Sarah from Sarah Reads Too Much

BBAWI’m pleased today to share with you my interview with fellow book blogger Sarah from Sarah Reads Too Much. Please check out her wonderful blog! One thing I really like about her blog is that she reviews an eclectic mix of books, and I found myself perusing many of her posts looking for ideas for books to read. She has me sold on [amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] by Erin Morgenstern.

What has been your favorite book this year and why?

Easily [amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] by Erin Morgenstern.  I felt completely transported to a different place and time—I felt the magic in the pages.  I was truly sad to have finished it.  I have enjoyed many books this year, but this one completely blew me away in a different way.  I cannot recommend it enough.

I notice you participate in a lot of challenges. Which is your favorite? Why?

My favorite challenge is the one I started—The Back To The Classics Challenge 2011.  It is a thrill to be offered the number of advance copies and new release books to read and review, but I wanted to also remind and push myself to read Classic Literature as well.  I plan to continue the Challenge again next year, with a few updates to keep it fresh!

You read a wide variety of genres. Do you have a favorite? What’s your “desert island” book?

I love reading different genres; in fact I make it a personal point to not read books from the same genre back to back.  I don’t think I have a particular favorite…  I really enjoy the variety.  I’m not even sure what my “desert island” book would be!  Perhaps a heavy classic I haven’t read yet—as I’d have the time and few distractions—or maybe a light YA novel to encourage a good mood?

What is one book you find yourself recommending to everyone? Why that one?

I can’t recommend just any book to any one.  I first need to know what they like, and then go from there (the perk of reading so many genres I guess!)  For mystery lovers, I have lately been suggesting Tana French titles; YA I’d go with Stephanie Perkins or Myra McEntire, Literary Fiction -[amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] (of course!) or perhaps Matthew Norman’s [amazon_link id=”0062065114″ target=”_blank” ]Domestic Violets[/amazon_link], and I could go on and on.

What’s your favorite book set in Massachusetts (Stephanie’s current home state)?

The first book that comes to mind as a favorite would be Tom Perrotta’s [amazon_link id=”031236282X” target=”_blank” ]Little Children[/amazon_link], even though that book could really take place anywhere in suburban America.  I also just read a fun YA mystery set on Cape Cod titled [amazon_link id=”0545230500″ target=”_blank” ]Clarity[/amazon_link] by Kim Harrington.

Thanks, Sarah! It was a pleasure getting to know you! I am excited to try some of the books you discussed.


Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Community

BBAWIt’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week again!

A major focus of Book Blogger Appreciation Week is the awards, but I have always kind of felt ambivalent about the awards. Frankly, there are so many great book blogs that may not be nominated for a variety of reasons, and even leaving that concern aside, I have had a rather long history of just not understanding blog awards. Still, congratulations to the nominees.

Today I want to highlight a couple of book bloggers I particularly enjoy reading, and I’ll try to explain why. Obviously, I love so many blogs, and it’s hard to write posts like these because just like on the Academy Awards, you invariably do something stupid like forget to thank your husband (who by the way, writes wonderful blog posts, but not about books—er, my husband, that is; maybe yours does, too, but I wouldn’t know that).

First, I truly enjoy Jenny’s Books. Jenny’s reviews are always well-written and quite funny. I enjoy her selections, too. Jenny is kind enough to comment here regularly. I admire so many book bloggers for being good commenters. I read all your posts, I really do! What I need to do more often is leave a word or two. Jenny has great conversations in her blog comments, too.

I also love reading Jenners’s posts at Life with Books. Her posts are funny, and I love hearing about the Little One, too. Oh, and Mr. Jenners, of course. We have similar tastes in reading, and she has influenced me to add several books to my TBR pile. Plus we sometimes wind up reading the same books around the same time, and it’s fun to talk with her about them.

Iliana has influenced me in so many ways. Her blog Bookgirl’s Nightstand is such a wonderful blog, and she has so much stamina. She is such a wonderful artist, too. Have you seen her handmade journals? They’re beautiful! I was lucky enough to win one. I want to be like Iliana when I grow up. I’m also jealous of her trips to Germany.

Stephanie at Reviews by Lola is so awesome in so many ways. She reads so many books. I cannot figure out how she reads so many books so fast, but I wish I could be like her. She has influenced me to pick up several books or at least add them to my TBR piles. I love her succinct, helpful reviews, too.

In addition to book review blogs, I also like blogs about literature and writers. One of my favorites these days is Better Living Through Beowulf. Robin Bates, the author of this blog, explores literature’s relationship to everyday life. He sees allusions and connections in everything from sports to politics to spiritual matters, and his ability to connect literature to life amazes me.

I have been a longtime fan of Jane Austen’s World. Vic covers everything from Austen sequels to life in Georgian England, and I have learned so much from her blog.

Finally a new blog that I have been enjoying is Madame Guillotine. Melanie has really influenced me more as a fiction writer than as a book blogger. I like her independent spirit, and because of her, I decided to just go ahead and put my book on the Kindle, which has definitely increased its audience over just Lulu alone (you can order it in the sidebar). Her struggles and triumphs as a writer are fun to read about. I feel sometimes like a silent cheerleader (that whole needing-to-leave-more-comments thing).

BBAW: Future Treasures

The goal for Thursday’s blog theme for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year.

My favorite part was interviewing Jenny from Take Me Away. I love to get to know other bloggers, and it was really fun for me to think of question to ask, and it was fun for me to answer her questions, too. I think no matter what choices are made for next year, interview swaps should always be a part of BBAW.

My goals for next year are to create a reading challenge (although I saw someone else already had the same idea I had; still, I think I will try to do it anyway). I also want to participate in and complete as many fun challenges as catch my eye. I think reading challenges are one of the easiest and best ways to feel like a part of the book blogging community. I want to try to read 50 books. It might be possible since I am graduating from graduate school this December, but right now in mid-September, I’m sitting on 28 finished books. That is 22 away from 50, so I don’t think it will happen this year, but only 12 away from 40. It’s my hope that I can read 40 by the end of the year. We shall see. Another thing I’d like to do next year is continue to follow a blogging schedule. It seems counterintuitive, but putting myself on a schedule actually made me fall in love with this blog all over again. It gave me direction and purpose, and before long it didn’t really matter if I followed the exact schedule or not: I was blogging a lot more.

What did you like about BBAW? What are your goals for next year?

BBAW: Unexpected Treasures

Today’s topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is to share whether or not I’ve tried a new book or genre because of the influence of a blogger. In a roundabout way, yes, I have. I follow a lot of readers on Twitter, although they don’t necessarily all have blogs. I picked up Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy because of all the tweets and reviews of Mockingjay. More than bloggers, however, Valerie Jackson’s show Between the Lines has convinced me to read a book, including John Burnham Schwartz’s The Commoner, which turned out to be a great book, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, which was pretty good, and American Music, which I didn’t like as much (and didn’t finish). I have also purchased books Ms. Jackson discusses, but haven’t necessarily finished yet.

Carl’s R.I.P. Challenge has encouraged me to use the excuse of creepy fall reading to read some authors I had been meaning to get around to anyway, such as Neil Gaiman and Daphne DuMaurier.

I don’t think I’d have picked up Georgette Heyer’s Charity Girl if Laurel Ann hadn’t asked me to be a part of the Heyer birthday celebration at Austenprose. I also picked up The Annotated Pride and Prejudice after first seeing it mentioned on a Jane Austen blog.

What about you? Has a book blogger ever convinced you to pick up a book?

Interview with Jenny from Take Me Away

Happy Book Bloggers’ Appreciation Week! I will catch up with the festivities soon, I promise. Meanwhile, I interviewed Jenny who blogs at Take Me Away as part of the BBAW book bloggers’ interview swap, and I’m so happy to have found a new blog to read! My questions and her answers appear below.

  1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
  2. I live in Central Florida with my husband and dog. I work as a social worker and am also doing an internship as a mental health therapist, so I’m pretty busy! And I love to reading and blogging. That’s pretty much it!

  3. How did you choose the title for your blog?
  4. I wanted a name that was somewhat unique and that described what books were for me. I called it Take Me Away because that’s what I feel books do… whether it’s that I’m “literally” being taken away to another state, country, etc. or just that I’m being “taken away” from real life, stress, etc. In that sense, reading is an escape for me!

  5. What made you decide to start a book blog?
  6. A few years ago I joined and started playing in the games forum. It was fun getting to “meet” so many other readers. There were a couple people on there who had book blogs and that was when I first learned of them. I thought it sounded like fun to write about the books we read. Plus, I tend to forget about books shortly after reading them, even if I love them (LOL), so I thought blogging would be a good way to document my thoughts that I can look back on and remember.

  7. I see you have participated in several reading challenges this year, including the Brontë one I did as well. Can you talk about which one is your favorite and why? Why do you do reading challenges? What do you like about them?
  8. This is sort of a funny question for me…. see, I join challenges with the caveat that they will not stress me out—they’re more something I strive for. So it’s almost like the challenge is there and I join them but then don’t think much about them. In reality, I don’t ever choose books to read for challenges… it’s more like I read whatever and when that challenge ends I figure out how much of what I read fits in that category; though I’ll admit it is fun when I know a book I’m reading will meet the requirements for a challenge. If I had to pick a favorite I would say either of the “imprints” challenges like the Amy Einhorn one or the Reagan Arthur one… I think the ones that have the most eclectic choice of books to choose from are my favorites. Or the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die one because I feel like I’m reading some good, important books!

  9. Do you set a rhythm or schedule for updates? If so, what?
  10. On a regular/good week I was aiming for 2-3 book reviews. I’ll substitute some type of bookish topic for a review if I have something to say. But lately my reading slowed down considerably (August was a rough reading month) so my posts were much more sporadic. I’m just now starting a new feature where on Fridays I am posting a review of a short story from an anthology of short stories that appeared in The New Yorker. So I think I will aim for 1-2 book reviews/posts other than that each week. And I pretty much try to separate all my posts by 2 or 3 days. I currently have 5 book reviews ready to go whenever I want to post them, but this is by far the most I’ve ever had prepared at once!! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up though.

  11. What is your favorite genre to read and why?
  12. I am truly an eclectic reader. I have favorite genres but even with those I feel like I have to make a departure from them every once in a while. I really enjoy women’s fiction, contemporary fiction of all types, literary fiction, and mystery/thrillers. Even with mystery/thrillers, though, I prefer the ones that are more literary in nature. I really like reading books that make me think about an issue and/or that can lead to interesting conversations. But then I also like fun, fluffy books every once in a while too!

  13. Do you have a favorite book? Or a shortlist of favorite books? If so, what is it/are they and why?
  14. Ahhh, my favorite books change all the time! Currently, I say my favorite is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. For a long time Wuthering Heights was my favorite. Strangely, one of my favorite books is Daughter of the Forest (the first in the Sevenwaters trilogy). I say strangely because I typically am not a fan of that genre! But I’ve read that one 3 or 4 times. I really loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls both by Lisa See. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb was absolutely fantastic and I considered it a favorite too but I’ve only read it once and haven’t had a chance to read it again to confirm it’s still a favorite. Some of my favorite “fluffier” books are Jemima J by Jane Green and Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I know there are so many other great books out there, though, that will become a favorite that I just haven’t had a chance to read yet!

  15. Do you use book blog reviews when trying to decide whether or not to read a book? What about Goodreads, Amazon, or the like?
  16. Yes and no. If I see a book in the store that looks good and I haven’t heard about it before, I may buy it without looking into reviews. But definitely when I do read reviews for books I can be swayed into buying/reading a book as well as talked out of it. I sometimes use the user reviews at, but for reviews I usually refer to book blogs.

  17. Can you talk about Throwback Thursday, the book meme you created?
  18. I created Throwback Thursday because most book blogs tend to focus on newer books and/or books that are only just now being ready by the blogger. But most of us have been readers for years and have extensive lists (physically or not) of books we have read in the past that still deserve recognition! I used to do the meme weekly but after a while had difficulty keeping up so now I have it on a mainly monthly schedule. I love talking about and remembering older books that I’ve read though!

  19. Who is the coolest author you ever met?
  20. Hmmm, coolest author…. I went to a luncheon/reading once for Jodi Picoult. There were so many people that even when having books signed we couldn’t really talk, but she sounded really intelligent when she gave her speech at the luncheon and was really nice. I met Kristy Kiernan at a local signing and she was sooooo incredibly nice and personable. I really liked her a lot. I can’t remember if there are many other authors that I’ve really had much of a conversation with (ahh hope I’m not leaving anyone out!!) I think Lauren Oliver is an awesome person based on her blog, and I have met her (at BEA), but my interaction with her was very short.

  21. Who are your favorite book bloggers?
  22. Oh, another very difficult question because I have so many! Jennifer with Crazy-For-Books who I consider a good blogging friend of mine… Michelle at Red Headed Book Child as well. The New Dork Review of Books is one of my favorites, as is The Five Borough Book Review. Those are seriously just a handful though because I have a loooong list of favorite bloggers! (I’m new to your blog but I’m really loving it too!) =)

Thanks Jenny for letting me interview you and for the opportunity to learn more about you! You can read Jenny’s interview of me at her blog.

BBAW: New Discoveries

The first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week invites last year’s participants to discuss book blogs they’ve discovered since last year’s BBAW. Some of my favorites “new to me” book blogs:

  • Bookish Nose: Jordan often reviews books I’ve never heard of. He was one of the folks who made me want to check out The Hunger Games trilogy.
  • DeRaps Reads: Hattie is a fellow English teacher and frequent commenter on my other blog. I like to keep up with what she’s reading, too! I love learning about new YA books.
  • Find Your Next Book Here: I actually just discovered this blog through BBAW. Jenners and I seem to circulate in the same areas of the book blogosphere, so it’s strange I hadn’t bumped into her before. I really like her posts for Show Me 5 Saturday.
  • Following Jane: David’s experiment is to read all of Jane Austen’s novels and share the experience with his readers.
  • Forever Young Adult: I love the humor in this blog. Plus they squeed over Mockingjay and allowed the rest of us to participate and enjoy.
  • Jenny’s Books: Jenny’s reviews are often funny and always helpful. I need to check out Diana Wynne Jones. Jenny’s the second person I’ve heard recommend Jones’s books.
  • Reviews by Lola: I love the way her blog looks. Everything is so organized. Plus, fellow Hunger Games fan and great reviews.
  • Stephanie’s Written Word: Stephanie just celebrated four years of book blogging. She hosts the Everything Austen Challenge, and I just love her reviews and tweets.

So who have you discovered since BBAW last year?

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Voting

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

I am voting for my favorites for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. It’s fun to discover some new blogs. I noticed as I was casting my votes that the following things tended to catch my eye:

  • Humor and snarkiness
  • A pleasing design

I love book bloggers who can inject a bit of humor into their writing. Humor is a little lacking over here at Much Madness is Divinest Sense, but perhaps that needs to change. The one review I wrote that included a little bit of humor because I was in a weird mood that day was so much fun to write. Of course, I am not sure that’s something I could sustain, and it isn’t even appropriate for all the kinds of reviews and writing I do here, but it’s something to think about. Also, I really admire Jenny’s reviews, and she is so often funny, as are the wonderful ladies at AustenBlog.

Given we are trained not to judge a book by its cover, what does my admiration for design have to do with anything? Well, I think if your site looks nice and is easy to navigate, it tends to say something about how seriously you take it. Maybe that’s not true in all cases, and frankly, if I like your blog enough, I’m probably reading it in Google Reader and only see the design when I comment, but I did tend to prefer the blogs that looked good and weren’t too cluttered with content, but still had some extra eye candy in the sidebars and images (that worked) in the posts.

I myself was way too chicken to enter my blog into this competition.

Hey Lady

BBAW: Celebrate Books

I had the opportunity to get to know fellow book blogger Trish of Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’? I love that she preserves the apostrophe for the dropped g and still includes the proper punctuation—a question mark—after the apostrophe.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hmm…such a broad question! I’m 30 years old, married, and have two dogs and a cat. I spend way too much time on the computer and hardly ever watch TV. I like to eat cookie dough and don’t like my food to touch. I prefer the rain over the sun because of my fair skin. I geek out when I meet authors and have been known to put both feet in my mouth and continue to talk blithely.

Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging because I had some (what I thought were) interesting/bizarre stories that I wanted to share, and I was already reading blogs so I thought, I can do this! I assumed, If you write it, they will read it. I quickly found out that that’s not necessarily true and that getting people to read your blog is quite a bit of work!

I see you’ve been blogging for a long time. What keeps you blogging? How have you seen the book blogging world change in the years you’ve been blogging?
The community keeps me blogging. I’ve met (in real life even!) some really great people, people who love books as much as I do, and I love that community. I love connecting with people, and my blog is one way in which I can do that. Being fairly introverted, it’s the perfect place for me to be outgoing, because I can be outgoing when I feel like it, not because I’m at a party and have to be outgoing. 🙂

The book blogging world has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve seen the community come together, and I’ve also seen the community get fractured by those who like to create drama. One thing I’ve noticed is it’s a lot easier to get ARCs. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing I’m not quite sure… 🙂

Do you have any secret names for yourself?
Umm…no. But I do find myself talking to myself a lot more.

Have you ever gotten in trouble for reading (at school or work)?
Not exactly, since I’ve always been pretty sly. But I have gotten some sidelong glances as I close my book and quickly get back to work.

Who’s the coolest author you’ve ever met?
Wally Lamb. He made me feel like we were the only ones in the bookstore (even though there was a line of probably 50 people behind me), and he also made me feel like maybe possibly perhaps one day I could be an author.

The most…interesting author I’ve met is Katherine Dunn, author of GEEK LOVE. She wears sunglasses all the time and tends to avoid the media, so meeting her was pretty exciting.

Since this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, do you have some other favorite book bloggers you’d like to mention?

1st Books: Stories of How Writers Get Started is a blog written by Meg Waite Clayton, author of THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS. She has other authors guest post, and it’s pretty fantastic.

A High and Hidden Place: Tales of a Capricious Reader is a great blog where you can get recommendations for a variety of books. The blogger, Heather, has a great writing style and is a lot of fun. 🙂

books i done read is very funny. All should read this blog.

Books on the Brain. Lisa is the first book blogger I ever met and still a favorite.

Dreadlock Girl is another favorite. She has great taste in books, has widened my reading, and is a great photographer.

Galleysmith is a new blogger, and holy cow, I don’t know how we ever survived without her. She has a really fun writing style and she loves YA. I love her.

Jenn’s Bookshelves. Jenn has never steered me wrong on a book, and she’s super fun to hang out with, too. This is a must read.

Linus’s Blanket. I met this blogger, Nicole, when I was in New York for BEA, and she’s one of the most well-spoken, well-reasoned bloggers I met while I was in New York. She writes great reviews and is a lot of fun.

Presenting Lenore. Lenore and I have very similar tastes in books, and she does a great job of not giving away every single plot detail.

Steph and Tony Investigate! Steph writes fantastic reviews, and has some of the most thorough reviews I’ve ever read. She puts other reviews to shame.

The Bluestocking Society has more great book reviews. I love Jessica’s style and recommend her blog to everyone.

Have you ever thrown a book across the room?
No, but I’ve wanted to. Perhaps I’ll do that at the end of THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE since I’m not particularly enjoying it.

Do you have one book you recommend to EVERYONE?
THE LIKENESS by Tana French. I seriously don’t know how you could be a reader and not enjoy that book. Also, THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins.

Can you tell us your favorite books of all time (top 3 or 5)?
Crap. I hate these questions. Okay, let’s see.

THE LIKENESS by Tana French
BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett
THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver
WORD FREAK by Stefan Fatsis
GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn

Thanks Trish for being such a great subject and helping me figure out BBAW. If you are not reading Trish now, you should be!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Meme

What has been one of the highlights of blogging for you?

I would say that reflecting on the books I’ve read, especially at the end of the year when I count my books based on the number of reviews I’ve written, is a highlight for me. I enjoy reading other book bloggers’ reviews, too.

What blogger has helped you out with your blog by answering questions, linking to you, or inspiring you?

There have actually been quite a few: Vic at Jane Austen’s World, Iliana at Bookgirl’s Nightstand, and Murray of The Literarian have all been very encouraging of this blog.

What one question do you have about BBAW that someone who participated last year could answer?

This is a tough one for me because I didn’t participate last year, so I’m not sure what to ask. I am excited that BBAW happens during the week of my birthday. I suppose my biggest question is what would I need to do that week?