Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews
Blog URL:
Your name: Mandy – Str8shooterM

Let’s begin with your blogger origin story - how long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

I’ve been blogging for almost two and a half years, which is really hard to believe. It all started in March of 2012 when I stumbled upon Kristen Ashley and I began inhaling contemporary romance. Soon, I realized that I wanted a larger platform for my reviews and I decided to create a blog. I was also frustrated after reading several gushing reviews of a popular book on several popular blogs at the time. After reading those reviews, I wondered if I read the same book. The book was riddled with typos and even used words incorrectly. Why couldn’t they just be honest and tell it like it is? And so, “Straight Shootin” Book Reviews was born. Creating SSBR has changed my life personally and professionally in so many ways.

What genres and subgenres does your blog focus on? Are there any trends within these that you’re excited to see, or would like to see dissipate?

For almost two years I focused on contemporary romance, romantic suspense, military romance, erotic romance, some new adult… you get the picture. Earlier this year, I brought on two reviewers, Tonya and Maria Rose and they have helped SSBR branch out into historical, paranormal, M/M, sci fi romance, contemporary and women’s fiction. Bringing Tonya and Maria Rose has been one of the best moves I’ve made thanks to the diversity they bring.  As for trends, I’ve seen an increase of romantic suspense releases and I’m always happy to see that. As a football fan, I’ve really enjoyed the sports/football romances from Elle Kennedy, Jen Frederick and Kristen Callihan’s The Game Plan. As for trends I’d like to see go away? The stepbrother thing seems to be dissipating a bit, thank goodness.

Have your reading habits changed since started blogging about books?

They certainly have. Now, I have a reading schedule and while I always had a list of books to read, having access to review copies and deadlines to read them by, my reading time is much more structured. That’s not to say that I never read whatever, whenever. I’ve learned to give myself periods of time when I can pick up whatever catches my eye, or to read a book that I’ve read five times already.

On your blog, you have a tagline/motto that says “Reviews That Inspire Confidence” – can you explain the meaning of this and how you came up with it?

That’s an interesting story (at least I think it is). Last spring I had my logo redesigned. A friend sent me a tin that served as the design inspiration. It had a vintage look and was supposed to hold bullets ergo- Straight Shootin’ Bullets. We used some of the slogans on the box as inspiration and they became “Reviews That Inspire Confidence” and “Do Not Read Unless You Mean Business.”  It is my hope that when you visit SSBR and you read a review, you feel confident that we have given you our honest feelings and opinions regarding that book.

Do you have a particular approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years?

My style has pretty much stayed the same. I tend to write like I talk. When you’re reading one of my reviews, it’s like you’re in the room with me. I tend to talk about how a book made me feel and my style is pretty laid back. My approach to writing reviews has definitely evolved. I’ve always read on my Kindle, highlighted and bookmarked pages. This year, I started a journal of sorts where I keep my reading schedule, and I make notes. I record the date I started, title, author and when the review is due. Sometimes, I have lot of notes and there are also times where I get so wrapped up in a book, I forget to make notes other than “AWESOME!” I tend to jot down how a book made feel while reading it.

Do you have any advice for book bloggers who are just starting out? Perhaps advice about managing a blog with multiple contributors as well as a review schedule?

Oh wow, advice for new book bloggers. Hmmmmm. I’d say BE YOU. It’s very easy to look at what everyone else is doing and get wrapped up in a “Keeping Up With the Joneses”. Don’t worry about Facebook followers and how many times you post a day. DO NOT over-commit yourself to review copies. Read what you want when you want. Some of us do better with structure, some do not. Figure out what works best for you.

As for managing a blog with multiple contributors, I’m VERY lucky, Maria Rose and Tonya make it very easy. I also use a WordPress calendar plug in called CoSchedule and it allows me to color code my reviewers, so I can look at the schedule and see who is doing what when. We also tend to talk via email and messenger about who is reading what and if we want to write a review for it. If more than one person is reading the same book, we determine whether or not we want to do a dual or a triple review. We call that post – 1 book, 2 reviews. Those are some of my favorite reviews.

Are there any romance titles on NetGalley that you’re looking forward to reading/reviewing?

Oh gosh, I have a few on my NetGalley shelf that I’m so excited to read. Lauren Dane’s Coming Back (Book 3 in the Ink & Chrome series), Tessa Bailey’s Crashed Out (Book 1 in the Made in Jersey series) and Welcome to Forever by debut author Annie Rains (Book 1 in the Hero’s Welcome series). I’m having a hard time figuring out which one to read first!

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Lightning Round!

Your ideal reading spot:

Curled up in my big brown comfy chair in my living room. Or the beach.

Your favorite holiday reads:

This Christmas and Finding Christmas by Jeannie Moon. I also love Jill Shalvis’s Merry Christmas, Baby.

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Your blog, in 2 sentences:

Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews, giving you reviews that inspire confidence. Do not read unless you mean business!

Your favorite childhood book:

As a child, I had The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit. I still have it and have read it to my kids. I still love Benjamin Bunny, Peter Rabbit, Flopsy Rabbit, Mopsy Rabbit, Cotton-tail Rabbit, Mrs. Rabbit, and Mr. McGregor.

And to finish off our interview, if you could go on a road trip with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?

Oh my gosh, this is a very hard question! Part of me thinks that a road trip with Stephen King would certainly be VERY interesting. But in the end, I’d have to pick Cristin Harber because I know she’d be a blast to travel with thanks to those incredible Titan men she writes. Where would we go? I’m partial to the beach, so I’d pick a road trip to Destin, Florida. Drinks and reading on the beach!!

Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Mandy!
Please make sure to check out Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews and the Romance titles now available on NetGalley! 

Would you like to nominate your blog, or a blog you admire, to be featured in our Blogger Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret


4 thoughts on “Blogger Spotlight – Romance Edition

  1. Great to hear your blogging/reviewing journey. I must make more of an effort to include how I feel when reading…good advice

  2. This is so awesome you have given me some great advice! I personally just review on Goodreads and Amazon and been feelig the need to maybe have a small blog where I talk books with other people. I tried revieweing with a blog and the politics got in the way of the blog itself certain people getting what others wanted to read silly games so that is why I just read and review. But your tis were very helpful to me, especially about keeping some kind of journal where you write down your schedule and when book is due so it keeps me from taking too much! I also noticed that I have not had time to read what I have bought so I need to find that balance you are taking about between reading what you commit to and reading what you want.
    Thank you so much and Happy Holidays!
    Loraine Oliver

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