BBAW: Interview swap with Lena from Lenasledge

Today is Book Blogger Appreciation Week’s interview swap day! This was my very first time participating in the swap, and I was paired with the lovely Lena from Everyone, say hi!

So, tell me about Lena. Who are you off-line and how did you start blogging?

Okay, I may get long-winded here. Off-line, I’m a mother of five beautiful, yet sometimes annoying kids that I truly adore. My two oldest are in college this year. So in the meantime between being a taxi, nurse, writer, blogaholic, mediator, and the sock and shoe finder, I daydream of the final moment when I pack my last kid off to college and my husband and I run out and spend all our money on eating out, comfortable walking shoes and matching bedside refrigerators filled with snacks and wine.

I got started blogging while preparing for my novel’s release later this year called Waiting on Heaven, along with an anthology titled, “If I Had My Way,” that will be available this October. A friend who was assisting me said, “you should blog.” At the time I had no idea how to do it. But I went home that day and started blogging. I had no idea what to blog about but I have five kids and nothing really scares me, so I jumped right on in. The friend later said, “you know I’ve told so many people to blog, but you are the first person that ever listened.” And I’ve been a blogaholic ever since.

Do you only blog about books or do you like to mix it up?

I blog about anything book related. So it can be a review, an interview, a writer’s conference, the literary industry, the publishing industry, book marks, sometimes I just blog about nothing in particular and get a little personal. Like the other day I posted about My Lordt Hammercy moment. It had nothing to do with books, but it was how I was feeling at the moment, so I wrote about it.

As a writer, how do you see the role of book blogs effecting the publishing industry?

I think book blogs are vital to the publishing industry and its growth. In order for books and writers to be as relevant as possible they need an audience. Most books are bought by the recommendation of others, whether they saw it in a bookstore or heard about it in the hair salon. Someone, somewhere helped in spreading the word. I believe book blogs are like the hair salon, we chat amongst ourselves about what we think is important and other people listen, whether it’s good or bad, a recommendation has been made. I would like to see the publishing industry give more credit to book bloggers. It’s a very time consuming activity. It pays in dividends of paper we can’t cash and most of the time we pay for the paper ourselves. It would be nice to see a publishing company hold its own meme or book giveaway for book bloggers; linky list and all. Wouldn’t that be great? [It really, really would. Any publishers listening?]

Do you write negative reviews? If so, why do you think they are important? If not, why not?

I have written negative reviews. I hate to do it. It doesn’t feel good. I love books and I want people to read them. So it’s the worst feeling for me to have to tell someone “not” to read a book. I have read several books that I thought were awful by authors I truly admire and I couldn’t bring myself to write the negative review. That has happened only a few times, but it’s still not a good feeling. But if my review is negative amongst a sea of positives reviews or it’s in a reading environment where the reviews are divided, then I’m more apt to write my negative review. If a majority of the reviews are already negative, then I see no point in adding another. As a writer, rejection stings. So I’m sensitive to that aspect, yet as a reader, I want my bang for every single buck. There is a way to do everything properly. Just because I don’t like a book, doesn’t mean I have to be disrespectful towards the hard work that someone put into it. I have written posts that I thought were absolutely fabulous that I look at now and dread reading. And it’s obvious to me that the night before I must have had insomnia, but other people loved it or perhaps it didn’t get any comments at all. So in regards to writing, it’s subjective and everyone has an opinion. In the end we all just want to be validated and heard. But if I can’t make my validation about a book meaningful or relevant then I won’t post it. At the end of the day I’m really just trying to please myself because followers come and go.

What are your top five favourite authors?

Darn…just five. I could have come up with fifty quicker than I could five. I think I need a moment of Zen while I ponder this…

1. Bernice L. McFadden

2. Toni Morrison

3. Octavia E. Butler

4. Amy Tan

5. Diane McKinney Whetstone

I know I’m going to read this and wish I had added someone. I’m leaving out 20 or so authors I know it. I know it.

And your top five book blogs?

Again? You’re sending me back to a moment of Zen. You know this is exhausting thinking of favorites. Okay, here it is in no particular order. And I decided to choose book blogs that were the most useful to me in my blogging journey instead of blogs I personally love.

Sort of Beautiful ~ This is actually a helpful blog and a personal favorite. Written by an authentic blogger who is always consistent in her book reviews and her comments, with a touch of personal flair. When I first began writing book reviews, I modeled mine after hers and then begin to formulate my own format. I think when we don’t know how to do something we emulate what we like most. So I read her reviews and learned what best suited me and eventually got comfortable in my own style.

The Story Siren ~ The information she provides on her blog is essential to any new book blogger. When I started blogging, I stayed on her blog for hours just combing through information and utilizing it.

Jody Hedlund ~ She doesn’t know I exist although I’ve gone to her blog probably everyday in the past week. She is a published author. Her blog is informative and offers assistance to aspiring writers with great articles and posts.

Book Blog Directory ~ It’s a directory of blogs by genre. It’s a wordpress blog with host of information, especially if you want to network or find blogs in your own niche. And you can add your own blog to the directory as well.

Parajunkee’s View ~ Another blog I really enjoy, who’s owner probably doesn’t know I exist. But there is great information on book memes and blogging 101. She has a great meme called Feature and Follow Friday.

Thank you so much for the great answers Lena!

If you want to check out more great blogger interviews, check out this post on the BBAW website. And, as always, happy reading!

New Author Mini-Challenge: TBR Newbies

I absolutely adore Jackie’s mini-challenges over at Literary Escapism. Last year I completed, not one, but two of them. They actually make me read new authors, as opposed to just planning on reading new authors. The latest and greatest one that Jackie is hosting is the TBR Newbies challenge, focusing on reading those novels you bought, with the intention of trying a new author, but haven’t had the chance to yet.tbr newbies

I have a ton of books like that – in fact, I think I have such a large TBR stack because I never finish a book so end up buying debut novels or first in a series because I’m afraid to buy book 2 in a series I won’t like!

This challenge is a wee-bit different to the usual mini-challenges. Instead of going over a single month, the challenge begins April 15th and ends May 31st. Not just that, the aim is to read six new authors and review them all!

Now, I have exams coming up in mid-June which will obviously have to come first. But I am really hoping that I can complete this challenge in my (limited) spare time.

2011 book haul

Here’s my planned TBR pile:
  • Wicked Game by Jeri Smith Ready
  • Moloka’i by Alan Brennert – Read and Reviewed!
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Read and Reviewed!
  • Beauty by Robin McKinley – Read and Reviewed!
  • Siren by Tricia Rayburn (2011 Debut Author)
  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis (2011 Debut Author) – DNF
Unexpected additions:
  • Temeraire by Naomi Novik – Read and Reviewed! (this one just made the cut, as I bought it the 12th!)
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch – Read and Reviewed!
  • The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu – Read and Reviewed!

*stares at pile*  If you haven’t signed up for one of these min-challenges before… well, I’d highly recommend them!  It’s really great motivation to actually get some reading done!

01/06/2011 – Challenge complete!  I am rather stunned that I managed to get six new authors read for this challenge – especially considering how busy this past month has been.  My favourites of the lot: Temeraire by Naomi Novik and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Lauren Oliver + Book Bloggers = Too Much Love

Ok, so y’all have probably heard about the stupendous Lauren Oliver event that Hodder hosted for book bloggers. It has been all over the blogosphere for two simple reasons:

  1. Lauren Oliver is quite possibly the nicest, smartest, loveliest, most genuine person you’ll ever meet and I want her as my BFF.
  2. They plastered us with cocktails in teacups, and signed books.

I was really lucky to be invited along and had a fabulous time meeting Lauren and all you book bloggers! I don’t want to go through a blow-by-blow description of the great time I had as a lot of bloggers have already posted far more eloquent descriptions of the day. Jenny from Wondrous Reads (who I am such a friggin’ fangirl of  ♥) has a lovely event report – as does Carla from The Crooked Shelf (it’s true people, she is exactly like her blog) and Tara from Hobbitsies.

So, if this isn’t an event re-cap, why the showing-off post?  Well, I wanted to share the great video of the event that Hodder has just put up.  This thing made me teary eyed and I even sent it to my mother – just watch it and see why!  (Also, you can play “spot the book blogger”, as everyone was there.)

A-Z Reading Challenge

So, this is probably going to be my last 2011 challenge.  I didn’t do such a great job with my challenges last year (I did rather terribly, actually), so this year I am going for a “less is more” approach.  But I wanted to join a challenge which would actually challenge me.  The Off the Shelf and 2012 Debut Author challenges both have me reading books I probably would have read anyways – but I thought that an A-Z challenge might get me to pick up books that would have stayed on the shelf.

Not to mention Book Junky is including a bunch of giveaways along with the challenge!  Always a good incentive.  The plan is to read 26 books in 2011 with titles that go through the alphabet.  You can sign up for the challenge here!

Obviously, there are quite a few gaps in this! I especially need something to fill V, X and Z – as all I have for V right now is Vanity Fair… which is a bit too much of a challenge for me!

So here’s my planned A-Z list:

  • A –  Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
  • B – Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin Mckinley
  • C – Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • D – Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  • E – Enclave by Ann Aguirre
  • F – Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage
  • G – Green-Eyed Demon by Jaye Wells
  • H – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • IImmortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
  • J – 
  • K –
  • LLover Revealed by J.R. Ward
  • M – Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
  • N – Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow
  • O – Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
  • P – Pride by Rachel Vincent
  • Q –
  • R – Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • S Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
  • T – Temeraire by Naomi Novik
  • U –
  • V –
  • W – Wake by Lisa McMann
  • X – 13 to Life by Shannon Delany (Ok, so X is 10 in roman numerals… plus 3 is 13. It counts, dammit.)
  • Y –
  • Z –

19/26 books read!

2011 Off the Shelf Challenge!

Off The Shelf!Ok, it has been said that I have a bit of a book-buying issue.  I buy lots and lots (although lately I have been a very good girl) and I don’t read nearly enough!  So, the Off the Shelf challenge seems the perfect one for me!

This challenge is to read those books you own copies of, but have never got around to reading. I signed up for the On A Roll challenge level – which I have to read 50 books for!  Since I am hoping to read at least 75 this year, I feel like I should actually manage to meet this challenge… right?

The challenge lasts all of 2011, and you can sign up for it here!

  1. Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
  2. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
  3. Mercy by Rebecca Lim
  4. Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
  5. Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill
  6. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  7. Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage
  8. Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow
  9. Sea Change by Aimee Friedman
  10. Wake by Lisa McMann
  11. Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
  12. Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
  13. Beauty by Robin Mckinley
  14. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
  15. The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu
  16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  17. Night Life by Caitlin Kittredge
  18. Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
  19. Pride by Rachel Vincent
  20. The Touch of Twilight by Vicki Pettersson
  21. Bitten by Kelley Armstrong
  22. The Glass Demon by Helen Grant
  23. Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
  24. The Society of S by Susan Hubbard
  25. Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine
  26. Beastly by Alex Flinn
  27. 13 to Life by Shannon Delany
  28. The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
  29. Dark Goddess by Sarwat Chadda
  30. Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
  31. Succubus Dreams by Richelle Mead

31/50 books read!

2011 Debut Author Challenge

Another year, another YA Debut Author Challenge. I didn’t manage to complete the challenge last year, but really loved participating. I’m hoping that this year I will be more successful!

If you haven’t heard of the Debut Author Challenge (??), it is hosted by Kristi over at The Story Siren. The objective is to read at least 12 YA books from debut authors published in 2011. You can sign up for the challenge here, but make sure to read through the guidelines before you do!

So, let’s see my (very) tentative list of my 2011 debut reads. First off, there are the books by the YA Rebels. I have been watching their channel on youtube for aaaages now and feel like I know them. So, these authors are getting top billing on my TBR list for 2011.

  1. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton – April 26th 2011 (US) – Read!
  2. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff – January 6th (UK)Read!
  3. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa – January 21st (UK)
  4. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand – May 2nd 2011 (UK)
  5. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini – June 3rd 2011 (UK)
  6. Die for Me by Amy Plum – May 5th 2011 (UK)
  7. Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton – June 9th 2011 (UK) – Read!
  8. Divergent by Veronica Roth – May 3rd (UK)
  9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – June 7th 2011 – Read!
  10. Enclave by Ann Aguirre – April 12th 2011 (US) – Read and Reviewed!
  11. My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent – January 6th 2011 (UK) – Read and Reviewed!
  12. Siren by Tricia Rayburn – January 20th (UK) – Read and Reviewed!
  13. The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney – January 20th (UK) – Read and Reviewed!
  14. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – September 29th 2011 (UK) – Read and Reviewed!
  15. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab – August 2nd 2011 (US)
  16. Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey – September 2011 (US)
  17. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford – February 22nd 2011 (US)
  18. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White – January 6th 2011 (UK)
  19. Possess by Gretchen McNeil – August 23rd 2011 (US)
  20. The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton – September 27th 2011 (US)
  21. Future Imperfect by K. Ryer Breese – April 26th 2011 (US)
  22. The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson – July 1st 2011 (US)
  23. The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher – January 1st 2011 (US)
  24. Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey – December 8th 2011 (US)
  25. The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge – February 22nd 2011

9/12 books read!

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