Tag Archive | online

TBR – books To Be Read AND books To Be Reviewed! (reflective)

cartoon of cat wearing party hat with champagne glassWell, the holiday season is almost complete, the old year nearly done, the new year peeking around the clocktower… and soon I’ll be back in the saddle, writing BooksYALove blog posts, recommending YA books that you might miss if you rely on the big-box stores’ displays and promotions.

So it’s a great time to make resolutions – especially ones that you can successfully keep! I’m taking my cue from Evie over at her Bookish blog and concentrating on my overflowing TBR piles and shelves.

For me, that’s the To Be Read shelves, whose covers I haven’t even opened yet, as well as the other TBR shelves, my To Be Reviewed/Recommended books, the ones that I’ve read and enjoyed, but haven’t quite gotten around to crafting my recommendations for… yet.

And they’re really good books! Otherwise, I just chuck them into the giveaway box. Y’all don’t have time to read ho-hum, formulaic books, do you? So I have stacks of 2012 copyright books that I haven’t told you about…yet.

So that’s my priority for BooksYALove in 2013: to efficiently tackle my 2012 awesome books while bringing you the best debut titles and books from smaller publishers as they arrive, hot off the presses throughout the year. TBR Challenge, here I come!

To keep me honest, I’m registering my intent over on Evie’s blog: http://www.evie-bookish.blogspot.com/p/welcome-to-2012-tbr-pile-reading.html and will be checking in with a linked post monthly, highlighting my 2012 must-reads, as shared with y’all through BooksYALove (and usually on Barb Langridge’s abookandahug site, too: www.abookandahug.com).

Promising an exact number of posts each week seems unrealistic, but I’ll do my best to make you hungry to read these wonderful books at your local library or purchased from your favorite indie bookstore (keep your money in town, okay?) – and please, let me know if I’m bringing you titles that sound intriguing, unmissable, or out-of-the-ordinary.

Indeed, 2012 was a great year for Young Adult books, so let’s hope that 2013 is equally stellar.
Which genre is your can’t-wait-to-read favorite? Happy New Year, and happy reading!

*kmm
(celebratory cat cartoon courtesy of DesignedToaT: http://www.designedtoat.com/newyears.shtml)

On the Road…again and again (reflective) – pause in review postings

San Luis Valley Sunset

Well, I thought that I would be able to keep up with my normal three-times-weekly blog posting schedule this summer, but moving (in July) and long vacation with unreliable internet service (now through mid-September) have shot a hole in that idea.

I’ve discovered that I can read books anywhere, even with noise and other potential distractions. But writing my recommendations requires a level of quiet that I cannot get during all this to-and-fro stuff.

So be assured that I am reading marvelous YA books for y’all while logging thousands of miles as pickup truck navigator and will have so many great recommendations to write up soon.

In the meantime, if you want an occasional account of our ramblings in the Mountain West during vacation, follow me on Twitter @BooksYALove ; that account will return to its normal coverage of books, cats, health news, learning styles, and other such stuff when ‘real life’ resumes.

Looking for some fun end-of-summer reads? Try a road trip through the wackiest parts of touristy Florida with How to Be Bad (my no-spoiler review here) or Myra’s summer job with a dream in Girls Don’t Fly (more here).

May all your reading journeys have intriguing endings!
**kmm

On ARCs, review timing, and niches (reflective) – my blog = my choices & recommendations

sketch of black cat reading a sheet of paper
from OpenClipart.org

After I left my High School library 3 years ago, I seriously missed being able to connect the right books with the right readers. Thankfully, a shout-out from Barb Langridge on LM_NET (school librarians’ listserv) let me start writing recommendations of great books for babies, kids, tweens, and teens on her site www.abookandahug.com. (Try the “Which Reading Superhero Are You?” quiz – it’s spot on!)

Then on May 1, 2011, I started BooksYALove as part of the WordCount Blogathon so that I could add my own personal observations and relevant info links to my recommendations. Despite other bloggers’ urging, I have NOT ‘monetized’ this blog – no referral links to online book retailers or ads. I will often point readers to sites where they can search for local library or independent bookseller – sales taxes support essential services where we live, ya know.

I want BooksYALove to be a repository of recommendations for books that YA readers might miss – those great ones from first-time authors, small publishers, and smaller imprints of major publishing houses. The books must be available in a bricks-and-mortar store (even if by special order) and from more than one source online if in electronic formats = I won’t point YA readers toward any book that requires a credit card in order to obtain it, so I’m not accepting self-published works currently.

My TBR (to be read) stacks of printed ARCs and new books require additional bookshelves now, while my downloaded ARCs need some sort of pinging alarm system to remind me of their digital expiration dates.

BooksYALove is a niche blog, so I’m picky about the ARCs that I choose, whether it’s at Texas Library Conference or directly from publishers. And as for the ARCs themselves, I admit to having a love/hate relationship: 
I love being able to get ARCs so that I can read and recommend the best works from debut authors and smaller presses, but I hate the pile-up of non-sellable books (if print format) and the too-quick expiration of most digital ARCs.

Yes, I realize that publishers are wary of allowing digital-format ARCs to be “out in the wild” once the works are actually published, but I don’t want to be forced to write a recommendation during their preset publicity schedule! Yes, word-of-mouth publicity just prior to publication date helps create “buzz” for a new book, but you’d think that publishers would like to also build up a groundswell of sales during the months (or years) following a book’s birthday.

Best-case scenario for me is to read the book and write a recommendation during the digital ARC’s open-time, then publish it on my schedule. So thanks to the urging of Bekka at Pretty Deadly Reviews, I’m signing up for the Netgalley Knockdown in July, trying to read all of the digital ARCs currently in my queue with Netgalley, Edelweiss, and directly from publishers, write up at least the barebones of any recommendations (since not every interesting-sounding book makes the cut for BooksYALove, you know), then decide when I want to blog them.

I’ll keep choosing just the best ARCs to place on my real and virtual TBR shelves for books you won’t want to miss. Lots of great reading ahead, y’all!
**kmm

Listen up! (audio) – SYNC your reading with 2 free audiobooks weekly through August

teen girl with earbuds listening to SYNC free YA audiobooks

Audiobooks!  All summer!   FREE!

Yes, the SYNC program is back for summer 2012, providing two great audiobooks for you to download – free! – each week (Thursday-Wednesday).

One is a recent YA title, the other is a classic, both in full-audio recording by outstanding readers. Each title is downloaded separately and is available only during that week’s download window.

The SYNC audiobooks use Overdrive (free download through the Audiobooksync page here) which many US public libraries also use for audiobook check-out. Once you’ve downloaded a SYNC title, it’s yours – no due dates or expiration.

Here’s the rest of the summer’s lineup. Click on a link to read more about the book and its reading cast, and mark your calendar to download it during its scheduled week:

June 21 – June 27, 2012
Irises  by Francisco X. Stork, Read by Carrington MacDuffie (Listening Library)
Sense and Sensibility  by Jane Austen, Read by Wanda McCaddon (Tantor Media)

June 28 – July 4, 2012
The Amulet of Samarkand  by Jonathan Stroud, Read by Simon Jones (Listening Library)
Tales from the Arabian Nights  by Andrew Lang, Read by Toby Stephens (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 5 – July 11, 2012
Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake, Read by August Ross (AudioGO)
The Woman in White  by Wilkie Collins, Read by Ian Holm (AudioGO)

July 12 – July 18, 2012
Guys Read: Funny Business  by Jon Scieszka [Ed.] et al., Read by Michael Boatman, Kate DiCamillo, John Keating, Jon Scieszka, Bronson Pinchot (Harper Audio)
The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Stories  by Mark Twain, Read by Norman Dietz (Recorded Books)

July 19 – July 25, 2012
Cleopatra’s Moon  by Vicky Alvear Shecter, Read by Kirsten Potter (Oasis Audio)
Antony and Cleopatra  by William Shakespeare, Read by a Full Cast (AudioGO)

July 26 – August 1, 2012
Pinned  by Alfred C. Martino, Read by Mark Shanahan (Listen & Live Audio)
TBA (Brilliance Audio)

August 2 – August 8, 2012
Daughter of Smoke and Bone  by Laini Taylor, Read by Khristine Hvam (Hachette Audio)
A Tale of Two Cities  by Charles Dickens, Read by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio)

August 9 – August 15, 2012
Skulduggery Pleasant  by Derek Landy, Read by Rupert Degas (Harper Audio)
Dead Men Kill  by L. Ron Hubbard, Read by Jennifer Aspen and a Full Cast (Galaxy Press)

August 16 – August 22, 2012
The Whale Rider  by Witi Ihimaera, Read by Jay Laga’aia (Bolinda Audio)
The Call of the Wild  by Jack London, Read by William Roberts (Naxos AudioBooks)

Please note that several of this summer’s SYNC selections are available to listeners outside of the USA; check this list for details.

Thanks to these audiobook publishers, you can fill your mind with stories all summer, so mark your calendar to get the SYNC downloads you want.
Which title is tops on your personal listening list?
**kmm

"We now return to our regular programming" (reflective) – BooksYALove posting schedule update

drawing of black cat reading a paper original from Diamond Dye advertisement
from Library of Congress *

We did it!

I wrote and y’all read every BooksYALove post through April’s AtoZ Blog Challenge and May’s WordCount 2012 Blogathon (at least, I hope you read them all).

Highlighting so many great YA books in a such a short time has indeed been challenging. I read books quickly, but really take my time writing recommendations to give readers a good taste of the book without revealing any vital plot twists or the ending (I personally hate spoilers in reviews!).

So BooksYALove goes back to its normal posting pattern on June 1; you’ll get lots of great books to choose from, but on a more-relaxed summertime schedule.

Watch for Mysterious Mondays and tales of the paranormal, fantasy, whodunits, and such – like Wizard of Dark Street, Between Sea and Sky,  and Hereafter.

We’ll have World Wednesdays, with historical and contemporary books set in places outside the United States, including Australia (Butterflies  and Dying to Tell Me), Africa (Now is the Time for Running  and Mamba Point), and Southeast Asia (Nowhere Girl  and Dogtag Summer).

Fun Fridays can bring humorous books, crazy settings, and non-fiction faves, from yummy Insanewiches  and Ask Elizabeth about anything, to the summertime wackiness of Withering Tights  and Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots.

Occasionally, books will slip in on other days of the week, especially for “book birthdays” (marking their first day of sale) and holidays. So many great books being published this summer and fall – just you wait!

So, which BooksYALove titles have been your favorites? What sorts of young adult books do you want to see more of? Which upcoming titles have you bouncing on the edge of your seat, anxiously awaiting their publication? Let me know, and I’ll see what I can wrangle from the publishers…
**kmm

* Black Cat reading, from vintage Diamond Dye advertisement, Public Domain image uploaded to http://openclipart.org, available for creative reuse with no fees or restrictions.

Word Cloud Day! (reflective) – important words and the big picture

heart shaped word cloud of BooksYALove blogpost words made using Tagxedo

Making word clouds is so much fun!

Today’s WordCount Blogathon challenge was to create a word cloud using our recent blog posts.

The more often that a word is used in the text selection submitted to the word cloud generator, the larger that the word appears in the word cloud. You can omit extra-common or extraneous words from the word list, choose one or more fonts to use, horizontal or vertical or mixed-up word orientation, and other creative options.

LOVE shaped word cloud of words used on BooksYALove blog created with Tagxedo
Using the free online Tagxedo word cloud generator allowed me to go past the original cloud-shaped display that Wordle makes and select from dozens of shapes, including four different hearts and the iconic LOVE graphic.

I couldn’t choose only one Tagxedo, just like I can’t limit myself to just one YA book beyond the bestsellers to recommend per week!
**kmm

Advice to Graduates & all of us (reflective) – in which Neil Gaiman is quoted, because he said it best

Dear friends who are graduating (and everyone else, too),
I hope you’ve already seen this video of author Neil Gaiman addressing the University of the Arts Class of 2012 at their graduation.

I hope you’ve listened to it more than once, especially if you’re finishing school (at any level) and are about to go out into the big wide world of work and responsibility and joy and distress and the chance to make a difference.

“Make. Good. Art,” says Gaiman. Even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, those words are meant for you: whatever it is that you are passionate about, do it well, and keep on doing it – through good times or bad, whether it’s your vocation or avocation.

It may be your “day job” which fulfills you (like Maggie in Paper Daughter) or something after hours (like Haven in Illuminate).

It may be the first thing you try which makes the biggest impact in the lives of others (like Lex in Croak) or maybe the tenth (like Mercy).

It may be something that you’ve studied and trained for which turns out to be your best gift to those around you (like Sage in The False Prince) or perhaps not (like Ismae in Grave Mercy).

I hope you’ll listen to this talk again when you need a reminder of what you can do to make the world better – just one person, doing whatever it is that you love to do best, finding satisfaction in the doing, not just the result (like Mitch in Payback Time).

Listen well – Make good art, in whatever manner your talent for increasing the world’s happiness leads you.
Whether you’re a new graduate or older and worldly-wise, remember that every sunrise brings you a new chance to begin to make good art.
**kmm

If BooksYALove started today… (reflective) – blogging lessons learned in a year

old catalog drawing of manual typewriter

not my typewriter

Today, the 2012 WordCount Blogathon theme asks us to consider what we’d do differently with our blogs: “If I started blogging today I would….”

Hmmm… I’d compare WordPress and Blogger more closely before deciding which one to use. I started BooksYALove just hours before the 2011 Blogathon began, so I went with Blogger where I already had a personal blog for an online technology update course and it was a snap to add another blog.

From reading other bloggers’ experiences with plugins, going to self-hosted blog platform, etc., it sounds like WordPress has an edge over Blogger once it’s time to take off the blogging-training-wheels. But I have gotten used to Blogger’s interface (even when it changed right in the middle of a blog challenge for me) and really like the theme colors and layout that I selected, so I’m staying with Blogger for now.

I wish I’d had enough time and confidence to register my domain name from day one so that all my outreach, publicity, and business cards had pointed to that web address from the very start. I probably will go self-hosted soon to give me more control over my own writings, since BooksYALove is meant to be a searchable archive of great books for young adult book fans.

Some things that I wouldn’t change: I was immensely fortunate in finding my first choice of blog name available; the “YA” in the middle can mean “young adult” which is the book category that I cover or “ya” like the casual “you” since I’m writing recommendations directly to young adult book readers (rather than to librarians or those who purchase books for others).  And every book has to be one that a significant group of readers will love – I don’t review every YA book that I read – so only the books that would rank 4-5 stars get the nod for BooksYALove.

During my first month of blogging in May 2011, I settled on a blog format that suited my writing style, taking some of my YA recommendations posted on Barb Langridge’s www.abookandahug.com website and adding commentary with relevant subject links. Since I hate reading reviews that give away the ending or significant plot twists, I vowed to never do that to my readers – so, no spoilers, ever!

Longtime followers/subscribers have probably noticed some stylistic changes on BooksYALove in recent weeks, as I adjusted font sizes for better readability, added a new logo and blog background (courtesy of my talented daughter, the graphic designer), and started some easy-click book lists in tabs at the top of the page.

And I’ll continue to participate each May in WordCount Blogathons, where I’ve found community (some of us posted in the Blogathon GoogleGroup for an entire year, not just the month of May!), advice, support, and the spark that set me off on this blogging adventure in the first place. Thanks, Michelle & the whole Blogathon crew!
**kmm

(clipart of antique typewriter courtesy of Florida Center for Instructional Technology, University of South Florida)

Bloggiesta? (reflective) – gearing up for book blogging challenges ahead

Where did the first quarter of 2012 go?
How can it be time for TWO back-to-back blogging challenges to start already?
Bloggiesta to the rescue! (love that logo)

Time to make sure BooksYALove is ready for the full-speed blogging journey ahead, so I’m doing some Bloggiesta mini-challenges this weekend.

My To-Do List:
1. Set up my first giveaway! Decide whether or not to use Rafflecopter – using Competitive Bibliomaniac’s tutorial/mini-challenge here
2. Add pages of titles & review links with big themes (dystopian, romantic, funny, etc) as another way for readers to connect with books – as noted in Charlotte’s mini-challenge – some done, more to come!
3. Add policy page about accepting books & formats, contest rules– thanks, Squeaky Books.
4. Prep every post for April with title, tags/labels, cover image & book info – put in queue for proper release day A-Z
5. Write & save tweets for each daily post to add to Bufferapp queue on night before post
6. Start investigating SEO (search engine optimization), with help from Good Books & Good Wine’s mini-challenge
7. Make sure it’s easy to find my contact information on the blog.

Whew! That’s plenty for one weekend, but should help me be ready to roll on the AtoZ Blog Challenge which begins Sunday, April 1st!
Stay tuned…
*kmm

Ready, set, blog! (reflective) – blog challenges ahead

Did you ever get a “little set in your ways”?
Is it time to push your writing muscles a bit?
A blog challenge may be just what you need!

With over 150 book recommendations, BooksYALove heads into its 12th month with a wow, as I participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge in April.

Rather than just posting 3 books a week, I will be posting on 26 of April’s 30 days according to the Challenge’s alphabetical schedule, starting with A on Sunday, April 1 (no fooling).

Naturally, trying to align the alphabet with the stack of great YA books that I want to recommend isn’t as easy as I’d hoped. Using book titles would be simple – if I had some that began with X or didn’t have multiple titles that all start with the same letter. Ditto for authors’ names, last or first. So, there will be a few entries that get shoehorned into a letter slot because of their subject or a major character.

But why do a blog challenge in the first place? You’ve heard that it takes 30 days to acquire a new habit, so a month-long challenge with a set framework and some coaching will make your success more likely, as will being accountable to the challenge organizers and fellow bloggers as we exercise our blog-writing ‘muscles’ and encourage each other.

On April 30th, my blog’s first birthday, I’ll take another deep breath and plunge into the full 31-day Wordcount Blogathon, with a big thank-you to its host Michelle Rafter. Yep, I finally began blogging so that I could participate in the 2011 Wordcount Blogathon. Lots of excellent advice, a forum to share our posts, guest post exchange – you should sign up for the 2012 version, too! It’s free, you won’t get any sales pitches, and your blogging muscles will get great exercise. Sign-ups will begin soon, so I’ll remind you!

Ready, set, April!
**kmm
(photograph of lichen on oak branch (c)2012 H.B. Massingill Jr. – thanks, Dad!)