Jan 31, 2014

Blog Tour: Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

In a fragmented future United States ruled by the lavish gentry, seventeen-year-old Madeline Landry dreams of going to the university. Unfortunately, gentry decorum and her domineering father won't allow that. Madeline must marry, like a good Landry woman, and run the family estate. But her world is turned upside down when she discovers the devastating consequences her lifestyle is having on those less fortunate. As Madeline begins to question everything she has ever learned, she finds herself increasingly drawn to handsome, beguiling David Dana. Soon, rumors of war and rebellion start to spread, and Madeline finds herself and David at the center of it all. Ultimately, she must make a choice between duty - her family and the estate she loves dearly - and desire.


I'll admit it was the cover of Landry Park that grabbed me first. I mean, look at it. It's stunning! Then I read the synopsis and it sounded like my kind of book, so why not?

But I knew from the first page that Landry Park wasn't just another dystopian swimming in the sea. This was the book that Bethany Hagen wrote for me.

Yeah. I have a book written for me. Well, OK, not just for me, but it felt that way!

It's hard to believe Hagen is a debut author. She writes like a seasoned vet with beautiful descriptions and lush settings, decorating by enigmatic characters that entranced me from the start. Madeline is one of the best, most true heroines I've ever read because this girl admits her faults.

Bother Madeline and David are from the upper layer of upper crust society. They have the money, the titles, the family name ... But they feel compelled to help Rootless society (basically the bottom of the barrel group that lost the war and has been enslaved because of it). While this seems like a normal YA storyline, what grabbed me was their honesty about their situations. Madeline genuinely wanted to help the Rootless ... but she struggled with sacrificing her cushy lifestyle. Some of you may call that weak, but I call it honest. Let's face it: We all want to help those less fortunate. But are you ready to hand over all your money for that to happen? Are you willing you never buy a book again if it means you could feed a homeless person with that same money? I feel like that side is never addressed and I applaud Hagen for taking her characters to that level.

There are several twists that I didn't see coming, that floored me and nicely set up book 2. The romance between Madeline and David is a little frustrating, but just bear with it and trust me there is a reason for everything. Overall, I adored this book and think everyone should read it ASAP!

Rating: A

Librarian by day, Bethany Hagen is the author of the forthcoming LANDRY PARK, set to be released from Dial on Feb. 4, 2014 She lives in Kansas City with her husband and two children.
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Jan 30, 2014

Blog Tour: A Little Too Hot by Lisa Desrochers

Writing paranormal YA versus contemporary NA
By: Lisa Desrochers

Honestly, there’s really very little difference in the process. For me, all writing is just getting into character. Whether that character is a millennia old demon (Hi Luc!) as in my YA books, or a woman in her twenties, as in my New Adult novels, it’s all a matter of connecting with them and understanding what makes them unique. The things that make a demon (or vampire or angel) tick are going to be different, so you need to understand what they are and how they’ll effect that character’s decisions, actions, and reactions. But honestly, once you’re literally inside your character’s heads, the writing process doesn’t change. What changes is what you’ll find in there. (Writing from inside a demon’s head for my YAs was an interesting experience.) As long as you’re true to your character and their voice, and you understand their motivations, you’ll be able to keep them “real.” Because, let’s face it, no matter who we’re writing, they’re all really fictional, as alive as they seem in our heads as we’re reading/writing them. If you can get them to leap off the page into the reader’s heart, any fantastical creature, such as a demon, can be just as “real” as a normal twenty-year-old woman. The beauty of fantasy, however, is that anything’s possible as long as you make it believable, so you can make stuff up that doesn’t exist in the real world. For my contemporaries, I do a lot more research. I’m always very concerned that things happen in the way they would in real life.

As far as New Adult versus Young Adult, both are dealing with the same firsts. The difference is that, with New Adult, the characters are dealing with them in an environment with none of the safety nets that most young adults have (family, teachers etc.) to support them. They’re usually handled in a slightly more mature manner, and because I’m writing for an adult audience, there are no holds barred. There is no fade to black or softening of language. You can be one hundred percent true to the character without worrying about the audience.

Author: Lisa Desrochers
Series: A Little Too Far #3
Publication Date: January 21, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
From USA Today bestselling author Lisa Desrochers, comes the third book in her sizzling New Adult series.
If you play with fire…
Tossed out of college and cut off by her parents, Samantha West is in pretty dire straits. So when her rocker best friend hooks her up with a job dancing at a gentlemen’s club, who is she to turn it down? Plus, there are rules to dancing at Benny’s: No touching, keep your clothes on at all times, and never get closer than three feet. Unfortunately for Sam, her first private client makes her want to break every single one of them.
Harrison Yates is scorching hot, but he’s got a past that involves being left at the altar not too long ago. Sam is determined to make him forget about his ex, but when she makes her move, it flings her life into a spiral of chaos she never saw coming.
Because Harrison Yates isn’t who he seems to be. And his secret will probably get her killed.

Rating: A
I am becoming a huge Lisa Desrochers fan. New adult, young adult - she is a versatile author who ca do both with equal grace and brilliance. Her newest installment in the A Little Too Far series is quite possibly her steamiest book to date. Seriously. It made my stomach do those weird flips and clenches that only a great book can.

I love Sam. I just do. I've loved her since I met her in book #1, and that carried over here. Harrison is a fabulous companion and balance to her. And their chemistry is simply off the charts. 

The great part about this book is that it can be read out of order despite being #3 in the series. Yes, you meet Sam in book #1 and get a little more insight into her, but this book also stands wonderfully on it's own merit. Old fans will love revisiting Sam and new fan can jump in without missing a beat. So what are you waiting for?

About Lisa Desrochers
Lisa Desrochers is the USA Today bestselling author of A LITTLE TOO FAR , courtesy of HarperCollins, and companions, A LITTLE TOO MUCH (Nov 12, 2013), and A LITTLE TOO HOT (Jan 21, 2014). Also in stores is her YA PERSONAL DEMONS trilogy (Macmillan).
She lives in central California with her husband and two very busy daughters. There is never a time that she can be found without a book in her hand, and she adores stories that take her to new places, and then take her by surprise.


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Tour Schedule:

Week One: Day One

Jan. 20th - Page Turners Blog - Review + Excerpt

Jan. 20th - Lost in Literature - Review

Jan. 20th - The Reading Cafe - Review + Guest Post

Jan. 20th - City of Books - Review

Jan. 20th - Sun Mountain Reviews - Review

Week One: Day Two 

Jan. 21st - Fiktshun - ALT Scene from Harrison's POV

Jan. 21st - Step Into Fiction - Review + Deleted Scene

Jan. 21st - Lovin' Los Libros - Review

Jan. 21st - The Autumn Review - Review

Jan. 21st - A Love Affair With Books - Review

Jan. 21st - Alii's Book Jungle - Review

Jan. 21st - Book Labyrinth - Review + Character Interview

Week One: Day Three 

Jan. 22nd - Books Complete Me - Review + Excerpt

Jan. 22nd - In the Best Worlds - Review

Jan. 22nd - Globug and Hootie Need A Book - Review

Jan. 22nd - My Favorite Things - Playlist Post

Jan. 22nd - Ginger-read Reviews - Review

Jan. 22nd - Book Angel Booktopia - Review

Week One: Day Four 

Jan. 23rd - Ramblings From This Chick - Review

Jan. 23rd - The Demon Librarian - Review

Jan. 23rd - Books Over Boys - Excerpt or Deleted Scene

Jan. 23rd - Keepin' It Real Book Blog - Review

Jan. 23rd - No Bent Spines - Author Interview

Week One: Day Five 

Jan. 24th - Seeing Night Reviews - Guest Post

Jan. 24th - Bookhounds YA - Guest Post

Jan. 24th - The Book Swarm - Review

Jan. 24th - The Book Review - Review

Jan. 24th - bookaholics anonymousonline - Guest Post

Jan. 24th - Little Bookworm Reviews - Review

Week Two: Day Six

Jan. 27th - Owl Always Be Reading - Review + Guest Post

Jan. 27th - BookChic - Review

Jan. 27th - The Book Whore-der's Delights - Review

Jan. 27th - Paranormal Book Club - Guest Post

Jan. 27th - Ticket to Anywhere - Deleted Scene

Jan. 27th - Nocturne Romance Reads - Review + Author Interview

Week Two: Day Seven 

Jan. 28th - The Busy Bibliophile - Review

Jan. 28th - The Cover Contessa - Guest Post

Jan. 28th - Book Crushin - Review

Jan. 28th - Rumpled Sheets Blog - Review

Jan. 28th - Good Books & Good Coffee - Guest Post

Week Two: Day Eight 

Jan. 29th - Michelle & Leslie's Book Picks - Review + Character Interview

Jan. 29th - Waiting For Wentworth - Review

Jan. 29th - Nestled in a Book - Review

Jan. 29th - The Scarlet Siren - Review

Jan. 29th - Nerd Alert Book Love - Review

Jan. 29th - Allodoxophobia: The Fear of Opinions - Review

Week Two: Day Nine 

Jan. 30th - The Irish Banana Review - Review + Guest Post

Jan. 30th - Stuck In YA Books - Review + Excerpt

Jan. 30th - adventures-in-word - Review

Jan. 30th - The Bookmark Blog - Review

Jan. 30th - All in a Book - Review

Jan. 30th - Booklovers LaceyCat - Deleted Scene or Excerpt

Week Two: Day Ten 

Jan. 31st - Fade Into Fantasy - Guest Post

Jan. 31st - Hot Stuff Book Reviews - Review

Jan. 31st - Kimberlyfaye Reads - Review

Jan. 31st - Sugar and Spice Book Reviews - Excerpt

Jan. 31st - Polished Readers - Review

Jan. 31st - A Bookish Escape - Review

Jan 29, 2014

Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Title: Red Rising
Author: Pierce Brown
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: 1.28.2014
Pages: 400
Genre: Adult, Dystopian
Series: Red Rising #1
Source: ARC from BEA

Rating: A+

Summary (from Goodreads):
The war begins...

Darrow is a Helldiver, one of a thousand men and women who live in the vast caves beneath the surface of Mars. Generations of Helldivers have spent their lives toiling to mine the precious elements that will allow the planet to be terraformed. Just knowing that one day people will be able to walk the surface of the planet is enough to justify their sacrifice. The Earth is dying, and Darrow and his people are the only hope humanity has left.

Until the day Darrow learns that it is all a lie. Mars is habitable - and indeed has been inhabited for generations by a class of people calling themselves the Golds. The Golds regard Darrow and his fellows as slave labour, to be exploited and worked to death without a second thought.

With the help of a mysterious group of rebels, Darrow disguises himself as a Gold and infiltrates their command school, intent on taking down his oppressors from the inside.

But the command school is a battlefield. And Darrow isn't the only student with an agenda...

Did you read The Hunger Games? Forget about it. This is not even a comparison. Red Rising deserves to be in a category all by its self. Nothing can touch this. Nothing can even come close.

While there are extremely mild comparisons to The Hunger Games, Pierce Brown created a dystopian that equals no other.

Set on Mars, with complete solar system colonization, Darrow, lowest caste member of society, a Red, learns of the lies and deceit of his superiors, the Golds, through pain no person should go through. You watch as he grows from a 16 year old boy and becomes a 16 year old man. He discovers the truth and lives to be Eo's dream, in the flesh. You have not read about this level pain, mental and physical, ever before. Forget about anything else.

Darrow, Eo, Mustang, all of them were real people. So much thought, background, and emotion were put into these characters that they were just a page away from being real. You felt and understood right along with them. You squinted when they did, clenched your fists in unison, and held back anger as if it were your own. You triumph along side them, felt the pain, betrayal and the love.  It was hard to remember they were just kids, younger then myself. And that's what makes a great book.

One of my favorite things was the input of Greek mythology. It is crucial to this story as air is to breathing. It gives it an edge, almost an understanding to their behavior and actions.

It is almost hard to boast about this book without spoiling everything. It is a whole new level of dystopian with epic war fantasy, and a touch of sci-fi. The levels of pain, trust, friendship, betrayal have no comparison. The twists leaving you gasping. The pain makes you want to cry.

If you have it, read it. If you can get it, do it. If you don't, find a way! You will not be disappointed in the least.

Buy: Amazon

Jan 28, 2014

Blog Tour: Cress by Marissa Meyer

I am so, so excited to be turning over the blog to Marissa Meyer today. She's the author of the best-selling Lunar Chronicles series. She's here to talk a little bit about the newest installment, CRESS.

The Power of Imagination: Or, How I Relate to Cress
By Marissa Meyer

One question we authors get asked a lot is, “Which of your characters is most like you?”

In truth, I can see bits and pieces of myself in every character I write (from Cinder’s sarcasm to Scarlet’s single-minded determination to Iko’s love of playing dress-up). But it was apparent to me early on in the writing of this series that Cress is my girl.

Largely because I’m secretly a computer hacker who spent seven years of my childhood stuck on a satellite in space. But that’s beside the point.

Even more than that, Cress and I share a personality trait that in many ways defines us both: our overactive imaginations.

I loved writing Cress’s character, because when she’s nervous or afraid or overwhelmed, she has a tendency to cloak herself in fantasies, as a sort of psychological protection. This is exactly how I think I would react in the face of danger. As opposed to Cinder, who becomes daring and analytical, or Scarlet, who gets angry and defiant, I would just want to hide.

Cress is aware of her flaws. She knows that she is not courageous or strong. Quite the opposite—she is often painfully aware of just how weak and terrified she is. But instead of giving way to those emotions, she makes the decision to become someone else in those moments. She becomes an explorer, an actress, a spy. She becomes the person she needs to be in order to do what needs to be done.

I relate to that not only because I’ve always created elaborate daydreams in my head, ever since I was a child, but also because those daydreams have now lent themselves to this awesome job of writing books full of adventure and romance. I think most writers experience this tendency to escape into a fantasy world, to live a hundred different lives by putting ourselves into the shoes of a hundred different characters in a hundred different stories. Not unlike Cress and her imaginings.

In the end, while Cress may never get over her fears in certain life-threatening situations (I mean… who would?), she does discover an internal strength and courage that she didn’t realize she had. I like to think that my own daydreaming, over time, has also helped to shape me into a braver, kinder, more compassionate person.

Or, if nothing else, I’ve certainly experienced more adventures because of it.

About Cress:
Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard. 

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.


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-Join the Scarlet Readathon! (please be sure to use the link provided. Thank you!)

Jan 24, 2014

Blog Tour: Avalon by Mindee Arnett

It is a well-known fact that I adore AVALON by Mindee Arnett. I am also a huge music fan, so I asked Mindee what songs inspired this brilliant book and she compiled a soundtrack, complete with YouTube links, for me.

Avalon: The Soundtrack of Space

     Babel by Mumford & Sons. (http://www.amazon.com/Babel/dp/B0099G7LWG/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389622803&sr=1-1&keywords=Babel+by+mumford+and+sons ). This song represents Jeth. It has from the very first time I heard it. It captures his defiant, tear-down-the-powers-that-oppress-me attitude.

     Beast by Nico Vega.  (http://www.amazon.com/Beast/dp/B00B6N204E/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389622860&sr=1-1&keywords=Beast+by+Nico+Vega) Similar to Babel, this song captures the crew’s rebellious attitude, especially toward their crime lord employer.

     The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Gambler/dp/B000TE38VA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389622907&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Gambler+by+Kenny+Rogers )Yes, I realize this is old school. Waaay old school. But it’s a necessary shout out. So much of Avalon is about gambling, not in a gaming sense, but in a life-and-death sense. The song’s appropriate. Plus, it’s timeless.

     Blaze of Glory by Jon Bon Jovi. (http://www.amazon.com/Blaze-Of-Glory-Album-Version/dp/B000V62V9G/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389623001&sr=1-1&keywords=Blaze+of+Glory+by+Jon+Bon+Jovi) Again, old school. But still classic. And the song captures the outlaw feel of Avalon.

     Free by Zac Brown Band. (http://www.amazon.com/Free/dp/B001KW1O0W/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389623089&sr=1-1&keywords=Free+by+Zac+Brown+Band) This is Jeth’s dream song. It captures all that he wants out of life—to be free to do what he wants, go where he wants, and to have no one to answer to. Just replace “van” with “Avalon” and you’ve got it.

     Broken Crown by Mumford & Sons. (http://www.amazon.com/Broken-Crown/dp/B0099G8562/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389623197&sr=1-1&keywords=Broken+Crown+by+Mumford+%26+Sons) This song captures Jeth’s complicated relationship to his parents’ legacy. I don’t want to say too much because of spoilers, but the sense of wanting to deny a heritage is pretty clear here, I think.

     Mr. Golden Deal by Tonic. (http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Golden-Deal/dp/B001NZGV18/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389623357&sr=1-1&keywords=Mr.+Golden+Deal+by+Tonic) This song contains a lot of metaphors about the sea and sailing, which can easily be representative of space. Its mournful sound just fits certain parts of the book. Plus, it’s one of my favorite songs of all-time.

     The Downeaster “Alexa” by Billy Joel. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Downeaster-Alexa/dp/B00136LIGA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389623712&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Downeaster+%22Alexa%22) This one just really continues that theme of the sea. Also, it reminds me of the way Jeth loves Avalon and how much he wants the ship to be fully his in every sense of the word.

     Little Talks by Of Monster and Men. (http://www.amazon.com/Little-Talks/dp/B007QVLMR6/ref=sr_1_sc_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389624527&sr=1-1-spell&keywords=Little+talks+by+Of+Monters+and+Men) This one too has that “sea” feel to it, which puts me in mind of Avalon.

     Into the Mystic by Van Morrison. (http://www.amazon.com/Into-The-Mystic/dp/B00FR0MPWO/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1389624997&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Into+the+mystc+by+Van+morrison) I’m not going to say anything at all about this song except that it’s a little bit of a teaser for the Avalon sequel. Make of it what you will.

Thanks for the chance to share the music of Avalon!

Author: Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 432
Pub. Date: January 21, 2014

A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galaxy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.

Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon's cult hit show Firefly.

About Mindee:
Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. She has far more dreams than nightmares.

Week One:
1/13/2014- IceyBooksInterview
1/14/2014- Word SpelunkingGuest Post
1/15/2014- Fantasy Book AddictInterview
1/16/2014- Falling For YAReview
1/17/2014- Whimsically YoursReview

Week Two:
1/20/2014- Such a Novel IdeaReview
1/21/2014- The Eater of Books!- Interview
1/22/2014- Bewitched BookwormsGuest Post
1/23/2014- Nerdophiles-Review
1/24/2014- The Irish Banana ReviewGuest Post

Jan 21, 2014

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Blogging

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Blogging

1. Who Am I?
I’ve said this frequently, but it bears repeated repeating: One of the best decisions I made before I started blogging was to figure out my blog name and not just that, but research it extensively. I went through dozens of possible names before I hit The Irish Banana Review.

Go for original – I still get people who message, tweet, email me about how much they love the originality of my blog name. It stands out in a sea of Readings, Shelves, Books, etc. I've seen a lot of people decide later on to change their blog name, but by then they've picked a site name and gone with it for so long that it's like starting over and rebranding yourself. I knew I didn't want to do that, so I planned and plotted my blog for a month before I actually went live.

The one thing I didn’t do was figure out my style. The way I wanted the blog to look, the colors I wanted people to associate with me. I wish I had taken as much time to plan all of that as I did my name. I adore my current layout, and this is what I want people to associate me with. I even have business cards to match. Originally I had a couple cheap boxes of Vistaprint cards that kinda sorta matched my old layout.

This is much cleaner and more professional.

2. Social Media Isn’t Optional
So before I started blogging I had a personal Facebook account, MySpace page with 2 entries and a LiveJournal I lived at like it was going out of style. Which, OK, it was. I didn’t have a Pinterest or Twitter or Instagram ... None of it. I knew the first thing I needed was a Twitter account and I quickly made one.

Where I dropped the ball was making a Facebook page. I didn't do this until I had been blogging for well over a year and I feel like those stats never quite matched the ones on my blog and twitter feed because those two had almost a twenty month jump on the Facebook page.

3. It’s More Work Than a Full Time Job
Yes, blogging is my hobby, but it's so much more than that. Factor in the hours spent reading, the time writing a review that doesn't make you sound like a five year old who can't use their words, trying to come up with some original content, signing up for blog tours, tweeting about new posts, commenting on other blogger's posts, emailing publicists, going to signings and events...

And let's not forget scheduling and creating these posts. I would like to say it's smooth sailing, but I swear Blogger has a time of the month where it gets all PMS-y and refuses to do anything. I wish I would have known the time commitment going in. I love what I do, but it does suck up a lot of time.

I was talking to someone a few weeks ago about ways to improve stats and followers and she said something to the effect of I "make it look easy."

It's not easy. I've earned every follower. Every comment, every like. I have worked my butt off to get to where I am and I'm still working.

4. Find Your Voice
Go look at some of my reviews from when I first started blogging. Go on. I can wait a second.

Are you cringing yet?

I read those and wonder, "Who is that girl?!" Because that girl isn't me. For some reason I thought I had to write these brilliant, objective, insightful posts that made me a "serious" blogger.

I finally got sick of trying to sound mature and responsible when sometimes I girl just needs to flail about over an awesome book. So I started changing the tone of my reviews. I made them sound like me. My reviews are written as if I was sitting in front of you, verbally telling you what I thought. That works best for me. It made everything feel more natural and flow better.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong or bad about an objective, well-written review. I'm just saying that this is my blog and I'm going to write how I want. And you should, too.

5. ARC = Another Reading Commitment
Oh, the ARC. That magical, beautiful book that makes bloggers feel so validated. And so overwhelmed.

I used to just request book after book, both digital and physical. Most of the time I didn't get them, but then, after a few years and working with the same publicists and publishers, I actually started getting more and more books. And then this fantabulous thing called "BEA" happened and I got more. And then publishers sent me more. Sometimes I didn't even have to request a book--it just showed up! My mailbox was getting more action than Ana Steele.

And then I realized, "Holy crap ... I actually have to read and review 150 books in 6

There's no way. There isn't. Unless I quit my job, forget my family and friends. And showering and sleeping. I worked myself into a hole because I forgot that ARCs weren't pretty little jewels I could show off on twitter and facebook ... these were actually books that had actual people expecting actual reviews.

I've become much more selective now, but I still get a little click happy on NetGalley and Edelweiss. Which I still pay for. Bottom line is, I wish I had been more realistic about what I could read and review instead of being so greedy.

6. Hoarders: Extreme Book Edition
I re-read books. Yes, I'm one of those people. I love reliving my favorite romances, fights, drama, worlds ... All of it.

So obviously I keep a lot of books. Which is cool ... If you own a library. But when you have 6 under the bed boxes of books, two massive book shelves, the top of shelf of your closet and even your dresser full of book (let's not even mention those 3 boxes chillin' in the basement), it goes from being fun to a hassle.

I wish I had been more diligent about the books I was bringing in and buying and saving. Because now I'm faced with a Herculean task of clearing out a good amount of books. And these things weigh a lot.

7. Exhaustion Guaranteed
I just got done a 10 hour work day, have been up since before 6 am and have been sitting here writing this post for over an hour when all I want to do is curl up in bed and watch TV on my DVR. And this is a good day for me.

Blogging is fun, but it is also one of the most tiring endeavors.

8. Green-Eyed Monsters Abound
I guarantee that when I mentioned getting ARCs above, someone gritted their teeth and hissed. Was it you? It's cool.

Blogger jealousy is a very real thing. It's why I stopped doing the In My Mailbox/Stacking the Shelves posts. I had to avoid blogs on Sunday because I would see bloggers who got books I craved like oxygen (and I'm an asthmatic, so I know all about craving air, mmmkay?) and it would make me so bitter and jealous. It still happens when a friend gets a book I wanted, or gets to hang out with an author I want to meet.

We all go through it. Every single blogger is jealous of someone else and those who say they aren't are flat out lying. It may not be the same level of intensity as my jealous--we all know I have issues--but the jealousy is there and I have seen it erode and destroy a lot of bloggers. I got caught up in that for years, constantly seeing these posts that made me constantly wonder what I was doing wrong and how could I always be better.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be better, but it's wrong when you get angry about it. And I was fast hitting bitter shrew territory, so I cut myself off.

9. More Drama Than High School & Middle School Combined
I really just don't even know if I need to expound on that any more. But I will.

I've been blogging for nearly 3 years now and I have seen to ridiculous, knock-down, drag out fights on twitter that would make Muhammed Ali step out of the ring. I have seen author on reviewer fights that exploded Goodreads, insults hurled, people ripped to shreds and more stones thrown than I can count. Sometimes it's amusing, but more often than not it's frustrating and childish. And needs to stop.

When I started blogging I was told that bloggers were an open, accepting community and those of us who have been blogging for more than a week know the total BS of the statement.

Yeah. I totally just admitted that blogging makes Mean Girls look like The Sound of Music. There are a ridiculous amount of cliques and groups in blogging. Inner circles and groups of friends that are not accepting new members, so don't even apply or you'll be met with blank stares. I truly thought if I was me--happy, bubbly, energetic me--that people would like me.

But this isn't kindergarten. There isn't a teacher that will make us give out Valentine's to everyone like we're all besties. I spent the better part of a year trying to find my niche in this world. And then ... I did.

10. The Truth About BFFs (Book Friends Forever)
A lot of what I've said sounds like so much gloom and doom. Like blogging is a bitch, so why bother?

Because aside from the books and the authors and the amazing conferences and signings I've been able to go to, I have truly met some of my best friends. People that I would not know had I never put up that first post nearly 3 long years ago.

Blogging is a crazy, often time hellish roller coaster without a safety strap, but then one day you look around and realize that all your friends are right there with you, keeping you going when you just want to curl up and go to sleep watching the DVR, believing in you when you can't.

All the heartache and heartburn I've suffered from blogging is completely worth it every time my phone lights up with a text or phone call from these people. You guys know who you are, and I hope you know how much I love each of you.

Jan 20, 2014

ARC Essentials with Simon & Schuster

First off, so sorry for the delay, guys! I took a bit of a break for the holidays and to recoup, but we're back with this feature everyone seems to love!

ARC Essentials is a feature here on the blog where I have interviewed several publishers about the process for requesting review copies and then what to do once your review is written and posted. Each publisher has their own way of handling things, so what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.

Today we have:

1. What should I include when asking for a review copy (Page view stats? Follower count? All social media accounts)?
Yes, please include a link to the blog, page view stats, follower count, and all your social media accounts.

2. How long should I be blogging before I ask for a review copy?
It doesn’t matter how old the blog is as long as the content is geared toward the appropriate audience for our books.

3. Who should I contact about receiving review copies?
Please e-mail the children’s publicity inbox (ChildrensPublicity@simonandschuster.com)and each request will be forwarded to the appropriate publicist for the titles requested.

4. Should I email an author about obtaining a review copy and have them forward my request onto their publicist?
No, please e-mail us directly for requests as that will expedite the process.

5. Do you expect me to review books I never requested, such as an ARC or finished copy I was sent but never asked for?
We would appreciate if you review such books but it is not expected.

6. When is the best time to post a review?
The ideal time is at least a month before publication and in the weeks leading up to publication. But any time after that is fine if you still would like to.

7. Where can I send in review links?
Please send review links to ChildrensPublicity@simonandschuster.com

8. Do you want to see all reviews I’ve done—positive and negative?
Yes, we would like to see all of them.

9. Am I more likely to get approved if I request an eARC of a book instead of a physical copy?

10. When is the best time to request a book or be asked to be put on a list to receive a review copy?
Any time is fine to request it, but please note that review copies are sometimes not available until a few months before publication and we have them in limited quantities.

11. Do you have a catalog mailing list for bloggers that I can request to be a part of?
Yes, we have a digital catalog link you can use to browse. Please feel free to request it at any time and we can send you the link.

12. If I want to interview an author or ask them to write a guest post for my blog, is it best to contact the author directly?
If you have an established relationship with the author, please feel free to contact them directly, though it would be helpful for us if you CC the children’s publicity inbox (ChildrensPublicity@simonandschuster.com) Otherwise, please contact that e-mail address with your request for interviews with specific authors and we will handle.

13. Anything else you would like to add that you think bloggers should/need to know?

Please note that review copies are intended for review only and should not be resold.