I'm sure a lot of you are already aware of her presence, but if not, please do visit Jo in the following ways:
I'm 25 years old and a bookseller. I have been an avid reader since I was about 12, and I've been blogging since 2009. I originally started with a blog for the fantasy novels I read in March '09, then created a new blog, Once Upon a Bookcase, in June '09 when I decided to hold a YA blog event I wanted to keep separate from my fantasy reviews. After the event I kept both blogs going, continuing to review YA on OUaB and fantasy on the other. Earlier this year I decided it would be easier and better for my readers if I had one blog instead of two, and amalgamated both blogs into the Once Upon a Bookcase you see today. I have ran three YA blog events on OUaB so far; Sex in Teen Lit, Body Image & Self-Perception Month, and Death & Bereavement Week, and next year I will be holding a LGBTQ YA Month.
How did you begin being a book blogger?
I originally used to only read high fantasy novels, most of which were borrowed from my Dad. I really enjoy talking about books, and Dad and I would have long conversations about the books we read. When I discovered urban fantasy, I had no-one to talk to about them as it's not really my Dad's cup of tea. I discovered the Fangs, Fur and Fey community on Livejournal and the discussions inspired me to start blogging myself. That was towards the end of 2008. But it wasn't until doing some research and finding advice for newbies on other book blogs that I switched to blogger, and slowly but surely learnt the "proper" ways of blogging. How I blogged from December '08 to March '09 was very different to the way I have blogged since, and I never considered myself a book blogger until after that March.
When you're not reading or blogging, what do you do with yourself?
Selling books! As I said, I'm a bookseller, but it's a fairly new job so I'm still learning the ropes, but enjoying it very much! Around this time of year, there's a lot of great shows on TV; Merlin, Strictly Come Dancing, Downton Abbey. Doctor Who has just finished (as I write this) which I'm sad about. I'm also a big fan of The Big Bang Theory and Sherlock. Otherwise, I enjoy spending time with my family, going to the cinema and the theatre, girlie nights in and visiting my local pub!
What was the first book you reviewed on your blog?
I'm pretty sure that was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. That was back when I was still learning about reviewing and figuring out what my reviewing style was. It's a very short, not very in-depth review! Two paragraphs long. Most of my reviews back then were quite amateurish compared to the standard review you would see on almost any blog today. But it's how I started, when I just discovered book blogging, and shows how far I've come, so those reviews stay.
What has been the best experience of being a book blogger so far?
There have been a lot of awesome moments in my blogging experience. Meeting, whether in real life or online, other book bloggers. There are a number of bloggers I greatly admire. There are a number of UK bloggers I love, and I'll talk about them below. But I've also discovered some incredibly talented Aussie bloggers who blog at Eleusinian Mysteries, Saz101, and Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me. Then there's the publishing events and getting to meet fantastic authors - the launch for Lauren Oliver's Delirium is one memorable one; I acted like such a fangirl!
But I think the best thing is all the books I've discovered and fell in love with that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. Like The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern - a book I would never have picked up off my own back, and one I thought was simply wonderful. There are so many books that I have read because of book blogging that have moved me and effected me, and I am so grateful to all the awesome publicists who put these fantastic books on my radar and in my hands. I know it's their job, but I love the publicists who take the time to get to know my tastes and my blog to send me personalised emails saying, "Hi Jo, we've got this book coming out soon, and I think it will be something you'll really enjoy!" I sometimes wonder if the publicists actually know how much they are appreciated.
You can do it, what is your absolute favourite book?
I have just finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and I was completely blown away. It may seem a little phony to say the last book I read, but I genuinely believe that it is the best, most beautiful book I have ever read. I can't believe it took me so long to get to it. I have really been missing out.
If you could be best friends with any fictional character, who would you choose?
Oh! So difficult! But I think I have to say - and I hope you'll let me choose three, as you rarely have one without the others - Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, because oh my god, can you imagine how much fun it would be to hang out with them?! And be able to do magic and go to Hogwarts?! I. Would. Die!
Name your top 5 UK book bloggers!
I'm a big fan ofSammee at I Want to Read That, Carly at Writing from the Tub, Sophie at So Many Books, So Little Time, Caroline at Portrait of a Woman, and Lynsey at Narratively Speaking - as well as you, of course, Clover!
If you could meet your favourite author, who would you like to meet?
Oh my god, I would love to meet J.K. Rowling! I mean, who wouldn't?! But there are a number of other authors I would like to see, too. I'd love to meet Lauren Oliver again. I think it would be great fun to meet Tom Clempson and Andy Robb. I think it would be fantastic to meet Sarah Alderson, Veronica Roth, and Laini Taylor. OH! Rachel Vincent, Richelle Mead, Brigid Kemmerer! And I would LOVE to meet Rachel Caine again, and actually get to chat with her. I doI wish there were more casual blogger author events where we just get to sit around and chat with our favourite authors, rather than just getting to see them for 30 seconds at a signing. Those events are always amazing!
What would you like to see more of or less of in YA?
Hmm. I think I would like to see more LGBTQ YA published in the UK. Through my research for next year's LGBTQ YA Month, it seems most of the LGBTQ YA novels are published in the US. You can buy them over here, but there don't seem to be as many published over here. I think that's quite sad.
Less... I'm not sure there's anything I'd like to see less of. There may be a few things within the YA category I'm not the biggest fan of - i.e. gang crime novels or historical fiction, but there are those that are, and so they should be out there. When it comes to reading, I don't think less is more; not YA, but there have been some very popular erotica books recently that I've heard aren't the best written, and aren't my cup of tea, but if there are people who are now picking up books and reading because of those books when they wouldn't have before, that's fine with me.
And finally, who is your ultimate book crush?
Nope, I'm so very sorry, but I'm not going to choose. You can't make me do it! So I will have Dimitri and Adrian (Vampire Academy/Bloodlines), Tod (Soul Screamers), Alex (Lila Series), Tucker (Unearthly), Shane and Michael (Morganville Vampires), and lots of other awesome fictional boys all to myself, thank you very much! :)
Oh hurrah for you, Jo! Thank you so much for these brilliant answers! I would love to see more LGBTQ books published over here as well, that would be great to see. Also, I love how you couldn't choose just one crush :) (We're in total agreement there too!)
What do you think of Jo's choices? Would you like to meet Lauren Oliver? Is Perks one of your favourite books? What about all the swoonworthy characters she's chosen as crushes? Let us both know in comments!