Goodbye May, Hello June

IN MAY…

May wasn’t the best month for me blogging wise. I read a lot, but I didn’t spend as much time in the blogosphere as I would have liked. I think April was the same way, double ugh. Someday I will find the perfect balance!

I read 20 books, or 6,262 pages. I read one book, DARK TRIUMPH twice, and another, ROSES HAVE THORNS, one and a half times. I have a habit of doing this when I get behind on writing reviews.

I thought it would be fun this month to show the covers for all the books I’ve read.

Reviews Written:
The Last Academy by Anne Applegate.
Portrait of a Crossroads by Kelly Rand.
Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley.
School Spirits by Rachel Hawkins.
Deer in Headlights by Staci Hart.
Twisted Summer by Lucy V. Morgan
The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan.
Comes the Night by orah Wilson and Heather Doherty.
The Borgias: The Hidden History by G. J. Meyer.
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch.
Embers by Laura Bickle.
Sparks by Laura Bickle.

Other Stuff:
Top Ten Favorite Book Covers. I don’t do many memes anymore, but this one was calling my name!

Bout of Books 7.0. I tried to participate in Bout of Books 7.0, but honestly just ran out of steam. I got a fair amount of books read, but I didn’t update or check out many other blogs.

Armchair Bea:
· Day 1: Introduction
· Day 2: Blogger Development & Genre Fiction
· Day 3: Ethics & Non-Fiction
· Day 4: Keeping It Real and YA
· Day 5: Wrap-Up

Goal Progress:
How did I do on my Blogging Resolutions?
01: Post 2-3 reviews a week Check!
02: Keep Amazon/Goodreads updated I’ve done pretty well on this. My next step will be entering all the books I read in 2012.
03: Make 1 vlog a month At this rate I’m going to have one vlog a year.
04: Post 1 personal update a week
05: Use Facebook I’m doing slightly better on this. I’ve uploaded some pictures and done some personal updates. Having an app on my phone helps.
06: Learn about SEO
07: Be more active on Twitter

 

JUNE PLANS…

I keep saying this but – get ahead! I like looking at my calendar and seeing a month’s worth of blog posts scheduled. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and a little less lazy.

I also want to do some discussion and/or rambly posts, of my opinions on various things. Because I know everyone cares about my opinion ;)

Although Reading Angel isn’t doing the page count contest in June — I wish her a good break! — I’m going to continue keeping track of pages read. I do it naturally anyway in my books read spreadsheet. This month I’m going to switch it up and keep track of fanfiction as well. I’m curious to see how much reading I do of that a month. Can you tell I like keeping track of things?

– leeanna

Author Interview: Laura Bickle

Once again I bring you a stop on the blog tour for Laura Bickle’s books. Today I have an interview with the author, and I have already posted a review of her young adult book, THE HALLOWED ONES. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can view the rest of the stops here.

While you’re here, you also might want to check out the other reviews I’ve done of Laura’s books:
· Anya Kalinczyk #1: Embers
· Anya Kalinczyk #2: Sparks
· Delphic Oracle #1: Dark Oracle (as Alayna Williams)
· Delphic Oracle #2: Rogue Oracle (as Alayna Williams)

I have to thank Laura for being gracious enough to answer my last minute questions. I wanted to reread THE HALLOWED ONES before coming up with my questions, and time got away from me. I also want to add in here that I’m a fellow Ohioan who lives by Amish and when I was in grade school, there was actually a required unit on the Amish and their way of life. Of course it didn’t include vampires … but it would have been so much cooler if it had!


Okay, so I have to ask. Amish and vampires is such a crazy combination, one I never thought would work. It does, and fantastically so, but how did you come up with it? What was the inspiration spark?

Thank you! I wanted to really experiment with this story, to see if I could integrate those elements in a way that readers could relate to. It was something I hadn’t seen done before, so I wanted to give it a shot!

I live not too far from a large Amish settlement. When I was a child, my parents would take me to visit, and I was fascinated by a world very different than the one I lived in. I’d see Amish girls my age over the fence and wonder what their lives were like.

Some of that curiosity lingered, and I always wanted to revisit it in a story. It popped back into my head when I was writing about a catastrophic contagion. Considering all the incredible self-sufficiency they apply in their everyday lives, it seemed to me that the Amish would be uniquely well-equipped to survive a large-scale disaster.

You’ve written two urban fantasy series for adults. THE HALLOWED ONES is your first book for young adults. And us adults who like to read YA. :) Why did you decide to give YA a go?

I began wanting to write a rural fantasy – something a bit different from the urban fantasy I had been writing. I love urban fantasy very much, but I wanted to turn it around a bit and see what darkness is like from a rural perspective. Once the story was complete, I sent it to my agent. I thought about whether it would work best in the contemporary fantasy or the horror market.

And to my surprise…she said I’d written a YA novel.

So I re-read the book, and it began to come together for me. I never explicitly gave Katie an age. Katie was dealing with many of the issues that young adults deal with: questioning authority, creating her own identity, and developing her own moral compass.

It was a happy serendipity. I’d wandered into new territory for me, territory that’s challenging and also really exhilarating.

Your vampires are pretty scary monsters. Were you inspired by any legends or traditional vampires?

I was very much inspired by old legends of ravenous creatures. The vampires in my story have many of the weaknesses that traditional vampires did – aversion to holy symbols and holy ground, for instance.

This isn’t related to THE HALLOWED ONES — sorry! — but having read both your urban fantasy series, will you be continuing either one? Or both? Or maybe starting a new one? I miss Sparky! (I’m talking about Laura’s Anya Kalinczyk series and the Delphic Oracle Series written as Alayna Williams)

Sparky is wagging his tail in appreciation! Thank you very much for taking the time to read about him. I would love to do more UF books in the future…especially with Sparky and Anya and Tara.

When the words just won’t come, what are some of your favorite tricks for getting past writer’s block?

The only thing that really works for me is a hot bath followed by parking my butt in the chair. I’ve tried every other inspiration, bribe, and magic incantation I can think of, but nothing really works for me like just pushing through it. Often, that means giving myself permission to write a few pages of crud before getting to the good stuff.

You’re stuck somewhere without the Internet, a cellphone, electricity, or anything else. Almost like being in an Amish community, but without having to work! All you can do is read. What books do you take with you?

That’s very funny, because I often sneak off to places without internet and cell signals. I usually bring a stack of books with me. Right now, I’m reading Cat Winters’ IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS and Sangu Mandanna’s THE LOST GIRL. They’re both fantastic reads that make me forget that the internet exists!

About the author:
laura bickleLaura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs.

She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

 

– leeanna

Book Review: The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle

This review of THE HALLOWED ONES is part of today’s two post feature on Laura Bickle. Check out my interview with Laura.

the hallowed onesInfo:
Title: The Hallowed Ones
Author: Laura Bickle
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Library
Series? The Hallowed Ones #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror, Dystopian
Page Count: 311
Rating: [5/5 stars]

Summary:

If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

In this captivating thriller, an Amish settlement is the last safe haven in a world plagued by an unspeakable horror…

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenag-ers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there…and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a de-cree: No one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elder’s rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?

My Review:
Amish + vampires = freaking amazing book!

THE HALLOWED ONES has one of the craziest combinations ever. At first, I didn’t think such a combination would work, but to my pleasant surprise, I loved this book. I couldn’t read fast enough to find out what would happen next, and next, and next … and now I can’t wait the sequel, THE OUTSIDE.

THE HALLOWED ONES could have been a really boring book. A book about an Amish girl? Usually that’s firmly the realm of Christian Fiction, not a genre I read. But the author made Katie relatable to regular teens. On the verge of Rumspringa, Katie can’t wait to experience the “outside world.” She already knows she likes Coke and comic books, and one of the first things she wants to do is see a movie. Also, unlike the other members of her community, Katie has trouble accepting the word of the Elders at face value.

I really appreciated that the author put in plenty of details about Amish life and culture. Without that information, the story would have felt inauthentic. The setting of an Amish community for a book about the end of the world is such a great idea. Without television or the Internet, Katie has few sources of information. It’s creepy, in a good, scary, and thrilling way.

There’s even an unlikely romance in this book. Romance isn’t always my favorite thing, but I liked Alex, and the opportunity his character gave for Katie to think about her religion and beliefs.

I could go on and on about THE HALLOWED ONES, but really, the best thing I can say is give it a read. I’ve recommended it quite a few people, who give me the “Really? Amish and vampires? Are you kidding?” look, and I just repeat that there’s so much good stuff in the book. It’s one of those books where I just want to flail about instead of saying anything useful, so I’ll end with this: In THE HALLOWED ONES, Laura Bickle created an amazing story, a great cast of characters, and some terrifying vampires. I cannot wait to read the sequel!

About the author:
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs.

She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Blog Tour: Bound by Prophecy by Melissa Wright (and giveaway!)

Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for BOUND BY PROPHECY by Melissa Wright. The tour is hosted by Itching for Books and you can visit the rest of the stops here.

bound by prophecyInfo:
Title: Bound by Prophecy
Author: Melissa Wright
Release Date: April 19, 2013
Publisher: Self-Published
Series? Descendants #1
Genre: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 253

Summary:

Twenty-two-year-old Aern is done watching his brother destroy the only thing that matters. He never wanted to take Morgan’s place among council, never wanted to rule their hidden world. But when the key to the prophecy is found, a young girl named Brianna whom Morgan will destroy, Aern knows he has to take action. What he really wants is for things to go back to normal. But now he’s kidnapped a girl, and his brother’s men are after him. His only hope is to join with the Division, but they have plans of their own, and it’s the last thing Aern is willing to do. Emily just wants her sister back. She doesn’t care about the prophecy, or know what’s at stake. But when she goes after Aern, the truth of the matter uncoils, and Brianna isn’t the only one who’s in danger. Suddenly, they’re at the center of a secret war, and unless they can work together, they’ll both have a sacrifice too big to make. (summary from goodreads)

Excerpt:
I tried to turn to see where he’d gone, out some back entrance apparently, but I had limited mobility, suspended as I was. When I swung back to straight, there was a face inches from mine. I admit I may have jumped, if only a little.

“Where is my sister?” she hissed.

Under normal circumstances, my mouth might have fallen open.

She smacked me. “My sister. What did you do to her?”

I shook my head. Glanced at the chain hoist that attached my harness to the warehouse wall. “No,” I started, but the girl wasn’t looking at me now. She was watching the door.

The sirens were getting closer. And something else, a muffled buzzing.

“They’re coming here?” I asked.

The girl turned back to me, nodded. I was struggling to find my focus, to sway her to co-operate. She seemed a bit panicked, but for the wrong reasons.

“Here.” I tilted my head up to indicate my bindings. “Untie me. I will help you find her.”

Her eyes narrowed and her mouth screwed up as she considered my proposition.

The sirens were at the gate.

“Two minutes,” I warned. “It’s the only way you’ll find her.”

Car doors slammed. She knew I was right.

I had her.

And then she was gone. “Wait,” I shouted, “where are you going?”

She didn’t look back as she ran across the open floor. She moved with such unrestrained fervor, I half expected her to slam into the wall. As she reached up, she pulled a screwdriver from her back jeans pocket, and pried the lever that held my chain. An instant later, I slammed into the concrete floor.

Giveaway:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway is tour-wide.

About the author:
Melissa Wright is the author of the Frey Saga and the upcoming Descendants series. Melissa spends her time working on novels, but when not writing she can be found on goodreads and pinterest.
Website

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2013: Day 5: Wrap-Up

design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

Armchair BEA is an online event for those of us who can’t make it to BEA. I participated last year, and I’m excited to do so again!

Day 5: Wrap-Up

armchairday2 I’m sad to see another Armchair BEA come and go! It’s not really over for me yet, though, because I plan to spend the next week going through the post linkys and visiting more blogs. I didn’t get to as many last week as I would have liked, so I shall correct that. :D I don’t know why, but I almost always end up taking computer breaks when there are big blogging events going on!

I think my favorite part about Armchair BEA was remembering that I wanted to do some general posts on the blog! I had a Google Doc of ideas, but it got pushed down by all the reviews I’ve been writing so I forgot about it. Some of the topics include fanfiction, what I’d like to see more of in YA, great older books that get forgotten in the excitement of new series, and so on. Anything else you’d like to see me ramble on about?

If you’ve missed any, here’s a round-up of all my posts for Armchair BEA:
· Day 1: Introduction
· Day 2: Blogger Development & Genre Fiction
· Day 3: Ethics & Non-Fiction
· Day 4: Keeping It Real and YA

– leeanna

Blog Tour Book Review: Sparks by Laura Bickle

Welcome back! Today I have more on the blog tour for EMBERS and SPARKS by Laura Bickle. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can view the rest of the stops here. Today’s post is a review of SPARKS. Yesterday I reviewed EMBERS.

sparksInfo:
Title: Sparks
Author: Laura Bickle
Release Date: August 2010
Publisher: Pocket Juno Books
Source: Blog tour
Series? Anya Kalinczyk #2
Series Reviews:
Anya Kalinczyk #1: Embers
Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 368
Rating: [4/5 stars]

Summary:

WITHOUT A TRACE

Anya Kalinczyk is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern, who holds down a day job as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department—while working 24/7 to exterminate malicious spirits haunting a city plagued by unemployment and despair. Along with her inseparable salamander familiar, Sparky, Anya has seen, and even survived, all manner of fiery hell—but her newest case sparks suspicions of a bizarre phenomenon that no one but her eccentric team of ghost hunters might believe: spontaneous human combustion.

After fire consumes the home of elderly Jasper Bernard, Anya is stunned to discover his remains—or, more precisely, a lack of them; even the fiercest fires leave some trace of their victims—and she is sure this was no naturally occurring blaze. Soon she’s unearthed a connection to a celebrity psychic who preys on Detroit’s poor, promising miracles for money. But Hope Solomon wants more—she’s collecting spirits, and in a frantic race against time, Anya will face down an evil adversary who threatens her fragile relationship with her lover, her beloved Sparky’s freshly hatched newts, and the wandering souls of the entire city. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
The second book in the Anya Kalinczyk series, SPARKS continues the adventures of Anya, Sparky, and the DAGR team. Anya is an arson investigator and a special type of medium that can see and devour ghosts. Sparky is her super protective salamander companion. DAGR is the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers, a team of amateur ghost hunters who usually erase the boundaries between Anya’s normal world and her paranormal one.

Though SPARKS is the second in a series, you don’t need to have read EMBERS to know what’s going on. The books are more like companion novels than a true series in my opinion, since the events of EMBERS aren’t really important for SPARKS. I like that aspect of these books, since it’s so nice to not have to remember everything that happened in book one!

Anya’s worlds — worlds she tries hard to keep separate — again collide when she realizes a series of mysterious, impossible deaths can be caused by only one thing: magic. Of course, she can’t exactly explain that to her boss or the fire department, but she can do her best to fight the villain using both legal and magickal methods.

I liked the mystery in the book (cases of supposed spontaneous combustion), and also liked how the author connected scientific methods and magickal methods of investigation and crime-fighting. It’s something I’ve noted in Laura Bickle’s other novels (she has another series as Alayna Williams), and something I’m happy to see again and again in her work.

The bad guy in SPARKS is actually a woman, Hope Solomon. Think of a Sunday morning TV evangelist, and you’ve got her. Although I wasn’t entirely sure of her motivations, I was definitely rooting for Anya to take her down … because Hope goes after one of my favorite animal characters ever, Sparky.

Sparky is even more adorable in this book than he was in EMBERS. Hopefully I’m not spoiling anything, but Sparky HAS BABIES. There’s a scene where Anya and Katie, her witch friend, go shopping for baby supplies. And let me tell you, you need a LOT of stuff when you’re expecting 51 baby newts. It had to be one of the more hilarious scenes I’ve read in a while.

SPARKS was a fast, good read, with lots of stuff for urban fantasy fans. I particularly liked Anya’s journey to the Underworld, as it was cool to see the author’s take on astral projection. There’s a lot more in SPARKS that I’m not mentioning, but I think it’s worth the time to read the book and find out all the surprises for yourself. :)

About the author:
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs.

She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2013: Day 4: Keeping It Real & YA

design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

Armchair BEA is an online event for those of us who can’t make it to BEA. I participated last year, and I’m excited to do so again!

Day 4: Keeping It Real

“Keeping it real” is something I struggle with. Even after a year of seriously blogging, I don’t think I’ve figured it out. I’ve done reasonably well with keeping my blog updated (at least 2-3 reviews a week), but the one area I’ve failed in is being more social. I keep saying it’s a goal of mine, but I open my Twitter app … and have no idea what to say. LOL. I’ve tried to actually use my blog’s FB page more this month, posting pictures and some random status updates, but I know I need to do more. Social media guru in the making here … I just need to find time and a method that works for me.

I think socialness (is that a word?) is something that keeps readers coming back to blogs. What else do you guys as readers like to see?


Day 4: Children’s/Young Adult Literature

Why do I read YA? Because it’s FUN! I like how genres mix, how the books are fast-paced, the characters kick-butt, and the stories insanely creative. Also, when I was at the “appropriate age” for YA, the books just weren’t there. I was reading Stephen King when I was 10, maybe, because I’d read all the kiddie books.

That said, I do have some favorites from when I was a kid. The Little House on the Prairie series was my first boxed set ever, and I still have it. The spines have been nicely repaired with tape, over and over. I still read them every couple of years.

I read and liked Animorphs (K.A. Applegate), and wish I still had my copies. Spooksville was another series (Christopher Pike) that I wish I still had, but sadly they’re out of print. I think the witch in those books was one of the first bad characters I really liked.

– leeanna

Blog Tour Book Review: Embers by Laura Bickle

Today I am the stop on the blog tour for EMBERS and SPARKS by Laura Bickle. The tour is hosted by Bewitching Book Tours and you can view the rest of the stops here. Today I have a review of EMBERS; stop back tomorrow for a review of the next book, SPARKS. I was going to put up both reviews today, but I think spacing them out will encourage people to actually read the reviews instead of scrolling past :D

embersInfo:
Title: Embers
Author: Laura Bickle
Release Date: April 2010
Publisher: Pocket Juno Books
Source: Blog tour
Series? Anya Kalinczyk #1
Series Reviews:
Anya Kalinczyk #2: Sparks
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Adult
Page Count: 359
Rating: [3/5 stars]

Summary:

Truth burns. Unemployment, despair, anger—visible and invisible unrest feed the undercurrent of Detroit’s unease. A city increasingly invaded by phantoms now faces a malevolent force that further stokes fear and chaos throughout the city.

Anya Kalinczyk spends her days as an arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department, and her nights pursuing malicious spirits with a team of eccentric ghost hunters. Anya—who is the rarest type of psychic medium, a Lantern—suspects a supernatural arsonist is setting blazes to summon a fiery ancient entity that will leave the city in cinders. By Devil’s Night, the spell will be complete, unless Anya—with the help of her salamander familiar and the paranormal investigating team—can stop it.

Anya’s accustomed to danger and believes herself inured to loneliness and loss. But this time she’s risking everything: her city, her soul, and a man who sees and accepts her for everything she is. Keeping all three safe will be the biggest challenge she’s ever faced. (summary from goodreads)

My Review:
EMBERS is the first in a new urban fantasy series starring Anya Kalinczyk, arson investigator and Lantern. A Lantern is a type of medium that can devour ghosts and demons; Anya’s like a star, burning super hot inside to consume ghostly entities. Aided by her invisible sidekick Sparky, a fire elemental, Anya balances life between two worlds, the normal and the paranormal.

Of course, there wouldn’t be any book if those two didn’t collide, and collide they do in EMBERS. Stymied by a firebug whose blazes are getting increasingly dangerous, Anya puts herself in danger when she helps the Detroit Area Ghost Researchers (DAGR) remove a demon from a possessed girl. But when Anya fails to completely consume the demon, it starts to take over her. Worse yet, the demon has the same goal in mind as the firebug: they both want the mysterious Sirrush to come.

EMBERS is a good combination of police procedural and urban fantasy. This is something I’ve read before in the author’s work (Laura Bickle also writes as Alayna Williams), and it’s something I think she does well. A straight up crime story would bore me, but add ghosts, demons, and the like? I’m in. Plus it’s always interesting to see the two worlds mix. I mean, when you have a ghost as your main witness, it’s kind of hard to bring him to court to testify….

At first, Anya is a difficult character to get into. She’s somewhat anti-social and pushes everyone away, but once you learn what’s in her past, her behavior is understandable. And she does grow throughout EMBERS, overcoming her reluctance to rely on others. I wasn’t too into the romances, but they served their purpose of helping Anya grow. So do the other supporting characters, all of which I liked. From Katie the witch to Felicity the ghost librarian, the author is really good at fleshing out minor characters and making them stand out.

Sparky, Anya’s guardian fire salamander, is awesome. Hands down he was one of my favorite parts of EMBERS, and all without him saying a word. The author has a real gift for creating memorable and unique animal characters. Sparky is invisible to everyone but ghosts and Anya, has an appetite for electronics and body glitter, and sleeps with a Gloworm. He’s adorable yet protective — where can I find a guard lizard like him?

Overall, EMBERS is a quick, immersive read. The writing is easy to sink into, and Detroit comes through clearly as a setting. I was a bit disappointed by the climax — after all the build up, I expected more of an explosion (no pun intended). The mythology in the book makes Sirrush out to be a really bad beastie, and I enjoyed all of the creativity behind him. I just wanted more of a boom at the end.

But I will definitely read SPARKS, the next book in Anya’s story. EMBERS doesn’t leave any cliffhangers — yay! — and I’m curious to see what will happen next to Anya and Sparky.

About the author:
Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science. When she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library, she can be found reaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs.

She has written several contemporary fantasy novels for adults, and THE HALLOWED ONES is her first young adult novel. Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and five mostly-reformed feral cats.
Website
Facebook
Twitter

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2013: Day 3: Ethics & Non-Fiction

design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

Armchair BEA is an online event for those of us who can’t make it to BEA. I participated last year, and I’m excited to do so again!

Day 3: Ethics

I’m going to discuss ethics differently than I think other bloggers will. While I would be crushed if anyone tried to plagiarize me, I haven’t had that happen. I know other bloggers have, and I’m sure they can discuss that with much more expertise and experience than I can.

What I want to talk about is personal ethics. Making sure you use your blog the way you want to. It can be really easy to get swept up in the ease of cover reveals, promo posts, book blasts, memes, etc. They’re easy to put up. Definitely a lot easier than reading a book, writing a review, proofing the review, and getting the review post ready. Now, I’m not saying that’s wrong. If that’s what you want to put on your blog, great! But I think it’s important to consider your blog, and what you want to do with it. Don’t let it just become an advertising platform.

Personally, I don’t do things for books that I don’t like, aren’t the type I read, etc. I see my blog as a reflection of me, and I only want content up here that I would want to see. In a year or two when I’ve forgotten what I’ve written ;) I don’t see negative reviews as an aspect of that — I believe it’s important to post about why a certain book didn’t work for me, to give my honest opinion without bashing the book.

TL;DR version: think about what you post on your blog. Don’t feel like you HAVE to have a post every single day just to have one.


Day 3: Non-Fiction

I don’t mention it a lot on my blog, but I do read my share of non-fiction. I just find it a lot harder to review than fiction, so I don’t have as many posts about it. I have a B.A. in History, so I’ve actually studied it a fair amount, and have my favorite historical periods. A random sampling, if you’re curious: Tudor England, Ancient Egypt, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, Russia under Catherine the Great, Argentina under the Perons, the European side of World War II. Yup. I’m all over the place.

I typically read biographies, autobiographies, or history books about things that interest me. A lot of the time after reading a historical fiction novel, it piques my interest in that person or period, and I seek out non-fiction books so I can learn more.

I’ve already mentioned it once during Armchair BEA 2013, but I think a great non-fiction book for a new-to-the-genre reader is MY LIFE IN FRANCE by Julia Child. It’s her autobiography, chock full of her voice, and it’s so damn interesting. I’ve read it countless times over the years; it’s one of those books I can open to any page and know exactly where I am.

– leeanna

Armchair BEA 2013: Day 2: Blogger Development & Genre Fiction

design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

Armchair BEA is an online event for those of us who can’t make it to BEA. I participated last year, and I’m excited to do so again! I really do plan to spend some time surfing other book blogs this time, unlike when I ran out of time during Bout of Books 7.0.

Day 2: Blogger Development

I actually have a longer post in mind for blogging, as I’ve been thinking about how I like to start blogs as a way to learn about something or keep myself interested in a topic. So far, only my book blog has gotten love and development, and as I spend the majority of my time working on it, I don’t have time to branch out into other areas I’d like to blog on, such as fitness and finance. Book blogging is a lot of work — and I’m prone to slacking every so often because I let myself get overwhelmed by scheduling too much stuff. Or I get a week of posts ready and scheduled, and then don’t cruise around the blogosphere to see what everyone else is up to.

That said, I do think my blog is a good reflection of me, and I would like to expand on that eventually. I don’t want to advertise or such on this particular blog, but maybe on others in the future. I still have lots to learn. I made learning more about SEO one of my goals for this year, but other than installing a WordPress addon, I haven’t gotten any further. I’d also like to get better about networking with other bloggers, but I always let this fall by the wayside because I’m behind in writing reviews or haven’t looked at Twitter in a week.

I would like to develop more relationships with publishers and authors, but I’m a wee bit nervous about doing so. I don’t really have a big following for my blog, so I feel like they wouldn’t be interested in me. That said, those I have worked with, such as Angry Robot, Joseph D’Lacey, and Deanna Chase, have been awesome. (Just picking a few off the top of my head — I don’t mean to leave anyone out!) I just need to get some more courage, because there are tons of authors I’d like to interview or have guest post on the blog.


Day 2: Genre Fiction

Genre fiction is about all I read. I just can’t get in to literary fiction, though I have read some of the more popular titles and enjoyed them. Most of the time, I’m reading to escape, or just to have a few good hours of enjoyment, and for me, I don’t want to read about middle-aged wives whose husbands leave them, or whose kids get kidnapped, etc. I know I’m really generalizing, and I don’t mean to knock people who do like literary fiction. It just isn’t for me.

Fantasy was my first love. I think I devoured every Xanth book (series by Piers Anthony) that I could get my hands on, quickly followed by Mercedes Lackey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and so on. A lot of my early years blur together, and though I kept lists of books read, they’ve been lost over the years. :(

Fantasy favorites:
THE FIRE ROSE by Mercedes Lackey
♥ the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey
♥ the Kingslayer Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
♥ the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
THE MISTS OF AVALON by Marion Zimmer Bradley
LIBRIOMANCER by Jim C. Hines
♥ the Star Wars Expanded Universe by various authors
♥ the Forgotten Realms series by various authors

Paranormal and urban fantasy came next. Some of my more recent favorites are:
♥ the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
♥ the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs
♥ the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost

Young adult, doh. YA is primarily what I read these days. It’s so much fun, and I like seeing vampires in boarding schools, faeries hiding in modern day, etc. I like the mixing of genres that occurs in YA, as well as the sheer creativity of what I read.

Recent and random favorites:
ASH by Malinda Lo
HUNTRESS by Malinda Lo
♥ the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
♥ the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
CINDER by Marissa Meyer
SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo
THE DARK WIFE by Sarah Diemer
INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows
ASUNDER by Jodi Meadows
BUNHEADS by Sophie Flack

So, a random sprinkling of favorites there. I also read historical fiction (primarily Tudor era, Egyptian, and French Revolution), some biographies/autobiographies, and anything else that catches my eye.

– leeanna