Share the Love Giveaway Hop

share the love hop

Welcome to the second(?) annual(hopefully) Share the Love Giveaway Hop, hosted (and conceived by) Herding Cats & Burning Soup. We’re Sharing the Love this week and surprise bombing bloggers and authors we adore with a little love! Hop by all of the blogs for chances to win great prizes at each stop and find out which authors and bloggers we think are so darn special!

In honor of the upcoming Valentine’s Day (card & flower & chocolate fest) holiday, we are all sharing our love of some of our favorite book blogs, in the hopes that readers will find more books (and book bloggers) to love.

Since I’ve been catching up on my science fiction romance reading this month, and absolutely loving it, I’m going to share some of my favorite SFR blogs with you.

GalaxyExpressLogoSmaller1. The Galaxy Express: Heather Massey is the captain of this fantastic jaunt into the space lanes. She publishes any and all SFR news, as well as cover reviews, interviews with SFR authors and SFR giveaways. Her analysis of SFR and how it gets promoted is always fascinating, and her list of new SFR releases adds much too much to my TBR pile.

SFR station button2. The SFR Station is a new face on the SFR barroom floor, but it has something that will make readers stand up and cheer. If your love isn’t just for SFR, but for a particular stripe of the genre, SFR Station categories their reviews and features by series, author and most interesting, pairing type and sub-genre. So if you only want cyberpunk, or only want abduction, this is the place to find exactly what you’re looking for.

SFRQ website button3. Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is more than a blog. The SFRQ is a quarterly online magazine of SFR reviews, features and original content. (Full disclosure, I am one of the reviewers). If you are interested in exploring the full range of what SFR has to offer, the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is a great place to start.

sgscifilogo_rev4. Smart Girls Love SciFi because, well, smart girls do! (They also love a bit of paranormal romance!) In addition to terrific reviews of both SFR and Paranormal Rom, the Smart Girls also get into general geekery about TV and movies, everything from The Jetsons (where’s my flying car?) to Guardians of the Galaxy.

BookPushersLogofinal300x2205. The Book Pushers: Last but not least. We do great reviews, especially our joint and group reviews, which are generally awesome. We push books. (And full disclosure, I’m also one of those book pushers)



For my part of the giveaway hop, I’m giving away a $10 Gift Card to the winner’s choice of Amazon or B&N. All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter below. The more of my friends’ blogs you follow, the more points you get towards the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
For more chances to win more great prizes and discover more great blogs, visit the other hosts on the hop:

Good-bye to In My Mailbox

I like the concept of In My Mailbox. I really do. The idea of giving an acknowledgement to the books that have come in, whether I’ve bought them or gotten them free or borrowed them or been sent them for review, is a neat way of acknowledging the authors and titles, even for stuff I might not be able to review.

I can understand why Kristi Diehm at The Story Siren thought it was a neat idea when Alea of Pop Culture Junkie originally inspired it. It’s been a very popular and successful meme at The Story Siren.

448 Blogs linked to In My Mailbox on April 22, including this one.

In the future, I will not be among them. I will miss the connections that come from linking to In My Mailbox, but I can’t in good conscience be a part of it any longer. Because I can’t condone the behavior of the blogger.

Plagiarism is wrong. It is not an accident. It is a mistake, and a deliberate one (Someone said there is no such thing as sleep copy and pasting).

Swift acknowledgement of that mistake can bring forgiveness, but that’s not what happened here. Instead there was a denial, then a cover-up and a plea for everything to be handled “quietly”.

This continuing saga has been covered, in detail, on multiple blogs, including at Smart Bitches, Trash Books, Smexy Books, Parajunkee’s View and Book Savvy Babe. This story is as compelling as any book you might review. All the more so because it took place in our own backyard.

As bloggers, our identities are made up of the words we write. If someone steals our words, they’ve stolen something precious.


Authors on Reviews Blog Hop

To Be or Not To Be? Not exactly.

This is a book blog and this is a blog hop asking the question, “should authors comment on reviews?”

So perhaps better is “To Comment or Not to Comment?”

The blog hop was inspired by the recent 3 Star Ratings Event. Nat @ Reading Romances decided to create today’s event as an opportunity for us book bloggers and reviewers to say what we expect from authors when we post reviews of their books.

So it’s up to each blogger to answer that age-old question, “Should Authors Comment on Reviews?”

On the one hand, I want the author to know I’ve reviewed their book. I want the publisher to know about it too. I want it so bad that I tweet my review to both of them. Some authors reply to the tweet. Some re-tweet, especially if the review is good. Sometimes the publishers will re-tweet.

But yes, I expect the tweet to get some traffic. That’s the point. I agonize over those 140 characters, hoping to maximize their impact. I tweet my reviews because I want somebody to pay attention.

The author, and the publisher, are likely to be the two parties most interested in whatever I said about the book. It’s logical.

And the economy has changed. I don’t mean the money economy, although, let’s face it, that too. I mean the information/attention economy. It used to be that information was expensive and attention was cheap. Now it’s the other way, information is easy to get, it’s attention that hard to grab.

Reviews are attention, especially for small press/ebook-only/self-published books.

So yes, I think it’s terrific when an author comments, even when it’s just to say “thank you”. Particularly when they thank the other commenters who are saying they might read the book.

When I start with “on the one hand” I generally have another hand hidden behind my back. In this case, that other hand is Ebook Review Central.

Every week, the Monday Ebook Review Central wrap-up highlights the three most and best reviewed titles from one (or more) of the ebook publishers for the month. The featured titles are always going to be the big hits, because that’s the point. I comb through all the reviews to tally which three books got the most recognition from reviewers.

It’s totally recognition of who did well, and why. Also a recommendation that these are the books that people loved, so, if you (person reading the post) like the type of story represented, and haven’t yet read this, you might want to check out all these reviews conveniently linked here, and see if you want to read it too.

Since the ERC post emphasizes the positives (the books that don’t get reviewed a lot are in the database, I just don’t talk about them much), I would love, love, love to get more authors (and readers) commenting on the Ebook Review Central posts.

But we’ve all heard that some people feel “intimidated” if the author might comment on the review or in the comments to a post.

Please comment here! How do you feel? Do you like seeing authors comment on their reviews? Do you like seeing authors participate in book blog commentary in general?

If you want to read what others are saying on this topic, here are the links to all the participating blog hops:


Help Wanted at Reading Reality

Reading Reality wants YOU!

To become an associate reviewer at Reading Reality.

It’s time! I need help. I’m looking for at least one, and maybe two or three people to become Associate Reviewers.

Please keep in mind, being a book reviewer is a labor of love. You’ll get a lot of interesting books to read, often before they’re available anywhere else and all you’ll spend is your time. Probably a lot of it. But you’ll only be paid in free books and sincere thanks, not in money.

Would you make a good Associate Reviewer? Do you:

  • love to read and talk about books
  • have an ereader or an ereader app
  • enjoy trying new authors and new genres
  • preferably not have a book review blog of your own
  • post your reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (or are you willing to)
  • have (or can you get) access to NetGalley and/or Edelweiss

If you’re interested, there are a few things to keep in mind before you apply

  1. You will have some responsibility for obtaining books to read and review. It is much easier to get eARCs than print ARCs.  You will also get books directly from authors and publicists, and I will refer some of the ones that come to me to my associate reviewer(s).
  2. The ability to meet deadlines is a must. We will need a lot of coordination to make sure we don’t review the same book and that there is something on the blog every day.
  3. You must be 18+. Reading Reality reviews everything from YA to erotica.

Anyone who is interested in helping with the compilation of Ebook Review Central, please let me know in your application. That thing is a bear.

If you would like to be an associate reviewer at Reading Reality, please fill out this form. I’d love to hear from you!




It’s a Blogo-Birthday!

And what’s that, you might very well ask?

On April 4, 2011 this blog was born. The first version was Escape Reality, Read Fiction! Courtesy of The Wayback Machine, here’s what it looked like, back in the early days of…last year. (My own birthday is tomorrow, so blogo-birthday)

Escape Reality, Read Fiction! is still on the masthead, but now it’s under the bar. For anyone who wonders where that phrase came from, like so much wisdom, I got it off a t-shirt–which doesn’t make it any less true. I firmly believe that you can escape reality for very large periods of time by reading fiction. And that’s a good thing!

I’m equally firmly of the opinion that you can’t judge a book by its movie. Also from a t-shirt. There’s some great stuff on t-shirts, if you look for it. Especially if you like pithy.

So, about last year. April 4 was a Monday. My first post was published that day, after a weekend of Galen and I setting things up. There was one absolutely paralyzing bit about selecting a WordPress theme from the zillion and one options I still have nightmares about.

I knew I would write about books. Not a big surprise. I expected to be writing more on the, I guess you would say meta-level, about the business of books, or the business of libraries, rather than book reviews.

I never expected it would be quite so easy to get books to review. I thought I’d be reviewing from my already large TBR stacks. Instead, the TBR stacks are getting bigger by the day, but mainly in the virtual sense. I get most of my review copies in ebook form, with the exception of conference ARCs.

A year means it’s time to reflect a little bit. That’s why there have been a few changes in the last month.  I’ve added features to bring in more traffic. I’ve discovered that writing the blog, even every day, isn’t the hardest part. Getting people to come and read it, the promotion, that’s the more difficult bit. At least for me. As the saying goes, YMMV.

So in addition to regular features like Ebook Review Central, it’s time for Reading Reality to participate in a couple of memes like In My Mailbox and On My Wishlist. On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand turned into a meme itself this past weekend. I’m also participating in some blog tours and blog hops, like the Where’s That Bunny? hop hosted by Reading Romances this week.  (By the way, Nat at Reading Romances designed the Blogo-Birthday graphic. Thanks, Nat!)

But I want to make sure that the loyal readers of Reading Reality keep reading. So, as I start my second year, I want to hear from you. What do you look for in a blog? What keeps you following? Comments please!

This is a Blogoversary Celebration, so of course there is a giveaway!

Here are the steps to enter the drawing for a USD$15 Amazon Gift Card. This giveaway will be open until 12:01 a.m. the morning of April 8, 2012. I will announce the winner on April 9th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

3 Star Ratings: the Reviewer’s Perspective

What does it mean to a reviewer to give a 3-star rating?

This post is part of the 3-Star Rating Event organized by Bitten by Paranormal Books. Today’s post, not just here but at all of the participating blogs, is the opportunity for the blogger/reviewers to talk about what it means when they give a book a 3-star rating, or the equivalent for their blog.

On Reading Reality, 3 stars would be an Escape Rating of C. That doesn’t mean a “Gentleman’s C” like they used to award at Ivy League schools (possibly still do), but, as it says on my review policy:

C: Good fun.  I enjoyed the time I spent with the story and/or characters.

So a C means I had fun. To me, that’s pretty important. I read genre fiction, it’s supposed to be fun! If I give a C that means the book succeeded. But, but, but, there was something that kept it from doing more than working beyond that most basic level of giving me a pleasant escape for the time it took me to read it. And my review is going to explain whatever it was that kept the grade from being higher than a C.

What makes a story a C rating, at least to me?

I have a tendency to give a C+ rating to novellas that I enjoy a lot, but frustrate me because I want more than I got. I can see that there should be more story, or more backstory, or more worldbuilding, and it got left “on the cutting room floor”. While I recognize that the author may have needed to make a word count requirement, as the reader, what I feel is that I liked what I got, but that the story cries out for more depth, or breadth or length, or all of the above.

I gave Break Out, by Nina Croft, a C+ rating. I also named it one of my best of the year. But only along with its sequel, Deadly Pursuit. Together, the two books had the worldbuilding that neither quite managed alone.

Sometimes my willing suspension of disbelief won’t let me go past a C+. Lust in the Library was a C+ book, not because it wasn’t fun, but because I know too much about libraries. Any real librarian who behaved like the librarians in that book would get fired.

Some stories get a solid C because while I enjoyed them once, and might recommend them to another reader of the same genre, they don’t rise to the next level. C and C+ books are generally terrific mind-candy, but don’t have the elements that would make me recommend them to readers who are not already fans of that particular genre. But whatever makes them C-rated books, the review explains it, usually in glorious technicolor detail.

But it’s just one reviewer’s opinion. YMMV.

Tomorrow, each blog will post comments they’ve gathered from authors about what they think and feel when their work receives a 3-star rating. More comments are always welcome, so that purple comment link at the bottom of this post, please click it and send me your thoughts on this subject. Or email me at marlene (at) readingreality (dot) net.

As a reader, what does a 3-star rating mean to you? I’d love to know what review readers think about the ratings!

The links to all the blogs participating in the 3-star rating event hop are listed below. Check them out to see what other reviewers had to say about this murky subject.



Bloggiesta 2012: To-Do, Ta-DAH!

Thanks to a post over at Felicia the Geeky Blogger’s Book Blog, I found out about Bloggiesta before it happened. This is SO much better than lamenting about it after the fact.

What’s a “Bloggiesta”, you may ask?

A fiesta of Blogging, of course!

Specifically, it’s a fiesta weekend devoted to getting all the pesky stuff on one’s blogging “to-do” list done. Most of us, including yours truly, spend our blogging time writing the blog. Maintaining the “behind the scenes” parts tend to take second (sometimes third and fourth) place.

And we all get bitten by the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”. But just because the blog isn’t exactly “broken” doesn’t mean the place couldn’t use a little sprucing up.

Bloggiesta  is being organized by It’s All About Books (lovely name for a book blogging site!) The general goals of Bloggiesta, as stated on the sign up post, are:

  • to spend time that weekend (as much or as little as your schedule allows) working on your blog
  • to create a to do list to share on your blog and link up with other participants
  • to hopefully participant in several mini challenges and learn something new
  • to connect with other participants through blog hopping or twitter
  • to make new blogging friends!
  • to come away at the end of the three days with a spiffed up blog!

But those of us participating also have to come up with some specific goals we plan to tackle during the Bloggiesta, which is this weekend, March 30, March 31 and April 1. (I hope that April Fool’s Day inclusion does not prove to be prophetic for anyone.)

The great thing about the Bloggiesta is that we will all be able to help each other, and cheer each other on. Blogging is a somewhat lonely occupation. (And yes, I’m stalling so I don’t have to state my goals. I’m getting there, I’m getting there!)

  • Finalize the plans for my Blogo-birthday celebration April 4-5!!!!!!
  • Fix up my blog’s Facebook page
  • Update my review policy page
  • Add an advertising policy page
  • Check out triberr
  • Create a page for collecting my challenge progress
  • Add Networked Blogs back to my sidebar
  • Check out Mister Linky for WordPress (should the Virtual Nightstand be a meme?)
  • Write an advertisement for an associate reviewer

Whew! That’s probably enough of a list. This is going to be fun. Or work disguised as fun. Or fun disguised as work.

Lots of good stuff will get done. Bring on the Bloggiesta!

What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand? 3/11/12

The Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference is winding down. The final sessions are this evening, March 11. The conference has been absolutely awesome, and I’m definitely planning to do it again next year. I’ve learned so much.

However (cough, cough) my to-do list for the next couple of weeks has grown by leaps and bounds because of all the good information I’ve picked up.

And it is definitely conference season. This week, March 14-16, we have the Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia. We meaning I’m going to Philly. And since public librarians purchase a lot of fiction, there should be a lot of Advance Reading Copies available on the exhibit floor.

The good news is that because my husband works for a library vendor, I discovered at ALA Midwinter I can ship the ARCs I pick up back home with their booth. The bad news is that I can ship the ARCs I pick up back home with their booth. Those of you who are addicted to books know exactly what I mean.

Because of PLA, I am pleased to say that the nightstand for the upcoming week is not quite as covered with books as it might be. Catch up time!

First up is Haevyn by Darcy Abriel. This is the second book in her Humanotica series, after Silver. And just like Silver, I have also promised to review this for Book Lovers Inc. Haevyn is due out on March 20, and I need to get them my review before then. Howsomever, when you read my review and/or my thoughts about Silver, although it was interesting, you’ll see that it wasn’t my favorite book. It’s SFR, which is why I took it, but Silver was not a main character with agency. Thankfully Silver isn’t the point-of-view character for Haevyn. I’m hoping for more worldbuilding and a main character who moves the story under his own steam instead of waiting for thing to happen to him.

My other title is Suzanne Brockmann’s Born to Darkness. I haven’t read Brockmann before but I’ve heard tons of good things. This title is the first in a new series, and it’s military-based paranormal. I’ve really enjoyed the military-based romances I’ve read recently (The Night is Mine, SEAL of my Dreams, and military sci-fi titles too numerous to mention) and I adore paranormal, so this seemed like a great way to try some of Brockmann’s work. There’s a prequel e-only short story for Born to Darkness titled Shane’s Last Stand. Completist that I am, I’m going to read that first. Of course.

As far as last week’s nightstand goes, I finished Motor City Mage, and it was a treat! I think this might be the last we see of magical Detroit, because this is the last couple to be matched up in this group of otherworldly and magical beings. I’m sad to see this one end.

It looks like Apocalypse to Go and The House of Velvet and Glass are going to be my “airplane books” for the trip to Philadelphia. I always take at least one print book for the plane, so I have something to read when they make me turn of my iPad. Those will be it.

Reading Reality‘s blogoversary is coming up! April 4 marks the one year anniversary of the blog. It’s the day before my birthday, too. But I’d like to do something special to mark the blogoversary. Because of the two conferences, I still have my thinking cap on.

I would love to hear ideas for the blogoversary from readers. I’d love for you to help me celebrate!

But until the party starts, it’s still a regular week. Ebook Review Central is tomorrow. See you bright and early with featured titles from Carina Press.



Book Bloggers Unite at BBPOC

This has to be the best idea ever! I’m just sorry I missed it last year.

There’s a Book Bloggers and Publishers Conference March 7-11. Where is it? Online, of course!

The schedule looks absolutely fabulous. Starting at noon on Wednesday, with my favorite people in the whole reviewing world, NetGalley.

But there’s more. There are sessions about the nasty legal issues. and what do publishers expect. How to work with authors. And one I’m very, very interested, all about working with private PR companies.

The schedule for the five-day conference is incredibly jam-packed. I’m not sure whether to be amused or consider it a symptom of the book blogging breed that the sessions for “Time Management” and “Online Organization Specialist” are both on the last day of the conference.

But seriously, folks who attended last year say they were glued to their computers the entire time the conference was going on. That’s pretty impressive for a multi-day online conference.

I’m also looking forward to the ebooks the conference is giving attendees. This is just like ALA. Free book galleys. But no sore back this time. Yeah!

All of us bloggers have been incentivized to blog about the upcoming conference. One lucky blogger who promotes the conference in their blog will receive an extra set of books. Do they know their audience, or do they know their audience?

But I have to wonder, who is going to blog about books while this conference is going on?

NaNoWriMo no, NaBloPoMo, yes!

Everyone has heard of NaNoWriMo. It’s the month where people all over the United States commit to writing so many words per day, in order to kick-start themselves into writing their novel. It’s like a global support group for novelists. NaNoWriMo is a not-quite abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. But I’m pretty sure it’s expanded way beyond the U.S. boundaries, at least unofficially.

NaNoWriMo is held in November every year. And it’s a really neat idea. But I’m not writing a novel. I write pretty much every day, but so far, there isn’t a novel screaming to come out of me. Someday, maybe, but not today.

Today, I’m here to talk about NaBloPoMo, which does not quite roll as trippingly over the tongue as NaNoWriMo, but is way more relevant for me.

NaBloPoMo is National Blog Posting Month, and is organized by the terrific ladies at BlogHer. Signing up for NaBloPoMo is a commitment to post something to my blog every single day for an entire month. The absolutely fantastic thing about NaBloPoMo is that it’s NaBloPoMo every month!

Yes, I’m committed. I’ve signed up to be one of the Book Bloggers on NaBloPoMo for the month of February. The complete list of February bloggers is here on BlogHer, so please take a peek at my fellow inmates. If you are interested in joining us, the blogroll will remain open until February 5.

Because my primary focus lies someplace in the ebook and book world, defined as broadly as possible to include libraries and bookstores, I always have something to write about because NetGalley kindly provides egalleys for me to review. There is never a lack of material. I run headlong into the “so many books, so little time” conundrum more than anything else.

For participants without that, let’s call it a saving grace, NaBloProMo provides a writing prompt that bloggers can use for inspiration if needed. The February prompt is “RELATIVE”.

My mind went to “relatives” as in family. Not so much to my own family as to families in books. J.D. Robb’s Celebrity in Death is due out at the end of February, and I’m looking forward to slurping it up as soon after midnight as my iPad will process the download. Eve Dallas is an orphan, and as we find out during the course of the series, for damn good reasons. But she does have a family. The family she made, not her birth family. And yet, they are very much her family, and they love each just as much, if not more, than many families. After all, they put their lives on the line for each other every day.

How many series, especially mystery/detective series, do you follow just to keep up with the “family”?