Armchair BEA–Introductions




While I would love to go to BEA, unfortunately, the timing never seems to work out for me.  I actually had everything but the plane ticket booked last year, but had to cancel to due to a family illness.  Once again, the book lovers Mecca is out of reach this year, so I decided to participate in Armchair BEA again.  You can learn more about this event by clicking this link.

To get things rolling this year, participants are asked to answer five questions, and then hop around and visit other participating blogs, so here goes:

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I am Julie, aka Manga Maniac.  I have been blogging for about 7 years, and when I started the blog, I mostly reviewed manga and graphic novels.  I started blogging as a way to keep track of the storylines for all of the all of the series I was reading, and I enjoyed doing it so much that I haven’t stopped!

2. What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012? 

I am currently reading Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill.  It’s a zombie western with some steampunk elements tossed in for good measure.  I am enjoying it so far, but the pacing is faltering near the end.

Some of my favorites so far this year include: The Song of Achilles, Lies Beneath, Storybound, The Marriage Bargain, The Stubborn Dead, and Born Wicked. 

3. Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I am terrified to speak in public!  This is kind of funny because I don’t mind sharing my writing, and I live to show my horses.  I just have a really, really hard time speaking in front of even a small group of people.

4. What is your favorite feature on your blog (i.e. author interviews, memes, something specific to your blog)?

I love to interview authors!  I enjoy learning about how they came up with their stories and characters, and what they like to read when they aren’t working. 

5.  Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?

When I first started blogging, I was only reading manga and graphic novels.  Now I find myself reading everything but graphic novels.  I became burned out on them, especially when my favorite series were canceled or my favorite publishers shut their doors (CMX, I still miss you desperately).  I hate not knowing how things end, so it was discouraging to have so many series left dangling.  There are several that I still love, but I’m letting a few volumes pile up before I start getting invested in them again.

What about you? If you are participating in Armchair BEA, please link your posts so I can drop in and say “hi.”

June Reading Goals and May Wrap-Up

In order to help myself tackle more review books, both print and digital, once a month I will be posting a list of books that I hope to read during that month.  I work more efficiently when I have a game plan, so hopefully these monthly posts will keep me focused on my goal of reading and reviewing more books, and will make my TBR not seem so intimidating.  By breaking away chunks of the TBR mountain, I can better manage my reading. In theory, anyway!

I read 15 books in May, and there were so many goods ones it’s hard to pick a favorite.  I think Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai was excellent, and When You Were Mine by Rebecca Searle was a pleasant surprise.  Some of my reading time was taken over by blog maintenance issues, which I find very stressful to deal with.  I had to change the blog template, and I’m not sure that I like this one.

June might be a slow reading month for me; I’ll be out of town at a horse show for a week and sometimes it is difficult to squeeze in reading time.  There are so many other things to do – like eat!  Anyway, here is what  I would like to read in June.

Dead Reckoning by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill

The Marked by Inara Scott

The Taker by Alma Katsu

Last Real Cowboy by Donna Alward

Body & Soul by Stacey Kade

Transcendence by C J Omololu

Horse Camp by Nicole Lea Helget

Tempest Unleashed by Tracy Deebs

The Forgetting Curve by Angie Smibert

Burn Mark by Laura Powell

Can’t Buy Me Love by Molly O’Keefe

Storm by Brigid Kemmerer

Wreck of the Nebula Dream by Veronica Scott

Deep Autumn Heat by Elizabeth Barrett

The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze

Blood Before Sunrise by Amanda Bonilla

Chase Me by Tamara Hogan

Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine by Jayne Fresina

Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half  by Samantha Grace

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

What’s on your reading list for June?

Ready! Set! READ!!

This is Not In My Mailbox

funny cat pictures - Lolcats: Ohai hooman

see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

While trying to the avoid getting caught up in the Drama that has been the YA blogging community the past week, I do have some strong opinions that I want to express.  If you are tired of the plagiarism scandal, please scroll down to the photo I have added to this post for your enjoyment. 

Early last week, Kristi from The Story Siren was busted for plagiarism.  Her lack of judgment was actually discovered by the fashion bloggers she stole content from way back in January, but at her request, they choose to keep quiet about the discovery after she deleted the posts with the filched content.  Jane from Dear Author and Sarah from Smart B*tches caught wind of the cover up and exposed her dishonesty on their blogs.  Why am I even mentioning this?  Because as someone who loves books and loves words, I am not going to support her blog any longer by linking to her site, participating in her memes or entering her contests.  I urge you to do the same, if you love authors and their words as much as I do.

I am writing this post on Wednesday evening because I will be out of town over the weekend.  Because Kristi’s published apologies are vague and don’t actually take ownership of her indiscretions, I am including links so that you can read about the mess for yourself.  Form your own opinion of how to handle the situation.  I have a very difficult time supporting a blogger, a prominent leader in the YA blogging community, as well as an aspiring author, after she has been caught stealing another’s words and representing them to the community as her own. 

After reading her two non apologies, I was appalled.  She did not take ownership of her misdeeds, and in order to truly be forgiven for a crime, the perpetrator needs to actually be remorseful for their actions.  She does not do that.  She instead worries about her connection with publishers and authors, with little regard for her readers, the sole reason for the existence of her blog.  Instead of fessing up for her plagiarism, she says that “It was a confusion of inspiration and plagiarism on my part.”  That left me in a confusion as to the sincerely of her apology.  She dances around the issue, instead of accepting her guilt. 

If you are interested in reading more about this, check out these links -

Rachel from Parajunkee’s View

Jane from Dear Author

Sarah from Smart B*tches

B from Beautifully Invisible

V from Grit and Glamour

These are bloggers that I respect.  They have integrity, they are well spoken, and they don’t shy away from the truth.  That is behavior that I expect from a “leader” in a blogging community.  What I don’t expect are lies and half-truths.  Plagiarism is a big deal.  It gets you kicked out of school or fired from your job.  I don’t understand the lack of concern from Kristi’s most ardent admirers.  The reason I hear is that she is nice.  Guess what, guys? People thought that Ted Bundy was a charming guy, too. 

To borrow a page from The Story Siren (see, I am giving her credit), I will be moderating any comments received on this post.  Insulting comments will be deleted.  I will be out of town most of Sunday, so comments probably won’t start showing up until later in the day.

And here’s your picture

cute animals - Daily Squee: Hamster Love
see more Lolcats and funny pictures, and check out our Socially Awkward Penguin lolz!

Have a great Sunday!

It’s Almost Here – Bloggiesta 2012!

It’s almost time for Bloggiesta!  If you haven’t heard of it, check out this post at It’s All About BooksSign up while you’re there!  Here’s more information about Bloggiesta:

It’s time! Do you plan to fiesta with us the weekend  of March 30, 31 and April 1? Do you have things you’d like to do on your blog that you haven’t managed to get to in forever? Do you want to do those things with lots of other bloggers from all over? Talk things over with them? Bounce ideas off them? Learn from them? Teach them too?

This is a great event that will help you focus on some of the mechanical and maintenance aspects of running a blog.  Need to clean up that sidebar or spruce up your review templates?  You can do it during Bloggiesta! You can also participate in mini-challenges and network with other bloggers.  I participated last year, and learned many useful skills to keep my blog running smoothly.  Check it out if you haven’t participated before, because it is a lot of fun. 

Book Blogger Confessions-Positive Results of Book Blogging

Book Blogger Confessions is a newish meme hosted by Tiger’s All Consuming Media or For What It’s Worth.   On the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month they be discuss a topic that effects book bloggers and then give other bloggers a chance to vent, share their opinion or offer a solution.

If you want to participate just grab their button and include it in your post with a link to either Tiger’s All Consuming Media or For What It’s Worth.   They will be providing a linky at the end of their posts so people can "hop" to see all the participants answers.

 Question for Monday March 5th is:

Let’s talk about the positive side of blogging! How has blogging influenced your real life in a positive way? (not related to books or reading) Have you learned to be organized or are you more social now for example?

We’ve mostly been venting about the downsides of blogging (& don’t worry we’ll be getting back to those topics) but I know blogging has influenced my "real life" in many ways.

My Answer:

Blogging has helped me learn more about HTML and the mechanics behind websites.  It has also taught me about promotion.  I work at a computer company, and most of our sales are through a website, so blogging has made me realize how important a site’s appearance is.  It has also made me aware of how important Twitter and Facebook are for getting the word out there.   If I am having a problem with a company, I will send a Tweet to their Twitter account, and it still amazes me how quickly I get a response from that, after getting no response from more traditional methods of contact (and, yes, US Bank, I am talking to you).

Blogging has also helped break down my reluctance to reach out and connect with other bloggers and authors.  I am typically an introvert, and the thought of contacting people I don’t know used to fill me with dread.  Now, I realize that the worst response I can get is a “no” to an interview request, or no reply at all.  Most of the time, I am pleasantly surprised with the results of my outreach, and have only been shot down twice.  This helps me at work, too.  It’s so much easier to send an email or call when I have questions about products or services that we are interested in purchasing.

I have learned how to better manage my time, too.  I have discovered the importance of lists and making schedules, which helps quite a bit with my RL job.  You can never plan too much, or project an activity too far in advance.  Having a plan, one that is both flexible and attainable, keeps all of my job tasks flowing smoothly.

How about you? How has blogging positively influenced your real life?


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Book Blogger Confessions–Managing Deadlines



Book Blogger Confessions is a newish meme hosted by Tiger’s All Consuming Media or For What It’s Worth.   On the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month they discuss a topic that effects book bloggers and then give other bloggers a chance to vent, share their opinion, or offer a solution.

If you want to participate just grab their button and include it in your post with a link to either Tiger’s All Consuming Media or For What It’s Worth.   They will be providing a linky at the end of their posts so people can "hop" to see all the participants answers.

Today’s topic is:  Deadlines for reviewing and blogging. Do you set them? How do you keep them? What do you do if you can’t meet a deadline?

This is something I struggle with all the time!  Deadlines!  They stress me out!  I find it amusing that even though I hate being under pressure and having to meet deadlines, it is such a huge part of my book hobby.  That just doesn’t seem right, now, does it?

Here’s how I deal with those deadlines, which can dangle over my head like the Sword of Damocles.  I have a daily planner just for blogging.  I have tried to keep one online with Google Calendar, but I just can’t seem to make a virtual calendar work for me.  I mark down the dates of firm deadlines, and then I keep a sheet, updated weekly on Saturday, of looming deadlines.  Interview post dates don’t stress me out like review commitments.  I love reading author responses to my interview questions, and have a lot of fun with these posts, so they are easier to deal with.

Now reading and reviewing can cause a lot of apprehension.  I try not to make many firm commitments for book reviews.  When I am feeling pressured, I don’t enjoy reading as much.  I don’t enjoy blogging as much.  I can’t find my blogging mojo, and during those times, there are fewer reviews on the site.  Maybe Real Life is intruding, and I just don’t have the time or the attention span to write that review.  That’s never a good thing, so I keep my schedule for book reviews more flexible and fluid.

My biggest piece of advice to new bloggers: don’t over commit.  Blogging will quickly become a chore, and you won’t have fun doing it.  If you don’t have fun doing it, you will quickly stop blogging altogether.  Work out a schedule that works for you.  I work long hours to pay the bills, so reviewing and blogging activities happen mainly on the weekend.  I squeeze in as much reading as I can after work during the week, but some nights I am so tired that I actually fall asleep with a book propped up in my hands.  This tends to scare to crap out of me when I drop the book I was reading when I doze off.  Oops!

Set realistic goals for yourself, too.  I tend to be to a bit overly optimistic with how many books I can read in a month, but by posting a projected reading list at the start of each month, I feel that I at least have a plan to work with, and I work better with a plan.  I don’t beat myself up when I can’t get everything read, but at least I have a goal to work toward.  So setting goals for yourself that are realistic, and not over committing will keep your blog a more enjoyable activity.  If you lose the mojo, take a break.  Step away from your blog.  Take a deep breath.  This is supposed to be fun!

How do you manage your deadlines?  Leave links and share.

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Musing Mondays – To eRead or Not to eRead?

Musing Mondays is a bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should be Reading.

This week’s musing asks…

What devices –if any– do you read books on? Do you find it enjoyable, or still somewhat bothersome?

For the longest time, I was very resistant to the idea of ebooks.  I didn’t want to give up my paper books.  There is just something special about being able to hold a real book, being able to flip through the pages, being able to smell the paper and the ink.  I love gadgets, though, so when I received a Sony Reader for Christmas a few years ago, I was eager to try it out.  I quickly decided that I hated it.  It was slow and glitchy, and would have meltdowns, leaving me with no battery power and without a book to read.  Ugh!

Then I purchased an iPad, and after installing the Kindle app, I decided that maybe ereaders weren’t so bad.  While the battery life was less than ideal, at least it didn’t have major meltdowns.  The page turns were much faster than on the Sony Reader, and it had a great big plus that most other readers at the time lacked – it was backlit.  I need a lot of light in order to read comfortably, and the iPad delivered that requirement in spades.  The biggest negative to the device?  The god-awful glare from that shiny, glossy screen!   

Then Amazon released the Fire, and I just had to try it.  The iPad is kind of clunky for on the go reading, and when I received the Fire, it was love at first sight.  The battery life needs some work, but I love everything else about it.  It is light and easy to hold, the pages turn quickly, and it will sync with all of my other Kindle apps.  Now I prefer ebooks, and when I purchase new reads, I send them to my iPhone and my Kindle Fire so that I can read from anywhere.  Stuck in line at the grocery store? No problem – just whip out your phone and you’re entertained until it’s your turn to check out.  Stuck in the doctor’s waiting room?  No problem!  Don’t want to just stand there while gassing up your car?  No problem!  Screen glare is still an issue, but I don’t usually read outside, so I can live with it.

I also like the ability to download a sample before making a purchasing commitment.  I have sampled quite a few books I would ordinarily skip, and ended up enjoying them enough to click the Buy button.  One thing I don’t like about ebooks? It’s easy to lose track of what you have, and there’s not a good way to organize your digital bookshelves.  I am sure that as this market matures, there will be easy solutions for keeping better track of what’s on ereaders.

What about you?  Do you have an ereader?  Why or why not?