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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Intellectual Recreation
Blog URL: http://www.intellectualrecreation.com/
Your name: JoLee

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

I had been a really active member of Goodreads for years, and, when I finished graduate school, I decided that I wanted to put all of that effort into a blog. This was about four years ago, but Intellectual Recreation really took off a couple of years later when I brought my sister on board and started coming up with different blog series. Our first series kind of started by accident. I just happened to read five young adult books that had some tie to Russia right in a row, and I decided to put them all together in one post that I called “Reading on a Theme: Russia and YA.” The “Reading on a Theme” series quickly became the backbone of our blog, inspiring us to feature more than one book in almost every post.

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 disappear?

Our blog focuses primarily on young adult fiction, but, we read all types of books so occasionally we’ll feature adult fiction, non-fiction, and middle-grade books. There’s been a lot of ink spilled lately about how adults are reading young adult fiction and why that is and whether or not that’s a good thing. Personally, I’m all for adults reading YA (obviously), and I think the reason we are is simply because there is more exceptional young adult literature out there than ever before! I love how vast the genre is becoming.

How has being a NetGalley member and having access to digital galleys impacted your blogging?

It’s been huge. I don’t think that we’d be able to do what we do without NetGalley. Because we organize our content thematically, it’s very important for me to be able to see what types of books are coming out so that I can know how to organize the galleys that we receive. Also, I think NetGalley helps us to stay current. It’s given us the chance to read books and authors we might not have found otherwise. Plus, I love reading on my Kindle!

On your blog, you publish book roundups, a “Long-Distance Book Club” series, as well as other blog series. Can you briefly explain how you came up with these, and how they help structure your blog, which titles to review, etc.?

Our entire blog is structured around our blog series and most of them developed pretty organically. We wanted to feature more than one book in nearly every post, so we came up with series like “Reading on a Theme” and “Pair It With” to serve as our review posts. The blog was kind of becoming a long-distance book club for Paige and me, so we decided to formalize that with our “Long-Distance Book Club” series. That’s a fun one for us to because we get to read the same book at the same time, discuss it, and come up with book club questions together. We wanted to talk about bookish things like bedtime stories and star ratings so we started the “A Few Thoughts” series. One of my favorite series is our “Most Read Author” series. Those post are very nostalgic for me as they allow me to think back on all the books I have read by a particular author and what I was doing in my life when I read them. They are also a lot of fun because Paige and I work on them together. Perhaps unsurprisingly many of our most read authors are the same.

Do you have any advice for book bloggers who are just starting out? Perhaps advice about co-blogging, and how to come up with a structure and schedule that works best?

Do what works for you. Find a structure that suits your needs. Don’t feel like you have to do what you think everyone else is doing. A unique format will make you stand out. For example, we each started out doing our own posts but then found that, for us, working on posts together actually worked a lot better. That means that we spend some time every week talking about what posts we need to work on and dividing up the reading. It works great for us because we like talking and planning, but I know that wouldn’t necessarily work best for a lot of people.

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

I’m really looking forward to reading Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley. It’s a story about the Brontë siblings and their vivid imaginations. And speaking of the Brontë’s, I’m also really excited about Stone Field by Christy Lenzi. It’s a reimagining of Wuthering Heights set in Civil War era Missouri. For something completely different, I’m eager to read Jennifer Longo’s Up to This Pointe. I love books about ballet dancers, and I’m interested to see how this dancer ends up in Antarctica.

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Lightning Round!

Your favorite snack(s) to eat while reading:

No snack is the best snack. Eating gets in the way of reading!

Your current favorite authors:

Kasie West – Reading a book by Kasie is like giving yourself a little reward.

Rachel Hartman – Seraphina and Shadow Scale are 5-star fantasies.

Maggie Stiefvater – I’ve read everything she’s written.

Your blog, in 2 sentences:

We’re sisters who love to read. We share what we are reading in thematic posts that feature multiple books with similar topics.

The 1 book you wish was never-ending:

Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. I want to read a new story about Lockwood, Lucy, and George every Halloween season for the rest of my life.

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?

Definitely Shannon Hale. First of all, I love Shannon’s books. The finale to the Princess Academy series was just divine. Secondly, I really admire everything that Shannon has said and done about erasing the boundaries between “boy books” and “girl books.” Finally, Shannon is really funny, and I want to be her friend.

Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions JoLee!
Please make sure to check out Intellectual Recreation and the Teens & YA 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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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Reading Bud
Blog URL: http://thereadingbud.com
Your name: Heena Rathore P.

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

I started The Reading Bud in March 2014, so I’ve been blogging from last one and a half years.

I was 23 years old at the time and was a little confused regarding my career. In order to help me finalize what I really wanted to do, I decided to take a year off.

Now, with all the time in the world, I quickly grabbed the opportunity to get lots of books and read to my heart’s content. After reading almost 10 books in the first month, I felt that I wanted to document my thoughts on each and every book as I really felt a void inside me after completing one book and simply moving on to the next one. It was like I needed a closure after completing a book because I really get emotionally involved in each and every book read.

So, after a little bit of research and a lot of brainstorming, I created The Reading Bud.

Presently I have 5 review contributors at The Reading Bud who help me review books by international independent authors.

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

I’m a huge fan of Mystery and Thriller genre but I also enjoy Fantasy (High, Urban or Epic), Dystopian and Adventure. I’m a sucker for amazing stories so as long as the book has a strong plotline and story telling, I’d be happy to read it despite the genre.

Trends I like in M&T: Serial killers, psychopaths, crime fiction, detective fiction, cozy mysteries.

Trends I dislike in M&T: Romance mysteries, legal thrillers, unnecessary exaggeration of suspense and book series (trilogies are fine, but having to read 15 books in the same is not okay with me.)

How has being a NetGalley member and having access to digital galleys impacted your blogging?

Tremendously! Having access to advance copies of books is like a dream for any book lover and NetGalley helps me live this dream each and every day. I’ve discovered a huge number of new and brilliant authors, that I can’t even imagine not being a member of NetGalley. I am to leave NetGalley now; I’d be really depressed. And believe it or not I’ve already read more than 150 titles since last year on NetGalley alone!

The other thing that really amazes me is that NetGalley helps me stay ahead of everyone in terms of new worldwide releases and as a result many readers prefer following TRB on a regular basis.

Plus, the wide range of genre and books that NetGalley offers is just unbelievable. If you ask me, NetGalley is a booklover’s heaven!

And last but not the least, I absolutely adore NetGalley because of its integration (or whatever the technical term is) with Kindle. I mean, it’s really easy to just click on the “Send to Kindle” option and get it on my Kindle within 5 seconds. As an e-book person, I can’t wish for anything more.

What are your favorite covers on NetGalley right now?

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Your review style is somewhat unique as you break down various aspects of the book and review them individually (plot/story, characters, romance/kills, writing, beginning, ending, cover art, the blurb, etc.) – can you describe how you formulate your reviews and how you decided to review in this manner?

I am highly opinionated person and when I read a book I always have something to say about each and every individual element. For me a book is the sum all it’s elements, so the story and characterization are as important as its cover design and blurb on the jacket.

I feel that if I’m reviewing a book then I have a responsibility towards my blog-readers to tell them about each and every aspect of the book and not just how good or bad the story is.

It also helps me to frame my review better, especially for the books that I rate low. There’s always something good about every book and I prefer keeping my reviews as positive as I can, because being an author myself I know how much effort goes into each and every book.

Which review that you recently submitted via NetGalley is your favorite?

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Southern Solstice
by Sarah Sadler – read Heena’s review here!

Lightning Round!

Your favorite snack to eat while reading:

Fruits or sprouts with lemon and mint iced tea/coffee.

Your favorite 2 publishers for Mystery & Thriller titles:

Hachette and Random House

Your blog, in 2 sentences:

The Reading Bud brings you honest and detailed reviews of the latest and the best reads from around the world. We review the best and selective independent books by international authors and make sure to help you in any way we can in selecting the right book(s) for you, because we understand that books are so much more than just pages and words.

The 1 book you wish was never-ending:

A Song Of Ice And Fire series (hands down!)

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?

I’d love to have something stiffer, JD, with Sidney Sheldon as he is the first mystery author I read as a teenager. He’s the one who got me hooked to this amazing genre. He is a legend. (The second choice would be Stephen King.)

Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Heena!
Please make sure to check out The Reading Bud and the Mystery & Thrillers 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: Book Briefs
Blog URL: http://bookbriefs.net
Your name: Michelle @ Book Briefs

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

I started blogging in February of 2011, so we are almost at 5 years now… believe it or not!

When I was in my first year of law school, I was constantly reading law cases and “briefing” them. Breaking down what happened, the ruling or outcome of the case, and then also any important law takeaways that the case provided. And I just kept thinking that if I was reading all these law textbooks, I might as well read some fun books to balance out. I have always been a big reader, so young adult books were my way to unwind from classes. It was also right around my first year that I discovered book hauls on YouTube and Goodreads, which led me to finding the book blogging community. I took the idea of case briefing to briefing the books that I read, and Book Briefs took off from there.

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 disappear?

I read all subgenres of young adult and new adult fiction. I will also throw some adult contemporary romances and urban fantasy into the mix as well. But my favorite subgenres to read are young adult and new adult fantasy, mythology, paranormal and contemporary romance.

I am really excited to see new adult branch out into the urban fantasy and paranormal subgenres, and I also always love a good re-imagining (re-telling) story. I think those can get really creative. I would really like to see authors stop with the cruel/absentee parent crutch for their characters. I think it can work if done well, but more and more I am seeing it as an instant justification for a dysfunctional character.

How has being a NetGalley member and having access to digital galleys impacted your blogging?

NetGalley is great because as a blogger, it allows me to keep track of all upcoming releases in one place. I love being able to search by author, title or publisher. It has helped me stay on top of my favorite series, as well as discover many new favorites.

And I know this might sound crazy, but as much as I love physical books… ebooks rock! My Kindle comes with me everywhere! You just can’t beat having access to 100s of books with you at all times.

What are your favorite covers on NetGalley right now?

Ooh covers… I can talk covers all day! I am so loving:
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And I will leave it at that, but if you ever want to talk covers, you know where to find me…

Which review that you recently submitted via NetGalley is your favorite?

The Summer Marked by Rebekah Purdy (read Michelle’s review here!)

What advice would you give book bloggers who are just starting out?

Go a little out of your book comfort zone. Use NetGalley, Goodreads and other bloggers to explore a new subgenre or new author that you might not have previously heard of. I have found some of my very favorite indie and small pub authors this way (and favorite kinds of books).

And have a blogging/reading/social media schedule. There is no one size fits all. Just find something that works for you and your life. If you are having trouble with this, you can check out my Blogging on A Time Crunch post series.

Lightning Round!

Your favorite snack to eat while reading:

Chips or Chocolate

Your favorite publishers:

Entangled (Lovestruck, Crush, Embrace) Swoon Reads, HarperCollins, Atria, Macmillan.

Your blog, in 2 sentences:

Book Briefs brings you conversational and honest young adult and new adult reviews, giveaways and bookish news. Featuring the hottest new releases, as well as introducing you to your new favorite “hidden gem” indies.

The 1 book you wish was never-ending:

Ahhh! Such a hard question! This changes from time to time. But at the moment it is Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis

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?

I think I would have to choose Meg Cabot to share a stiffer drink with. 😉 She was one of my favorite authors growing up and I was re-reading her Mediator series for about the 10th time when I decided to start my young adult blog. She is just hilarious! (Dr. Seuss and JK Rowling would be pretty cool too!)

Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Michelle!
Please make sure to check out Book Briefs and New Adult titles 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: SciFiChick.com
Blog URL: http://scifichick.com
Your name: Angela aka “TheSciFiChick”

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

This coming February, SciFiChick.com (in its current form) will be 11 years old. It’s probably closer to 15 years that I’ve been doing this. I started with a Blogspot a couple years before that. I started out in the early 2000’s wanting a place to talk about scifi books and movies, which then “blogs” were just for online personal journaling. I didn’t want to talk about myself. I wanted to talk about my interests with others – at that time, I didn’t know many people who were into geek culture. It hadn’t become popular yet. So, I decided to start talking about/reviewing favorite books, movies, and tv shows – hoping to reach out to other geeks and stir discussion. When authors and publishers began sending me books to review, I decided to expand the look and feel to a real website. Looking back, it all happened fairly quickly. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for so many years!

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 enjoy quite a few subgenres. My favorites are space operas, time travel, scifi noir/mystery, and alien first contact stories. None of these have gone through the popularity wave such as steampunk, vampires, werewolves, zombies, post-apocalyptic, etc. I would love to see harder scifi get more popular. I don’t want any subgenre to disappear completely – they all have their place, and I love variety.

When it comes to the Sci-Fi & Fantasy genre, there seems to be more of a cohesive multimedia element that involves not just talking about books, but also movies, TV, and video games. Do you think the exceptionally vivid imagery and the inclusion of extraordinary characters & worlds brings these different platforms together, and are there other reasons for this inclusion?

And comics/graphic novels! Yes, the multimedia marketing is genius. It makes a story appeal to a wider audience, and makes it more immersive. I think it works because of the interesting world-building, vivid imagery, escapism, and use of imagination – some of the best things about scifi and fantasy.

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 and entertainment communities?

The scifi/fantasy community is passionate. Whether they love or hate a story, they will let you know why – and especially when it comes to a beloved series. There are no other fans quite like Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, Dr Who, Harry Potter, etc. etc. Once an actor gets on one of these popular shows or films, they will have a guaranteed fanbase for life. The popularity of scifi/fantasy conventions has boomed in the last few years, and adding “pop culture” to the mix means there’s something for everyone.

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?

Excited About Reading: Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep (I enjoy anything by Estep, and this is a new YA series I’m enjoying). Lightless by C.A. Higgins (The description of Gravity meats Alien made this a must-read for me.)

Loving the covers of: Lumiere by Jacqueline E. Garlick and An Apprentice to Elves by Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette

Lightning Round!

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Your favorite Sci-Fi & Fantasy event you’ve attended:

Comic Con in San Diego was like mecca for us geeks. But getting to go on set of Warehouse 13 and Being Human, before their cancellations, was incredible.

Your favorite book-to-movie/TV adaption:

The Harry Potter series! The first movie is what got me hooked on the books.

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?

I’d love to have coffee with CS Lewis.

Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Angela!
Please make sure to check out scifichick.com and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! 

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: The Hiding Spot
Blog URL: http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com
Your name: Sara Grochowski

What genre(s) does your blog focus on?

All genres and ages from pictures books through Young Adult and even the occasional the adult novel with crossover appeal.

Which book(s) would you suggest for a middle grade level reluctant reader?

In my experience, it seems like most reluctant readers want to read, they’re just overwhelmed (often by the size of the book or the amount of text) or they haven’t been offered a book that fits their interests. So, in that regard, there’s a specific book for each reluctant reader! A few books that I find myself recommending again and again are The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett, The Unwanteds series by Lisa McMann, and Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntryre. I also regularly recommend graphic novels for reluctant readers; recently El Deafo and Roller Girl have been my favorites!

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How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

I’ve been blogging about books for nearly 8 years now! Originally, I started my blog as a kind of online journal to keep track of what I was reading and as a way to meet fellow book addicts lovers. I’m from a very small town and I didn’t know very many other people who were passionate about reading… or reading socially, which is what book blogging feels like to me. I love to talk about books and blogging provided a perfect platform for that. Granted, I never imagined I would be doing it this long or that I would make so many great friends along the way!

You are also a Children’s & YA Literature Specialist at Brilliant Books, can you briefly explain your role and your favorite aspect of your job?

Oh, gosh, where do I start? Perhaps I’ll just touch on the biggest aspects of my job. I do the buying for the picture book, chapter book, and middle grade, and YA sections of the store, choose all of the Brilliant Books Monthly picks for Kids and YA subscribers, and assist teachers and librarians with grant research, selecting books to fulfill grant requirements, finding books to fit into curriculum, fill gaps in library collections, etc. I’m also responsible for displays within those sections. And, of course, I spend a lot of time talking to young readers and adults searching for the perfect book. My favorite aspect of my job isn’t anything that I do, it’s the feedback and interactions that I’m able to have with young readers. Like the time a boy and I bonded over shared love of Rohan Gavin’s Knightley and Son – which he read while in London!! – and then he recommended me a handful of books to read. Or any time a reader comes back and tells me that a book I recommend is their new favorite. Those moments are the absolute best!

Do you feel that your role as a blogger and as a bookseller impact and/or influence each other?

Definitely! I feel like my role as a blogger actually makes me more aware of which books are going to be well received by readers, which has an impact on buying decisions for the store. If I see fellow bloggers whose opinions I value and respect raving about an upcoming book, I know that it’s likely something special. Similarly, if a book isn’t being well received and I wasn’t already interested in it, I’ll likely give it less attention. At the same time, being a bookseller has affected me as a blogger in that I’m more conscious of what readers are looking for and struggling to find. When a reader tells me that he loves books like The Thickety and asks for readalikes, I’ll end up writing a post featuring the books I recommended! My blog may have started as a reading journal, but now it’s my hope that fellow readers see it as a resource.

Are there certain questions you usually ask when trying to match someone with a book?

Do you like books that are set in the real world or in fantasy worlds? How old are you? Do you like books that make you laugh? What was the last book you read? Did you like it? Tell me three of your favorite books. Tell me a book that you didn’t like at all. Books readers dislike are just as telling as books they love!

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

How to Outfox Your Friends When You Don’t Have a Clue by Jess Keating, Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon by Kate DiCamillo, and Beastly Bones by William Ritter. The last one is technically YA, but it’s a great pick for Middle Grade readers who are reading well above level. Ritter’s books have great plots and pacing, but aren’t inappropriate for younger readers.

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Lightning Round!

If you could interview 1 author, who would it be?

Melina Marchetta.

Your favorite Storytime book to read:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. (Then we make Beekle crowns to wear home!)

Your blog in 2 sentences:

Honest and passionate book recommendations for all ages from a lifelong reader and bookpusher. Plus author interviews, cover reveals, and giveaways!

Your bookstore in 2 sentences:

Brilliant Books is the nation’s Long Distance, Local Bookstore. We deliver personal service, expert selections, and efficient, no cost shipping across the USA. (Okay, I admit it – this is from our website, but I couldn’t say it any better myself!)

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?

Bonnie Sue-Hitchcock. Her debut novel, The Smell of Other People’s Houses comes out next Spring and it is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve ever read. Her writing is gorgeous and her characters have burrowed deep into my heart and head. I want to press this book into the hands of readers everywhere. And if by something stiffer you mean a latte with 5 shots of espresso so that we can keep up our energy while talking books, we’re on the same page!

cartoon sara grochowski Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Sara!
Please make sure to check out The Hiding Spot and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! 

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: TBQ’s Book Palace
Blog URL: http://www.tbqsbookpalace.com
Your name: Danielle (TBQ)

What inspired you to blog about romance books? Is there something particular about the books, authors, and/or romance community that convinced you to share your reviews publicly?

Like so many romance readers, I started the blog as a way to be around my tribe. Romance readers in my small town are a bit MIA, so I turned to the internet. I soon stumbled onto a variety of blogs, websites, authors, and readers, falling in love with the romance community and, well, the rest, as they say, is history. Not to get sappy, but honestly I’m thankful every single day that I found my tribe.

You’ve been blogging for 7 years now – can you tell us how the book blogging landscape has changed since you started?

Oh, I’m sure there’s been a lot of changes. Right off hand I can think of an obvious change: authors and publishers focusing more on eARCs, rather than print ARCs. New bloggers now have more access to ARCs in the form of ebooks. When I started the blog, I was reviewing almost entirely books that I bought, with the occasional ARC won from a giveaway on Goodreads or LibraryThing. I didn’t start receiving review copies from publishers somewhat regularly until probably my 2nd or 3rd year. In the last year or so, it’s switched again and a print copy for review is rare for me, it’s almost all e-copies.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while blogging? Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?

Hm . . . When I learned not to worry about the numbers. It’s not about how many followers you have, or how many comments you get, and stressing over those things will not only drive you crazy, but also take the fun out of blogging.

As to advice, find what works for you and have fun with it. Don’t try to copy others just because they’re “bigger” or “more popular”, it will never end well. And realize that you don’t have to put up a new post every single day; go at your own pace, it’s not a race.

Which review that you recently submitted via NetGalley is your favorite?

Oh, this is so hard to pick! Um, I’ll go with . . . The Girl Next Door by Amy Jo Cousins. I loved Cash and Steph.


Read Danielle’s Review!

How has being a NetGalley member impacted your blogging, access to titles, and reach within the romance community?

I’ve found new authors via NetGalley and books that I may never have noticed otherwise. The number of books I’ve requested, loved, and then bought my own copy of . . . it’s ridiculous (for my debit card, at least!).

Now we’ll switch gears and start our Lightning Round!

Your 2 favorite covers on NetGalley right now:

I’m a total cover whore, so this is also a hard choice! Ryker and The Strongest Steel. I have a thing for abs this week. Okay, I have a thing for abs EVERY week. 🙂

    

Your favorite snack to eat while reading:

Chocolate anything!

Hardcover, paperback, or ebook?

Can I cheat and just say YES? A book is a book, no matter the format.

It depends; I rarely buy hardcovers, most of my buying lately is ebook, but if I LOVE a book, I’ll buy a paperback copy, too.

Favorite book:

I’m going to cheat a bit here, no way can I pick a favorite of all time.

ONE of my favorite reads so far this year is Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson. And the sequel, Focus on Me, is also a fav.

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

Tiffany Reisz’s Original Sinners series, because that would be such an entertaining movie and I think we all want to see Nora and the crew come to life. So long as they didn’t screw it up, of course. I’d only accept such a movie if Tiffany was in on the script and process.

Your blog in 2 sentences:

All romance, all the time. Gorgeous covers = our weakness.

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?

Ack, there are so many wonderful authors I’d love to meet, I’m not sure I can pick just one! But if you’re twisting my arm . . . A.M. Arthur. Besides loving her books (they were my gateway into M/M romance 2 years ago), I adore our Twitter chats and would love to sit down with her in person.

Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Danielle! Please make sure to check out TBQ’s Book Palace and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! 

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: Stacy Alesi’s BookBitch.com
Blog URL: http://stacyalesi.com
Your name: Stacy Alesi

Can you explain the different features of BookBitch.com and what genres you primarily focus on?

There are two primary features; reviews and giveaways. I personally review mostly crime fiction, romance, books that appeal to book clubs, and cookbooks. I also cover food writing, occasional memoirs, sci-fi, fantasy, and graphic novels. I have other reviewers who contribute reviews of dystopian fiction, Young Adult, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and pretty much anything else that they want.

Each month I do a giveaway of autographed thrillers in conjunction with the International Thriller Writers organization. One lucky winner gets anywhere from 8-12 books or so, all signed by the authors, and what’s even more special about this giveaway is that it is open to anyone over the age of 18 anywhere in the world. I’ve had winners from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and of course North America. I also do other giveaways sporadically throughout the month, and occasionally feature guest bloggers.

How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

I am one of the original book bloggers, I’ve been online since 1998! I originally started the site as a way to keep track of books I had read, way before LibraryThing or Goodreads, and it just sort of grew from there. About a year after I started, I was contacted by a publisher (who has since been swallowed up by ever bigger publishers) and asked if I would give away their books on my website and the rest, as they say, is history. I wish I would have kept better track of how many books I’ve given away over the years, but it is easily in the thousands.

Since you’ve been blogging for such a substantial amount of time, how has the book blogging landscape changed over the last 15 years?

The biggest change is how many people are blogging about books now. When I started I had never even heard of a book blog, and truth be told, the closest thing to a “blog” was probably called a “weblog” back then. According to dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the word “blog” appeared in 1999 (that’s my inner geek librarian peeking out.) My first website was a free site on Geocities.

Now there are what seems like hundreds of book blogs. There are blogs for every type of reader, every genre, for ebooks, for librarians, booksellers and well, anything and everything to do with books. A lot of blogs are very commercial, with tons of ads, and that’s something I’ve kept away from. I never wanted to feel beholden to anyone or any company for a review, much less a positive review, so I just keep my head down and do what I do without any interference. I’ve also mentored some book bloggers – Lesa Holstine started out reviewing for my site and now has a very successful blog of her own, and Becky LeJeune still submits reviews for my site, but her own blog is growing as well.

For other book bloggers who have contributors, or are thinking of adding contributors, can you offer some insight into how you manage multiple Reviewers and how books are assigned?

For the most part, my reviewers read whatever they want and submit their reviews as they can. I do receive many review requests every day, and when something looks like it may appeal to one of my reviewers, I will ask if they are interested. It is their decision, even after receiving a book, whether or not they want to review it. It took me many, many years to finally be able to put a book down without finishing it (and I never review a book I haven’t read completely) so I don’t impart a different standard on my reviewers. Ideally, I would like enough content to post something new every day, so having contributing reviewers helps meet that goal.

Which review that you recently submitted via NetGalley is your favorite?

The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah was a terrific surprise, it was very different from her previous books. I have enjoyed all of her books, but this one was truly special. In a lighter vein, I also really enjoyed The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, and will be submitting a review shortly.

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Read Stacy’s Review!

What title on NetGalley are you excited to read next?

I just requested Broken Promise by Linwood Barclay, he’s one of my favorite thriller writers. I have a couple on my immediate to-be-read list though, Memory Man by David Baldacci and The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer, and they are already on my Kindle. I’ve even been reading on my iPhone – I never mind having to wait in line anywhere!

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How has being a NetGalley member and having access to digital galleys impacted your blogging and reviewing?

It just makes it so much more convenient! Publishers can email me a widget for a book they’d like reviewed and a couple of clicks later, I’m reading. Plus it saves time; I can hear about a book, find it on NetGalley, read it and review it all in the same day. It’s immediate gratification that I have come to take for granted.

How do you feel your additional librarian and bookseller experience has helped shape your blog and your reviews?

I’ve been working with the reading public for almost twenty years now, and reviewing professionally for about 15 years. I reviewed for Library Journal for over ten years, and for Booklist for the past several years, and all those book are assigned. So for my blog, I try to read and review titles that I feel my readers and my library patrons will want to know about. Recently that happened with The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It was wonderful to hear about a book that was garnering so much buzz, find it on NetGalley, download it and read it. I was ready for my patrons when it hit the NY Times bestseller list. On the other end of the spectrum, I love finding those books that may be under the radar, like The Organ Broker by Stu Strumwasser or Eeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge, both debut novels that I can recommend to those ravenous readers that constantly need to find new authors.

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If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, because frankly, that was the point of that book and I thought Ray Bradbury was a genius. I much prefer being asked which one book I would bring to a desert island, and that would be À La Recherche du Temps Perdu by Marcel Proust, in the original French. I studied French all through school and have forgotten most of it, but I think if I had nothing to do but read Proust, I would eventually be able to get through it. It would keep me busy for sure!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our members?

I have been an avid reader all my life, and to be able to share books that I love with readers is a dream come true. It’s also an honor and a responsibility that I take very seriously. Nothing makes me happier than when someone reads a book on my recommendation and then shoots me an email to tell me how much they enjoyed it. I even cherish those comments from readers who hate a book I recommended – at least they are reading! Anyone who is passionate about what they read, even if they don’t agree with me, is a person I would be honored to know, and my blog is a great vehicle for meeting new readers.

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

Please make sure to check out Stacy Alesi’s BookBitch.com and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight.

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: Book Sniffers Anonymous
Blog URL: http://booksniffersanonymous.com/
Your name: Kristin

You mainly review YA books – is there a particular subgenre that you prefer?

It all kind of depends on my mood. I usually sway more towards fantasy and paranormal books, but I’ve been on a contemporary kick lately.

How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

I started back in June 2011. It all started when I stumbled across a book blog. I realized that there were a lot of books out there that I had no idea existed. Books that were getting passed by because they were not being pushed by big name publishers. I already had a food blog and decided that I wanted to try my hand at running a book blog as well. I wanted to be part of the book blogging community and help authors get their name out there while discovering some awesome books along the way.

How often do you blog?

I do a blog post every other day. I decided back when I started to not bog down my blog with too many posts. Not only can I not read enough books to post a review every day, but I also want to give everyone a chance to see the posts before the next one goes up. However, I am online just about every day cruising through blogs, chatting on Twitter, and/or going through my email. So even though I may not be posting on the site, chances are I’m online doing something blog related.

What title on NetGalley are you excited to read next?

I’m really excited to have been approved for Sweet by Emmy Laybourne. It doesn’t come out until June and I’ve been trying really hard to wait closer to the release date to read it but I’m slowly caving in. It just sounds so interesting.

When reading a book, how do you decide whether you will review it or not? Do you go into it knowing you’ll review it or do you decide once you’ve started or finished it?

If it’s a book that I requested for review or one I agreed to review, then yes I definitely go in planning to review it. However, when it comes to personal and library books, it’s hit or miss. I read them for fun and it’s nice not having the pressure of dissecting a book for review and instead just enjoying it. Although, sometimes a book evokes enough emotion out of me that I have to write up a review to talk about what I just read.

Which review that you recently submitted via NetGalley is your favorite?

I’d have to say that my favorite review would be one that I loved reading. I’m very hard on books (there are so many out there) so when I find a book that I love, it’s kind of a big deal. The last book I fell in love with was Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross. It was also pretty cool because the book deals with a rookie baseball player for the KC Royals and at the time I was reading the book the Royals were going into the playoffs.


Read Kristin’s review here!

I have to ask… are you a book sniffer?

Actually I am. Not in a weird way though. I don’t go around sniffing every book I come across, it’s more subtle. Like when you get into a brand new car and you smell that new car smell. That’s kind of me but with books.

For sniffing purposes, do you prefer new or used books?

I can appreciate the smell of an old book because it’s had a long life and has been through who knows what, but I’m more of a new book kind of gal. I like opening up a new book, hearing the spine stretch out for the first time, and smelling fresh paper.

What is your favorite aspect of your blog?

I like that I’m able to connect readers with authors. It’s nice to know that you helped an author get their name and book out there. I don’t do a lot of features on the blog but my favorite ones are my Ramblings of a Book Sniffer posts. They are just posts where I sort of take over and talk about whatever it is that’s on my mind. I try to keep it book related but sometimes I talk about what I’ve been up to and post pictures from my life. It’s literally just a post where I can ramble on about stuff.

How has being a NetGalley member and having access to digital galleys impacted your blogging?

It’s impacted my blog in a huge way. Before I joined NetGalley, all the books I reviewed were either mine or ones I borrowed from the library. So of course, the books I was reading and reviewing were mainstream books. However, with having access to NetGalley titles I’m able to review books from debut authors and come across books I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.

If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?

Hands down it would be Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I LOVE that series. I think I’ve read them at least 6 times now and no matter how many times I read it, it never gets boring.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our members?

Thank you for having me. It’s not too often that I’m on the other end of an interview. If there is one thing I could say to readers out there it would be that you should make sure to comment on the blogs you follow. Nothing lifts up a bloggers day and makes them feel like they are reaching people quite like a comment does. I know I’m not alone in saying this, there have been a bunch of times where I have thought to myself that I should throw in the towel because it didn’t appear that anyone was even reading my blog. It felt like I was talking to myself about books. However, I’d get that one comment from a reader saying how I had just introduced them to a new author and book that they’d never heard of before and it made me feel like my blog was actually doing something. That at least one person out there read my review and found an author/book that would have otherwise flown under their radar. So yeah, if you follow a blog, or simply stumble across a post that you enjoyed reading, make sure to leave a comment on the post.

Thanks so much for spending some time with us and answering our questions Kristin! Please make sure to check out Book Sniffers Anonymous and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! 

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: A Library Mama
Blog URL: http://alibrarymama.com
Your name: Katy Kramp

What genre(s) does your blog focus on?

Fantasy and science fiction for all ages are my favorite, though I write about a fair number of picture books and graphic novels as well.

Which book(s) would you suggest for a middle grade level reluctant reader?

That really depends on what that particular reader is most interested in! But lately I’ve been recommending one of our Cybils finalists, Jupiter Pirates: Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry. It’s fast-paced adventure featuring privateers in space (so fun!) and at just about 200 pages, is a lot less intimidating than the average middle grade novel these days.

I’ve also been talking up the Nick and Tesla series by Bob Pflugfelder, illustrated by Steve Hockensmith, for those who like a little more realism. These are mysteries also in the 200-age range, starring gadget-making twins, with instructions for the gadgets. The first book is Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab.

For readers right on the borderline of early chapter books and longer middle grade books, I love the Lulu series by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont (which starts with Lulu and the Duck in the Park) and the classic Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Ann Strugnell.

Those are all prose novels, but often graphic novels are really important for helping reluctant readers bridge that gap between thinking in pictures and thinking in words. Personal favorites include Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke, Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman, the Mouse Guard books by David Peterson, Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado, and anything by Raina Telgemeier.

How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

This month – gulp! – marks my eleventh year of book blogging. I started right around the time I got pregnant with my son because my on-line pregnancy group kept asking me what I was reading, and then wanting to go back to my old recommendations. I kept going after I joined an in-person parenting group. I found so many parents who had been readers before they had children. They often said that they didn’t have time for reading now, but it turned out that mostly they didn’t have time to go to a library or bookstore with their kids and pick something out for themselves. It’s so important for parents to keep reading, both for our own sanity and so our children can see us reading! As our children have gotten older, I’ve tried to deepen my coverage of the kids’ and teen books I’ve always read for myself to help parents match them up with their kids.

How has being a NetGalley member impacted your blogging?

NetGalley – oh, NetGalley! Why do you offer me so many new, enticing books to read, when there are already so many waiting for me on the library shelves? Now instead of just needing a book to read and at least one backup in print and on audio at all times, I need to have the same on my e-reader, too, or my book addiction starts twitching! More seriously, I really appreciate seeing what’s coming out, and besides letting me see those cool books early, being a NetGalley member has reminded me of the importance of communicating my thoughts back to the publisher, as well.

What is the most gratifying thing about being a book blogger?

The most gratifying thing is being able to help even more people find just that right book, especially if I can have conversations with people about the books. I’ve also gotten to know other wonderful book bloggers, which means discovering more authors and more discussions about the books we love.

Do you feel that your role as a blogger and as a librarian impact and/or influence each other?

Absolutely! I’m better at being a book blogger because of my experience helping people choose books in the library, while being a book blogger keeps me up-to-date on the books that are out there, which helps me do my work in the library better. I often find myself searching my old reviews for the title of a book I read a few years back that would be perfect for the patron in front of me. And while I know I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to, my fellow book bloggers help me seem more like I have with my patrons.

Are there certain questions you usually ask when trying to match someone with a book?

With reluctant readers especially, I usually ask what kinds of things they’re interested in, so I can find books to tie into their outside interests. Even though I think interest is more important than level, I usually ask kids about their reading level and how long a book they want to read. With kids and adults, I ask questions to figure out if they want genre or realistic fiction and whether they care more about plot or characters.

You work closely with the CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards, can you explain the importance of these awards and a little about the nomination and awards process?

I love the CYBILS awards! I’ve been following them for a few years now, and was honored to serve as a Round 1 judge in the Middle Grade Speculative Fiction category for the first time this fall. Here the way they work: In August, book bloggers apply to be judges, and find out in September if they made it or not. In October, books are nominated. From mid-October through December, the Round 1 judges read all the nominated books and come up with shortlists, which are announced January 1. Then the Round 2 judges take over and select one winner from each shortlist, which is announced February 14.

I love the CYBILS especially for several reasons:

One, the nominations are open – from October 1-15 each year, anyone can nominate one book in each of the categories. That means kids and teens can nominate their own favorite books, and small press or self-published books will get read right along with the books that get lots of hype.

Two, there are lots of categories, ranging from book apps to picture books to teen graphic novels. That means that if someone comes to the library looking for a book in a category that maybe I don’t read in so much myself, I can show them the Cybils categories and they can pick. Which leads me to

Three: the lists of finalists. I know it’s a good thing to have one final winner for simplicity, but my heart is with the list of five to seven books in each category that really showcase the breadth of good books in any given year. They are so helpful for giving people a choice without being overwhelming.

What is your favorite cover on NetGalley right now?

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein… no, wait, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman.

   

If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?

The easy answer here is the book that I carried in my suitcase the year I traveled with Up With People – Beauty by Robin McKinley. These days I do a lot less re-reading and there’s a lot more competition – I’d say Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater would be a close contender.

Thanks so much Katy and congratulations on 11 years blogging! Please make sure to check out A Library Mama and  stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight! *Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: From the TBR Pile
Blog URL: http://fromthetbrpile.blogspot.com/
Your name: Kari Boardman & Autumn Crochet

What genre(s) does your blog focus on?

Kari– The great thing about our blog is that we review a lot of different genres. Autumn and I both have our preferences. I am more of the romance & New Adult reader.

Autumn– Between the two of us, we really cover a broad spectrum. I like to read the crime novels and the psychological thrillers. I’ll check out adult literature, especially books that have a lot of buzz and the one’s that are up for prizes. We both do a lot of YA reading too.

How long have you been blogging about books and why did you start?

Kari– I started blogging a few months after Autumn started From the TBR Pile. We have been on-line friends for years and she knew I loved to read a lot, so she asked me to join her. It’s been about 4 years for me.

Autumn– I started a little over 4 years ago. I saw a blurb somewhere that publishers were looking for book bloggers and that was something that I had never even heard of, but I had been blogging about other things for several years so I thought I could do that! I tried it on my own for awhile and decided it would be more fun and less stressful to do it with someone else.

How often do you blog?

Kari– We like to have a new blog up every day. I definitely blog more than Autumn right now. She is in nursing school, so I have more time to read. I probably do about 5 out of 7 days a week.

Autumn– Thank goodness for Kari right now! We like to have meaningful, new content every day. Since I started nursing school I’ve been less able to contribute because I’ve been so busy. I listen to audiobooks on my way back and forth to school and I write up my reviews to fill in around Kari’s posts.

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What is your favorite cover on NetGalley right now?

Kari– That a really hard question. There are so many creative covers on there right now, it’s hard to pick just one!

Autumn– I am such a sucker for a good cover. I can’t tell you how many books I pick on cover alone. People do judge books by covers. I promise you, they do! One of the ones I like right now is Denton’s Little Deathdate by Lance Rubin. That cover would make me pick the book up.

 

Which review that you recently submitted via NetGalley is your favorite?

Kari– My most recent review for a book that I loved was A Single Kiss by Grace Burrowes. It’s a really sweet romance! (Read Kari’s review here)

Autumn– The Young World by Chris Weitz. There are so many dystopian YA books out there and it seems like the genre would be played out by now, but every now and then there’s a book that comes out keeps me excited about the genre. This book had some clever ideas and a fantastic ending. (Read Autumn’s review here)

How has being a NetGalley member impacted your blogging?

Kari– With NetGalley, I’ve been able to try new genres that I never would have tried before. I have discovered some great new authors as well as reconnected with old favorites. It’s been fun to introduce our readers to debut authors that they may never have found on their own.

Autumn– NetGalley has broadened my reading interests. I’ve been able to try out some authors that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s helped me tap into some book trends ahead of the crowd.

What is the most gratifying thing about being a book blogger?

Kari– For me it really is about sharing my love of books and reading. The possibility that I could help someone find their next favorite read is exciting to me.

Autumn– I enjoy when a new author or book gets really popular when we featured it on our blog early on. I like to think that maybe we had a little hand in the success.

What is your favorite aspect of your blog?

Kari– I like our “Books We Didn’t Finish” posts that we do every month. Autumn and I choose 3-4 books that we stopped reading and give our reasons why. I love doing those.

Autumn– Mine is the “Joint Review”. Maybe once or twice a month we’ll both read the same book or listen to the same audiobook. We each give our opinion of it. Sometimes we agree on it, sometimes we don’t.   I always like to see what parts we each like and don’t like.

As a team, do you often have the same opinion on books you’ve read?

Kari– I would say it’s about 50/50. We sometimes read and review the same book in a “joint review” post. I like that we differ on our opinions sometimes. It keeps things interesting.

Autumn– We tend to agree on the “big issues” like YA trilogies have got to go and Fifty Shades of Grey was terrible. I’m always surprised when we disagree about something, but when we do it always leads to a pretty good text messaging discussion.

What one piece of advice would you give book bloggers who are just starting out?

Kari– Blog the books you love, but also blog the books you don’t. Just be honest in how you feel about a book. Also, don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone and try a new genre.

Autumn– Get a game plan, get organized, and network. Also, be professional. As a blogger, I don’t like seeing sloppy, distasteful posts and I’m sure publishers and authors don’t either.

If you were going on a long journey and could bring no books or devices, but you had time to commit just one book to memory, which would it be?

Kari– This is like asking me to pick a favorite child! What a hard choice! If I really had to choose, it would probably be The Stand by Stephen King. It is my all time favorite good vs. evil book.

Autumn– I’ve thought more about this question than any other. One of my most favorite books, that I’ve read over and over is The Alienist by Caleb Carr. I think I’d pick that one.

Thanks so much Kari and Autumn! We hope everyone took away a tip or two, and maybe a new book to request. Please make sure to check out From the TBR Pile and stay tuned for our next Blogger Spotlight!

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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