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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Reading Reality
Blog URL: http://www.readingreality.net
Your name: Marlene Harris

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

Reading Reality’s sixth anniversary is coming up on April 4. I actually celebrate a Blogo-Birthday on April 4-5, as my own birthday is April 5. I’m a bit older than 6, though.

I began Reading Reality when we moved from Gainesville FL to Atlanta. We came for my husband’s job, but 2011 was still during the Great Recession. I wanted something to do that would still connect with books, and would keep me busy and intellectually stimulated. One of the things I enjoy about working in libraries is being able to help readers find books they will love, and Reading Reality is an extension of that.

The blog was originally called “Escape Reality, Read Fiction”. I got that from a t-shirt. But when I started doing library consulting, “Reading Reality” sounded a bit more like the name of a company, so that’s what stuck. Occasionally people still ask me about real estate in Pennsylvania.

Are there particular subgenres that you prefer or find more interesting at the moment? Are there any trends that you are excited to see come or go?

My go-to genres are science fiction and fantasy, but I also read a lot of romance and a fair amount of mystery. I’m pretty eclectic. I particularly like the places where genres mingle, so things like science fiction romance and historical mystery always get me reading. When I’m in a reading slump, I turn to urban fantasy and that brings me right back to the joy of reading.

As far as trends go, I’m kind of sorry to see steampunk fading a bit. I loved that blend of historical, SF, fantasy and often romance. The best of the breed were generally terrific and terrifically inventive.

Do you find your background as a librarian influences which books you choose and how you review them? And, are you still involved in the library community?

I am still very involved in the library community. I am currently the librarian at TAPPI, the Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industry. They have a small but significant collection of materials in the industry, and I answer research requests and provide document delivery.

I’m also a member of the American Library Association Notable Books Council, a committee that has picked the best literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry every year since 1944. And I review for Library Journal.

Some of the books I choose to review are for my library interests, but most I pick just because they look either intriguing, fun, or both. Being a librarian, having done readers’ advisory work, does influence the way I review. If there are “read-alikes” for the book I’m reviewing, I make sure to give them a mention, no matter when they were published. And if I’m reviewing a book in a series, I always tell readers whether or not they really need to have read the rest of that series, of if they can just jump in anywhere. Discovering that you are reading book 5 of a series and are completely lost is a VERY disappointing experience.

Aside from your reviews, you have a variety of different features on your blog – which is your current favorite?

I like different features for very different reasons. Blog Hops are terrific for getting traffic. I do Stacking the Shelves and the Sunday Post because they help me stay organized. I hope people enjoy those features, but they do serve a function for me as the blogger.

My favorite features have been Amy Daltry’s semi-regular guest reviews. She picks interesting books, including a lot of genre classics, and she writes a terrific review, whether the book is terrific or not. She’s clear and honest about what she likes and doesn’t like in a book, and it is great to have the opportunity to feature a reviewer whose perspectives are different from my own.

The most fun feature I have is one that I wish I was able to do more often, and that’s joint reviews with either Cass or Amy. It is particularly fun and frequently hilarious when we are able to write together in real time.

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about reading and recommending to your followers? And are there any covers on NetGalley that you’re loving?

Cass and I have a joint review for Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop coming in March that made both of us ROFL. It’s not that the book is funny, it isn’t and it’s not intended to be. But we love to out-snark each other.

I’m very excited to read In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. I’ve heard such marvelous things about her work, but this is my chance to get in at the beginning of one of her series.

My favorite upcoming cover is Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James. The joke going around Facebook among librarians is, “What, only 12?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

Evidence of a life either misspent or well spent with books, by someone who can’t resist sharing.

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Sherlock Holmes. I have an absolute weakness for Holmes pastiches, and I love Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series.

Your favorite 2 authors for Fiction titles:

Only 2? Inconceivable!

Science fiction: John Scalzi
Fantasy: L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Mystery: Louise Penny
Historical Mystery: Charles Todd
Science Fiction Romance: Anna Hackett
Fantasy Romance: Jeffe Kennedy
Romance: Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle

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?

John Scalzi, hands down. And conveniently, he is still alive. I would love to go on a book tour, or even part of one, with him. I’ve heard him perform at several, and he’s always both thoughtful and funny, as he is on his blog at Whatever, although the ratio of thoughtful to funny there is slightly different. And I’d get to quiz him about his upcoming books. And possibly meet his current cats, the Scamperbeasts.

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Reader Spotlight

We’re excited to be spotlighting Charmaine Atrooshi, who works in the Homebound Services department of the Ottawa Public Library. She is passionate about social justice, and providing equitable library services in order to build strong communities. She has been in her current role for the past seven years, and spends most of her days providing readers’ advisory services to her homebound customers. She believes robust readers’ advisory skills and services are important in public libraries as they help to connect people, and provide access to library materials that help us relax, learn and escape….. Charmaine holds a Master of Arts in Legal Studies (Carleton University), Bachelor of Arts Honours in Law (Carleton) and a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology (Carleton). She is currently pursuing an MLIS online with the University of Alberta, and is looking forward to fusing her legal background with librarianship.

A nice place to start is with your library origin story – how did you become involved with the Ottawa Public Library (OPL)?

I started working for OPL as a summer student while I was completing my first undergraduate degree. My role was to provide children’s programming in rural library branches. I later applied for a paging position, was hired on permanently, and here we are now, 11 years (and several different roles and degrees) later! Public libraries are a dynamic place to work—they are constantly changing, innovating, and creating new ways to reach out to their communities in order to construct services and programming that are relevant to their needs. Every day brings something new and exciting!

Can you describe what Homebound Services does, those who use it, and why it’s essential to your community?

Homebound services is a department that selects and delivers library materials to OPL customers who have difficulty accessing a library branch on a regular basis due to age, illness or disability. The majority of our customers are older adults and seniors. We offer two types of services; one is a home delivery service where library materials are selected monthly by staff and delivered to their door, and the other is a mini library service where we bring a selection of library materials to various retirement residents for the residents to peruse and select from. We have around 500 customers that we select for monthly, as well as approximately 150 mini library customers. OttawaHomeboundServices

Services like these are really important in our community as they help to remove barriers to access, provide equitable library service, promote information literacy, and are a means of connecting customers with the resources, materials and services they require. We encourage our customers to contact us with feedback on their selections, and to request titles/authors they enjoy.

Has having access to digital galleys/proofs impacted your collection development strategy? Has it also affected the types of titles you recommend to your customers/patrons?

Having access to digital galleys assists greatly when it comes to recommending and selecting titles for our Homebound customers. Many want to hear what the next ‘big thing’ is, and to find read-alikes for their favorite authors, and they look to us for feedback. Reading the blurbs on NetGalley and having the opportunity to access some of these materials ahead of time is great, as it helps me keep my finger on the pulse of publishing trends—so when someone asks me for the next “Girl on the Train” I can provide some great suggestions for new thrillers!

OPL has a centralized content services department that is responsible for the materials selection for all 33 Ottawa Public Library branches (plus Homebound and Bookmobile Services). They do a great job of providing us with materials that are relevant to the needs of our Homebound customers, and are always open to suggestions for items we think our customers would enjoy.

Do you have a favorite moment when you provided someone with a book?

Years ago, I read a book from NetGalley called Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler. Calling Me Home
I loved it so much—Kibler painted such a vivid, incredible (slightly heartbreaking) story and I knew that this was something that many of our Homebound customers (and colleagues) would enjoy. I sent this title to many of our historical fiction/family sagas customers in hopes they would enjoy as much as I had—and I was right. A few people who we rarely heard from contacted us to say how much they enjoyed this—and would like more by this author (unfortunately, she hasn’t published anything else yet – but we found some read-alikes in the interim). One customer at a mini library enjoyed it so much, she gave a mini book talk to the other residents in the room- encouraging them to read it as she enjoyed it so much! It was a great feeling!

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending?

Jojo Moyes- Paris for One & Other stories (as we have a big Moyes following) and Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter. I don’t read a lot in the science fiction/fantasy type of genre, but Crouch had this way of sucking you in right from the first chapter. I couldn’t put it down—it was a refreshing shift from what I normally read and I think many others would also find this book captivating! Mini libraries are excellent opportunities for recommending titles and having readers’ advisory conversations—these chats help us all to expand our reading horizons and try new titles/authors/genres that we may not have picked up otherwise.

Paris for One     Dark Matter

What is the most requested title in your library?

We have had a lot of requests recently from our homebound customers for Jojo Moyes and Louise Penny titles as well as Giller Prize winning authors.

And to finish up, what is the last book that made you smile?

I Regret Nothing by Jen Lancaster
I Regret Nothing  

Thanks so much Charmaine, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out the Ottawa Public Library and their Homebound Services

Would you like to nominate someone to be featured in our Reader Spotlight series? Fill out this form!

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Book Addict’s Guide
Your name: Brittany Smith

Let’s start with your origin story - how long have you been blogging about Mystery & Thrillers, and why did you start?

This is a really fun question because mysteries and thrillers really were my origin! I started my blog in April of 2012 after my friend and I started haunting a local used book store. I was really into adult cozy mysteries at the time and my shelves are still filled with all of the cozies I bought there! I wanted my own place for my reviews outside of Goodreads so I had decided to start a blog. I really wanted to share what I liked or didn’t like about a book and really help people find some good recommendations. I also “discovered” YA around this time with the dystopian trend and I quickly started devouring young adult books as well! My blog quickly became a combination of adult mystery and anything YA, although now it definitely has a strong YA focus.

Are there particular subgenres that you prefer or find more interesting at the moment? Are there any trends that you are excited to see come or go?

I used to not be a fantasy reader (I know!!) because I just hadn’t found the right books for me and now I truly can’t get enough! I used to immediately say no to magical realism because again, I hadn’t read the right books for me, but when it’s done well, it’s SO incredible.

I’m also really excited to see a lot more mystery/thrillers in YA now because there was a long while where I really couldn’t find many, or they at least weren’t getting a good spotlight. And I cannot get enough books about heists/spies/espionage!! (And can we just say how AMAZING it is when heists & fantasy meet? It’s all of my loves together!)

I used to be so in love with dystopian but I think that’s really fizzled out and I totally burned myself out on it for the time being.

Do you have a preferred approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years, particularly since becoming a blogger?

My review style has totally changed since I first started blogging! My very first reviews are so embarrassing! I basically wrote a few sentences and called it a review. I mean, there’s no “right” way to write a review but now I really get into plot, world building, development, and even have sections talking about characters and specific points that I really enjoyed or conversely, things I was missing. I hope my reviews are helpful tools for people who are looking to find some spoiler-free feedback on a book because that was the whole reason I started my blog!

I used to try to take notes about what I read or marking quotes but I found that stopping to write things down really took me out of that reading experience, but I do still update Goodreads along the way! It took me a while to find my own personal reviewing groove but I’ve been sticking with this one for the past couple years and it’s really worked well for me!

On your blog, you publish a “Book Title Buzzwords” series, as well as other features. Can you briefly explain how you came up with these, and how they help structure your blog, which titles to review, etc.?

Book Title Buzzwords is one of the newer features on my blog. I came up with it after noticing some title trends in titles to include similar words, especially within the YA community, and thought it would be fun to talk about titles that featured them, both old and new! It was a great way for me to bring up some older titles, titles that I had just read and not yet reviewed, and titles that I planned to read in the future.

I also have some other staple features like Book and a Beverage, which is a blogger (and sometimes author) spotlight feature! I found myself frequently photographing my current read with my current beverage and I figured other people did too! I invite bloggers to share their current book and beverage as well as some things about themselves & their blogs.

I love the different features because it brings something new to my blog. I’ve been blogging for over four years and as much as reviews will always be a staple, I like having a different way to talk about books that’s a little something different and keeps the conversation fresh!

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about reading and recommending to your followers? And are there any covers on NetGalley that you’re loving?

My wish was just granted for The Bear and the Nightingale and I’m so excited! I’m also loving the covers for Caraval and The Bone Witch and can’t wait to read those too!

The Bear and the Nightingale    Caraval    The Bone Witch

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

A place to share bookish obsessions. A happy mix of reviews and fun features.

Your favorite snack(s) to eat while reading:

Popcorn! Mmmm

The 1 book you wish was never-ending:

Just one!? Ummm. THE RAVEN KING by Maggie Stiefvater because I wish the series would never end.

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?

Can I take two? (Do people totally always cheat on these questions?) I would take a road trip with Maggie Stiefvater because 1) she’s so much fun, 2) she has amazing cars, and 3) she knows really cool places. I’d also love to take a road trip with Leigh Bardugo because I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her several times and she’s one of my favorite authors to talk with and meet in person! She’s so kind, really cracks me up, and I bet between her, Maggie Stiefvater, and myself, we could discover a whole lot of interesting places in our travels that we never knew existed!

Thanks so much Brittany, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out The Book Addict’s Guide and more Teens & YA available on NetGalley! 

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

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Suspense Is Thrilling Me
Your name: Chelsea Humphrey

Let’s start with your origin story - how long have you been blogging about Mystery & Thrillers, and why did you start?

Technically I have only had my blog since May of 2016, but I have been reviewing books on Goodreads since September of 2015. I’ve always had a deep love of reading; after my second child was born I wanted to find something I could do for “me time”. I started writing reviews and found it so enjoyable that I knew I had found something special. Eventually, I had some wonderful authors like Mary Kubica, Angela Marsons, Emily Carpenter, and James Renner offer to back my blog and help me get it off the ground with some interviews and giveaways. I’ll never forget their kindness; the fact that they believed in me before I could believe in myself is what got me started and loving the world of blogging!

Are there particular subgenres that you prefer or find more interesting at the moment? Are there any trends that you are excited to see come or go?

I am a huge fan of the psychological thriller! That has always been my #1 go to if I’m stuck in a rut. I’m also partial to crime thrillers/police procedurals; I have recently discovered a new liking for medical thrillers and even a few political thrillers. I think I speak for most readers in the genre who would like to see the “Gone Girl” craze disappear. I adored that book when I first read it; I found it very unique and original for the moment, but once the floodgates opened to all the similar books that style got old quickly. My dream is one day to be able to pick up a psychological thriller with no mention of the word “Girl” in the title or a blurb. I’ve really enjoyed this recent trend of stories being told out of order; All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda was so unique in the fact that we discover the story backward, from end to beginning.

Your review style is very engaging - you take away something different from each book and bring in your own knowledge. For example, in a recent review you gave readers a heads up about possible triggers in the book, and in another you praised an author for his honest depiction of the struggles of parenthood, and you pull in additional information about the author and publisher, and giveaways/events that readers may not know about. Can you describe how you formulate your reviews and what you’ve found works the best for yourself and what resonates with your followers?

Thank you! To be honest, I had to play around with formatting and what I wanted to include in my reviews for months before I found a set “go to” standard. For instance, I have followers from all walks of the reading spectrum; some are fellow reviewers/bloggers, some are aspiring/current authors, and some are just fantastic readers looking for an honest review to help them narrow down that ever growing To Be Read list. I always like to include publisher, author, and series/genre information, as some readers aren’t sure where it falls in a series and some fellow reviewers need that information to request review copies easily. I try to always be constructive in my reviews, as there is no need to be cruel. A book is a project that someone has worked on for many months, sometimes years. I do try to include information that might be helpful to a reader on deciding if a book is for them. In the mystery/thriller genre, there are a number of triggers that might affect someone poorly and be a book they likely shouldn’t pick up. Graphic violence, rape, murder, and abuse of humans and/or animals can be common in these types of books, so I like to point out (in a spoiler friendly way) if these types of triggers make an appearance in a book. I do post many reviews as I read an average of 4 books per week, but I also like to mix things up with other types of posts as well. My favorite posts are author interviews that include giveaways; many publishers/authors have been so generous and just all around awesome by providing everything for those types of posts. I have heard from numerous readers and winners of the giveaways that they were able to find a new-to-them author that is now a favorite they might never have found otherwise. It’s a win for everyone involved! I love nothing more than promoting books for a debut author and spreading the word on their fabulous new story.

Aside from your reviews, you have a variety of different features on your blog – which is your current favorite?

While I thoroughly enjoy all the excerpts, reviews, cover reveals, and interviews/giveaways, I think my favorite current feature is my weekly wrap-up that occurs every Friday. I try to include what I’m currently reading, books I’ve won in various giveaways (thank you Goodreads!!!), and book mail from various publishers/book buddies. I have a few blogger/reader friends that we mail each other books we weren’t able to get our hands on, and all my friends/family know me as the crazy book peddler because I give away all my books (except the special signed ones) once I’ve finished reading them.

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about reading and recommending to your followers? And are there any covers on NetGalley that you’re loving?

I’ve recently been approved for Wintersong by S. Jae Jones (and that cover is GORGEOUS!), Dark Water by Robert Bryndza, Bloodlines by Angela Marsons, and Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall- all books I’ve been anticipating for months now! I can’t wait to review these because I can already tell you I’ll be pushing all four heavy. One that I haven’t read yet that just went up is The Nightwalker by Sebastian Fitzek; the cover is gorgeous and the blurb has me hooked.

Wintersong    Dark Water   Bloodlines   Tell Me No LiesThe Nightwalker

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

The Suspense Is Thrilling Me focuses heavily on the Mystery/Thriller genre, but also includes reviews of Women’s Fiction and YA. It’s growing quickly and I couldn’t be more pleased with it’s success!

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Isabel Spellman in the Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Your favorite 2 publishers for Mystery & Thriller titles:

Bookouture and Minotaur Books

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?

There are many, but a top pick would be Harlan Coben. I feel like anywhere would be an adventure with him, but NYC would be a blast, and I hope he’s as funny in real life as he is in his books.

Thanks so much Chelsea, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out The Suspense Is Thrilling Me and more Mystery & Thrillers 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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: On Starships and Dragonwings
Your name: Anya

Let’s start with your origin story - how long have you been blogging about Sci-Fi & Fantasy books, and why did you start?

I started the blog in 2010, so six years, time flies! It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I started blogging about sci-fi and fantasy books because I wanted to try out blogging in general and realized that books were the thing that I would never get tired of! It’s worked so far I guess :).

Are there particular subgenres that you prefer or find more interesting at the moment? Are there any trends that you are excited to see come or go?

I try to switch between subgenres every book so that I don’t get bored with any one. I’ve found that my preferences don’t align with elements special to any particular subgenre, but more what makes books excellent no matter their subject: strong voice, unique world, beautiful writing, etc. In all subgenres though I’m seeing a trend of authors working hard to bring in mythology from places other than Western Europe and I love that. Since I tend to be more interested in new-to-me magic and monsters and worlds, stories that pull in myths I’m not familiar with are exactly what I’m looking for.

Can you describe the Sci-Fi & Fantasy community? Is there anything unique amongst those contributing to and interested in this genre that perhaps isn’t a characteristic of other literary communities?

Like any community, the Sci-fi and Fantasy community is far flung and varied of course. There is an interesting split between those who read predominantly young adult versus adult sci-fi/fantasy though. I feel like I cross between those two groups of speculative fiction readers and am always trying to push books from the other age category on to readers. Something that has been under close scrutiny lately is diverse representation in sci-fi and fantasy: if you have elves and aliens, it shouldn’t be hard to also have humans with different skin tones and sexualities. Recent outspoken groups against representation seem to have largely united our community to start fixing the problem in response. I’ve always found the sci-fi and fantasy book blogging community to be exceedingly welcoming in part because we’re mostly made up of the nerds and outcasts that often didn’t fit in growing up. We know what it is like to feel excluded and want a space where no one has to feel that way.

Do you have a particular approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years, particularly since becoming a blogger?

When I was writing my very first couple of reviews, I tried to write them as paragraphs waxing lyrical about the book for thousands of words. Then I realized that I both didn’t like trying to write that way and didn’t particularly enjoy reading those reviews. That’s when my bullet-list review style was born! I had always taken notes of the things I wanted to discuss on a post-it note with bullet points and decided to try keeping that format and just expanding a bit where it was appropriate. I’ve stuck with that review style because I really do think that it helps my readers quickly figure out if they’d like a given book and because it makes writing reviews so much easier for me. There are times when I want to break out of that pattern a bit, and at those times I do, but I always find myself coming back to bullet-lists of pros and cons.

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about reading and recommending to your followers? And are there any covers on NetGalley that you’re loving?

RoseBlood by A. G. Howard is absolutely gorgeous and I’m excited to see a new series starting in that world so that I can jump in without having to catch up (always so much to read!). I’m also excited to see Wake of Vultures up on NetGalley to request in the lead up to the sequel Conspiracy of Ravens and HIGHLY recommend both!

RoseBloodWake of VulturesConspiracy of Ravens

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Lightning Round!*

Your blog in two sentences:

Just a grad student geeking out over books. Find your next sci-fi or fantasy read here!

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Just one???? Cress from Cress by Marissa Meyer!

Book you’d like to see made into a movie or tv show:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

 

 

 

 

 

 

And to finish off our interview, if you could have coffee (…or something stiffer) with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and why?

Anne McCaffrey! The Dragonriders of Pern was my first fandom and I dreamed of visiting her in Ireland before she died.

Thanks so much Anya, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out On Starships & Dragonswings and more Sci Fi & Fantasy books 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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Prism Book Alliance®
Blog URL: http://www.prismbookalliance.com
Your name: Brandilyn Carpenter

First: how did you initially get started reading and reviewing GLBTQ+ books, and developing your own site dedicated to this genre? Is there one specific book that really inspired you?

First of all, thank you for inviting Prism Book Alliance® to participate in the spotlight celebrating GLBT Book Month™. NetGalley actually plays a decent-sized role in this story.

I started reading GLBTQ+ fiction with Cut & Run by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban back about 4 or 5 years ago.

I have been an avid reader for years and was reviewing some of the mainstream romance offerings thanks to NetGalley. A few fellow romance readers helped convince me to try gay romance. After a little coaxing, I tried Cut & Run. I haven’t looked back. ave read almost 3,000 titles in the genre (not counting re-reads) and have too many favorites to mention.

What really inspired me start Prism was talking with some of the lesser known authors in the genre. I wanted to give them a way to get their name and work out to people that may not have heard of them before. I had already been running a product review blog that I had slowly converted to to book review blog with the help of NetGalley, but it sat all but unused since I stopped reading mainstream fiction.

However, I knew from my experience before that I could make it into something that could do good for more than just authors. (I will go into that more in a bit). Somewhere along the way, I got the idea to invite some of my fellow M/M Romance fans to review with me. We took a few months to get our act together, and we officially launched on 1 Jan 2014. We have since grown from those original 10 reviewers. We are currently at a pretty steady 18. My team considers for review titles from all across the GLBTQ+ spectrum and are constantly looking for ways to get new GLBTQ+ titles and authors in front of people.

What are your favorite aspects of GLBTQ+ as a book genre? How have you seen this genre grow and change since you joined the community?

My favorite aspect of this genre is certainly the community. Most of the people are very open and welcoming. I have made some great friends on both sides of the pen who I know will be around for life.

I have maintained since day one that I think this genre is more important than words on a page. This genre opens people’s eyes, minds, and hearts. This genre is important in the larger fight for equality we see being waged at the national and world levels. It teaches the younger generation that it is okay to love who they love and it is okay for everyone to be who the need to be.  It teaches acceptance. We are writing (and reading) the characters fighting for and living the equality that we want to see in the world.

For the most part, I see this reflected in how the community acts toward each other as well as outside of itself. Some of us are more vocal in our support, and some of us are just living as examples of tolerance, acceptance, and love.

Since June is GLBT Book Month™, does Prism Book Alliance® have anything special planned?

You know what? we should. I don’t have anything planned right now, but I will do something for it. Just have to work out what.

We will be launching a new column this month reaching out beyond the genre a bit. I don’t want to go into it too much, but watch for it on starting (hopefully) the second Sunday of the month.

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?

Learn the word “No”. It is a simple word, but so hard to say sometimes. Even in a genre as small as ours, it is easy to get overwhelmed by requests.  It is also easy to take on way more than you can read/handle. Reading and reviewing is supposed to be fun. You can’t give a book a fair chance if you feel forced to read it. You just can’t. Start slow. (She says as she looks back at the craziness that was Jan 2014)…

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. One of the best things that happened to me was finding a fellow book blogger to bounce ideas off of.  She is now a great friend, and still a great source of advice for me. She kept me sane my first year. She isn’t blogging any longer, but you can find her over on the USA Today Happily Every After Blog on Fridays.

Which upcoming books on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending? Are there any reviews your team is currently working on that you’re particularly excited to share?

Oh there are so many coming up on NetGalley that have us excited!

Riptide Publishing has a few – The Silvers by JA Rock, Starting New by S.C. Wynne, Gays of Our Lives by Kris Ripper among others.

There is also Due Diligence by Anna Zabo from Penguin/Intermix (Berkley Publishing Group on NetGalley).

Less Than Three Press has a few as well: The Pirates of Fathoms Deep by Megan Derr, All the King’s Men by Alex Powell.

Bold Strokes Books is one of my go to publishers for Lesbian fiction. Our LesFic reviewer snapped up Carson Tate’s Above the Law and a few others. We also have their gay fantasy In Shining Armor by E.L. Phillips in our queue and the moment.

Oh and Beta Test by Annabeth Albert comes out on 30 May. My reviewer has already requested the next one, so I will be watching NetGalley for it!

The Silvers   Gays of our Lives   Due Diligence   The Pirates of Fathoms Deep   All the Kings Men    Above the Law   In Shining Armor   Beta Test

Anything additional you would like to share with the NetGalley community?

Take a chance on a new genre, even one that makes you uncomfortable. Take yourself out of your comfort zone. You never know what new love you may find.

Lightning round!

Your site in 2 sentences:

A celebration of diversity through literature. (Okay, I cheated… that is a take off on our tagline 😉 ).

Your favorite author(s):

Oh heck. In the genre? Jeff Adams, Andrew Q Gordon, Jamie Fessenden/James Erich, John Goode, Mary Calmes, Rhys Ford. The classics: JK Rowling, Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Neil Stephenson, Orson Scott Card (Can’t stand the man, love the books)

Book you’d like to see on the big screen:

Tales from Foster High by John Goode & The Champion Gods series by Andrew Q. Gordon.

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?

Kurt Vonnegut. Titan. (if you have read Vonnegut, you understand).

Thanks so much to Brandilyn for spending some time with us and answering our questions!

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

GLBT Book Month

 

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For more information about GLBT Book Month™ you can visit the official website.

And make sure to visit Prism Book Alliance® on their website, Facebook & Twitter.

Plus, view LGBTQIA titles now available on NetGalley!

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Books and Biscuits Blog
Blog URL: http://booksandbiscuits.com/blog/
Your name: Brittany at the Books and Biscuits Blog

First, let’s start with how you initially started reviewing mainly Christian fiction books on your own blog:

I actually started the Books and Biscuits Blog after being cooped up for a few too many days trying to recover from a winter cold. However, my focus on Christian fiction was never as spur of the moment as that story implies.

The women in my family have read Christian fiction for years, oftentimes sending bags of books between houses. I absolutely fell in love with those books! They contained incredible stories with fun and interesting characters.  Plus, Christian fiction is particularly known for its clean content and language, making it a great place to start reading “adult” fiction at a relatively early age.

I ended up reading Christian fiction throughout college and grad school, which I partially credit for keeping me sane through those stress-filled years. By the time I wrapped up my degrees, I was left with extensive writing skills, a few too many academic book reviews in my files, and a head filled with great stories. My family became used to hearing my verbal reviews of the various books I was reading at any given time. By the time the Books and Biscuits Blog went live, I already had a backlog of reviews ready to go from my own collection of books.

What are your favorite aspects of Christian fiction,as a genre? And, do you find there are any unique qualities amongst those interested in these books, that perhaps isn’t a characteristic of other literary communities?

My favorite aspects of Christian fiction come down to a few simple concepts. There’s a phrase “good, clean fun” that I think really fits the genre. It takes incredible talent to write a story and develop characters that fit that description.

I would also say that the genre leaves the reader thinking, even as it offers a mental escape. Many stories and fables used to be focused around moral concepts and lessons to be learned, using a fictionalized approach to teach, as well as entertain. Christian fiction very much captures this otherwise disappearing element of storytelling. Many of the authors present a moral quandary or challenge for their characters that reflects Biblical principles, as well as many of the timeless problems that readers face in their own lives. I know as a teenager, I found great comfort and lessons within Christian fiction, as it illustrated realistic challenges and those who overcame them, whether in a historic or contemporary setting.

Additionally, I am always amazed at the diversity within the genre. I focus my blog on contemporary, historical, and suspense Christian fiction. However, there are other bloggers that write about other sub-categories in the genre, including fantasy, Amish, science fiction, young adult, mystery, and children’s, as well as countless other non-fiction works released by many of the same publishers. The genre also comes in many forms, as authors are constantly releasing novels, novellas, and short stories, while frequently collaborating with one another to develop collections and series.

In terms of a unique quality, I would say that the people themselves really make the Christian fiction genre. As a reader, the books are wonderful. As a blogger, I have also had the opportunity to partner with the authors, publishers, and other people involved in and around the field. Their perspective adds another level to the genre, as you come to understand the unique perspectives that they bring to their work. In many cases, the people affiliated with Christian fiction see their writing as a ministry and vocation. Their blogs are particularly focused on their walk as Christians and connect with readers on a level that I’ve never seen in any other genre.

Do you have a particular approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years, particularly since becoming a blogger?

LOL! Yes, I do have a rather quirky and particular approach to writing reviews. After spending enough time in academia, I focus my Christian fiction book reviews on many of the same areas of analysis that I would for an academic text. If you read any of the reviews, you’ll notice that there is somewhat of a set formula for my writing. As I’ve posted my reviews in more places, I have started adding just a tad more “fluff,” as they can otherwise come across as being overly formal. Regardless, I try to present an honest perspective of the books that I read, which does include some constructive criticism. The hardest part of writing the reviews is actually posting them on other websites where people can indicate if they are “helpful” or not. It can be exceptionally frustrating, especially in the cases where I end up writing a constructive review. I don’t think most people skimming through reviews on a website realize that I’m not necessarily the “average” reviewer, but bring a level of expertise to my work.

Which upcoming books on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending? Are there any reviews you’re currently working on that you’re particularly excited to share on your blog?

I’m very excited about some of the upcoming books for this spring! Becky Wade’s Her One and Only releases in early May, which wraps up the Porter Family series that she’s been writing for years. Also, I just finished reading Karen Witemeyer’s forthcoming June release, No Other Will Do.  Based on that book and Ms. Witemeyer’s blog posts, I’m already really looking forward to her next novel, which also focuses on the same town and group of characters as No Other Will Do.  Both Her One and Only and No Other Will Do are excellent, fun-filled reads that really capture the heart of the genre.

Her One and Only     No Other Will Do  

Your blog also focuses on cooking, as your blog name suggests – do you find these two interests intertwine? For instance, do you ever find inspiration from the books you’ve read to try a new recipe?

Yes, the blog does actually focus on cooking, too. My husband and I spend an incredible amount of time sitting at the dinner table talking about all sorts of topics. Our conversations around books and food are pretty much legendary in the family, so creating a blog about those two topics felt like a natural connection.

After creating the blog, I started noticing just how often the concepts of food and cooking come up as a frequent theme. I created a “Foodie Characters” tag to use on my reviews and I’m very surprised at how often I find myself using it. Looking at the genre, I’m not too surprised that’s the case, as a fair number of authors also include recipes in the back pages of their books.

Lightning round!

Your blog in 2 sentences:

A fun look at Christian fiction, with weekly reviews of some of the newest books in the genre.

Your favorite author(s):

I can’t say that I have one favorite author, but I definitely have a top tier of authors whose books I make sure to read immediately after they are released.

In alphabetical order: Sandra Bricker, Elizabeth Camden, Deeanne Gist, Rachel Hauck, Dee Henderson, Sarah Sundin, Melissa Tagg, Becky Wade, Susan May Warren, and Karen Witemeyer.

Book you’d like to see on the big screen:

I’m not typically a fan of the movies based on books in the genre, because they oftentimes come across as being really cheesy. However, it would be neat if someone could figure out how to make a great movie based on any of the books by Rachel Hauck.

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?

I would have to say Melissa Tagg. We collaborated on a blog post early last year, which was an absolute blast!  Rather than going somewhere specific, I could see us doing something together related to nonprofits and philanthropy, since we both work in that field for our day jobs. 🙂

Thanks so much Brittany, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out Books and Biscuits and more Christian books 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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Cracking the Cover
Blog URL: http://www.crackingthecover.com
Your name: Jessica Harrison

First, let’s start with how you initially started reviewing children’s, and more specifically, middle grade books:

During my senior year of college, I was an intern at a local newspaper. Working in the features department meant covering a number of topics — music, dance, theater, food, etc. — but it was reviewing books to which I gravitated. Following graduation, I was hired by the newspaper as a copy editor. Soon I began covering music and books on the side. When the book editor retired, I became the paper’s in-house book critic, responsible for coordinating all author interviews and book reviews for the Sunday arts section. I covered books for all ages and in all genres, but I gravitated toward books for young readers.

In 2010, the newspaper underwent massive layoffs, and my position covering books was eliminated. I though that was the end of things, but life had other plans. January 2011 began with an invitation from Penguin Young Readers Group to moderate their Breathless Reads panel featuring Ally Condie, Andrea Cremer, Kirsten Miller, Beth Revis and Brenna Yovanoff. The event went well, and by the end of it, my husband had come up with the idea of me starting a blog. Cracking the Cover was officially launched March 7, 2011.

Deciding what to cover was easy. Books for young readers had become my passion. Picture books are full of whimsy, and young adult novels pack a powerful punch. Middle grade hits at a magical time — imaginations are ripe for the picking, and the need for romance is often unnecessary, freeing up authors to follow other paths.

Having a somewhat unique background and approach to reading and reviewing books, have your reading habits changed since you started blogging about books?

I’ve always been a fast reader, but reading on deadline made me more efficient. In the beginning, I probably read more as a blogger than as a newspaper critic. I would read whenever and wherever I could, which was pretty much anytime and anywhere. That changed significantly once became pregnant and gave birth to my daughter. Now I do a lot of reading on my phone — thank you, NetGalley! — because I can surreptitiously read while my now-almost-2-year-old plays. Physical books are reserved for quiet time and after she goes to bed at night. (She’d much rather I read with her than by myself — a rough problem, I know.)

Do you have a particular approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years, particularly since becoming a blogger?

In many ways, my approach is still the same. I keep track of all books I receive — physical and digital — and set deadlines for those I know for sure I want to review. The others go into my TBR pile and work their way into the lineup as I flesh out my plans.

The physical reading is also the same. I jot down thoughts as I go but like to give myself some time between completion and writing a corresponding review so that I can gather my thoughts.

Evolution has come with writing, as it should, particularly when it comes to reviews. My interview and feature style has always been more conversational, which works well for blogging, but my review style as a newspaper critic was much drier. Adapting my reviews to that more casual style is an ongoing process — it’s hard to write in first person when you’ve been trained not to!

Do you have any advice for book bloggers who are just starting out?

Do you. What works for me may not be what works for you. Find your own format, your own style, your own layout. Success won’t come from copying what others do. You must find your own voice and run with it. And if you ever feel as if things are too hard or aren’t going the way you want, rethink your approach.

Which upcoming Middle Grade books on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending? Are there any reviews you’re currently working on that you’re particularly excited to share on your blog?

I’m just finishing up a number of books — I usually am reading three or four at a time. I’ll be running reviews for a couple of NetGalley books in the next two weeks or so. The Night Parade by Kathryn Tanquary, and Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban, were released earlier this month. On their face, the two books are polar opposites, but as you delve into them, their main characters bring forward moving truths. I’m looking forward to The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn by Sam Gayton, and Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance, which have February publication dates. I’ve started both and can’t wait to see where they go. Of course, I’ve also got some picture and young adult books in my review pile that will get sprinkled in there as well.

The Night Parade  Paper Wishes   The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn   Behind the Canvas

Lightning Round!

Your ideal reading spot:

Curled up with a blanket next to a heat vent. (We’ve had a cold winter this year!)

Your blog in 2 sentences:

Cracking the Cover is dedicated to picture, middle-grade and young-adult books. It offers readers an inside look at new worlds, enticing characters, magical places, and the authors who bring them to life.

Your favorite childhood book:

Naming just one book is impossible. There are so many that made an impact, so I’ll share a few of my favorite middle grade. The first chapter book I remember was B is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood; The Hundred Dresses” by Eleanor Estes is timeless; and the “All of a Kind Family” series by Sydney Taylor was a perennial favorite.

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?

I’d go with Katherine Paterson to Terabithia, of course!

Thanks so much Jessica, for spending some time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out Cracking the Cover and titles in Middle Grade 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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: ShelfNotes - Amber & Arianna
Blog URL: http://www.shelfnotes.com

As a duo, how long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

AmberBug: Wow, just looking back at our first post on Aug 4th 2013, such a long time ago. We became friends a long time before that. We have our ex-boyfriends to thank for this friendship (they were best friends which lead to our close friendship). As far as the blog goes, that started with a trip to BEA 2013. The event was fantastic, we got hooked and wanted more. We started making plans for BEA 2014, pulling ideas together for a blog. The best part about the blog is being able to spend more time together and discuss our passion for books.

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?

Arianna: If anything we’d probably describe the genre we focus on as adult literature, but we are pretty deliberate about not rejecting any specific genre or form. We’ve both dabbled in genres outside of our normal preferences because we feel it is important to broaden your horizons! And what better way to do that than through books?! If someone recommends something to us, we almost always add it to our TBR pile – even if it is something we might never have picked up otherwise. That’s the fun of living in a bookish world!

As you can see from our reviews, we hope it is clear that we always try to find something positive to say about every book we read, so we certainly don’t have strong opinions about what should or shouldn’t be published or read. We are just glad when others are enjoying our shared passion of reading! So whatever fads come and go, we’ll always support the underlying idea of bringing more book love into the world.

Besides BookExpo America, have you attended any other industry events? Would you recommend that other bloggers attend too, if they are able?

AmberBug: We haven’t attended any large industry events together but we have traveled to NYC for the Hachette Lunch one year and we have attended many Author talks (many at RJ Julia Bookstore in Madison, CT). Now that Arianna has moved to NY and works at Vassar (academic librarian), she has many opportunities to attend book talks with some fantastic authors. I think all book talks are worth it, especially when they discuss the books (instead of reading from them). Many times, we both agree, we have walked away with a greater appreciation of the work than before.

Your review style is somewhat unique as you specifically highlight the first sentence(s) of the book, and then your review is written in the form of a letter to the reader. How did you decide on this way of writing your reviews?

Arianna: When we decided to create a book blog, we looked around quite a bit for a blog title. Unfortunately, many that we excitedly proposed to each other had already been snatched up! When we came up with “Shelf Notes”, we figured it could be really fun to make these “notes” the format of our blog posts – letters to our readers. This ultimately worked really well for us, because one thing we were nervous about was the formality of a traditional book review: we wanted a way to keep things light and more casual, as well as allowing ourselves to address our audience directly, in what we hoped would be a more personal tone. And thus, Dear Reader, Shelf Notes was born!

Do you have any advice for book bloggers who are just starting out?

AmberBug: Be patient. Building a blog and gaining readers takes time. I would also suggest finding someone who loves books as much as you do and creating a blog with them. I’m not sure how some of my favorite bloggers do it all by themselves, it’s very impressive. We motivate each other and when we don’t feel “up” to it (because that will happen – it comes in waves), the other blogger(s) can help you out. Also, don’t expect this to be a job (you won’t get rewarded with money) and the minute it does feel like that, take a step back and change it up.

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

Arianna: If we had the time, we’d want to review every title on NetGalley! (Ah, dream world…) We did just both eagerly start The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian. I have quite a few backlogged NG books that I am still eager to pick up, too. Because NetGalley lets us request what we are interested in, it’s been so wonderful seeing the high percentage of titles I have really enjoyed out of those I’ve selected.

AmberBug: I have a few I’m looking forward to but Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel has caught my eye. I’m also a huge fan of Joyce Carol Oates and can’t wait to sink my teeth into her new short story collection The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror. I’m also intrigued with The Girls by Lisa Jewell, I heard it has the potential to be a good mystery.

The Guest Room     Sleeping Giants     The Doll Master     The Girls

Lightning Round!

Your ideal reading spot:

AmberBug: Bed (Snuggled with one of my three pets)

Arianna: A comfy chair with a hot beverage.

Your favorite authors:

AmberBug: Amélie Nothomb, Joyce Carol Oates, Hanya Yanagihara, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, George Orwell – shall I go on? I hate picking just one.

Arianna: Ohhh this question is always so difficult to answer! Neal Stephenson is a big one; I will read whatever he comes out with and have read all of his backlog. With other authors, it’s usually one work that I fall in love with, not the entire oeuvre. I am totally going to cop out of this answer, I am sorry!

Your blog, in 2 sentences:

AmberBug: How about two words? Eclectic & Casual.

Arianna: Couldn’t say it better myself – thanks, Amber!

Book you’d like to see on the big screen:

AmberBug: The Stranger Next Door by Amélie Nothomb or A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (although I wouldn’t want it to ruin my experience).

Arianna: I’m going to look at recent releases I’ve enjoyed, because it’s less likely they will have already made it to the screen! Let’s see – At the Water’s Edge (Gruen) would be fun to see. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (Valentine), Illuminae (Kaufman & Kristoff), The Walled City (Graudin), Circling the Sun (McLain) – it appears I enjoy historical fiction and sci-fi translated to the big screen! Oh, and I am eagerly awaiting The Sisters Brothers (deWitt) and Ready Player One (Cline).

One more addition! Kiera Knightley has bought the rights to The Other Typist, which we both reviewed on our blog, and we’re definitely looking forward to seeing how that one is translated into the big screen.

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?

AmberBug: Hunter S. Thompson – Road trip to anywhere he wants to go. I’d like to get a little mad, crazy and tipsy with him.

Arianna: Now I am getting distracted imagining Amber on a road trip with Thompson… all I can see is a crazy sugar-fueled version of Fear & Loathing! I love it. Anyway, hmm. I think I’d love to spend hours in the car with David Foster Wallace’s amazing brain. I haven’t yet seen The End of the Tour, though, so I have yet to find out if he is an absolutely terrible road trip companion.

Thanks so much Amber (aka AmberBug) and Arianna, for spending some time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out ShelfNotes and titles in Fiction (Adult) 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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews
Blog URL: http://www.straightshootinbookreviews.com
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

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