This series has been a long time coming, and I can’t believe that I stopped doing them since November. I know I was on a mini-hiatus but still! I loved doing these and the other posts I would do to showcase some of my favorite book people in the world, so I’m going to get back into doing those again. I think that’s my thing that I love to do, so I’m just gonna do it.
This one has been a long time coming too, because these two amazing beautiful souls have been people that I’ve followed since the beginning of my revamped blogging career, and I am so glad to know them and work with them on their amazing Facebook Book Club: TBR & Beyond. So I want to just share my love to both Melanie and Mireille, the founders of TBR & Beyond, and just thank you for everything that you have done for me on my journey. Seriously, you have no idea how much you both inspire me.
(1) Tell me a little bit about your start in the book community
Melanie: I kind of just fell upon it. I was starting to get back into reading YA again and had started an account on Goodreads, but it didn’t feel that personal to me, so I started kind of wandering around online looking for something better. At first I just found adult book groups, but eventually I found Owlcrate Society after watching an unboxing video and then I found my people LOL Within a couple months, I had made some cool bookish friends and decided to start my first book group with them. The group doesn’t really exist anymore, but it was a great introduction to the community and getting to know everyone and making so many amazing bookish friends.
Mir: Being a bit older and from a French province I never knew that there was this whole genre out there. Of course I had read the Harry Potter books and Hunger Games but those were mostly because I knew the movies were coming out. Between my teen years and now I hadn’t seen the YA genre flourish. I kind if stumble upon Owlcrate while looking at subscription boxes. They had just started and I thought it was such a nifty idea. So I started looking on Instagram for books and just saw this whole world out there. A year or so later Owlcrate Society was created and I was doomed lol. My TBR grew longer but so did my friend list.
(2) What made you decide to co-host a blog? How do you pick the right partner?
This honestly was a fairly easy decision for us. Mireille and I first met when she was a moderator on the first group I was admin in and when I eventually left to make my own book group (TBR and Beyond), she came over with me and became an admin. We work so well together because we have different strengths and they compliment each other – that when we decided that TBR should have a blog, it just felt natural that we would embark on this journey together as well. We sometimes argue or fuss at each other, but overall we make a pretty solid team I think. It also makes it much more manageable to have a partner for the blog, since we also run a very active book group.
Disclaimer: Since I sent these interview questions and they responded to me, Mir has since started her own blog: Fangirl Pixie Blog, which is linked in the introduction to this post. However, Mel & Mir are still running the TBR & Beyond Facebook Book Club together.
(3) How do you keep the motivation to continue blogging?
We certainly have our days where one of us just throws a hissy fit and wants to throw in the towel, but at the end of the day we truly love books and talking about bookish things. We don’t really get to do that in our “real lives,” so it’s actually very fun for us. We are lucky that we never really have idea shortages, but we do sometimes get tired and slack some months. Reviews are probably what we both struggle with getting the motivation to write. We love and hate writing them at the same time – just depends on our day. Honestly, anything in the book community is a labour of love because most of us aren’t getting paid in any way, so you truly have to care about just being part of the amazing community. Not to get too mushy, but it’s changed both our lives for the better and that is what keeps us going in the long run.
(4) What are the pros and cons of having both a Facebook Book Club group and a Blog?
The amount of work LOL It’s honestly never ending. The group keeps growing and growing, which is incredible but it also means that you never truly get a real break. It can be quite overwhelming. If you think commenting on blog posts is a lot – it’s like 10 times the amount with a group as well. On the flip side, we are so lucky – we created a group that people seem to love and enjoy and through that success, we were able to fairly smoothly go into blogging as well. We’ve met incredible people in both communities, we get to be our real selves and not have to worry about what others might think of us. The community is always accepting and wonderful and we get to talk about books all the time. We’ve also befriended many wonderful authors over the past couple of years. It’s a crazy amount of work, but the pros outweigh the cons by far.
(5) Where do you see TBR and Beyond in 5 years?
Oh god! It’s crazy to think it’s already been almost two years. It would be amazing if we were still going strong in five years. For the blog, I think we just hope that we are still putting out original and creative content and not burning out. For the group, I just hope we can continue to grow and keep it an inclusive and safe place for people to talk about what they love.
(6) Where is one place you’d love to go that you read about in a book, and why (can be a fictional or real place. Let’s live big!)
Melanie: Oh shit, I’m so bad at these questions – I can never think of anything cool or clever. I just basically black out and panic and forget every place that exists. I’ll go with Narnia because I’ve been pushing the backs of wardrobes since I was a very little girl!
Mir: Oh my gosh! This is always a tough one cause I want to go everywhere. I’d love to hang out with the gang in Ketterdam or study to be an assassin in the Red Church. But I think the dream of every Potter Head is Hogwarts right?
This was just a blast to make and everyone seemed to really enjoy. My whole GoT series that I did was a lot of fun making. – Melanie
I love any excuse to talk about horror and since it’s not that popular in YA, I rarely get to do so. I was really excited at how well this post went over with our readers.
this was my first time going to Bookcon and I did enjoy it but was surprised it didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I’ve always just thought you got a tone of arcs. It was very enlightening to live it for myself.
this was such a different post for me to write I just enjoyed doing it.
Leelynn, we totally would’ve listed you! Not even sucking up! We love all the ways you are engaging with the community and your reviews are always so thoughtful and well-done. We had to give you a little cheat shout out first!
We have to shout out this fantastic blog because Lily gives loves to what almost no other blogs do – middle-grade novels! She is completely our go-to blog and keeps Melanie’s TBR jammed packed because of it!
Amanda does lots of spooky book reviews and we completely dig it! For all things spooky, you need to check out her blog!
Dini is such a sweetheart and we just love all her great reviews and fun posts. She’s certainly a blog we visit often!
Another book reviewer we adore and you need to check out her amazing list of Latinx ownvoice authors. It’s such a needed and well-thought out list! This blogger is a must follow, she’s amazing.
We love sooo many bloggers, so it was hard to just mention four! This is an amazing community!
We enjoy the topics and if we don’t, we just change it but we love this one because it’s the most popular and you get to engage with the community so much.
Really fun way just to show what books we are really looking forward to.
We’ve been loving all the blogger shout out posts/memes and are hoping to jump on it in the next month or so! It’s such a great way to give back to the community and engage as well!
I felt pretty good about this review overall and it’s probably one of the really underrated books that I just wish everyone would actually read. It’s such an important book with a hilarious outlook. – Melanie
this book made me think of so many things. I went in not knowing that I would be left pondering the role and what is expected of women. When i started the review I didn’t even know what to say. Once I got started I realized there were so many things I wanted to talk about.
Melanie: ENGAGE WITH THE COMMUNITY! I know it takes a lot of work and I know it can be exhausting but blogging is work. Take the time – even if it’s 10 mins every couple of days and go comment on blogs. It really does pay off with how much enjoyment you will get out of blogging.
Mir: like Melanie said don’t be shy to engage with people. It does take some time but it’s so worth it. Also, don’t be scared to be creative. There are so many things to write about besides just reviews. Find your style and go with it. Don’t try to emulate someone else, just do you. There is no wrong way to do a book blog.
Thank you so much for talking with us Leelynn! You have been so warm and welcoming to us! We just love you and your content xoxox
Ahhh I just loved reading these answers and these blog posts! I missed doing these posts, can’t you tell?! I am going to go back to doing these monthly, so please let me know if you feel up to answering some questions like this for a spotlight post. I’d love to see you on here.
I’ll be doing another one of these next week though to catch up from when I was out on hiatus, so stay tuned for that one!