Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Ashley @Ashes Books & Bobs

OK, this is going to make me sound weird, but when I hop over to Ashes Books & Bobs I just love the organization and general feel of her home page. I can scroll through blog posts, just like on a newspaper website and pick and choose based on the headline. Also, the pictures feel so literary and make me feel like I’m on bookstagram instead of a website. I can get caught up in surfing the pictures as much as the content. Ashley and I love some of the same authors so believe me, I do get lost in that content too. If you haven’t jumped over to check out Ashes Books & Bobs please click the link below, but come back and take a look at her answers!

Ashes Books & Bobs

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

I live in the USA. Texas to be more specific.

What is the view outside your front door?  

My neighbors’ houses. I think the view from my backyard is much better. 🙂

Most blogs have a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name and/or why you started blogging.


Ashes Books & Bobs is a play on the British saying “bits and bobs”. I was looking for a way to incorporate my love of British things into my name. I started blogging over 2 years ago with a good friend and decided to branch out on my own in October of last year. This name fits who I am and the theme I wanted to stick with.

Describe where you write your blog.


I write anywhere I can find a quiet place. Usually on my couch, at the kitchen table, or in bed.

Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack?


I have a huge stack this year because I’m trying to catch up on all of the unread books I own with the Beat the Backlist Challenge. I’ve already read some of these this year, but I still have to cross of The Shining, The River Widow, The Proposal, and more.

If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?


R.S. Grey’s books are a great way to lift my spirits. She’s the queen of ROM-COM!


When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?


I’m a stay-at-home mom and homeschool my children, so I’m usually spending my time with them. I also enjoy working out or occasionally watching tv shows or movies with my husband.


What is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written?


It may be slightly controversial to discuss but I was really proud of my post discussing politics in fiction: https://ashesbooksandbobs.com/2018/11/08/modern-books-and-political-agendas/.

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?


Yes! I met Tarryn Fisher almost exactly a year ago. I wrote her a letter telling her about the impact her books made on me because I knew I’d be too nervous to say anything in person. I’m glad I did because she messaged me on Facebook later that day telling me my letter made her cry, which in turn made me cry.


If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question,  who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?


I’d love to have a nice chocolate cake with Amy Harmon! She’s one of my very favorite authors and I’d love to discuss how she’s easily able to transition from one genre to the next with each book release.

I’d like to thank Ashley for her answers and some great book recommendations. Tarryn Fisher’s books might scare me a little but the synopsis look fascinating. I am also a fan of Amy Harmon, she’s a great writer!

If you’d like to be featured on Blogger to Blogger, please reach out and let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Blogger to Blogger!

Deborah

Advertisements

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Happy International Women’s Day!

I am always on the lookout for articles on this month’s best of list in genre’s I love to read, aren’t you? It’s hard to not click the link to see if I’ve read any of the books on the list or to discover a book that hadn’t been on my radar but looks too irresistible to overlook.

I’ve liked the Bookish page on Facebook and will admit to getting lost in their articles, must read lists and book giveaways. Did you know Friday March 8th was International Women’s Day? A day to celebrate women, a group I am proud to be one of, and I didn’t even know about it! I think women should always be celebrated but I guess I’m biased. Bookish created this very cool, empowered graphic to honor literary bookish women. I wanted to share it with all of my fellow book bloggers.

I may be a few days late, but as I said above, women should be celebrated every day! Happy International Women’s Day!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: January ’19 Wrap Up!

I know, it’s already almost mid February and I’m a little late with my wrap up post. 2018 finished with me sick as a dog and 2019 began with that same damn cold. So, after finally being healthy for a few weeks I’m just getting back into my regular posting. Thank goodness for scheduling a few out in advance! So, here I am ready to talk about what happened on my blog in January. First Up!

Great January Reads!

Ache for You (Slow Burn #3) by J. T. Geissinger

‘This is a very sexy slow burn novel. Kimber and Matteo’s chemistry is off the charts but because they are adversaries it’s set on a slow simmer through most of the book. I’ll admit that I love slow burn stories and love the engagement of the characters leading up to the big moment usually more than that big sex scene. Although in this book, that also was pretty great. ‘

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

‘I love YA action novels and Song of the Current hit the right note for me. It did start off a little slow but that was to be expected as the characters and world building needed explanation. As soon as she pushed off down the river and opened that crate the story took off and the adventure began. ‘

Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

‘I love a fast moving plot and Ignite the Stars was quick, emotional, and fun. It’s hard to believe this was Maura Milan’s debut novel. It seemed like every character had their own hidden battle they were fighting. I’ll admit that Brinn was probably my favorite character, but Ia was a close second. They were both underdogs, and I do like to root for the underdog. ‘

What Doesn’t Kill Her by Christina Dodd

‘What Doesn’t Kill Her was even better than Dead Girl Running, and I loved that novel! There was some great dialog between Rae and Kellen that provided comic relief to what would’ve been a non stop action novel. Those moments of warmth between mother and daughter allowed the reader to build a deeper connection with Kellen, and I cared even more when she and Max reunited as a couple. ‘

Blogger to Blogger Series

We met a couple of great book bloggers on my Blogger to Blogger series last month. If you didn’t have a chance to hear how they answered my 10 questions please click the link below.

Julie @ A Little Book Problem

Zoe @ Zooloo’s Book Diary

This Chicks Sunday Commentary

Even though I was under the weather for the first couple of weeks of January, I did try to rebound with a couple of posts on my Sunday series.

I think I missed the mark with the first as I was trying to get my fellow bloggers to tell me what question they were dying to ask J. K. Rowling. I only got a couple of responses. Maybe not that interesting? Who knows! If you want to take another shot at it, please click on the link below.

If We Could Ask J, K. Rowling One Question…

My other post was a little more interesting and talked about YA trends and how even when they are hated, I kind of still like them… Feel free to read and still join in the discussion!

YA Trends (and tropes!) Let me Count Thy Ways…

Eliminating my TBR

Who are we kidding, eliminate it? Nah! However, there are a few book that I’m hoping to read in February. Let me tell you about a couple!

Circle of the Moon (Soulwood #4) by Faith Hunter

Synopsis: Nell can draw magic from the land around her, and lately she’s been using it to help the Psy-Law Enforcement Division, which solves paranormal crimes. Joining the team at PsyLED has allowed her to learn more about her powers and the world she always shunned–and to find true friends.
 
Head agent Rick LaFleur shifts into a panther when the moon calls him, but this time, something has gone wrong. Rick calls Nell from a riverbank–he’s naked, with no memory of how he came to be there, and there’s a dead black cat, sacrificed in a witch circle and killed by black magic, lying next to him. 
 
Then more animals turn up dead, and team rushes to investigate. A blood-witch is out to kill. But when it seems as if their leader is involved in the crime, the bonds that hold the team together could shatter at any moment.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.  

Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.

Oh gosh, there are so many more!

What books are you looking forward to reading this month?

Until next Sunday!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: How I Love YA Trends (and tropes!)..Let me Count Thy Ways

Book Bloggers are an opinionated lot. When we find a trend in fiction that we love we talk about it to death until one day that love turns into dissatisfaction, the tide turns, and we start talking about how much we hate that trope. I guess that’s human nature but well, I hate it. Just because the newness has worn off doesn’t mean we should get rid of it. There are still many things to love!

THE LOVE TRIANGLE-

I’m not sure why this trope has become unpopular? There is nothing better than the exploration of a character seen through two people’s eyes. One of my favorite examples of this is….

This series is a favorite for so many people, yet it started out as a love triangle. Through Tamlin’s eyes we saw Feyre’s weaknesses and her fight to overcome them. Through Rhys’ eyes we saw her strength. Yes, Tamlin didn’t treat her very well, but without that plot point would we like Rhys as much as we do? Would we like them together? In fact, wouldn’t it be interesting if Tamlin overcame his ways and fought to recapture Feyre’s love? I’d almost like to see a return of the love triangle. It might bring a spark back into this now overwrought love story.

THE FAIRYTALE RE-TELLING

I’ll be the first to say that I am overwhelmed by the number of fairy-tale re-telling novels that were re-leased over the last couple of years. Some were not so good, but when one is written well, the fairy-tale re-telling is so much fun! I read quite a few last year but these two stood out because they were different.

The Wrath & The Dawn is a re-telling of Scheherazade’s One Thousand and One Nights. The prince marries and kills his princess every night until he marries Scheherazade and she keeps him up all night telling a story with a cliff hanger that keeps him coming back. The Wrath and the Dawn’s Shazi marries the prince for revenge, but falls in love. It’s full of intrigue, romance, and Renee Ahdieh’s beautiful prose.

Hunted is a re-telling of probably the most re-told story, Beauty and the Beast. What makes Meagan Spooner’s rendition different is that she mixes Russian folklore into the main story of Beauty and the Beast. It is beautifully told and Yeva is a strong heroine. Interestingly enough, both Yeva and Shazi from the Wrath and the Dawn, survive by telling stories, so maybe there is a touch of Scheherazade in Yeva as well!

Not to speak ill of fairy-tale re-tellings, but I have read plenty that did NOT hit the mark. But as with all novels, they are subjective and I’ve read plenty of reviews for those books I didn’t really care for where those readers were overjoyed with the outcome. That’s the beauty of reading, isn’t it?

THE HISTORICAL RE-TELLING

My discovery of this trend is pretty new and so far I am loving it. Admittedly, I know enough about history to think, ‘hmmm, this sounds familiar’ and then look it up. Wikipedia has become my best friend! I have just read two YA novels back to back that followed this trope that were done really well. My reviews are scheduled to post soon, but here’s a brief note on both.

The Dead Queen’s Club is the story of King Henry the VIII and his six wives, in a high school contemporary setting. Henry is a charismatic young man, popular, and has a steady stream of girlfriends. Two of whom are dead. Cleves, our protagonist, is his best friend and also one of his exes, who is determined to figure out who was responsible for his girlfriends deaths. Her voice is snarky and there are plenty of past and present cultural and historical references. It was a roller coaster ride and I really enjoyed my emotion sickness.

Set in Elizabethan England our heroine is a Catholic whose father was killed for his faith. Wanting revenge, she joins a treasonous plot to kill the queen. Little does she know, that play (written by Shakespeare -‘Twelfth Night’) was a plot to capture the assasin’s. I loved the historical references, the treasonous plot, and of course, Shakespeare.

HEROINE WITH POWERS THAT SAVE THE WORLD

Admittedly, this trope is usually found in YA fantasy novels, although I’d love to see a contemporary heroine have super powers and save the world. That could be a great twist! Admittedly, I have a soft spot for fantasy novels, and LOVE to root for the underdog. So, while many of you hate to love our heroine’s that save the world, if done well I find myself believing and rooting for them almost EVERY time. I’m a softy, I know! Here are a couple that struck the right chord.

Our heroine Britta is a Channeler and has developing magical powers. Through this two book series (well, there is a third but it’s unrelated to these main characters) we see Britta go from fearful of being discovered a Channeler, to solving the mystery of what happened to her father, finding her best friend and crush and absolving him of the crime, to saving the king. She doesn’t save the world, but through her actions she brings Channelers out in to the open, ending their persecution in her country. Oh! I should mention that these two books also use the Love triangle trope. It’s kind of minor, but does add some tension into Britta and Cohen’s relationship that was probably needed. That sub-plot would’ve been as dull as dishwater otherwise!

There are any number of other YA novels that use this trope, and actually combines the Love Triangle and Heroine with Super Powers tropes to success. The other one that jumps out at me is the following…

Yes, the Red Queen. Every book blogger who has read this series has an opinion. BUT, this first novel was very well done. A political thriller that pits those with common “red” blood against the elite, those with “silver” blood. Our heroine, red blooded Mare (God, I hate that name!), has the powers of a silver blood. She becomes the face of an uprising, the fixation of an evil King, and the lover of a fallen hero. This series has it’s ups and downs, but as a whole, Victoria Aveyard writes a spirited political thriller with a heroine that always sacrifices herself for the greater good. I haven’t yet read the last novel because King’s Cage kind of pissed me off, but it is overall a good series. Oh and I love Maven. You gotta love an evil Prince/King.

There are so many other YA trends and tropes that we book bloggers just love to love and love to hate. It depends on our mood, how many we’ve read in a row, and as always if the character and plot draw us in. In my opinion we shouldn’t be too quick to write off a book just because the trope has been overdone. There are still some GREAT books out there that we don’t want to miss, right?

What’s your favorite or most hated YA Trend or Trope? Or are you like me and secretly like them all? Let me know in the comments!

Until next Sunday!

Deb

If We Could Ask J.K. Rowling One Question…

If you are a book blogger chances are you’ve read Harry Potter or if you aren’t a fan of YA Fantasy, maybe you are a fan of her pseudonym Robert Galbraith and his Cormoran Strike series. I have not read The Casual Vacancy but I know there have been many discussions on the strength of that novel and where it fits on her catalog of books.

We all have an opinion! Is Harry Potter the greatest thing since sliced bread? What house would you be in if you were enrolled in Hogwarts? Will Cormoran and Robin EVER get together? Those are all natural questions as fans of her fiction and there are no greater fans than book bloggers, right?

With your permission, let’s imagine that we have an exclusive interview with J.K. Rowling….What would you ask??

In the comments below list ONE question that you have always been dying to ask J.K Rowling. Come on, I know you have ONE?

Here’s mine: Ms. Rowling, as you conquer each genre you choose to write in, how do you come up with your next challenge?

Who’s next? I want to hear it?

An Interview with Author Teri Bailey Black!

Hi Teri, congratulations on the release of your debut novel Girl at the Grave. It is being released as a Gothic YA Mystery. Would you please  give a little bit of insight over what inspired you to write Valentine’s story?

I’m a very visual person (I grew up in a family of artists), so for me a story usually starts as an image in my mind. This story started as the image of a little girl in the 1800’s, with wild curls and dirty feet, looking through a schoolhouse window. The teacher tries to draw her inside, but she runs away. I wondered why that little girl feels like an outcast and decided her mother was hanged for murdering a prominent man. And suddenly I was writing a murder mystery, which excited me because I love mysteries.

My first draft of GIRL AT THE GRAVE was quite different than the final printed story. The first quarter of the book was Valentine’s childhood (seeing her mother hanged, then learning to fend for herself), then the story jumped to her teen years, with some romance and new murders in town. I sent out queries to agents, and one asked for a revision and resubmit, with a suggestion to make it either a full children’s story or a full YA story. Which seemed so obvious, suddenly. I spent about six months completely rewriting it as YA, cutting the childhood chapters and changing the teen story quite a bit. The story continued changing as I went through revisions with my editor. But, at its core, it remains the story of that little girl and how she overcomes the shame of having a mother who murdered someone and facing her own mistakes.

There were a ton of mysterious elements in Girl at the Grave, but one that stood out to me was the house she lived in. It was an old partially burned down estate yet you imbued the rooms with a rather gloomy life so that it almost  became another character. Did you have a real life setting that you based this house on? Or as some authors do did you create a picture board of houses for inspiration?

When I write, I always have a clear picture of the setting in my head and have fun putting it into words. But I don’t want the descriptions longwinded. My goal is to create a rich atmosphere in as few words as possible, mingling descriptions with action and dialogue. Honestly, creating a setting is the fun, easy part of writing for me. I have other challenges, but thinking up settings and characters brings me joy. 

I didn’t base the Barron estate on anything except my own imagination—no picture boards or anything. In the first draft, the main house was fully burned and uninhabitable, and Valentine and her father lived in a small carriage house on the property. But I had to keep inventing reasons for her to wander out to the burned ruins—and then it came to me—she should be living in that creepy house! So much more fun.

When I read Girl at the Grave I was surprised that adults played such a large role in the novel. Did you ever discuss tweaking the novel so that it became more YA than General Fiction? It could so easily have been labeled a Gothic Mystery novel with a young woman in her early 20’s

I love YA—both reading it and writing it, even watching it in movies. It’s such a pivotal point in life, where everything seems more intense and hopeful and scary, when choices are made and life turns one direction or another. My initial idea for GIRL AT THE GRAVE included much of Valentine’s childhood, from age 5 through her grammar school years, then jumped to her teen years. So, for me, it was always a coming-of-age story. I eventually cut the childhood chapters and focused on the teen years, making it purely YA, but I never saw it as an adult story.

Let’s discuss the love triangle. YA readers either love them or hate them. As you wrote the novel, how many times did you change your mind about who Valentine would choose, Sam or Rowan? Is there anything you wish you had done differently with those relationships?

Ha! (I’m going to try to answer this without spoilers.) This was the biggest surprise for me after the book was published—that people see it as a love triangle. I honestly didn’t see it that way as I wrote. For me, it was very clear from Chapter 1 which boy she wants—which boy will be The One—and the story is how she gets from point A to point B. She doesn’t feel worthy of him because of social standing and a past mistake, so she thinks she has to settle for a more reasonable choice. But I thought it was pretty clear that she doesn’t really want that other choice. Valentine redeems herself and then DOES feel worthy of the boy she loves—and makes a surprising choice. So, yeah, two boys in her life, but for me it was more of a line with a little swerve as the story hits a crisis point, not a triangle. But—oh my! People have strong feelings about love triangles. Hopefully, as one reviewer wrote: “This is one love triangle that actually doesn’t suck.” I’ll take it!

As Valentine unraveled the mystery there were so many twists and turns my mind changed frequently over the outcome and I was completely surprised in the end. What is your process for keeping it all straight?

The quick answer to your question is—I keep it straight in my head. I do make feeble attempts to outline, but I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer by nature, making it up as I go. For me, the joy is being creative, wandering one direction, then another, exploring the possibilities. As soon as I map out exactly what should happen, I change it. Since GIRL AT THE GRAVE was written without a book deal or deadline, it evolved slowly. I remember making a few noble attempts to map out every detail, but I never followed those notes.

However, that said, with my current manuscript I DO have an agent, editor, book deal, and deadline, so I did outline ahead of time so I can write faster. I tried Post-it notes and didn’t like it; moving one note led to unsticking and re-sticking a dozen more. Then I tried index cards, which are easier to slide around on the rug, but I didn’t love that method either. What IS working for me is writing rambling thoughts in a notebook that I never read again. That loose, sloppy handwriting helps my brain think through the story. THEN I type up a pretty outline. THEN I write ten chapters, allowing myself to wander in unexpected directions. When the story has detoured (and I know the detour is the right choice), I stop typing and go back to the sloppy notebook so I can think through the details—then I type a new, organized outline—then I go back to writing the manuscript. Rinse and repeat. It has been a nice mix of outlining and exploring.

Did you always know who the murderer was or did you change your mind as you wrote the novel?

I knew who the murderer was from the beginning. Hm, this question makes me realize for the first time that most of the mystery never changed at all—not the reasons for the murders or the way they were done. What DID change were the characters. Valentine’s personality changed quite a bit. And in the first draft, which included a lot of her childhood, Sam was a mean bully, not a friend. I added more characters, like Birdy, and reduced others who didn’t add to the story. But the murder mystery remained as first imagined.

Teri, thanks again for answering my questions! My last question is about your next project. Are you working on your next novel and if so, can you tell us anything about it? Genre? Release date?

Whelp, I keep missing deadlines, haha, but the plan is to send this manuscript to my editor at the end of January 2019, and it will be published in 2020. It’s a Young Adult murder mystery, but quite different from GIRL AT THE GRAVE. Lots of atmosphere, because I love that, but a different era, different place, different tone. It’s actually been a delight to write. I adore the characters and setting and can’t wait to share it with the world. More details coming soon—title, synopsis, cover. People can follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or sign up for my newsletter on my website to get the announcements as they’re made (user name TeriBaileyBlack).

Thanks!!

About the Author:
Bio:
Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in Southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.

This Chicks Confession- 2019

I CONFESS– I struggled to reach my Goodreads goal for 2018. I set it for 200 and was 7 away with one week ago. I read a bunch of novellas, included two audio re-reads, and ended the year at exactly 200 on 12/31/18. I feel guilty, should I?


So, I only set my 2019 challenge for 170 books this year. Although I’ll have to say, I’m off to a very quick start!

I CONFESS– I stopped accepting review requests on my blog midway through 2018. I do still request ARC’s through NetGalley though…

Well….I will accept reviews from authors I’ve previously read and enjoyed though…so not totally!

I CONFESS– I frequently run out of ideas for posts on my blog. It’s frustrating! I really admire those of you who post with brand new content all the time. How do you do it??? Advice is welcome!

I CONFESS– Sometimes I just want to read a fluffy feel good book! I don’t want to read a book just because it deals with a subject that I’m supposed to want to read because it’s popular. I want romance! I want escapism! I want to quit my job! wait, what??!! LOL

I CONFESS– I got tired and stopped blog hopping. I KNOW! What a lazy bum, right? My husband got me this really cool little laptop for Christmas and makes blog hopping so easy and fun! I’m going to say that dreaded word, but my GOAL (ugh!) is to amp up my hopping activity. I love checking out everyone’s blogs. I just got tired. Then the holidays, and well, I got sick. A couple times. So then, anyway… I will!

That’s me. Bunny, um yeah, blog hopping. LOL

So now that I’m done confessing… I’m just going to get back to it.

I hope 2019 brings you joy, happiness, romance, good luck and GREAT books!

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: I’ve read THE book, now what?

What do you do when you read a book that everyone else has done flips over, but you just can’t see what all the fuss is about? Do you cave to pressure and rate the book high, be truthful, or take a pass and not follow through on the review? I’ve read quite a few discussion posts lately on this topic and I thought I’d take a moment to weigh in.

I was that reader that didn’t know what a big deal it was to an author to have a review left on a bookseller site. It wasn’t until I entered this book blogging world that I learned how those rankings helped the algorithm (that I still don’t even understand) show their book to more buyers, think “if you loved this romance author, then you should read this one who is very similar”. Who knew? I loved the thought that my review helped show off their book! But, what happens if I don’t like it? What do I do? Especially if it is THE book that everyone else likes?

Reading THE book for Pleasure– If I haven’t been asked by the author, or committed myself in some way to have read and reviewed a book by a certain date and am just reading the book for pleasure, then the answer is easy. I just move on! Unless I feel like I really have something to say because something in the book struck a chord that I needed to talk about I don’t review the book on my blog. I do definitely rank it on Goodreads, more because it’s kind of a journal for myself on what I’ve read and liked/didn’t like. I won’t put a ranking on Amazon or B&N. I just don’t spend the time on it. I read the book for fun, and if it wasn’t fun, oh well!

THE book is an ARC- I made a commitment. Ugh. Not that I’m commitment shy but sometimes if I have to read a book it might affect how I feel about it. Picking out a book is like picking what you’re going to eat for dinner. If you aren’t in the mood for Mexican then you shouldn’t make that burrito because you just aren’t going to enjoy it! If I’m in the mood for a light and fluffy romance and I have to pick up a mystery because the book comes out on Tuesday and it’s Sunday night and I’ve been procrastinating? Well…. it might behoove your book for me to set this one aside and wait until I’m in the mood for that burrito. BUT, sometimes I surprise myself! I might’ve thought I didn’t want a burrito but when I got down to eating it, it was surprisingly satisfying! You just never know. I will confess, there have been a few times where I just couldn’t get into a book and I sent a note to the author/publisher that I wasn’t going to read and review it. Sorry not sorry! I probably will give an opinion on how I felt about the book on one of my fellow bloggers posts though. I like to throw an opinion out there and see what kind of response I’ll get.

I am reading THE book with a group, club, or friend- This is probably my favorite way to read a book that has gotten so much hype. Let’s say you pick three friends and none of you have read THE book yet. You decide you’re all going to read it at the same time and then discuss. I know my opinion and have written my review but not hit post or scheduled it yet before we talk. After our discussion you all might have changed my mind, maybe, I’m not sure. Aargh! Do I place my review? Sit on it? Some bloggers sit on their reviews to let their thoughts settle. I have one of those minds that checks off that read book and moves on. I MUST post! Have I ever written a retraction or changed my review? No, but maybe I should.. There are probably quite a few where my opinion has changed as time has gone on.

What do you do if you don’t agree with what everyone else has been saying about THE book?

Does it matter if it’s an ARC or if you’re reading it on your own time for pleasure or in a book club?

Thanks for reading! Until next Sunday,

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: What? My Review got Blocked?

Google+ has become a very important medium for my blog. I have 2,231 followers nationwide on my page and sometimes when I share my blog posts from The Reading Chick onto my Google+ my views spike tremendously. I haven’t yet figured out a rhythm of what works and what doesn’t, even after 574 posts. However, I see the significance that posting on that medium makes and I take the time to share each post to relevant pages, hoping to spread my bookish words.

If you are curious and want to see my page This Chick Reads, Reviews, Writes and Comments, click HERE.

This past week I had the pleasure of having my review of Kristen Callihan’s novel The Hot Shot blocked on Google+.  I was really surprised! It only said it was blocked due to content, so I have to guess as to why that particular post got chosen out of the 550+ that I have shared on that site?

  • I scanned the review for curse words. Yes, even though I try to keep my review PG-13, every once in awhile I forget and cuss. Nope, no curse words!
  • Did I talk too much about sex? No, actually I only mentioned the two main characters growing relationship. Although I did say the word “firm”. Maybe they misunderstood the context?
  • Was it the title? The Hot Shot, doesn’t seem too salacious. It could refer to a personality trait, a really good businessman, or as in this case a really hot guy. Hmmm. I can’t believe that’s why it would get blocked?
  • Maybe it was the book cover? The Hot Shot does have a good looking man laying face down with a bare chest, slightly arching his back. There is not a woman laying underneath him, and I’ve seen a LOT more books with sexier covers. I actually admired the restraint of the publisher on this one! I think that might even be a yoga pose. Not that I do yoga but isn’t that a plank pose, or something like that?img_1246Really this cover is not any different than a number of other covers with naked male chests, and those reviews made it onto Google+ just fine! (see examples, below).

I am so tempted to just keep adding and see if I can get it blocked again! But, you get my point. They are all pretty much the same, aren’t they? With the exception of The Hot Shot laying face down. Maybe that is too suggestive.

Anyway, here’s my question to you! Have you ever had one of your reviews blocked for content? Or for another reason?

I’m curious! Please let me know.

Until next Sunday,

Deb

Oh! If you want to read my review of The Hot Shot. Click HERE!

 

 

Blogger to Blogger Series: An Interview with Trang and Lashaan with @Bookidote

I will admit that I wish I had a friend, sibling, co-worker, (husband?) who shared my love for books and would consider blogging with me. There are a few blogging partnerships that I’ve run across and have even featured a couple on my blog. The partnership on the blog Bookidote seems to be a little different and wonderful.  Trang and Lashaan definitely share a love for books but they don’t necessarily love the same genre’s. They each have their own platform, yet share the same space. I LOVE that!

I was lucky enough that both Trang and Lashaan had the time to answer my 10 questions. Let’s see what they’ve got to say!

Bookidote logo

Blogging is universal and even though we inhabit the same community, we don’t always live in the same country. What country do you live in?

We both live in Canada, Montreal to be exact !

What is the view outside your front door?  

Trang: It’s a pretty basic view hahah not like the beach or anything.

Lashaan: I live in a residential neighbourhood with a bunch of apartment buildings next to one another. I can’t say it’s the prettiest view you could ever land upon! Or maybe I’m lying, and I just don’t want the world to know where my Batcave is at. :O

Most blogs have a fun story of origin. Please share the story behind your blogs name and/or why you started blogging.

Lashaan: It was the day I had suggested to Trang the idea of reviewing books in French because of her love for literature, but also writing. Knowing she had quite an amazing writing skill, I believed the idea of writing reviews in French and sharing it on a blog would have been an amazing public journal for her. The world would have been in awe at what she was able to convey. She then however wanted me to tag along and start an English book reviewing blog. While my own reading speed was pretty questionable compared to hers, I still found the idea exciting, especially since I looked at it as an opportunity to also review the little comic book collection I had started to build. That is how Bookidote came to life and grew to change our lives permanently! The idea behind the name is pretty simple. It combines “book” with “antidote”.

A definition for it was also once conceived and shared with everyone back in the day. Check it out:

Bookidote (\ˈboo-ki-ˌdōt\) : Lashaan and Trang’s creation. It is a commitment that holds countless ideas in one word. Three syllables. Nine letters. These two squandered souls firmly believe that books aren’t just a pastime for intellectuals or a mandatory purchase for your studies. Bookidote is so much more. It marries books with antidotes, knowledge with cure, imagination with elixir. It refers to the ability that books withhold in swallowing you into a boundless universe and encouraging you to live a unique and different adventure every time you crack open a book. Bookidote acknowledges the fact that books can help you explore ideas, stimulate your imagination and live innumerable lives.

Describe where you write your blog. 

Trang: I prefer writing my posts in my office or even in coffee shops. When I’m on a rush, I also do it in the subway hahah I always have the WordPress App to edit and finalize my drafts.

Lashaan: Fairly simple. I can’t write my reviews anywhere other than on my desktop computer. It’s just much easier there to get my mind to pour out all the thoughts I want to convey about anything. I currently operate on a dual monitor setup. I sometimes let myself believe that I’m a much more realistic version of Batman in his Batcave. 😀

Most of us have a stack of books sitting next to our couch or bed waiting to be read. What books are in your stack? 

Trang: A bunch of ARCs are waiting for me to get a new bookshelves to put them LOL

img_1550

(that’s quite a stack! Here’s the Synopsis for only one….)

Bloody RoseBloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

A band of fabled mercenaries, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, tour a wild fantasy landscape, battling monsters in arenas in front of thousands of adoring fans, but a secret and dangerous gig ushers them to the frozen north, and the band is never one to waste a shot at glory . . . even if it means almost certain death.
 

Live fast, die young.

Tam Hashford is tired of working at her local pub, slinging drinks for world-famous mercenaries and listening to the bards sing of adventure and glory in the world beyond her sleepy hometown.

When the biggest mercenary band of all, led by the infamous Bloody Rose, rolls into town, Tam jumps at the chance to sign on as their bard. It’s adventure she wants – and adventure she gets as the crew embark on a quest that will end in one of two ways: glory or death.

It’s time to take a walk on the wyld side.

Lashaan: I actually have a shelf dedicated for the books I hope to read. They’re queued up and just waiting for me to find time for them!

(Another HUUUGGGEEE stack! Again, here’s one to sample!)

Neverwhere by Neil GaimanNeverwhere

Neverwhere is the story of Richard Mayhew, a young London businessman with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he discovers a girl bleeding on the sidewalk. He stops to help her—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed.

Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in the Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. The Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Door, a noblewoman whose family has been murdered, is on a quest to find the agent that slaughtered her family and thwart the destruction of this underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life, he must join the journey to save Door’s world—and find a way to survive.

If you have had a bad day and want to spend an hour reading a book, what is your go to genre or favorite book that will lift your mood?

Trang: My go to genre is Fantasy (in novels and graphic novels as well), I think when I’m sad I just want to escape the ordinary world for a bit. As long as I can find magical fairies, orcs, spells and some magicians, I’m happy. If I’m having a heavy day because a lot work had to be done, I like to entertain myself with some light Young Adult reads. It can go from contemporary or even science fiction.

Lashaan: I am not one to go back and re-read a favourite book even if I love the idea itself. Because of my reading speed and the little time that I have for reading, I tell myself that re-reading will be something I’d do after a huge number of years has passed since my last read (i.e. 5 years or more). But my go-to genre to remedy a bad day or to get a quick read in would easily be comic books.

With Batman as my favourite superhero, I’ve got plenty of stories with him that I can’t wait to check out. I also have plenty of other stories I could visit, some that aren’t about superheroes and some that aren’t comic book series, but just a graphic novel too. Comic books are just so easy to pick up, so fast to read, so easy to enjoy! They aren’t to be looked down upon! Some stories are so powerful, they’d blow you away! 😉

Batman

When you aren’t blogging, how do you spend your time? Work, Play, School?

Trang: My typical day in the week goes as follows: I’m working full-time for the National Research Council as an artificial intelligence in neurosciences associate. What the hell does that mean? It’s a lot of things but mostly I manage different research project teams, whenever a new technology can be developed to help the brain or we need to evaluate the functions of the artificial intelligence included in that technology, it passes by me and my team. I also do a lot of conferences and public speaking in different institutions to update people on what’s going on.  Around 6pm I spend my time to go through all my social media platform and manage my blogs (food, book blog and my main Instagram page) and turn to some watercolour painting keep my mind sane. Eating supper with my family or go to the food sponsoring events and then go to gym around 8pm until 10pm. I’m becoming pretty serious in working out now, I recently partnered with my local gym for some branding opportunities as well.  I usually read on my way to work or really late at night.

On the weekend I head out to Ottawa to work at the governmental headquarters and come back to Montreal on Sunday evening. I think because I have a lot projects and networking, people tend to think that I’m always going out with my friends. However since my week is packed, unfortunately, I rarely have time to see them so I tend to invite them to special events and see them like one or twice every year LOL

Lashaan: I work at a police headquarters as a crime preventionist. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was a realistic version of Batman. He has guided me through life in ways that no one could possibly grasp! 😀 Alongside that job, I’m also a researcher heading into a doctorate in criminology this fall 2018. As a researcher, I’m contracted on research projects as well as a teacher assistant. It’s safe to say I keep myself pretty busy! Outside of everything work-related, I hit the gym and play basket-ball. Basket-ball is a pretty significant part of my life, although I don’t practice it competitively like some of my friends do. I play it for the fun of the game! I’m also a gamer who enjoys late-night sessions with friends whenever they can. Even though free time for gaming is not easy to come by, I love to stay up to date with the technology and everything that goes on in that world of entertainment! Since the question was about everything outside of blogging, I must sneak in reading! I know, I know. Reading is sort of part of blogging, but man, the amount of reading I put in is insane! It’s hard to go a day without reading. That’s just how life is for me now.

My favorite blog post banner

What is your favorite blog post you’ve written?

Trang: Why We Love Psychological Thrillers – I love the research I did for this post. I learned so many things along the way and I get to experience a new format as well.

https://bookidote.com/2018/07/15/why-we-love-psychological-thrillers/
Lashaan : One of my favourite posts would have to be the one about co-blogging: https://bookidote.com/2018/01/06/the-perks-of-co-blogging/

I sort of really enjoyed highlighting the pros and cons of this particular relationship we have at Bookidote and how well it worked for us.

Review-wise, there a couple of reviews that I really loved writing, but the list could go on forever. As someone who loves to put into words his thoughts about the books he reads, I find myself loving every piece I write (maybe 99% of them), even if there will always be a hater among the crowd. An example of a review I really loved writing is for The Black Prism by Brent Weeks: https://bookidote.com/2018/07/19/the-black-prism-by-brent-weeks/

The Black Prism

Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? If so, what did you say to them? Looking back, what do you wish you had said instead?

Trang: I met Marie Lu and Leigh Bardugo back in YALLWEST 3 years ago. I asked Marie Lu to write her favourite song instead of signing my book hahah and she did both!

Lashan: Most of my favourite authors have already passed away a very long time ago. I did get to meet a couple  of authors and artists at conventions, and I guess my favourite of them all would have to be meeting the outstanding author of Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo! As someone who rarely reads Young Adult novels, Six of Crows really blew my mind, and only a couple of YA authors can impress me like that. Meeting her in person was definitely a huge highlight in my life!

I got to see her at YALLWEST in Santa Monica a couple of years ago and I made sure to let her know how much I appreciated her book. Told her that as a researcher in criminology, the amount of research she put into writing Six of Crows merits all the respect in the world. I honestly don’t think I would have changed anything I had said or have anything in particular I would have wanted to say. Maybe I would’ve begged her to turn the duology into a never-ending series. In fact, I haven’t even read Crooked Kingdom yet. I just don’t want that duology to end. I also have super high expectations. The struggle is real!

If you could sit down with an author for a slice of cake and a question,  who is the author, what kind of cake would you serve, and what is the first question you’d ask?

Trang: I would like to sit down with Neil Gaiman while serving tiramisu and ask him what was going on his mind while writing American Gods.

American Gods

Lashaan:  I’d probably sit with Brandon Sanderson and serve him a molten chocolate cake infused with a significant amount of truth serum. Once he’d had savoured his cake, I’d have asked: “How do you write like that?”

Legion

My first thought when reading Trang and Lashaan’s answers to my 10 questions was WOW! Even after the explanation I’m still not sure what an Artificial Intelligence in Neuroscience Associate or Crime Preventionist is and maybe we need to clone these two! Their reading tastes are so diverse and interesting and after getting a peak into their lives I can kind of understand the influences that sway them towards those authors.

What surprised you all the most when reading Trang and Lashaan’s answers?

Have you read any of the books they have on their TBR’s? I’ll admit to having a couple of them on my own, but also and equal mix of never having heard of some of them. Thanks for putting these on my radar!

I really enjoyed their response to my questions. Thanks guys for participating!

If YOU are interested in being featured or know of a great blogger that I should feature, please give me a shout in the comments!

Until next Sunday!

Deb