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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Feed Your Fiction Addiction
Blog URL: http://feedyourfictionaddiction.com
Your name: Nicole Hewitt

A nice place to start is with your blogger origin story – how did Feed Your Fiction Addiction get started?

I actually had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started blogging four and a half years ago. I thought, “Hey, I love books and I like to review them on Goodreads, so why not start a blog?” It was really something of a whim. I had no idea at the time how much of my passion, time and energy would eventually go into blogging, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way!

On your blog you mention that you homeschool your three children – do you pull from your experience as a book blogger (and vice versa) when creating your lesson plans?

I do! I actually taught a Blogging 101 class at our homeschool co-op last year, which was great fun! I think my students were surprised at how much work it takes to create a high-quality blog and to find a readership, but it was a fantastic chance for them to get acquainted with the blogging world. I also often teach book reviewing in my language arts classes. I find that reviews can be a great way to get them thinking about the things in a book that got them excited—and the things that left them wanting more. It’s also surprisingly difficult for students to write a review without spoilers, so that’s a skill in itself. 😊

We love your “Bite-Sized Reviews” feature, where you review four different books with a star rating and what you thought, briefly, about each. Can you explain a little bit more about this feature?

Bite-sized reviews are great because they give a brief snapshot of the book and my thoughts on it without going into too much detail (and let’s face it, sometimes less is more). This can be especially handy for books where it’s really best for readers to go in relatively blind—I want to give my feelings about the book without giving away too much. I also often use this review style for extremely popular backlist books because many people already have their own impressions of them and I’m just adding in my two cents, so to speak. Sometimes I just have too much to say and nothing but my standard review format will do, but there are times when a bite-sized review is just perfect.

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?

Right now, I’m loving topical contemporaries that send you on an emotional roller coaster—things like If There’s No Tomorrow by Jennifer L. Armentrout or What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum. These are the types of books that tackle tough issues in such a way that you can’t help but relate to their main characters.

As far as things I’d like to see go… well, there are always plenty of tropes in YA that get overused. I’ve recently been reading the upcoming Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me by Carrie DiRisio, which hilariously highlights a lot of them (like the “perfect” star-athlete boyfriend who falls for the quiet, bookish girl who has no idea just how wonderful she really is). I will say that a talented author can make almost any trope work, but when a book is packed full of them… I could definitely do without that.

  

Which upcoming Teens & YA book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending to your followers?

I HIGHLY recommend Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. It looks like you can only Wish for it right now on NetGalley, but I think absolutely everyone should go and do that right now… Really, I’ll wait…

I have to admit that I tend to read books close to their release dates, so I haven’t read a lot of others that are still upcoming, but I can tell you about two others that I’m really excited to read. First off, my contact at Disney has me super intrigued when it comes to Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne. She says it’s one of her favorite books of the year, and I can’t wait to read it! Then there’s Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, which looks fantastic—plus I just love Jason Segel. (Who doesn’t?)

    

Lightning Round!

Your favorite character in a book or series:

August Flynn from the Monsters of Verity Duology by Victoria Schwab.

The one book you wish was never-ending:

Unwind by Neal Shusterman.

Your favorite two publishers for Teens & YA titles:

HarperTeen & Disney-Hyperion.

Your favorite snack(s) to eat while reading:

Gum (though I guess I technically don’t eat it).

And to finish off our interview, what is the last book that made you smile?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (which was technically a reread via audiobook, but I think it counts).

Thanks so much, Nicole, for spending time with us and answering our questions! 

Please make sure to check out the Feed Your Fiction Addiction blog and more Teens & YA on NetGalley!

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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Indigo Quill
Blog URL: http://www.theindigoquill.com
Your name: Lis Ann Morehart

A nice place to start is with your library origin story – when did you decide to become a Youth Services Librarian? Can you briefly explain your role and your favorite aspect of your job?

That’s a great question! I have always loved books, education, and the power of imagination. When I was a kid, I’d ask my parents to drop me off at school 30 minutes early so I could roam the library and pick out my next read. My friends and I started our own book club, which became a sort of competition. From Elementary through High School, my librarians knew my name.

When I began college, I was torn between majoring in Music and English.  At first I chose music, but then I got to Music Theory III and decided it was time to switch gears (think of “Chemistry” class being the point where Biology majors drop out…that’s Music Theory III for Music majors!). I have so many hobbies, it took me a while to decide what I really wanted to do. In 2013, I started The Indigo Quill, and that is when I decided to become a librarian. The more I researched what a Youth Services Librarian did, I realized all of my hobbies and passions fit into this one vocation.

My job, in my opinion, is the best job in the world. I oversee ages 0 to early 20s and work with kids and teens through every phase of their lives. As someone who doesn’t sit still well, my job is always changing, and I love that. I keep up with the best practices for providing not just literacy, but also life skills and development for my patrons. I am in charge of collection development, program planning and execution, bookmobile services, volunteers, outreach, and anything else pertaining to children and teens. I am also the caregiver for our three library guinea pigs, Dobby, Dougal, and Nimbus. That’s just an added bonus. 🙂

Can you speak a little bit about your journey to becoming a book blogger? Do you find that reviewing books helps you better recommend them to students?

I have been a blogger since I was in the junior high, but I wanted to book blog for years before I finally did it. It wasn’t until I had read the end of a series I had followed for nearly a decade that I decided to start my blog. I waited almost ten years for this couple to get together, and then they ended up marrying other people! I won’t name any names, but I was so upset I had to find others who felt the same way. Thus, The Indigo Quill was born. Once I started, I was suddenly connected to several authors and publishers and the entire experience became much more than I ever anticipated. Here I was starting a blog so I had an outlet to complain expecting nothing to come of it, and aside from helping me become a better reader, writer, and editor, it assisted me in landing my last two jobs.

Reviewing has absolutely helped me better recommend books to people. It provides me navigation for picking the right ones to order for the library, and aids me in choosing books for storytime, Tween Book Club, and Teen Book Talk.

What are your favorite genres to read and review? Are there any upcoming book(s) on NetGalley that you’re excited about recommending?

I love Juvenile Fantasy, because you will find the greatest depths of imagination there. It keeps me young and aware of life’s possibilities. But I also enjoy balancing that out with Non-Fiction. I grew up with a fascination for learning things, so whether it’s a biography, cookbook, cultural, or health, I almost always emerge from the pages enlightened.

It actually released earlier this month, but I recommend the book, Women Who Dared by Linda Skeers. If you love books that empower women in history, this title is distinguished and comprehensive. Although it doesn’t provide extensive details (especially the less glamorous ones) for each gal, it introduces women from all over the world in a way that doesn’t intimidate young readers.

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

At the beginning of Summer Reading, I had a parent who told me her son, who is about 10 years old, hates reading. Every time a parent tells me that, I get a little overly excited. Challenge accepted! 9 times out of 10, the child just needs to be introduced to the right book. They just need to discover something in their “language.” Sometimes that’s My Little Pony, other times it’s Minecraft. This particular child I directed to our graphic novels. He was so excited to find Pokemon books! He had the entire series read by the end of the Summer, and has now moved on to our Juvenile Fiction. He was one of my top readers for the Summer Reading Program this Summer, and I couldn’t be more proud. Sometimes you just need to find the right key.

What is the most requested title in your library?

Anything by James Patterson. We have pages of waiting lists for his books, and they won’t see the shelves for at least 6 months after we receive them.

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

First impressions and occasional adventures by a Youth Services Librarian. The days of suffering alone at the hands of a good, or horrible, story are over!

Your all-time favorite Middle Grade book:

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Hermione Granger is without a doubt my literary parallel.

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?

Neil Gaiman. He is absolutely brilliant on and off the pages.

Thanks so much, Lis Ann, for spending time with us and answering our questions! 

Please make sure to check out The Indigo Quill blog plus more Middle Grade and Children’s Fiction on NetGalley!

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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Beauty in Ruins
Blog URL: https://beauty-in-ruins.blogspot.com/
Your name: Bob Milne

A nice place to start is with your blogger origin story – how long have you been reviewing books online and how did Beauty in Ruins start?

I actually started Beauty in Ruins way back in 2009 (wow, has it really been that long?), with a focus on my photography of ruined and abandoned places. I was already reviewing on Goodreads at the time, which allowed me to find my voice and figure out how to approach reviews, and in 2011 those book reviews came to be the driving force behind the blog. I joined NetGalley soon after, and that was what really kicked the blog into gear.

Can you talk a little bit about your preferred approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years?

I think my reviews have become longer over the years, with more detail and personality to them, but my basic approach remains the same. I am always honest about how I felt about the book, even if that means being negative, and I try to avoid relying on comparisons to describe the book. While it doesn’t work for every title, I generally break down the review into content, characters, themes, and emotions. While literary merit is important, and I am happy to speak to an author’s technical brilliance, I also have no problem admitting that I enjoyed a book despite (or sometimes even because of) its serious flaws.

Which upcoming Sci Fi & Fantasy book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about recommending to your followers?

My most anticipated title – the one I keep checking on daily for approval – is The Core: Book Five of The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. When so many epic fantasies linger on without end, it’s exciting to have that ‘final’ book on the way.

Black Star Renegades by Michael Moreci is the latest title to catch my eye this week, and sounds like a swashbuckling read. River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey was a great read, so I’m anxious to give Taste of Marrow a read next, and as a big fan of both the original story and the Bruce Campbell movie, Bubba and the Cosmic Blood-Suckers by Joe R. Lansdale is a must-read.

      

 

Are there any covers on NetGalley that you’re loving?

I assume it’s because they have so much artwork available, but roleplaying tie-ins always seem to have some of the best covers, so I’m loving Numenera: The Night Clave by Monte Cook & Shanna Germain, and Deadlands: Boneyard by Seanan McGuire. Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette NG has a great Victorian look, and while I know it’s a reprint, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip still looks amazing.

      

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

The best advice I can offer is to always read and review for yourself first, and to not get caught up in the hype of ARCs and review requests. It’s immensely flattering to have authors and publishers asking for your time, but it can become overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to pass on a book that looks kind of interesting, and don’t feel bad about (politely) declining requests. If you’re not enjoying yourself, it will show in your reviews.

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?

Epic fantasy will always be my go-to subgenre for a read. I love having a massive book to immerse myself in, something to linger over for weeks. I’m excited to see more sword-and-sorcery on the shelves lately, particularly with edgier, more mature authors like Nicholas Eames, Jack Heckel, and Andy Remic (a subgenre I have coined maturesmirk). The one trend that I wouldn’t be at all sad to see less of, and I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail for this, is grimdark. There are grimdark authors I enjoy, and there are still stories worth telling, but I can only sustain so much bleakness in my escapism.

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

Beauty in Ruins is a reflection of the imagination, the diversity, and the creativity to be found upon my shelves. My WTF Friday feature is where I dig into the darkest, weirdest corners of the shelves, but otherwise you’ll find a mix of fantasy, horror, adventure, and science fiction.

The last book that made you smile:

The Librarians and the Mother Goose Chase by Greg Cox.

Your all-time favorite Sci Fi or Fantasy book:

I have a soft spot for The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, as it was my introduction to fantasy, but the one book I can reread time-and-time again is Imajica by Clive Barker.

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Elric of Melniboné.

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?

Hands down, it would have to be Clive Barker. The depth of his imagination astounds me, almost as much as the breadth of his creativity. There are so many stories he’s teased, but has yet to write, and so much material he’s talked about that never made it into a final draft, I feel like I could pick his brain and ask “But what about…?” questions all night long.

Thanks so much, Bob, for spending time with us and answering our questions! 

Please make sure to check out the Beauty in Ruins blog and more Sci Fi & Fantasy on NetGalley!

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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: (un)Conventional Book Views
Blog URL: https://unconventionalbookviews.com/
Your name: Lexxie Lin

A nice place to start is with your blogger origin story – how did (un)Conventional Bookviews get started?

I first discovered Goodreads in 2010, and after finding some friends there, I discovered the wonderful world of blogs and blogging. It still took me until June 2nd 2012 before I jumped into creating my own little space on the Internet where I could share my thoughts and feelings about the books I read. I had no idea what I was doing at first, and changed fairly quickly from a free blog to a self-hosted blog in order to make my space as personalized as possible.

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

I think the way a book makes me feel is really important, and I always include something about the emotions a story brought me. I also include something about the point of view, tense, what kind of narrator and things like that. I guess that comes from having a degree in English. Nowadays, my reviews are shorter than the ones I wrote in the beginning, as I want the people who stop by my blog to be able to stay for a little while reading one review, and possibly clicking somewhere else to read another. Sometimes, I like to jot down some notes in a notebook before I actually type out my full review, and I like to have one or two sentences to try to catch people’s attention at the start.

You were a round table host at BloggerCon as part of BookExpo America in 2016. Could you talk a little bit about this experience?

BloggerCon was a lot of fun! I was able to meet many other bloggers, some I had interacted with online, and others that I hadn’t ‘met’ before that. I shared the round table hosting with Kate from Mundie Moms, and our topic was about organization and time when it comes to blogging, having a family and working as well. I found it to be an enriching experience to share my own tools for keeping my blog updated, and the rest of BookExpo was fun as well. Hosting  a round table was an honor, as I feel like my blog isn’t among one of the very big blogs.

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 still consider myself a genre omnivore, and I love that there are more and more subgenres in romance these days. One of my favorites – apart from urban fantasy and paranormal – is romantic suspense, as that brings me the best of two worlds. When there is suspense and a little mystery added to the romance it becomes even more delicious in my opinion.

Which upcoming Romance 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?

Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh is one of my most anticipated books for 2017, and I can’t wait to read it. There is also Worth the Wait by Lori Foster, which I have already read, and I loved it. Some of my favorite covers these days are those that have a lot of covers, and no people gracing them, like The Calculus of Change by Jessie Hilb, or Your One and Only by Adrianne Finlay.

 

 

 

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

(un)Conventional Bookviews is all about the books, be it paperbacks, audiobooks or e-books. I also have two original weekly features where I use quotes from recent books: Thirsty Thursday and Hungry Hearts for food or drink quotes, and Safe & Sexy where I share a quote where the sexytimes are safe, but still hot.

Your favorite two publishers for Romance titles:

Harlequin and Avon.

The one book you wish was never-ending:

The Siren – or even better, the whole Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your go-to snack(s) to eat while reading:

I don’t really snack while reading, but my favorite snack these days is cherry tomatoes with hummus.

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 would love to have drinks with William Shakespeare – there is just something about the way he invented new words to make a rhyme, or how in depth his plays were during his time, and which is still something I can relate to today.

Thanks so much, Lexxie, for spending time with us and answering our questions! 

Please make sure to check out the (un)Conventional Bookviews blog and more Romance on NetGalley!

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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: She Treads Softly
Blog URL: http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/
Your name: Lori Lutes

A nice place to start is with your blogger origin story – how did She Treads Softly get started?

She Treads Softly originally started as a result of an online group for award-winning books that I began participating in at the end of 2006. The group book discussions were originally conducted through an email group until it was decided that it would be nice if our reviews/thoughts were also written down and shared on blogs. Some people left the group over this radical decision, but I decided to give blogging a try.

Your blog celebrated its 10th anniversary this year – congratulations! Can you talk a little bit about your preferred approach to writing reviews for books? Has your style evolved over the years?

My original reviews were simple, short thoughts about books interspersed with other non-book posts. After trying several different styles over the years, I am pleased with my current approach and have stuck with it for several years now. I like to open with a header providing the important information for a reader: title, author, publisher, publication date, number of pages and ISBN-13. I follow this with a short synopsis, hopefully spoiler-free, and then I give my thoughts on the book. I dearly love including quotes, and often remember (and quote) sentences and phrases from books, but since I am usually reviewing advanced reading copies now I have to forego them (unless I can’t help myself). Hopefully I provide some substantial, thoughtful insights that will help another reader decide if the book is a good fit for them. After flirting with giving stars at one time, I’m much happier with my current rating system: very highly recommended, highly recommended, recommended, so-so, not recommended.

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’ll acknowledge that I am always ready for dystopian fiction and a good plague or virus book, fiction or nonfiction. I am ready to bid adieu to vampires; along with all blurbs saying: This is the new Gone Girl, or The Hunger Games, or The Girl on the Train. They are all great books but the comparison puts the new release at a disadvantage.

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

What I’d suggest will probably be the polar opposite of what others recommend people do for a successful blog. For me, it’s about the book reviews and your thoughts.

For years I read and followed a large number of book blogs, but as more and more of them became concerned with posting something, anything, daily, I stopped reading them. I was reading them for their book reviews, but when the extraneous content overwhelmed the reviews, I stopped reading the blogs. I have a busy life and read books, not blogs, for pleasure. If you have a book blog, I read it for your book recommendations only.

So my advice would be for someone with a book blog to consistently blog their thoughts about the books they have read and keep the extra chatter to a minimum. It’s okay with me if you don’t post daily. If you are a book blog, keep to your brand; it’s all about the books.

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

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian Walker (9/5/17); Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (10/3/17); The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg (11/21/17) and the short stories in Bad Kansas by Becky Mandelbaum (9/15/17).

 

 

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

At She Treads Softly I review all the books I read. I enjoy reading a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction.

Your favorite character in a book or series:

First, I can never just do one of anything and can be a rule breaker. This gets worse as I get older. My heart will always be tender for: Emilio Sandoz in Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow (1996); Elaine Risley in Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye (1988); and the Tull family in Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982).

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

I recently read You’ll Never Know, Dear by Hallie Ephron and thought that it would actually make a good movie because it is a mystery that could be very creepy visually (a doll maker and a huge doll collection is involved in the story).

Your favorite two authors for Fiction titles:

Oh dear, another restriction that makes my head hurt. I love Margaret Atwood, Joshilyn Jackson, and, more recently, Fredrik Backman – but there are so many others that I adore and now have left out.

And to finish off our interview, what is the last book that made you smile?

I smiled during Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan and Theft by Finding: Diaries by David Sedaris. I flat out laughed aloud with tears in my eyes while reading Nuclear Family: A Tragicomic Novel in Letters by Susanna Fogel.

  

Thanks so much, Lori, for spending time with us and answering our questions! 

Please make sure to check out the She Treads Softly blog and more Fall Fiction on NetGalley!

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

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Reader Spotlight

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.

Lightning Round!

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:

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. What a perfect, brilliant, hilarious read!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 

Please make sure to check out the Just Love blog and more LGBTQIA on NetGalley!

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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Life Has a Funny Way
Blog URL: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/
Your name: Leonie Byrne

Let’s start with the beginning: why did you first get involved with blogging?

It all started a couple of years ago, when I started a blog mainly to get things off my chest. I’ve always loved writing and reading but I’m useless with keeping a journal, so I decided to start a blog to talk about what was going on in my life and the random thoughts I had. The blog worked for my initial idea but I was constantly looking for what my niche could be. Despite being a big reader it never occurred to me that people would want to read my book reviews. I had no idea that there was this whole community of other book lovers out there. I’d often thought about applying for a job as a reviewer in a magazine or newspaper but had no idea where to start! Then an author friend of mine told me about NetGalley. When I started reviewing for NetGalley it made sense to put those reviews on my blog as well as on social media, and so Life has a Funny Way was reborn as a book reviewing blog. I still post other bits and pieces on there but my main passion is the book reviewing!

How has reviewing books changed your experience as a reader?

I’ve tried not to let it change my experience too much if I’m honest. At first I was reading all these amazing reviews from other bloggers or reviewers and they were making them really cool by adding quotes. So, I started writing quotes down as I was reading. But then I realised that this was having a negative impact on my reading. I was hunting down quotes and dragging myself out of the story to write them down. So now I just choose one or two quotes usually from the beginning of the book to use as an introduction. Of course, if I’m reading on kindle it’s easier as I can highlight whole passages if I want to! On the other hand, though it’s enriched my reading experiences in a big way, when you’ve read a ton of books (1733 at last count) it can be hard to remember specifics about what you’ve read. Reviewing allows me to go back at the end of the month, the year, even 10 years later and refresh my memory, not on whether the book was one I enjoyed but why I enjoyed it so much. It also allows me to share my love of books with other people in the book community which in turn can lead to recommendations which will enrich other readers’ lives.

You just started a BookTube channel – how do you like vlogging so far?

Vlogging is so different to blogging! I don’t know what I really expected from vlogging, or how successful I thought I would be, but what I have found is that it’s a lot of fun. Writing is my thing, speaking not so much, so it took a while to get into the swing of things. But once I saw that people enjoyed what I was saying it’s just gotten better and better. It’s introduced me to a community of fellow book lovers which I never knew existed. When I try to talk about books to anyone in real life I see their eyes glazing over and that’s fine, if that’s not their thing. But talking to my subscribers on YouTube, I’m talking to people who love books as much as I do, who understand my crazy book loving ways. It’s also been great to get recommendations on books from other people’s channels and share our weird book habits, loves, hates and passions. I’ve also made some great friends who I now speak to over email and I’m going to be starting a book related newsletter with one of them soon. Vlogging has really expanded my horizons.

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 love high and epic fantasy like The Lord of the Rings & A Game of Thrones because you can really get lost in a book which creates a whole world which is alternative to your own. As a writer as well as a reader I admire the incredible talent of writers like Tolkien, Martin and Laini Taylor because they can actually create these books with such beautiful writing, I mean, what would it be like to be inside their minds? Minds where a whole new universe can be created?

Urban Fantasy novels have also long been a favorite, books like Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series, books which create an alternative world but it’s a different kind, it’s the world which is your own world but better, more adventurous. I always come away with the niggling feeling that maybe there is something else right in the corner of my eye and one day I could just be there at the right place and time to slip into it. It’s pure escapism and I love it!

There’s a huge trend at the moment for “Royalty based” fantasy novels. I loved The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen but I’ve found myself avoiding other “Queen” books. I was in Waterstones over the weekend and that seemed to be all that was on the shelves. I’d like to pick up some books which have original and new ideas. Fantasy is such an amazing genre because a lot of it comes straight from the imagination and can’t really be based on life experience or researched in the way other genres can. That’s why I think it’s so important to come up with new and exciting ideas. I would really like to see more Mermaid books orientated towards adults and YA.

You’re working on a debut novel. Can you talk a little bit about your writing process and how you make time while in university and with an active blog?

Oh well, what can I say about my writing process? It’s very haphazard to say the least. It’s a fantasy novel I’m writing but I keep losing myself in other people’s fantasy writing instead of doing my own! I started my novel about 3 years ago, and just wrote in notebooks whenever I had a spare minute and whenever the muse struck so to speak. Now, I tend to only write when the muse strikes. I need to get a new laptop as mine is really slow which puts me off writing because I can’t be bothered to wait for it to boot up! My blogging, writing short stories, creative writing for university and of course now my Booktube and my full-time job all take up a huge amount of time as well. But when I do sit down to write, I write a lot. Rather than setting myself a goal such as 500 words per day, I find that writing when I feel inspired works better for me because I can sit down and write 5k+ words at a time, but then I might not write again for 5+ months. It’s a slow process but I want to get it right, I’m in no rush!

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

Alice: The Wanderland Chronicles by JM Sullivan is a title I’ve just requested and I’m hoping to be approved for. I love Alice in Wonderland retellings and I’ve even written a short story version of one myself!

I’ve recently been approved Prophecy Awakened by Tamar Sloan, a novel about two teenagers who get together and set off a chain of events relating to a prophecy, it sounds magical and has a cool cover so I’m looking forward to starting that.

Darien, Empire of Salt by CF Iggulden is another one I’ve just been approved for and it looks like a super cool Game of Thrones style novel so I’m really intrigued by it. There’s a lot to live up to with George RR Martin’s series and I’m hoping this will satisfy my cravings for fantasy-cum-historical fiction!

Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott has been one of my favorite reads of the year so far. Not just as a Netgalley read but overall it was amazing! It’s all about a town which has been cut off from the rest of England and nobody knows why. There’s a mystery at the centre and it revolves around this really cool fantasy element, but I won’t say anymore because it’s better as a surprise!

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

Life has a Funny Way is a quirky blog inhabited by lots of gifs. It’s very welcoming and frequently updated as I do read a lot!

Your favorite 2 publishers for Fantasy titles?

Penguin Random House Group and Harper Fiction have both published some amazing fantasy books in the last 12 months, either under their own name or their imprints.

Your favorite snack(s) to eat while reading:

Vegetarian Pizza & Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream (not together of course!).

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 had to think long and hard on this one because there are so many authors I love, particularly in the fantasy genre. I think, though, that my choice would have to be Laini Taylor, author of Strange the Dreamer. I’ve been a huge fan since first reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone and my fangirling has only grown as time has gone on. On our trip, we would go to Prague which is the setting for Daughter of Smoke and Bone and explore it through the eyes of Karou, the main character in the series.

    

Thanks so much, Leonie, for spending time with us and answering our questions! 

Please make sure to check out the Life Has A Funny Way blog, and Leonie’s latest BookTube video, “NetGalley The Reader’s PoV”:

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

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: The Fairview Review
Blog URL: http://fveslibrary.blogspot.com
Your name: Suzanne Costner

A nice place to start is with your library origin story – how did become the school library media specialist at Fairview Elementary School? Can you briefly explain your role and your favorite aspect of your job?

I have always wanted to be a librarian, and after several years as a classroom teacher, I realized that my favorite activities all revolved around the books I used with my students. So I completed my LMS degree and moved into the library. I had a wonderful mentor in the school where I was teaching, and she helped me with the transition to the nearby school where I am now librarian. I teach a library class for each homeroom once a week, and also have classes schedule extra time to come in for research or other projects. My favorite part of the job is connecting my students with the right books and watching them become avid readers.

How is technology incorporated into your library, for your students but also for yourself and your staff? Do you have any goals for incorporating further technology into your library?

I began the blog as a way to incorporate more technology into the library program. I wanted to offer the students an authentic audience to share book reviews, rather than just writing a book report for the teacher to check off in the gradebook. I’ve had a few students take advantage of the platform, but most are more excited about reading the books rather than writing about them. I’ve slowly been adding MakerSpace activities to the library, and the most popular so far is the green screen. Our plan is to record student book talks, then attach QR codes to the covers of books for other students to access the videos.

I serve as a “tech teacher leader” for my school. Part of the role is to model technology integration for the other teachers, and to offer support as they try to implement new things. We have used the Quiver AR app and Plickers in guidance classes, robotics and computer coding in the library, and apps like Epic! ebooks and Quizlet in classrooms. The big focus lately has been the green screen. I’ve used it to record voter public service announcements with the 5th graders; the 4th grade has recorded math instructional videos on how to solve word problems and also infomercials starring the founding fathers of the original 13 colonies; the basketball teams even came in and made an appreciation video to show the coach at their banquet. I lead training sessions on using online resources, STEM lessons, and equipment like the green screen or document cameras.

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

There are so many great stories that are not thick, intimidating books, so I usually start with those. Series like The Zack Files, Eerie Elementary, or The Imaginary Veterinary are fast-paced and include lots of humor to up their appeal. I also reach for anything that is heavily illustrated or in graphic novel/manga format such as the Dragon Breath, Babymouse, and Amulet series or anything by Doug TenNapel (Cardboard is a big favorite). And then I look for topics that appeal to the students like the I Survived books. Once I find one book they enjoy, it is much easier to say, “If you liked that, then try this.”

How long have you been reviewing books online and why did you start? Do you find reviewing the books helps you better recommend them to students?

I began the blog in June 2013, as something to offer the students in place of writing book summaries or taking AR tests. I wrote out some reviews to show them a sample of what they might do, and became hooked on it. I have always read children’s and YA books to be able to find new titles to use in my classroom or to add to the library, so sharing my thoughts about them was a natural progression. Reviewing definitely helps me think of which student(s) a certain book would be perfect for. It has become a ritual when they come up to the circulation desk, they ask me which of the books in their stack I have already read. And there are several students who come in the door and call across the room, “What should I read next?”

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

My first year in the library I had a family come in for the book fair on a Friday afternoon and the father asked me to help his son find a book. “He hasn’t found anything that he likes since he finished the Harry Potter series,” the dad said. So I showed them The Lightning Thief and told them to take it home and try it over the weekend, and if he didn’t enjoy it, I would exchange it for something else. Monday morning both parents came in and I asked if their son had started the book and did he think he would like it. The mother replied,” Start it! He read the whole thing in one sitting and we’re back for the rest of the series!” And I thought to myself, “The library is where I belong.”

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

Oh, I’m glad you put that (s) on book, because there is no way to pick only one. For fantasy readers I would say Jen Calonita’s Tricked (Fairy Tale Reform School #3). For graphic novel lovers, Gene Luen Yang’s Secrets and Sequences from the Secret Coders series (coding, robots, and graphic novel format all together). If readers enjoy humorous fiction with action, then The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff. And for a bit of suspense/supernatural elements I would say Journey’s End by Rachel Hawkins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightning Round!

The last book that made you smile:

 

 

The Dragon Hunters by James Russell and Link Choi

 

 

Your favorite Storytime book to read:

Anything by Mo Willems. We Are in a Book (with Elephant and Piggie so excited to be the characters in a story), is a great one. My students also love Double Trouble in Walla Walla by Andrew Clements. I think they like listening to me try to read it without getting tongue-tied.

The most popular books in your library right now:

I Survived series, A Series of Unfortunate Events (thanks to the Netflix series), Secret Coders series, and spooky books by Mary Downing Hahn.

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 would love to have tea with Anne McCaffrey and talk dragons with her. I periodically go back and read through all the Pern books and remember when I found the first one while I was in middle school. She wrote such a wide range of science fiction/fantasy and I love all the various worlds she imagined and shared with us.

Thanks so much Suzanne, for spending time with us and answering our questions!
Please make sure to check out the The Fairview Review and more Middle Grade available on NetGalley! 

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

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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

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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