by HG Wells. I can honestly say I don’t look at the stats very often, something I really should do.

Do you write reviews for every book you read?

Yes, I believe if I have taken the time to read a book, whether I liked it or not it is getting a review. I have no issue with bloggers who only post four/five star reviews, but that isn’t for me.

How many book reviews do you normally do a week?

Gosh, this is a hard question as it changes from week to week depending on what I have booked in. This week I have read four books, however last week I only managed to read two. Some weeks I can read a book a day.

What genres are your favourites?

I would have to say Thrillers/psychological mysteries are at the top, closely followed by romance and dystopian. Though I love YA books too - even if I am too old for them, supposedly.

What are you currently reading and why did you choose to read it?

I also have four books that I’m a couple of chapters in to that I’m struggling with, so I’ve put them down for a while and will pick them up again in the future.

Do you have any plans for your blog in the future?

I want to try and make the blog profitable. Yes I have affiliate links on there at the moment, but at 5% per book sold via Amazon (I’m not sure of the iTunes % is), it doesn’t make a lot. I also have Google Adsense on there but again that isn’t bringing in a lot of money.

A couple of weeks ago I added ‘Buy Me A Cup Of Coffee’, which people can click on and donate to the site if they like what they see - it starts at $3, that is the smallest amount the company allows, I would of loved it to start at $1. I’ve had one person buy a coffee for us.

I’m currently thinking about offering paid advertising on the site - I have a couple of authors I know who have their books being advertised on the site at the moment. One had seen an increase in her sales but needs to wait to see where the sales have come from. The other I haven’t checked in with yet so I don’t know about her sales.

The hubby keeps on telling me to start doing blog tour but I think there are already lots of people doing them. I would like to be able to think of something unique to help authors out, I just need to get my thinking cap on. Suggestions welcome.

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