Happy April my fellow bookies! I hope you had an amazing weekend to start off the new months in high spirits!
I know I say this every week, but I am super excited to share my guests with you today. Yes I said it – guestsss!! Tiffany and Vivian is the duo behind Books Before Looks, a blog so close to my heart since I am all for sacrificing makeup and fashion if it means more books. These two med students are all about them books and fandom – I can’t help imagining chatting with my doctor about Throne of Glass and ACOMAF! I mean how cool would that be??
Tiffany also runs a beautiful bookstagram account:
Let’s dive right in and get to know Tiffany and Vivian a little better:
So, let’s get the obvious question out of the way – who is Tiffany/ Vivian? Tell us a bit about the book lover behind the blog.
Tiffany is a med student; a cat slave; an aspiring writer; a lover of fantasy; a girl who prefers reading to partying. She has a handsome tabby named Lucian, a novel currently in the pre-querying editing process, two book blogs, and one bookstagram account. She is utterly useless at cooking, understanding maps, and going to bed early.
Vivian is Tiffany’s classmate in med school. Her reading genre spreads from fantasy and YA to contemporary, non-fiction, and cookbooks. Apart from reading, she is an amateur cook (owns a now abandoned Facebook fanpage on cooking), an amateur map-reader, and yes, pretty useful in reminding Tiffany to close the book and go to bed. AKA the calmer counterpart to Tiffany.
Everyone has a story and I’m positive you do too. What inspired you to start blogging? And how did you come up with the name for your space?
Tiffany – I was inspired to start my first book review blog, biblionatic!, (in Mandarin) after I watched the The Fault in Our Stars movie. There were too many feels for me to handle and I had to get them out there! I began taking pictures to serve as cover photos for biblionatic! and then discovered the bookstagram community and started my bookstagram account, @biblionatic. Afterwards, Vivian and I did a Throne of Glass reread marathon and thought we ought to have a platform to share our quizzes and our blog, Books Before Looks, was created! As for how I came up with the name biblionatic, I just muddled around with different words and voila! biblio+fanatic=biblionatic.
Vivian – I am proud to claim myself the first fan and follower of all Tiffany’s cyberspace ventures! I was involved directly when, the summer during which we finished the first stage of our licensing exam, Tiffany had this crazy idea to reread all the Harry Potter books, literally reliving our childhood, and make crazy trivia quizzes for each other. Our bet was a gift owed to the winner of the quizzes, and I eventually won my first copy of Throne of Glass from Tiffany. This read-a-thon is now included in the Books Before Looks blog. I came up with the name Books Before Looks when we were having a discussion of book cosplaying at Comic Con 2016 while simultaneously setting up our blog. Per Tiffany’s words, “Reading until dawn and getting black circles is totally acceptable if the book is good.”
From one book blogger to another, I know how much time goes into crafting a post that you feel comfortable enough posting for the world to see. Looking back, what was your favourite post to write? (You may list more than one if you want)
Tiffany – It really depends! Back when I had more time, I could spend up to four hours on a post on biblionatic!, because I included a lot of stuff: series info, author info, book intro, character intro, non-spoiler thoughts, spoilery fangirling with play-by-play recounting… Now on Books Before Looks I still do most of that but the amount of spoilery fangirling is much decreased; I share my favorite quotes and add thoughts under them. My posts now take around two hours. My favorite post on Books Before Looks would probably be my Three Dark Crowns because I spent a lot of time ranting and it was pretty fun.
Vivian – I only make occasional contributions for bigger events like the read-a-thons. I do really enjoy writing the comments for Assassin’s Blades because it was my only solo work so far and after writing, the effort and time invested just made me admire Tiffany’s perseverance more for keeping this book-verse up and running for so long.
Getting a lil personal; what is your biggest achievement to date? Is there a moment you are especially proud of when you look back on all you’ve accomplished so far?
Tiffany – My biggest achievement to date would be completing my first novel, In the Shadow of Lies. I’m currently editing the fifth draft in preparation for querying, but ITSOL has already gone through 11 beta readers, including Vivian. The cries of anguish from my beta readers are my spiritual candy. (You can read the intro of ITSOL + the first ten pages here.)
Vivian – I guess my biggest achievement would be being the first beta reader to ITSOL and gifting Tiffany with a notebook that reads “Killing My Darlings” for the sole purpose of planning the sequel to ITSOL.
Do you have a bucket list stashed away somewhere with some daring (or more subdued) activities that you’d like to complete? Name 5 items on your list.
Tiffany – I guess I do have a bucket list, but most of things I’d like to do aren’t very daring.
- Go to Harry Potter World in Universal Studios.
- Get published. Meet JK Rowling/Leigh Bardugo/Sarah J Maas/Cassandra Clare/John Green.
- Have one of those super tall super huge super pretty bookshelves.
- And last, be happy.
Vivian – My bucket list involves accompanying Tiffany on all the items above. XDDDDDDD jk jk To wildly list a few, I guess they’d include:
- Visiting HP studio,
- Go see the Arctic lights,
- Visit Spain and South America,
- Go skiing,
- and try working in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant.
Name one of your most cherished life experiences.
Tiffany – Wow there are a lot I could list. Living in Connecticut, America for two years. Traveling with my friends and my parents to America, France, New Zealand, Germany. Laughing with my friends as we drank cheap beer and talked about shitty boys. One thing that jumps to mind at the moment is how I was incredibly lucky to have been an Owlcrate rep from Jul 2016 – Sep2016.
Vivian – I am lucky enough to be currently living this life experience, as I am currently doing a cardiology course abroad at Boston, MA; Tiffany will join me later at Cambridge, UK for another course. Two weeks in and It has already been a very enlightening and rewarding experience so far.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve received and who was the wise human who shared this bit of wisdom with you?
Tiffany – Oh gosh. I honestly can’t choose. While I’m sure I’ve had plenty of excellent advice, none come to mind as being the ‘best’ at the moment.
Vivian – “The love still exists, just in a different form.” One of my best female friends shared this when my crush was over. Love is a flowing form that, if intended, would never cease to exist. The guy ended up being one of my best friends for life.
“Hakuna Matata – it means no worries, for the rest of your days.”Do you have a motto in life? If yes, let us know what it is.
Tiffany – I don’t exactly have a motto, but I believe strongly in perseverance. Everything I’ve ever accomplished is because I wouldn’t take no for an answer and didn’t cut myself any slack.
Vivian – Don’t worry, be happy 🙂
Let’s talk books for a bit… How did reading become such a big part of your life?
Tiffany – I’ve always loved reading, from when I was living in America and read anything from labels to Harry Potter. I read less in junior high because of schoolwork, but Twilight rekindled my love for reading and led me to read many YA novels. (Don’t judge! Twilight was pivotal for me and for the YA novel industry.) I read very little during the last couple years of senior high and the first years of college, and that time it was The Mortal Instruments that rekindled my love of reading and brought me to booktube and other bookish social media platforms!
Vivian – I can’t remember a time when reading wasn’t an important hobby in my life. Before university, I would read as a means of procrastinating while studying, so much my mom threatened to burn my books and actually hid my HP 7 when it first arrived until after exams (of course I found it and finished it secretly). I went into a down period after entry to college but picked up pace after becoming close friends with Tiffany and read TMI per her recommendation! Sucked into the fandom ever since.
What would you consider your “most reached for” genre? And is there any special reason for this preference?
Tiffany – Definitely fantasy. I love living in new worlds and learning about magic and imagining myself in circumstances far far away from the world I’m actually in.
Vivian – Fantasy for me as well. But I could definitely do with a good contempory, with Jodi Picoult being my favorite non-JK author (admit it, JK Rowling deserves a genre of her own).
On the other side of the spectrum, what genre do you hardly reach for and why?
Tiffany – Nonfiction….? I have a strange terror of historical fiction unless it’s funny like My Lady Jane. I get traumatized by books that are sad for the entire novel. I am also averse to hard core space-ships-and-lots-of-physics sci fi, which is ironic since ITSOL is best classified as sci fi.
Vivian – I would pick the space-ships-and-lots-of-physics sci fi, and I remember us having a debate whether ITSOL should be categorized as fantasy or sci fi.
As a major book nerd, I know how overwhelming– or let’s just call it IRRITATING – it can be when someone asks you what your favourite book is because there’s never a black ‘n white answer. So here’s my question: What is your ideal ending for a book?
Tiffany – Definitely bittersweet. I like endings that wrench at your heart but leave you with a lot of hope. I like endings where the debilitating scenes (deaths, partings) are executed so well you can’t scream at the author for being so cruel. I hate endings where the deaths are obvious ploys to ‘increase the feels’. My best examples of ‘ideal endings’ would be City of Heavenly Fire and Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare.
Vivian – Well of course I do want happy endings where everyone is alive and happy, but from a literary standpoint I do like how the author beautifully tears the readers’ hearts apart, such as Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult or The Fault In Our Stars (I cried even though I already knew the ending from the movie)
What are some of your most cherished quotes from books?
Tiffany – Man this is too hard.
“Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” (+500 other HP quotes)
“Ridiculous, isn’t it? We would never have all fit.” (Jace Wayland from City of Bones)
“The heart is an arrow. It demands aim to land true.” (Six of Crows)
“To the stars who listen–and the dreams that are answered.” (A Court of Mist and Fury)
“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” (The Fault in Our Stars)
“I am being perfectly fucking civil.” (Ronan Lynch, The Dream Thieves)
Vivian – I’ll be vulgar and quote Sarah J Mass for: “He was in such deep, unending shit.” (Queen of Shadows)
What bookish franchise do you tend to fan and fawn over most?
Tiffany – Harry Potter, Six of Crows, A Court of Mist and Fury, Throne of Glass, The Raven Cycle, Shadowhunters, Game of Thrones.
Vivian – Harry Potter, Shadowhunters, Hunger Games, Throne of Glass, Six of Crows, The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, Jane Austen (if this counts as a franchise)
If you’re anything like me then you’ll have a long list of bookish pet peeves. Can you name one of your biggest bookish pet peeves?
Tiffany – Besides the obvious things such as people hurting my books, I can’t abide mismatched series. Hardcover/paperback is bad enough, but if the books are from different publishers it drives me up the wall.
Vivian – My pet peeve is super weird. I really like my paperback to have spine creases created by me. It’s like a proud footprint to show that I have read through and, more often than not, liked the book. My Harry Potter books, both paperback and hardcover, have so many creases sometimes I worry they’d fall apart.
I think one of the biggest problems us bookish folk face is our never ending TBR pile that gets longer and longer no matter how many books we tick off as ‘read’. What book has been on your TBR the longest?
Tiffany – The Book Thief for sure. Another book is The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Vivian – To Kill a Mocking Bird, Game of Thrones (started 2 times but always dropped midway)
Stressed Reader or Relaxed Reader?
Tiffany – Depends on the book.
Vivian – Relaxed reader
Favourite Subject in school?
Tiffany – Biology.
Vivian – Geography
Quiet night in or a night out on the town?
Tiffany – Night in.
Vivian – Depends on the town
Paperback or EBook?
Tiffany – Paperback.
Vivian – Paperback
Pretty dress or jeans and T-shirt?
Tiffany – Jeans and T-shirt.
Vivian – Pretty dress
What advice do you have for anyone who would like to get into the field of medicine?
Tiffany – Know what you’re getting into.
Vivian – Look before you leap.
PS from Vivian: Don’t get scared off! I guess we are not being deliberately pessimistic or that we dislike this field of study so much. It’s just that during med school it’s super long class and study hours with minimal social life and entertainment; after going into the hospital it’s long working hours, stressful workload, and not-always-rewarding sense of satisfaction. It’s a momentous investment, so do not sign up unless you are sure of your career choice.
About Books Before Looks: Books Before Looks was created by Tiffany and Vivian to host read-a-thons. In our read-a-thons we post our rereading thoughts, share the links to quizzes we make, and share the questions we’re most proud of. We also review books and have other rambling posts.
Instagram | @biblionatic
Facebook | biblionatic!
Thanks so much to Tiffany and Vivian for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer these questions. I hope you’ll go ahead and check out their awesome blog and social media platforms, they’re just incredible!
If you would like to have me feature your blog on A Cuppa with a Book Blogger, please drop me an email so we can talk more. Don’t forget to come back next week Monday to meet another Book Blogger Friend!