The book blogger love-a-thon is a fun little weekend event hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Kate’s Tales of Books and Bands. The point is to spread the love around the book blogosphere and get to know some amazing people!
I’m so excited to have Hazel on the blog today, to kick off the book blogger love-a-thon! She is amazingly nice, and I had so much fun getting to know her!
1. Tell me about where you live! I love hearing about places outside of the USA.
Malaysia is a beautiful tropical country just north of the equator. Our closest neighbors are Thailand and Singapore, but we’re a little less well-known. The best books I can recommend to get to know more about Malaysia and the culture in its glory days are The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo and The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw, both are historical fiction set in the early 1900’s. The Ghost Bride is also a fantasy novel that reminds me very much of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. It’s one of my favorite books, I highly recommend reading it regardless of whether you’re interested in learning more about Malaysia.
2. What made you decide to start a book blog?
Well, I read a lot of books, for one. =) I used to have a blog specifically for books and book reviews, but I was also reading a lot less then. We don’t have good public libraries in Malaysia and I had limited money for books, so I had time to write about my thoughts on the books I read, and to re-read the books I loved. When I moved to Canada in 2010, the Calgary Public Library was so awesome and I had access to so many great books, that I was reading about twice more than I did before. I was like a starving person at a buffet table and it was fun for a while, but as I kept reading (and not blogging about the books), I started forgetting some of the books I’d read and what I thought about them. I devoured the books without really tasting them, and starting this blog now to review and write about the books I read, is a way for me to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the books.
3. What are some of your favorite genres or books?
My favorite genre will always be fantasy, but not all my favorite books are fantasy. I have many favorites. George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series will always be ranked up there among them, The Light Bearer by Donna Gillespie is the most underrated historical fiction I know, Anne of Green Gables has influenced such a big part of who I am, The Count of Monte Cristo is better than any modern thriller and revenge story, The Hunger Games is a relatively new favorite, but no less loved.
4. What book has changed your life in some way? Why?
Wow, tough question. So many books have influenced my life in so many ways, it’s hard to think of just one significant book. Let me try to narrow it down…
When I was 9 or 10 years old, I read my first Christopher Pike book, and his books completely changed my perception of being a writer. I’d always written stories but I’d always made things up as I wrote, it was only after reading his books that I realized that you could plan and plot and make things happen the way you wanted them to.
When I was about 18, I was delving deeper into questions about spirituality, and happened to come across Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations with God series. These books changed my whole idea about who we are, what our life purpose is, why we are here, and it definitely changed how I saw things.
When I was about 25, I read The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, about nutrition and natural health and how what we eat influenced our body’s health. I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 19, and while that made me more health-conscious and read more books about health, it never occurred to me to study it formally until I read The China Study. I started looking for natural health colleges as soon as I finished reading the book, and I’m now a certified Master Herbalist.
5. Tell us about your ideal reading situation. (i.e., where are you? who is with you? any food?)
I love reading while my husband practices the guitar. He provides great background music and I love that we’re doing our own individual things together. It doesn’t really matter where, but anywhere nice and cozy. =)
6. What is your proudest blogging moment?
It’s not a huge deal compared to so many more accomplished bloggers out there, but I was really proud when Paulo Coelho featured my review of The Alchemist on his blog. =)
7. You blog about a lot more than books. What are some of your other interests?
Well, I love music, my husband and I used to perform professionally for weddings and company events, both together and separately. I also crochet and knit and I’m just learning to sew. I’m interested in learning and reading more about natural health, sustainable living, plants and gardening, spirituality, and so much more! There are so many things to learn and be interested in! I’ve traveled a lot around Asia and the Australasia area, but I’d love to travel more around Europe and America in the future.
8. What do you feel is your most unique characteristic?
My most unique characteristic, hmmm… my brutal honesty? To myself I mean, I’m not brutally honest to anyone else, and I’m not actually brutal. =D I don’t actually know if it’s a unique characteristic, but I think it’s one of my better qualities. As readers, most of us are able to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and be compassionate to their challenges and situations, but there still seems to be some blind spot when it comes to ourselves. I feel that I am able to be honest to myself about my shortcomings and weaknesses without being harsh, but at the same time be able to see them as things I want to improve on and still celebrate my strengths and successes.
9. Describe your ideal day.
Yoga in the early morning, a leisurely breakfast with hubby, then maybe a road trip to some place we can explore, and a cozy picnic lunch when we get hungry. Then we’d read and play music and doze a little bit until it starts to get dark. Maybe we’ll go somewhere nice for dinner, or maybe we’ll just stay home and have a simple dinner, but after that, we’re snuggling under the covers and watching a movie marathon until we fall asleep. =) It sounds positively wonderful to me.
10. What goals do you have for your future blogging endeavor?
I’d like to streamline all my social media profiles with my blog, for a start. I’m only just getting back to blogging and feeling overwhelmed with all the new social platforms out there. I’d also like to eventually start a twitter chat for an online book club/readalongs. I used to host Betty’s Book Chats which I really enjoyed, but didn’t really take off after the initial book chat for Water for Elephants. Most importantly for me, is establishing a sense of community and belonging as a blogger and a writer. I want to blog about things that matter and that will help or resonate with others. I want to grow as a blogger and as a person, learning from other bloggers, and sharing with them as well.