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Essay #2

Over the last semester, I have gotten to build and grow my website, Brooke Reads Books. This was a really interesting experience for me, as I have always wanted to try blogging but never made the leap. Although there is so much back-end customization that goes into a website, it’s not as scary as it seems, and the most important thing is to start sharing content. I’ve enjoyed getting to cultivate a “digital garden”, a space of my own on the Internet (Basu, 2020, para. 3). 

My website is for book lovers or for people who are wanting to get into reading books. I decided to do a mix of blog posts, some being book reviews and other being articles relating to books, such as new releases for 2021 or gifts for book lovers. I thought this would be a good way to reach an audience that wants book reviews or who wants book related content but aren’t completely interested in the books I have reviewed. Gifts for book lovers could also potentially reach an audience that doesn’t usually read but was wanting to buy something for someone else, and then potentially while on the site they could have found a book they might have been interested in themselves. 

I hope that an audience would find value in my website for all things books. For book reviews, I would be going up against Goodreads which someone might first turn to for a book review, but hopefully they would find value in my blog posts as well. I’ve also linked all the book titles to go directly to the book on Indigo so they could purchase it easily if they wanted to. I hope my other articles are also useful to an audience to find book related information that may be more effort for them to search for, such as gift ideas or upcoming releases. I was inspired by the Digital Garden reading for this, stating that my site can be not “the definitive source, just a source” (Basu, 2020, para. 8). I hope that book readers looking for different opinions and reviews on books may find mine helpful, even though it is just my personal opinion.

Over the last month in Google Analytics, I have had 66 users come to my site. I thought this would mostly be clicks from other Pub 101 students, but I had 17 Canadian users and 48 Americans on my site. I would be interested in continuing to track this long term and learning more about my audience. I wasn’t able to collect enough data to see the age or gender statistics. I think tracking this longer term would be very interesting to get a sense of who my audience actually is. For my imagined audience, I figured that most would be girls, as the books I am reviewing are usually marketed towards girls, as well as my website having a “girly” theme. I think the age range of my imagined audience would be teen girls to young women, in the 15-29 age range. This is because that is also the age range for most of the books I am reviewing. 

I think that the past 13 weeks of creating this website has been a really interesting challenge. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create a website, design elements that are important, search engine optimization, and other little things I wouldn’t have thought about for creating a website, like the importance of linking out and how important fonts are. I’d like to continue to learn more about SEO and Google Analytics for the future. Since I focused most of this class on making my blog look how I wanted it to and creating content I thought was important, I would like to explore more of how to promote and market it in the future. A goal of mine would be to get my blog posts into the first page of Google search results. Currently I have found that one of my blog posts is at the top of the second page on Google results, I would be interested in learning in-depth about search engine optimization and applying it to my blog post to get it to the front page. Hollingsworth (2018) states that the first three positions on the front-page result in 40 percent of click-throughs, while up to 30 percent after that will not get clicked at all (para. 54). I need to focus on SEO in order to rank higher on google search results, so I can get more organic website viewers. 

Creating a website and posting on it weekly is a great learning lesson, and I think it would benefit any student to do this, not just one that is planning on a career in publishing or communications. Campbell (2009), lists some of the benefits to students having a personal cyberinfrastructure, such as technical skills, multimodal writing, social networking, and more (para. 7). Learning to be a digital citizen is very important for students, and I think this has been a very beneficial class. This has prepared me for “creative and responsible leadership” for my future (para. 9). 

Having a website domain is a great way for students to create a portfolio to take with them. When their assignments are posted on their own website, they are able to take the work with them and carry it through their education and future work experience (Watters, 2015, para. 6). It can show the progression of a student’s learning progress, rather than just grades locked in a school system (para. 19). As a communications student, it is very important for me to have a portfolio of writing and design work I have done. I think creating a website is a great way to carry this with me and has been a great opportunity to practice writing samples and get experience with WordPress and Google Analytics. 

 I think I would like to continue to blog, but I may change it up slightly. I think the book reading niche was a great way to get started and to create for this class, but I would be interested in writing different content in the future, maybe on a separate website. The freedom to write and create whatever I want is something I liked the most about this class, it is my own personal digital garden that doesn’t follow any rules (Basu, 2020, para. 6). I will definitely be taking the knowledge I have learned from this class and using it in some sort of digital garden somewhere in the future. 


Basu, T. (2020, September 03). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from

Campbell, G. (2009, September 4). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from

Hollingsworth, S. (2018, April 13). 12 reasons why your business absolutely NEEDS SEO. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from

Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The web we need to give students. Retrieved April 04, 2021, from

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Book Review: They Both Die at the End

I thought the title of this book would prepare me for the ending. I was wrong. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera takes place in a world where Death Cast calls you on the day you will die. There is nothing you can do to change this, just decide how you want to live your last day. Both Mateo and Rufus got the call, and they both unfortunately will have to spend their last days alone, without their friends and family. They come together to try and live an adventure on the last day of their lives.

I thought the writing and the plot of this story was great, and I started to care so deeply for the main characters, Mateo and Rufus. It’s hard to get attached to characters when you know they’re gonna die, but they were very well written. The book was written so well I felt that I could visualize everywhere they went, imagining what every setting looked like.

Even though the title of this book is a spoiler in itself, the real plot of the book is the journey along the way. It’s not focused on death, but instead on how they live. With that said, this book hit me hard, and I finished it at 2:00 am and had to have a good cry. It made me think about my life, my loved ones, and how I would spend my last day. I would still warn everyone to have tissues on hand during the reading of this book.

If you’re up for it, I would highly recommend this book. It’s such a great story, and such a great piece to make you think. What would you do on your last day? Would you tell your friends or sneak away to live one last day?

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Process Post #12

Prompt: Develop community guidelines for your site. Why are those the right guidelines for you? How will you implement them?


Be polite and respectful: No rude, defamatory, offensive, and threatening posts will be allowed. Comments with offensive or hatred material on the basis of gender, race, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, age, or disability will be allowed.

No links: Links will not be allowed in posts in case they lead to spam or inappropriate material.

No self promotions: No self-promotions or promotions of others will be allowed.

Be Helpful and Relevant: Keep on topic, don’t comment irrelevant information.

No Doxxing: Sharing personal information is not allowed.

I think these guidelines are good to have for this site. I don’t anticipate my target audience posting anything like this, but trolls might. These would be implemented through monitoring of posts, and immediate removal of anything that breaks these rules. For larger sites, there may be a community manager in charge of reading through all posts are making sure they all fit into the guidelines, but for my site I would be able to manage them alone.

The most important rules on this list are the first and last ones. The first, to be polite and respectful is important because trolling and offensive behaviour will never be allowed on this site. The last one, no doxxing, is an important safety feature to make sure private information is not being posted. The other guidelines aren’t as important, but instead are there to ensure there is no spam and to keep comments and posts running smoothly.

I think it’s important to set guidelines, so anyone who comments knows the rules right away. This way there can’t be any complaints, as it was clearly laid out. Guidelines help keep the posts as a safe place, which is welcoming to anyone who wants to join the site.

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2021 Releases I Can’t Wait to Read

2021 is looking like it’s going to be a great year for books. Here are five titles I can’t wait to read this year:

One of the Good Ones – Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

When Kezi Smith dies after attending a social justice rally, her sister Happi is left in the aftermath. But when Kezi is immortalized as one of the “good ones”, Happi wonders why this is, as if only some people are worthy of being missed. Happi and her other sister, Genny, decide to honour Kezi in their own way.

This book was released in January, but I have not had a chance to read it yet. It looks very interesting and a great read for thinking about the after math of police brutality.

Happily Ever Afters – Elise Bryant

Tessa is a writer, and is accepted into a prestigious writing program. But when she needs to find herself, her friend suggests that she finds inspiration by following a list of romance novel inspired steps to find Prince Charming.

Another January release that I can’t wait to get my hands on, this looks like a fun rom-com book to enjoy.

You Have a Match – Emma Lord

Abby signs up for a DNA service thinking she won’t find anything new, until she discovers she has an older sister. To find out more about why her parents gave Savannah up for adoption, they meet up at a summer camp.

This is Emma Lord’s second book, and I loved her first book, Tweet Cute. This book is already a Reese’s YA Book Club selection, so I’m excited to read it. I’ve been on a waitlist to get it from the library for weeks now.

As Good as Dead – Holly Jackson

The third book in the series of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Pip is preparing to leave for university. But she has been receiving messages and death threats, and a stalker knows where she lives. She has to follow an investigation about herself to find out who is doing this to her.

I loved A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, so I can’t wait to continue reading the series in book 3. This book isn’t released until August, which will give me plenty of time to read book 2 as well.

You’ll Be the Death of Me – Karen M. McManus

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with murder. When Ivy, Mateo, and Cal skip school, they think they’re in for a fun day. But then they come across another student skipping where they follow them to their murder. All three of them are now connected to this murder, and they are all hiding secrets.

I love every book Karen M. McNamus has released so far. Unfortunately I’ll have to wait to November to read this one.

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Process Post #11

Prompt: Make a plan for incorporating more transmedia integration into your online publication. What channels will you focus on? Why?

Transmedia storytelling is dispersing content “across multiple media for the purpose of creating a coordinated entertainment experience” (para. 5). For a blog, this would mean creating content across multiple different platforms. In addition to blogs, many people utilize YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and other platforms as well.

As this website is a book blog, there are many different ways I could use transmedia integration. One is Instagram. This would be quite similar to the blog content I have, except the main focus would be the photo. Then there would be a shorter write up about the book I am featuring in the caption. It is more photo focused, rather than word focused like this blog.

The second one is YouTube. Many book bloggers use YouTube to do longer (10-15 minute) sit down videos, talking in depth about one book or even multiple books. These could be collections such as recently read books, books in a certain genre, or books by an author. The creator will focus mostly on their spoken words, maybe with a couple pictures or showing off the cover of a book. These could be compared to blog posts as being a spoken and visual version.

The third platform is Tik Tok. These videos are much shorter, in the 15 second to 1 minute range. These may have the creator speaking during it, or may just have a few written words on the screen about each book, such as a simple yes or no for whether they would recommend it or what their rating of the book would be.

For me, I get most of my book recommendations now from Tik Tok. “BookTok”, the name of the genre of videos on the platform has been a great source for book suggestions. The algorithm on Tik Tok also makes it much easier for videos to be seen than on other platforms. If I were to be expanding into transmedia content in addition to this blog, I would focus on making short-form videos on Tik Tok as well.

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eReaders vs Books

When eReaders started to take the book world by storm, I swore that I would never get one. I loved reading actual books too much, feeling them in my hands and collecting them on my book shelf. My parents made the switch first, buying Kobo’s while I continued buying real books.

I am someone who does most of my reading on vacation, and I am a very fast reader. So I started to have the trouble of packing books in my suitcase and not weighing it down. Finally, after filling my suitcase as much as I could too many times, I decided to cave and buy an eReader.

I immediately fell in love with it. It’s so light, and I love how many books I can carry on it. I even got a waterproof Kobo, so I can sit in the pool, a hot tub, or the bath without worrying about dropping it in. I also started to borrow ebooks from the library, instead of buying books all the time. Although there was the initial high price of the eReader, I have saved so much money borrowing ebooks. I also love how I can do this without having to leave my house, I can get the library download for a book instantly, or join the waitlist to get it as soon as possible.

I do still own plenty of hardcopy books, and I won’t be getting rid of these any time soon. I maybe buy about one or two hardcopy books a year, especially if it’s a special book I know I want for a long time. But the eReader has completely changed the game for me, and I will never go back to only reading hard copy books all the time.

If you’ve been thinking of buying an eReader, consider this as a sign. Here is my favourite.

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Process Post #10

Peer Review 3 Response:

For this process post I will be reflecting on Hayden’s peer review of my blog.

The first piece of advice she suggested is to change up my featured photos for process posts, mini assignments, peer reviews, and essays. Right now they are all the same pink with a blue border and blue text (as shown in the featured photo for this post). She suggested to make each category a different photo. I really like this idea, and I was thinking I could play around with maybe having some with a blue background with a pink border and pink text, and maybe also switching up some other elements. This would keep them cohesive, but also different to each other and stand out for a user scrolling through my blog.

The second piece of advice would be to add more widgets that are also similar, such as Instagram, Pinterest, or something else book related. I really like this idea and want to implement it to add a little something extra. I currently have a widget of my book reading challenge for 2021 on my home page, but GoodReads also has more options, such as books I’ve recently reviewed, recently read, or in a specific collection. I currently don’t have an Instagram or Pinterest page for Brooke Reads Books, but if I did I think that would be a great addition to the page in the form of widgets.

Overall, I think Hayden had some really great advice to make my website better. Thanks for the peer review!

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Peer Review #3

For this peer review, I will be reviewing Hayden’s blog.

My first thoughts when opening up this website is that I love the design. The theme is great, I think it is well picked for a lifestyle blog. The colours are are calming, I don’t feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed looking at the page.

As a visitor to this site, I am immediately drawn in by the design, and I am excited to see more of what this site has to offer.

One thing I would recommend to make the front page more cohesive is to have all of the posts have a featured image that are all the same size. The pictures that are uploaded already are great photos, they are very aesthetically pleasing and go well with the content of each post.

Hayden has her blog post content split up into 3 different categories, keeping active, lifestyle, and traveling. I think this is really helpful to any visitor of this site, as they can immediately identify what type of content they would be interested in and read it.

Starting off with the keeping active page, so far I really like the content that is there. A workout routine is great content that visitors to this site may like. I think a great addition to the content would be to add links for products described in the workout routine, such as the dumbbells and the peloton. This way visitors can find these products directly from the blog post. This would also be useful to make this blog monetized, as affiliate links would be a great way to monetize a lifestyle blog.

The second page is lifestyle. I think there are some great posts here, and I think the photos chosen to represent these blog posts are great. I would maybe split up the text into more paragraphs, so it seems less heavy for visitors and easier to read. The photos could be placed throughout the post, maybe putting the coffee picture right after referencing coffee and the laptop photo after mentioning doing homework.

The third category is travelling. I like the posts here, and the photos chosen are beautiful. One thing I would like to see for the latest blog post, Past Travels, is more personal photos and write up about each trip.

I think something that would make this website more marketable would be to look into search engine optimization. Some ways to do this would be to rename blog posts to make them more relevant to google searches that a potential visitor might have. Instead of “Past Travels”, it could be something more specific like “Top 10 Sights to See in Japan”. This would make it likely rank higher on a google search and be easier to find. Having key words in the blog posts would also help. Having links to products like I mentioned above would also be really good. Adding a plugin for SEO would be helpful for this, I use mine to make sure my titles are written well for SEO, my blog posts are a good length, and I have keywords written in there. I use Yoast SEO for this and I recommend it.

To market this website more, I think it would be good to utilize social media platforms that the imagined audience would use. For a lifestyle blog I would suggest Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. I think you could get some really great reach from those if you chose to do so.

Overall I think this website has a great design and great content. I love the aesthetic of the page and I think it is all laid out very well. The site is easy to navigate and the posts with featured photos have great pictures that make me want to click. Great job!

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Book Review: 11/22/63

This book is much different than the other books I have been reviewing on this site, but this is my favourite book I have ever read. 11/22/63 is by Stephen King, but don’t let that fool you. I can’t handle horror at all, I would instead categorize this book as a historical, science-fiction, thriller love story. I was interested in this book in the first place because I had heard such great things about King’s writing, but I could never handle any of his most popular books like It, The Shining, or Pet Semetary.

The story focuses on Jake Epping, a high school English teacher. One day his friend Al who owns a diner tells him a secret, his storage room is a portal to 1958. Jake goes on a mission to stop the Kennedy assassination. He goes undercover as George Amberson, and jumps right into the late 1950s and early 1960s. While there he meets a librarian named Sadie, who may be the love of his life. What follows is his adventures trying to stop Lee Harvey Oswald from killing JFK, and dealing with the affects of changing anything in the past and what it will do to his future.

This book is not a light summer read by any means, the hardcover copy is almost 850 pages. But don’t let that scare you off. I truly think this is a terrific book, and I recommend it to all of my friends (even though none of them have taken me up on it yet). If you have the time to settle into a longer book, I highly recommend this. The plot of the book is well worth the long page count.

If this hasn’t convinced you, there is also a TV miniseries that was created starring James Franco. I have yet to see it, but it looks great and I will one day watch it.

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