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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: 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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Reader Spotlight

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Blog name: herding cats & burning soup
Blog URL: www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com
Your name: Anna Cade

What genre does your blog focus on? 

Oh I’m a Romance girl all the way. From very sweet and innocent to full out kinky 🙂 And then a little UF and mystery thrown in now and again

What is your favorite romance sub-genre?

At the moment historical romance. Something about the prim and proper exteriors with a little wild spirit tucked inside. It’s just a fascinating combo. And then…all the dresses and accessories. Loves! Continue reading “Blogger Spotlight – Romance”

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Reader Spotlight

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Blog name: Chapter by Chapter
Blog URL: http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com
Your name: MaryAnn and Gabby

What genre does your blog focus on? 

MaryAnn: We primarily focus on Young Adult books, but also review some middle grade, New Adult, and some adult reads. Of course, due to the content of most of the New Adult and Adult titles, I’m the one who reads those for review.  Just a couple more years, and I’m sure Gabby will possibly want to venture into those genres.

Gabby: Young-Adult and all the many subgenres that fall into YA.
Continue reading “Blogger Spotlight – Teen/YA”

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