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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any advice for book bloggers who are just starting out? Perhaps advice about managing a blog with multiple contributors as well as a review schedule?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lightning round!

Your site in 2 sentences:

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

Your favorite author(s):

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

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

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

And to finish off our interview, if you could go on a road trip with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?

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

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

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

*Interviewed by Tarah Theoret

GLBT Book Month

 

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

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

Plus, view LGBTQIA titles now available on NetGalley!

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