Featured Bloggers: Ana Grilo and Thea James of The Book Smugglers
Ana Grilo and Thea James, the partners in crime running The Book Smugglers, share reviews and recommendations for fictional and Young Adult novels. Their passion for reading is proven by the sheer volume of books they’re able to read and write about. Stay up to date with their latest reviews by checking out their blog, Facebook and Twitter pages!
Q: When and why did you start blogging?
Ana: I discovered the world of blogging toward the end of 2007 when I started to look for reviews online and fell in love with the idea of writing reviews as a means to keep tabs on what I was reading. That was really the impetus behind setting up the blog. At that time, I was a member of an online forum for “Fans of Lost” (the TV show), and that’s where I met Thea whom I used to talk about books with. In one of our chats, I brought up the idea of starting a book blog and invited her to join me and she said yes – the rest, as they say, is history.
Thea: Yup. Ana and I are huge nerds when it comes to pop culture and books, so when Ana propositioned me with the opportunity to start a book blog with her I was thrilled. Of course, I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that an innocuous little book reading hobby could turn into something that is now such a huge part of my life!
Q: How do you think your blog stands out amongst other book blogs?
A & T: This is a really tough question to answer because there are so many outstanding book blogs out there! If there is one thing we do pride ourselves on, though, it would have to be our brutally honest and in-depth reviews.
Q: What does your family think of your blogging?
A: Well, my family is from Brazil and they don’t speak a lot of English, nor do they like to read (shocking!) so they don’t actually read the blog per se. However, I do tell them about it and about all of the cool stuff that has happened since Thea and I have started blogging and they are very proud of our accomplishments.
T: My significant other is also a non-reader, so he was actually quite peeved when The Book Smugglers began to take off – not because he was angry at the success of the blog (he’s very supportive in that regard!), but because the sheer volume of books increased exponentially and in direct proportion to the more followers we gained! As for the rest of my family, my youngest sister (a tween) absolutely loves the blog and often gets recommendations – and hand-me-down books – from it, which is pretty awesome.
Q: What blogs do you read?
A: Too many to count! I have over 200 blogs on my feedreader. Some of absolute faves are Lady Business, Angieville and Bookshelves of Doom, just to name a few.
T: My feed reader is seriously out of control with blog subscriptions! Off the top of my head, I’m a big fan of Fantasy Book Critic (for upcoming SFF titles), The Enchanted Inkpot (for upcoming MG/YA fantasy books and author spotlights), and That Cover Girl (for the pretty covers). Of course there are many, many others.
Q: How much time daily do you spend blogging?
A&T: Probably more time than we should. Between writing reviews, setting up posts, replying to emails and comments, all the organizing we need to do – not to mention the reading of all the books for the aforementioned reviews and posts! – we probably spend the majority of our free time blogging.
Q: How many times have you redesigned your blog since it started?
A&T: We’ve redesigned The Book Smugglers about 4 times since we began blogging. We started off with a freebie two column bloodspot template, then modified that to encompass a signature header and an added column, and then we made the wise leap to WordPress with a custom-ordered design template. This year, we’ve reinvented our look yet again, though we’ve kept our logo and custom header.
Q: How much do you correspond one-on-one with readers?
A&T: Interacting with our readers is definitely one of the coolest things about blogging. We try to reply to most comments left on our posts, engage as much as we can with our readers via GoodReads and with all of our lovely followers on Twitter.
Q: What joys did you not expect when you started blogging? What pains?
A: To be honest, I didn’t expect a lot when I started blogging other than having a good time with Thea, possibly because I didn’t know what to expect. The first time we ever got an email from an author was a shock – we didn’t even know that things like that happened! So I would say that talking to the authors of some of our favourite books is definitely a joy I did not expect. The most painful thing about blogging is when Thea and I have to fight over a book we both want to read – our headquarters have seen many epic fights over the years.
T: The fights over books can get pretty intense – especially over the years as our tastes have morphed and become increasingly similar. When I began blogging, it was more of an outlet for expression (and, yes, for goofing off/obsessing with Ana). I had no idea that authors and publishers would contact us or offer us review copies of books! I remember the first time we received an email asking if we wanted an “ARC” – I seriously spent about an hour on google trying to figure out what an “ARC” was and if, in fact, we wanted one. So that is a huge perk – someone wants to give me a copy of a book that I am dying to read, and wants ME to blabber on about it for the world to hear?! That’s pretty freaking sweet.
Q: What’s something your readers don’t know about you?
A: I am not sure that the majority of our readers knows that I am originally from Brazil and that English is not my mother tongue. I also hate papaya and cheese – this is a very important piece of information in case someone wants to invite me to dinner.
T: I’m pretty sure that our readers have no idea that by day I create, design, and facilitate process of retailer distribution of eBooks for a major publishing house in New York City…and by night, I am a graduate student at NYU, working towards my master’s degree in digital publishing. (It goes without saying that I am also very tired!)
Q: What’s your personal favorite book?
A: My personal favorite book is The Sandman collection by Neil Gaiman. The series is so mind-blowing awesome it makes my head spin.
T: ARGH, I hate this question because there are so many different categories of favorites! I will cheat and give you three: my favorite series of all time is The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King (as deeply flawed as the series may be, I love it completely). My favorite YA novel is Mara Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (this was the first book I ever finished only to immediately begin the novel all over again). My favorite novel of 2011 (thus far!) is a three-way tie between Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion, The City In The Lake by Rachel Neumeier, and A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan.
How ’bout them apples?