Blog name: Just Love
Blog URL: http://justlovereviews.com/
Your name: El Springer
A nice place to start is with your blogger origin story – how did Just Love get started?
I started Just Love in 2015 as a solo blogger. I was fairly new to the LGBTQIA+ romance community, and was frustrated by my search to find quality books to spend my money on; other review blogs were difficult to navigate, or had different reading tastes. So I started Just Love to document what I was reading, share it with the world, and help other people make informed decisions on what to read!
At first, the site was Just Love Romance, because that was all that I was reading. Back then, my job allowed me plenty of time for reading, and I was devouring 7-10 books a week and reviewing them. But in April 2016, unable to keep up with that pace anymore, I brought on seven new reviewers—the most amazing group of people ever! I was so fortunate to find such a diverse and talented team. We changed the name to Just Love, since we weren’t just reviewing romance anymore, and the blog continued to grow.
Today we have almost a dozen full-time and part-time reviewers, and we just celebrated our second birthday!
You have a queer romance series (M/M and F/F) coming out in 2017. Can you talk a little bit about how reviewing has influenced your own writing?
Reviewing makes me take a step back from reading to critically analyze a book. What works and what doesn’t? Why did I enjoy a trope in one book, but not in another? When you spend so much time thinking about what you read, it definitely helps with your own writing. For example, I love the “stranded in a blizzard” trope in romance, but the plots were often so predictable that I couldn’t really appreciate it. So I wrote Whiteout, which was my take on that trope, and tried to do something different there.
Just Love also helped me find the courage to submit my own writing for publication. Through blogging, I met authors and publishers, and gained a much better understanding of the publishing industry. I was able to ask my favorite authors how they got started, and connect with editors who offered fantastic advice. Because of this, there was less of an ‘unknown’, and I wasn’t so scared to pitch my books!
Do you have a preferred approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years, particularly since becoming a blogger?
When I started blogging, my reviews were, “This is why you should (or shouldn’t) read this book.” Now my approach has changed; I want to tell a reader my reaction. How did this book make me feel, why did I enjoy (or dislike) this novel? I urge my reviewers to do the same. By making the review personal, you’re better able to convey your emotional response to it, which I think helps people make a decision about whether to read a book or not. If you’re just saying, “This is a good book and you should read it because it’s well written,” well… I don’t find that very believable.
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 can tell you that everyone on our blog is excited for Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell (an M/M football romance). I’d say this is our most anticipated release of the summer!
I’m also personally super excited about Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee, which is a YA novel with an asexual protagonist!
As for my favorite covers? I think the covers for Layla Reyne’s Irish & Whisky series are stunning! (Book One, Two, and Three).
Another cover I adore is Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore… I have this ARC in paperback, and it’s simply gorgeous!
Does Just Love have anything special planned for GLBT Book Month this June?
Since we’re a queer-only review site, we haven’t planned anything specifically themed around GLBT Book Month. We do have a few really awesome (and still Top Secret!) featured posts going up this month, though. And beginning in July we’ll be starting theme months, bringing in special guests and highlighting books around a common identity/orientation or concept.
Your blog in two sentences:
Reviews, discussions, and author posts highlighting queer (LGBTQIA+) books. Also occasional posts about pasta or chocolate, many twitter shenanigans, and tons of late-night hilarity!
The one book you wish was never-ending:
Wolfsong, by TJ Klune. I was so upset when I got to the last page that I immediately started re-reading it! (Thankfully he’s writing a sequel…)
Your favorite two publishers for GLBT titles:
Just two?! There are so many great ones out there. Maybe a bit biased, but I’ll say Riptide Publishing is one of them. And Interlude Press is phenomenal—high quality fiction and amazing authors!
The last book that made you smile:
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?
J.K. Rowling. The Harry Potter books turned me from “reader” to “book lover” and introduced me to online community. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I was today.
Thanks so much, El, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
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