Saturday, June 25, 2011

An Interview with...Me

Posted by Simcha 5:45 PM, under | 6 comments

So it looks like the last interview in my series of blogger interviews has not panned out so I've decided to pick up the gauntlet that Stephanie threw down and answer these interview questions myself.

But first I want to thank all of the bloggers who took the time to do these interviews and everyone that came to read and comment on them. It really felt like a party over here with all of my favorite people in the blogging world stopping by to visit and chat with each other and I can't think of a better way to have celebrated my 2nd year of blogging.

And now, on to the interview (and no, there is no picture because my eyes always come out weird and squinty in pictures and I don't have a cool pair of sunglasses like does to hide behind [not that I'm suggesting that

If you wrote a book what would the blurb on the inside back cover say about you?

Simcha lives with her husband, four kids and two dogs in a small town in Israeli's Judean desert. Simcha had never intended to become an author but when all the other book bloggers she knew became published authors she decided to give it a try herself. To her surprise she was quite good at it and Simcha’s first novel about time-traveling, vampire mice in space had been hailed as the book of the year for which the movie rights are currently being negotiated. Her next novel, about magical fairy rats is due to be released this summer.

How long have you been blogging for?

2 years!

How did you come to start a book blog?

I came to book blogging in a very round-about way. I actually knew nothing about blogs or book reviews before I started a blog of my own but I was told that maintaining a blog would be a good way to drive traffic to my website and get a high Google ranking. And the reason I had started a website was because I suddenly (and pretty randomly) decided to start an online science fiction and fantasy bookstore, and the website was to be part of it. I had really only intended to post once a week or so but before I knew it I was hooked. So now I’ve scrapped the website and am just giving my attention to this blog, while also trying to get my on-line bookstore up and running.

Have you always been an avid reader?

Yes. I used to enjoy reading reading from a pretty early age.

Was there a particular book that turned you on to reading?

Not really, but the earliest book that I do remember reading to myself is a retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Snow Queen. But I had originally learned to read in Hebrew, which is a lot easier than English (none of those pesky vowels) and when we moved to America, when I was eight, I had a hard time getting into reading in English. It was the Sweet Valley Twin books that really helped me develop my English reading skills and I quickly became addicted to to that series, which helped me move on to other books in English.

Has being a book reviewer changed the way that you approach reading?

Definitely. Now my reading is always accompanied by this little voice in the back of my head evaluating everything and commenting about what I should include in the review. I also find it difficult now to read more than one book at a time. When writing a review once I actually caught myself including details from a completely separate book that I had been reading at the same time.

Book bloggers often find that reviewing books encourages them to read books outside of their regular reading comfort zone. Is there a particular book that you would never have otherwise tried if you weren’t a book reviewer, but you ended up loving?

I actually never used to read science fiction books, just fantasy, but since I started a scifi and fantasy book blog to go with my scifi and fantasy website I figured that I should at least read the occasional science fiction book to keep up appearances. And to my surprise I’ve actually enjoyed quite a few of them. Two books that particularly surprised me by how much I enjoyed them were Gateway by Frederick Pohl and Venus of Dreams by Pamela Sargent.

Are there any particular topics or causes that you have discovered a passion for since becoming a book blogger which you might have never thought much about before?

There aren’t any issues that I’ve taken a stand on but I have been really interested to discover the existence of these issues and to see the passion that other bloggers feel about them.

What’s the last book that you read that blew you away?

This is a hard one. The Quantum Thief kicked me around quite a bit and I’m still thinking about it a week after I finished it, but I'm pretty sure there was a lot here that totally went over my head. I think it requires a re-read. The last book that I really enjoyed, but was a lot less intense, was Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

If you met someone who was only going to read one book this year which book would you recommend to them?

I’d go with one of my favorite books, A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson, because I don’t know anyone that doesn’t enjoy this book. Unless that person hates the outdoor, in which I might recommend Bryson's other book, At Home.

What’s the most interesting that has has every happened to you

Well, there really isn’t anything I can think of that has been more exciting than the birth of each of my children, but since Stephanie already used that one I’ll try to think of another...

There was the time when I was thirteen and I went camping with my friend’s family. We rented a speed boat and went out into the water despite being warned that the water was too choppy, and that we should wait. The sky quickly got dark and stormy and the waves began tossing our little boat around until it filled up with water and the engine died. I was pretty sure we were going to drown. Eventually the waves calmed down and we spotted some land that we manged to get the boat landed on. There was nothing around except trees and a single cabin which my friend and I headed towards while her father attempted to get the water out of the boat. We knocked on the door of the cabin and when no one answered we opened it ourselves. Inside was a table covered in sharp looking knives, and we quickly decided that we better get ourselves away from the possible lodgings of a serial killer. We did check out the shed in the back which contained a bucket which we used to haul water out of the boat. Eventually we got the boat working again and made it into the water where someone found us and hauled us back to shore. It was a pretty exciting adventure which left me with a permanent fear of speed boats.

Favorite snack while reading?

Chocolate (though it's really an all-purpose snack)

Favorite word? 

Delicious ( l just love the way it sounds)

Favorite quote?

I have quite a few favorites but one of them is  “Some books are meant to be tasted, others to be swallowed,and some few to be chewed and digested”
 - Francis Bacon

If your life were a book what would the title be? 

Joyful Misadventures ( a bit of a play on my name which means Joy or happiness in English)

If you could spend the day with any book character who would you choose and why?

I’d love to spend a day with Jasper Fforde’s character Thursday Next. She seems really cool and fun and just the right amount of crazy. Plus Thursday has the ability to travel into any book so I'd enjoy getting to do some book hopping with her.

And that's a wrap! Thanks for visiting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview with Melissa of My Words and Pages

Posted by Simcha 8:45 AM, under | 17 comments

Melissa is also one of the nicest and friendliest bloggers that I know and I always enjoying chatting with her, either on her blog or on Twitter, about books and just life in general. Melissa is one of the first bloggers that I got to know and it's from her example that I learned about developing relationships with other bloggers because everywhere I visited there was Melissa, with her kind and friendly comments. I was glad to be able to get to know Melissa a little bit better through this interview and I really appreciate knowing her these past two years.

If you wrote a book what would the blurb on the inside back cover‭ (‬right beside your picture‭) ‬say about you‭?

I live in‭ ‬my own little world of reality,‭ ‬which‭ ‬has been‭ ‬founded to be a fantasy,‭ ‬in South-western Pennsylvania.‭ ‬I enjoy sharing the worlds I create with you and hope you enjoy them as well.‭ ‬I live with my husband,‭ ‬son,‭ ‬two loving German Shepherds,‭ ‬and a cat that rules over the dogs.‭ ‬I work during the day in the real world of accounting and paper pushing,‭ ‬but in the evenings I live in the fantasy realms created by others and myself.

How long have you been blogging for‭?

I‭’‬m actually coming up on my‭ ‬2‭ ‬year blog anniversary as well.‭ ‬But I‭’‬ll say‭ ‬2‭ ‬years.‭ ;)

How did you come to start a book blog‭?

Oh,‭ ‬I have this to blame all on the forum chats at Barnes and Nobles.‭ ‬I made some great book friends there.‭ ‬Some started out to the blogging community.‭ ‬I just set up an account so I could comment on their blogs,‭ ‬then before I knew it I was creating and posting at My World.

Have you always been an avid reader‭?

Oh heavens no.‭ ‬lol.‭ ‬As a kid you couldn‭’‬t get me to read if you paid me.‭ ‬But I did enjoy those little pick your path books as they were more action based and science fiction or fantasy things.‭ ‬That should have been my first clue.‭ ‬And I loved to be outside more for most of my life.‭ ‬But when I got laid off from a full time‭ ‬job that had filled my days and nights I was bored.‭ ‬I picked up a book of my sons and that was the end of it.

Was there a particular book that turned you on to reading‭?

Believe it or not,‭ ‬yes.‭ ‬I‭’‬m sure some people might say no or not remember the book.‭ ‬But I do.‭ ‬I was bored at home after working‭ ‬12‭ ‬hours a day and picked up one of the books I bought for my son,‭ ‬Eragon by Christopher Paolini.‭ ‬I loved it and found my love for fantasy books.

Has being a book reviewer changed the way that you approach reading‭?

Not really,‭ ‬but has fine tuned my sticky not obsession.‭ ‬Lol.

Book bloggers often find that reviewing books encourages them to read books outside of their regular reading comfort zone.‭ ‬Is there a particular book that you would never have otherwise tried if you weren‭’‬t a book reviewer,‭ ‬but you ended up loving‭?

I will say blogging has introduced‭ ‬me to the expanded the world of fantasy for me to steampunk and more science fiction then I could ever have imagined.‭ ‬And even further to‭ ‬dystopian.‭ ‬And I‭’‬ve found I really enjoy them.‭ ‬But the one book I read that I probably would never have read if it wasn‭’‬t for a fellow blogger at the time was‭ ‬The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.‭ ‬I had this image of a book where young kids had to kill each other for the audience of others to enjoy,‭ ‬and I wanted nothing to do with it.‭ ‬When I got talked into reading I was convinced before I started I was not going to like this book.‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬that was such a WRONG impression and I loved the book.‭ ‬I‭’‬ve even suggested it to others and their children have read it.‭ ‬Even my son has recently started the series too.‭ ‬The book wasn‭’‬t all about killing and seeing that.‭ ‬And I enjoyed that about the book as you never really‭ ‬“saw‭”‬ the killing part.‭ ‬It was about survival.

Are there any particular topics or causes that you have discovered a passion for since becoming a book blogger which you might have never thought much about before‭?

I have not really taken up a cause,‭ ‬well yet.‭ ‬I do feel strongly about bad reviews though.‭ ‬I feel we can do them with good taste and don‭’‬t need to bash a book all over the place.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬I have to say the bloggers I follow all have great taste in their reviews and I‭’‬m proud to say I follow them.‭ ‬I look at these authors and think they are doing something we haven‭’‬t done,‭ ‬and putting their dreams in your hands.‭ ‬Just because a book isn‭’‬t for you doesn‭’‬t mean someone else‭ ‬won‭’‬t love it.‭ ‬So be kind.

What‭’‬s the last book that you read that blew you‭ ‬away‭?

Oh this is another hard one‭! ‬Lol.‭ ‬I‭’‬ve read a few books that blew me away for different reasons.‭ ‬Thief was the last,‭ ‬but there was‭ ‬Bloodlines by Skyla Dawn Cameron and‭ ‬Chasing the Bard by Philippa Ballantine.

Theirs‭ ‬Thief by Sarah-Jane Lehoux.‭ ‬The ending was one I loved.‭ ‬She really made a choice here that I want many books to do.‭ ‬And she brought a few tears to my eyes.‭ ‬I‭’‬m not‭ ‬a book crier‭! ‬I couldn‭’‬t believe it.‭ ‬The ending and my reaction to it just blew me away.

If you met someone who was only going to read one book this year which book would you recommend to them‭?

Hmm,‭ ‬it kind of depends on what they read as‭ ‬my fantasy‭ (‬general term‭) ‬is pretty broad.‭

Urban Fantasy w/action‭ ~ ‬Ann Aguirre‭’‬s Corine Solomon series,‭ ‬starting with Blue Diablo
Young Adult Fantasy‭ ~ ‬Cassandra Clare‭’‬s The Mortal Instruments series,‭ ‬starting with City of Bones
Fantasy‭ ~ ‬Brandon Sanderson‭’‬s Mistborn trilogy

What‭’‬s the most interesting thing has‭ ‬ever happened to you‭?

Well,‭ ‬I think I lead a pretty boring life these days.‭ ‬I‭’‬m a mom and I work.‭ ‬So doesn‭’‬t leave much time for interesting to happen.‭ ‬Some people I talk to talk about how I always have a story,‭ ‬and do you believe I‭’‬m without a story to spin here.‭ ‬ Lol.‭ ‬Um‭…‬ One I talk about with my brother was how fortunate I was when I fell out of a tree when I was in third grade,‭ ‬making me about‭…‬8‭ ‬years old.‭ ‬I LOVED climbing trees.‭ ‬I was a true little monkey then.‭ ‬I wasn‭’‬t tall enough to get into the one everyone else was in so being little Miss Independent I went in search of the perfect tree.‭ ‬I found one.‭ ‬It had limbs like steps.‭ ‬I was able to go right up it.‭ ‬Cool‭! ‬I started climbing.‭ ‬But on the second step my foot slipped on the‭ ‬sleek smooth surface of the bark.‭ ‬I caught myself behind my knee of my left leg and pulled myself up and off the tree.‭ ‬A little shaken from all most hitting the ground I dropped to the ground and walked back over to where everyone else was.‭ ‬My brother started screaming‭! ‬“She‭’‬s‭ ‬dyeing‭!‬” over and over again.‭ ‬I couldn‭’‬t figure out what he was talking about.‭ ‬He could see my thigh,‭ ‬which I couldn‭’‬t feel.‭ ‬I had thought I caught myself with my knee on the broken limb.‭ ‬I actually had my inside thigh caught by the limb.‭ ‬I thankfully missed the main artery and ended up with well over‭ ‬200‭ ‬stitches.‭ ‬Yep,‭ ‬I have to admit that ended my tree climbing‭ ‬obsession.

Favorite snack while reading‭?

I don‭’‬t really snack while reading.‭ ‬Even thought I try to read while cooking‭ (‬more stirring things‭) ‬I seem to get distracted from the book while eating and reading.‭ ‬I do eat and read at lunch time,‭ ‬but prefer me and a book.‭ ‬And I‭’‬m a little goofy as I don‭’‬t want greasy finger pages,‭ ‬so I don‭’‬t eat chips or snacks with my books.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬I do have to have my teas.‭ ‬I‭’‬ve been drinking the Apple Spice Chai tea or Ultra Spice Chai lately.

Favorite word‭?

There are many words out there I love.‭ ‬But I‭’‬m going to say jealous,‭ ‬all because of a story from when I was young,‭ ‬like‭ ‬3‭ ‬or‭ ‬4‭ ‬young.‭ ‬My mom couldn‭’‬t‭ ‬understand what I meant when I was going around saying I was jealous.‭ ‬It took a little work but she found I was cold.‭ ‬I must have heard the word jealous somewhere and was cold at the same time and associated the two together.‭ ‬Lol.‭ ‬I don‭’‬t think that any more,‭ ‬but I can still see the relationship‭ ‬between‭ ‬the words.‭ ‬Can‭’‬t you‭? ;‬D

Favorite quote‭?

Oh,‭ ‬this is a tough one.‭ ‬I have a list of about‭ ‬10‭ ‬quotes on my sidebar on the blog.‭ ‬I love them all for different reasons that resonated in me.‭ ‬But to pick one,‭ ‬this one I try to remember and use.‭ ‬Although it‭’‬s hard to do in personality,‭ ‬but helps me strive in things I do.‭ ‬It‭’‬s by Ken Scholes from his book‭ ‬Lamentation.

‎“‏Watch for the ones who leave your mouth hanging open.‭ ‬Study them,‭ ‬find out what they love and what they fear.‭ ‬Dig the treasure out of their soul and hold it to the light.‭”‬ He leaned in even closer now,‭ ‬so that Neb could smell the wine on his breath.‭ ‬ “Then Be like them.‭”

If your life were a book what would the title be‭?

Hmm,‭ ‬I‭’‬m never good at coming up with names,‭ ‬but I‭’‬ll give it a try‭…
The Mixed up World of a Fantasy Dreamer

If you could spend the day with any book character who would you choose and why‭?

A short month or so ago I read the book‭ ‬Bloodlines by Skyla Dawn Cameron,‭ ‬and decided the main character was my new VBF‭ (‬Vampire Best Friend‭)‬.‭ ‬I think this character would have to be the one I would spend the day with.‭ ‬I really enjoyed reading about‭ ‬her and seeing there really is more behind the tough‭ ‬facade‭ ‬and she could be fun too.‭ ‬She was one of those characters to call out to me when reading.

Thank you so much Melissa!

I was supposed to have one more blogger interview for you tomorrow but I haven't heard back from that blogger so I'm not sure if it's happening. I guess you'll just have to check back here tomorrow and find out for yourself.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Interview with Blodeuedd from Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Posted by Simcha 8:30 AM, under | 19 comments

Whenever I'm in the mood for a good romance I know I can turn to Blodeuedd (as she is known online) for a trustworthy recommendation, though she also reviews books in several other genres. Her enthusiastic reviews have helped me make many fun, new book discoveries and a shared enjoyment of fantasy have made for some interesting conversations in blog comments and Twitter. What particularly impresses me about Blodeuedd is that English is not even her native language, despite that fact that she reviews exclusively in English. I was glad to  finally have the opportunity to ask her about this, as well as many of the other questions that have been building up since I first met her.

If you wrote a book what would the blurb on the inside back cover (right beside your picture) say about you?

Blah blah is an avid reader who has had a life-long wish to write a book. This is her first book in the fantasy trilogy “insert title her”. In her spare time she spends too much time online, trying to find new swamps in the forest and wondering how to re-arrange her bookshelves.

How long have you been blogging for?

I started a blog back in 2005 where I wrote about life in general. Then in December 2008 I started my bookblog.

How did you come to start a book blog?

Truth be told I was bored out of my mind 'cos I was at this course and I just surfed the web all day long. I came across bookblogs for the first time ever and thought that that sounded like so much fun. I love to read so why not write about books I thought to myself. I started a blog and had a few posts a month. Then I got more and more into it and met new friends. The posts became more and more, and I read better books. I never looked back.

Have you always been an avid reader?

Yes I have been a booklover since I was little. From comics and picture books to real books when I learned to read. Once I took home 30 books from the bookmobile. I still do not know how I managed to carry them home. I have always been obsessed. In elementary school we had these small quotes about the kids in the class (the last two only). Both years I got something with books. One was that you will always know who I am since I am the one carrying a book ;)

Was there a particular book that turned you on to reading?

No, not really. Books were always there and I always loved them.

Has being a book reviewer changed the way that you approach reading?

No again. I know some write notes while they read and think about things, but I just read like I always have. I hate to analyze. If I enjoy a book I enjoy a book, I do not need hidden meanings and such. And I could never stop to write while I read. That would spoil the fun for me and reading is about having fun.

Do you mostly read books in English or Finnish?

Oh yes this is the question where I explain that I am not a Finnish speaking Finn, I speak the other official language, Swedish. But I do not read in Swedish either any more, perhaps only 1 or 2 books a year if there is a book I really want but can’t get hold of it in English (or get it fast enough). I prefer English because I have read so many bad translations and they have made many good books boring.

How is it that you read so comfortably in English?

I do not know how to answer that. I guess I am just used to it. It started with a fantasy book; I fell in love and knew that English was the way to go. Now it’s so normal that I do not even know which language I am reading in anymore.

Are books in English easily available in Finland?

Yes and no. Our bookstore has not got many books, and those they have are mostly fiction. So 1 fantasy book, 1 PNR, no historical romance and not much variety except big books. In bigger cities they of course have more but many times when I have looked for something I have still come up short. It is much easier in the end to just order online.

Due to the enormous popularity of Steig Larsson’s Millenium series, Finnish authors have been receiving more attention lately from readers around the world. Is there a particular Finnish author that you would like to see translated into English?

And this is the moment where I blush and admit I have not read many Finnish authors and the adult books are often in a genre I do not like, and they tend to have a dark humor too. But I do think people would enjoy Arto Paasilinna’s books. And definitely Kaari Utrio, she has written great historical fiction books that I have enjoyed.

It just happened that when I was little I read translated books and books by Swedish authors. Then when I could have started to read Finnish books cos I had learnt the language I instead moved on to English books and have not read many books by Swedish or Finnish authors since that. Except for a few for a Lit class.

Book bloggers often find that reviewing books encourages them to read books outside of their regular reading comfort zone. Is there a particular book that you would never have otherwise tried if you weren’t a book reviewer, but you ended up loving?

I always read many genres since I could not pick and choose, I read what I found. But thanks to reviewing I found Urban Fantasy and paranormal romance, oh and steampunk. I would not have found much in those genres if not for my bookblog. But I can’t say there is any book of those that I would never have tried otherwise since they were genres close to other genres I was reading. I am always willing to try new books.

Are there any particular topics or causes that you have discovered a passion for since becoming a book blogger which you might have never thought much about before?

I would love to be active and write wonderful posts, but alas no. I never seem to take a stand, I might rage but I guess I do not feel comfortable enough to say anything on my blog.

What’s the last book that you read that blew you away?

Blew me away…I have many great books that are etched into my soul, but truly blew me away must have been Room by Emma Donaghue

If you met someone who was only going to read one book this year which book would you recommend to them?

I think I will go with Delirium by Lauren Oliver because I love how dystopia makes me think and therefore I would recommend it.

What’s the most interesting thing has every happened to you?

Nothing, trust me nada. That I get books from publishers, yes that would be the most interesting thing (at least to me). I have lived a very quiet life.

Favorite snack while reading? Chocolate! But I have to be careful

Favorite word? Awesome

Favorite quote?

Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you."
— Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n (The Shadow of the Wind)

If your life were a book what would the title be?

The Life of Daydreaming Booklover

If you could spend the day with any book character who would you choose and why?

Rand al’Thor from The Wheel of Time series. I have a bookcrush on him even though he was pretty much going insane for several books. But I would like to see how he deals with his new situation as savior of the world or the one who dooms it.

Thanks you so much Blodeuedd!

And make sure to visit tomorrow for my interview with Melissa from My Words and Pages.

Magic Slays (Kate Daniels, Bk 5) by Ilona Andrews

Posted by Simcha 7:47 AM, under ,,, | 1 comment

Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price . . .

Magic Slays is the fifth book in the Kate Daniels series, written by the husband and wife team, Ilona and Gordon Andrews. There aren’t many urban fantasy series that have managed to keep my interest for this long and while I was looking forward to reading the newest Kate Daniels book I was also a little bit weary of doing so. I often find that this far along in a series the story and world building that had originally drew me in has begun to lose it’s freshness and creativity. The character development takes a back seat and the romantic story-lines have been wrapped up and no longer add any sizzle to the story.  I’m glad to say, though, that this did not turn out to be the case with Magic Slays and I ended up enjoying the book just as much as each of its predecessors.

After having quit the Order of Knights Kate Daniels in now running her own investigation agency, funded by Curran’s werewolf pack. Unfortunately, thanks to the Order of Knights, Kate’s reputation is in tattered and so business is non-existent . When Kate is approached by a prestigious individual for a missing-person case she is enticed by the opportunity to prove herself and repair her damaged reputation. But while Kate quickly discovers the whereabout of the missing man she soon realizes that there is something a lot more sinister going on here. The first clue is when everybody linked to the case abruptly pack up their families and runs out of town. It’s all somehow related to a mysterious device that the missing man had been working on when he disappeared. A device so dangerous that everyone that knows what it is has fled. Now Kate and her friend, and employee, Andrea, must find this device and destroy it, otherwise it will mean the end of all supernatural creatures everywhere.

Magic Slays is a fast paced, action packed story that had me throughly engrossed from beginning to end. The tension and sense of danger slowly builds to crescendo, leading to a climatic conclusion that had me whipping through the pages at super-speed. The intensity is ratcheted up a notch when Kate suffers a personal tragedy that deeply affects her at a time when she is already full of self-doubt. But some light hearted intervals and Kate’s usual humor prevent the story from becoming overly heavy.

Some interesting revelations are made about Kate’s family, particularly about her mother, which feed Kate’s insecurities about herself and her relationship with Curran. We are also reminded that sometime soon Kate will have to face her evil father for the final showdown that Kate's story has been leading to from the very beginning.

I particularly appreciated that Kate and Curran’s relationship was still interesting to read about, even though they are beyond the new-romance stage. But now that they are officially together, the two of them have to each learn to navigate this new relationship while dealing with their own issues which often get in the way and lead to tension and misunderstandings.

I am glad to say that the Andrews have proven themselves, once again, to be a very successful writing team and I can't wait to see what further adventures they have in store for Kate and Curran.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Interview with Ryan from Wordsmithonia

Posted by Simcha 7:54 AM, under | 11 comments

I have been wanting to interview Ryan for ages because I could tell that this guy has some interesting stories to tell, and I was certainly right. I had to practice great restraint to limit my questions to the few below and not the pages of questions (and follow-up questions) that I wanted to pepper him with. 

Aside for his really interesting personal life Ryan is also a fantastic book reviewer. I've added many books to my reading list based one one of Ryan's reviews, books that I probably would have never otherwise tried. And I particularly enjoy his weekly Favorite Fictional Character posts which often bring back great memories of TV and book characters from my childhood.

So give it up for Ryan...

Ryan from Wordsmithonia

Welcome Ryan!

If you wrote a book what would the blurb on the inside cover say about you?

Ryan Groff is a former carnie kid now living in Wichita, KS.  Originally from the north shore of Lake Superior he has found himself stuck in the Midwest for years now.  An avid tea drinker, Scrabble player, and Eeyore fan, Ryan is now working on his second novel, The Tower Waif.

How did you come to start a book blog?

I never knew book blogs existed until a friend of mine, Deb of Book Magic, on the Barnes & Noble book club forums started one of her own.  I saw how much fun she was having and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why I had been denying myself for so long.  I started it in July of 2009 and I haven't looked back since.

Has being a book reviewer changed the way that you approach reading?

I don't think so other than the fact I'm now reading way more than I used to.  I've always been an avid reader but I would take time out between books and I may have even gone a week in between starting a new one.  Now it seems I'm always reading, even when watching TV.  I read when I eat or even while riding as a passenger in a car.  When I'm not reading, I'm blogging, sleeping, or working.  If I could figure out how to take a shower while reading I would.

Book bloggers often find that reviewing books encourages them to read books outside of their regular reading comfort zone. Is there a particular book that you would never have otherwise tried if you weren't a book reviewer, but you ended up loving?

I've always been an eclectic reader so if a book sounded good, I would read it.  Now I've normally gravitated towards mysteries or fantasy books, but I would even find myself reading the occasional Danielle Steele.  The biggest change has been reading more non fiction.  I've never been against it, but I have a greater opportunity now to read books about subjects I find interesting.  The one that immediately comes to mind is In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White.  It was a fascinating look at the last leper colong in the United States that doubled as a prison.

Are there any particular topics or causes that you have discovered a passion for since becoming a book blogger which you might not have thought that much about before? (ex. cover whitewashing, book banning)

This my make me sound shallow but honestly, no. I've always been aware of the issues, but haven't given them much thought then or now.  I think book banning is horrendous and I don't think there is ever a justification for it.  I think if it ever came up as an issue in my community I would be a vocal critic.  I just don't think blogging has really changed or formed my opinion on it.

What's the last book that you read that blew you away?

If you would have asked me this question lat year, it would have been easier to answer.  I read a lot of good books, but not a ton that just blew me out of the water.  This year it's a little different though.  For some reason I don't think I've read many books that didn't impress me.  I recently discovered a golden age mystery writer, Mary Roberts Rinehart, that has blown me away with every book I've read of hers.  If I had to pick a single book though, my favorite of the year so far, it would be Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.

If you met someone who was only going to read one book this year which book would you recommend to them?

Gosh, I guess it would depend on what there favorite genre is.  The two (sorry) that immediately come to mind are Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

Okay, now this is a question that I've been dying to ask you about ever since I saw you mention the subject on your blog once. You said that you moved a lot as a child because you traveled with a circus. Can you tell me more about that, if you don't mind? 

I don't mind at all.  Actually it's always fun reliving some of those memories.

 After my mom finally left my dad, we moved around a lot just so she could get away from everything.  By the time I was in 5th grade we had lived in Minnesota (where I was born), moved to and away form Oregon a few times, moved to Spokane, WA, and finally to Fontana, California.  We moved back to Two Harbors, MN before 5th grade and that next summer we went to visit my great-grandmother in Cass Lake.  While there we went to a fair (so it was a carnival not a circus) and my mom met a guy.

For the next four years (this is the short version) we moved around all the time.  Every time the show moved on (every two weeks) we moved with them.  If it was during the school year that was the town I went to school in.  Needless to say my middle school transcripts are really long.  I went to school in about 12 other states plus spent summers in about 10 others.  It was a great time for me.  I got to see a lot of the country that I probably wouldn't have any other way.  I was exposed to about every type of person imaginable.  It was an eye opening experience.  It's not one I would suggest for most kids, but for me it worked.

By the way I hate the circus.  I'm absolutely scared of clowns and never want to be in the same room as them.  Horrible little creatures.

What’s the most interesting thing that has ever happened to you?   

Other than traveling with a carnival for 4 years?  I would have to say living with a biker gang when we lived in Washington state the first time.  A few other tidbits about me are that I saw The Jets in concert about 7 times as a kid and I was on the academic team in high school.  My senior year we won area, regionals, and place 2nd at state.

(see, I told you this guys has some great stories to tell.)

Favorite snack while reading? 
Popcorn.  It's my favorite snack for all purposes.

Favorite word?  

Defenestration - the act of throwing someone or something out a widow.

Favorite quote?

Two of them actually.  "I'm half sick of shadows" from the poem "The Lady of Shalott" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death" from the movie "Auntie, Mame"

Favorite childhood memory?

I have so many of them.  The ones I really cherish tend to involve playing games with my mom and brother.  I also remember taking a field trip in headstart and while we were out on the wilderness trail I picked flowers for my mom.  By the time I got home though they had started to wilt and I remember crying about it because I didn't think my mom would like them still.  She loved them and held me until I stopped crying.

Favorite comfort read?

I have so many books that I go back to but I think two of them would be Watership Down by Richard Adams and The Thief of Always by Clive Barker.

If your life were a book what would the title be?  

Carnie Kid would be the obvious title, but I think I could come up with a few more if needed.

If you could spend the day with any book character who would you choose and why? 

That's another really hard question.  There are so many great characters, but I would have to go with Vanyel Ashkevron.  He is the star of The Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and a character that helped me deal with being gay. He is a character I admire and the fact that he's hot doesn't hurt.

Thanks so much Ryan!

And make sure to visit here tomorrow for my interview with Blodeuedd from Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Interview With Stephanie from Misfit Salon

Posted by Simcha 4:04 AM, under | 15 comments

One of my favorite things about being a blogger has been developing on-line friendships with many of the other bloggers whose sites I enjoy visiting. After two years of blogging I've actually known some of these people longer than I've known many of my "real-life" friends and I thought that I would take this opportunity to try to get to know a few of my blogging friends just a little bit better.

This week I'm going to be doing a series of interviews with several of my favorite bloggers, most of whom I've known for at least a year now, if not longer.

I have to tell that I really had so much fun putting together these interviews and reading the responses that I received. In some cases I took this opportunity to ask some personal (but not too personal, I don't think) questions that have been on my mind for a while, and other questions were more general or just for fun. And the answer that I got back were just so fantastic, full of humorous anecdotes and fascinating stories. I feel like I really got to know each of these individuals a little bit better and I really hope that someday I'll get to meet each of them in person.

And now, for the first of the interviews...

My first interview is with Stephanie from Misfit Salon. I'm not sure when I started following Stephanie's blog but once I discovered it, I became a regular visitor. Stephanie reviews all genre of books and her reviews are clear, well-written and intelligent. Stephanie also worked with me on the Cinderella writing contest (and I probably wouldn't have gone ahead with it at all without her) and is the only blogger whom I've actually spoken with on the phone, which we both found a bit surreal at first, but was still pretty cool.

And without any further ado, here is...

Stephanie from Misfit Salon

Welcome Stephanie!

If you wrote a book what would the blurb on the inside cover (right beside your picture) say about you?

Despite the fact that Oprah has decided to temporarily reinstate her Book Club and talk show solely to feature Stephanie’s debut novel, she has not let wild success interrupt her life of reading and humble contemplation in Northern California.
How long have you been blogging for? 

2 years on June 23, 2011!

How did you come to start a book blog? 

This is going to sound pretentious but witnessing the struggle of the Iranian people in revolutionizing change for the better, to the point of dying just to simply express their discontent, overwhelmed me with relief and gratitude for all the freedoms I enjoy. Out of that – I decided to exercise one of my fundamental rights as an American, freedom of speech, and started a blog. Here is my first post ever. And because I cannot help but talk about books, Misfit Salon quickly evolved into a book blog. 

Have you always been an avid reader?

I pretended to read avidly even before I knew what letters meant on a page.

Was there a particular book that turned you on to reading? 

I'm not a religious person, but I devoured Bible stories, especially from the Old Testament. The story of Queen Esther was one which enthralled me early on and still inspires me today.

Has being a book reviewer changed the way that you approach reading?  

Because my reading has grown exponentially due to review commitments, I now read with a schedule. No more long, indulgent reading idylls.

Book bloggers often find that reviewing books encourages them to read books outside of their regular reading comfort zone. Is there a particular book that you would never have otherwise tried if you weren’t a book reviewer, but you ended up loving?  

Kindred by Octavia Butler is one book I found through another blog that I never would have picked up on my own. Never underestimate the power of a well-written review!

Are there any particular topics or causes that you have discovered a passion for since becoming a book blogger which you might have never thought much about before?  

I'm now more alert to the depiction of people of color in anything I read and feel a sense of responsibility as a blogger/reviewer to mention negative stereotypes whenever I encounter them. 

What’s the last book that you read that blew you away? 

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

If you met someone who was only going to read one book this year which book would you recommend to them? 

Only one book this year?! Must not be a reader; therefore, I would suggest what my nonreader son highly recommends: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.

What’s the most interesting thing that has ever happened to you? 

The most amazing, most life-changing, the summit of all my experience – the birth of my son.

Favorite snack while reading? Chocolate

Favorite word? Dream

Favorite quote?   "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them." by Henry David Thoreau

Favorite childhood memory: My mother braiding my hair

Favorite comfort read: The Princess Bride by William Goldman (cheered me up on a bad day not too long ago)

If your life were a book what would the title be? Misfit

If you could spend the day with any book character who would you choose and why? 

A bit crazy, paranoid, and quirky, Fermin from Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of the funniest and most unusual characters I have ever come across. Spending the day with him exploring the mysterious and dangerous side of Barcelona would be an adventure of a lifetime. 

Thanks so much Stephanie! 

Tune in tomorrow for an interview with  Ryan from Wordsmithonia.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blogiversary Giveaway

Posted by Simcha 6:38 PM, under | 28 comments

In celebration of my two years of blogging, and to thank all of you who take the time to visit and read my reviews and posts of random stuff that I find on the Internet, I'm going to give away one of the books below to one lucky winner.

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas

For the Win by Cory Doctorow

Journal of a UFO Investigator by David Halperin

The Painted Boy by Charles DeLint

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Fire and Ice, Bk 1) by George R. R Martin

To enter the giveaway just leave your name and email address in a comment below, along with the title of the book that you would be interested in winning.

The giveaway is open internationally though you must be a SFF Chat follower to win.

Giveaway Ends June 30th

I'm Back

Posted by Simcha 2:43 AM, under | 8 comments

Yes, I'm finally back from my vacation from blogging and as you can see I've made quite a few changes here at SFF Chat. After two years of having the same template I decided that my blog could use a bit of sprucing up. I also wanted to bring over all my content from my website since I just don't have the time to maintain it anymore.

So, what do you think?

Really, I want to know.

I probably spent way too much time agonizing about which template to choose and all the various details and options (really, waaay too much time). The main issue that I'm still on-the-fence about though, is the homepage where you just see snippets of each post, which you can click on, rather than the full post. I do think it gives the blog a neater look but I'm wondering if it will prevent visitors from reading the posts.

I would really be interested to receive your feedback on this critical issue. Which layout do you prefer when reading a blog, full posts or summaries that you can click on to read the full post.

I do want to warn you though that I still haven't managed to change everything over from the previous settings. Mainly this means that most of the posts over two weeks old are in a black font that is difficult to see against the new blue background. It will take me a bit of time to get all the posts changed over but it will eventually happen (probably).

Now for the fun part.

I mentioned in my last post that my two year blogging anniversary is coming up and I plan to celebrate it here this week. I've got a fantastic lineup of interviews from some of my favorite bloggers which I will be posting throughout the week and I will be kicking it all off with a giveaway (because what's a blogging celebration without the giving away of free books?)

The first post will be put up later today, so stay tuned.


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