Last year I didn’t hear about BBAW until it was too late to take part in the interview swap, so this year I made sure to sign up early. And I’m so glad that I did. Because I got paired up with an awesome blog that hadn’t been on my radar until now.
With as tight knit a community as it is, there are still so very many book blogs out there and without events like this it’s not always a guarantee you’ll bump into each and every one of them.
So I love that BBAW set aside an entire day for bloggers to meet other bloggers through interview exchanges and gave us the opportunity to introduce those blogs to our readers.
And I’m so thrilled to be able to welcome Amanda and Sarah of Short and Sweet Reviews to the blog today.
But before I get to the interview, here’s just a little bit about Amanda and Sarah from the bios on their site….
Amanda Copulos is from a small town in Central PA. After a few short stops at Penn State and Washington DC, she is back in another small town in PA where the only heavy traffic to be found are Amish buggies. She spends way too much time reading and is trying to get herself diagnosed with an addiction to YA paranormal fiction. When her nose isn’t stuck in a book, you can usually find her chasing around her speedy son Micah.
Sarah’s also a Pennsylvania native and PSU grad who has since relocated to Chicago, one of the least midwest-y cities in the midwest. She has her MA in Clinical Psychology and currently works in Human Resources, focusing on policy and compliance issues, at a major law firm. When she isn’t reading books, she’s maintaining her own music blog (www.howsmyliving.com), hosting a weekly indie-rock-and-also-bluegrass radio show (www.chirpradio.org), or singing in a folk-rock/Americana inspired band (www.jungleofcities.com). She enjoys dystopian fiction, zombies, peanut butter, and chasing after her cat.
Q. If you had to describe Short and Sweet Reviews to someone who has never visited your book blog before, how would you describe it?
Coranne: The reason I named it Short and Sweet Reviews was just that. I love reading reviews, but when they get lengthy- I tend to skim. I wanted a site that got straight to the point without retelling the entire book (and giving away everything). So I hope it is just that- we are friendly ladies and we love to talk books!
Q. You have four bloggers associated with Short and Sweet Reviews – Coranne, Sarah, Mandi and Ericka. Were you all involved from the outset? Had you always planned on your blog being one with multiple bloggers?
Coranne: I founded the blog and really planned to only be blogging by myself. Ericka, Sarah, and Mandi jumped onboard when I wasn’t saying no enough and needed help. Ericka and Mandi are with little ones and are on hiatus for now, but I have to say- it takes off a LOAD of stress knowing someone else will be there to pick up the slack when you are sick.
Q. What do you find to be the biggest pluses for having multiple bloggers on board? What are the challenges?
Coranne: Biggest plus? The help! Not feeling like I have to do everything every day for myself. The biggest challenge? Making sure that you are all easy going about the blog and willing to compromise – it becomes someone else’s baby too – and that someone else may have different ideas than you.
Q. Short and Sweet Reviews is just over one-and-a-half years old. (Congratulations, by the way!) How has your blog changed over its lifespan?
Coranne: How has it changed? Content. When I started, I only blogged once a week – now we try to have something every day, including giveaways, and features.
Q. As veteran bloggers what advice would you give to new blogs starting out?
Sarah: Read what you love! Post what you want, when you want. There is apparently a lot of drama in the book blogging community, but I’ve been around the internet a long time, and between nearly 15 years of fandom involvement and several years of music blogging, I find it pretty easy to block out. (I’ve seen a LOT of drama and bad behavior over the past 15+ years!) Traffic stats and publisher contacts and comments are nice things to care about, for data nerds, but I really think the essential part of blogging, no matter what your topic, is fun. It shouldn’t feel like work, or an obligation, or something you dread. You should still make time to read books you love, or have been meaning to get to, not just the soon-to-be-published things in your to-be-read pile. Even though most of the books I’ve read lately are new ones that I’m reviewing, I try to throw in something that I want to read just for me every so often.
Q. While you both review YA, you seem to have different interests in the types of books/genres you read. What do each of you bring to the blog that lets your readers know just who you are? Do you find that you reach the same audience or have you developed your own readership?
Sarah: I like to think that Coranne is the kinder, gentler blogger, of the two of us. (I say that mostly because I know she’ll make a funny face when she reads this answer.)
Coranne: I think what she is saying is that I am a big scaredy pants. I’m not denying it.
Sarah: My reading tastes tend to lean towards darker urban fantasy, horror, sci-fi, thrillers, etc. I still read your standard contemporary romances or fantasy romp, but my real love has always been books that are dark and gritty and moody. I think we both look for the same qualities in books, though — strong characters, stellar worldbuilding, books that make you think. I think my reviews maybe tend to be a little more sarcastic, and I am slowly giving in to the desire to illustrate my deep feelings about books with GIFs. I think we each have our own readership but of course there is going to be an overlap of people who just devour any kind of book review, regardless of their preferred genres.
Coranne: I agree – I have noticed that since Sarah started blogging – different people tend to comment on her reviews rather than mine. I think that it is great that she can bring more readers to our blog! I echo Sarah’s feelings – although I tend to lean towards the “lighter” stuff, I really just want to read something that is GOOD. I would like to think that Sarah is being dragged farther into the YA world by me 🙂
Q. What do you like most about blogging? What is your least favorite part about blogging about books?
Sarah: My favorite part is being exposed to new books and new authors who I may not have ever heard of, had I not been blogging. Blogging has also gotten me back into the habit of reading more regularly — I’ve always been a pretty voracious reader but it’s something that often fell to the wayside when I was busy or tired or whatever. I’ve been much better about setting aside time to read, and have gotten back into the pattern of curling up on a couch with a book instead of wasting more time on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. My least favorite part? Probably balancing my expectations (Read All The Books!!) with reality (I have no spare time!). Or having to push yourself through nine mediocre books before you find that tenth one that’s going to be your new favorite.
Coranne: Finding out that there were other adults out there that read YA! I always felt like a nerd shopping in the teen section and checking out YA books – turns out I was just ahead of the trend! I can honestly say that my TV time has been cut down to an absolute minimum since I have been blogging – and I love it! I absolutely love spending so much time reading! The downside? The drama. I think I have successfully stayed out of the drama so far – I really want nothing to do with it. I think a lot of times we all forget that real people are behind these books and blogs – people that make stupid mistakes and need forgiveness and grace. If we remembered that first there might be less drama all around.
Q. You both have lives outside of your blogging life. Have you found it difficult to balance your real life responsibilities with your blogging responsibilities? Do you have any tips for finding balance?
Sarah: My real life is definitely pretty hectic! It’s a challenge to balance real life with online responsibilities, but I do the best I can. Blogging is one of the first things I slow down on when real life gets too busy — I’m not going to get fired if I don’t put up a review, but if I miss a deadline at work, or a scheduled event for one of the groups I volunteer with, I’m going to get in trouble, for sure. And that’s probably my biggest tip — know how to prioritize, and know when you need to put blogging on the back burner. Like I said before, blogging should be something that’s fun, not a chore or another full-time job that you’re not getting paid for.
Coranne: Perhaps this is a question to ask my 2 year old… no he will answer, “Mommy ignores me.” I have always had a book at my nose – while cooking dinner, while doing laundry, etc. This hasn’t changed. I always underestimate how long it will take me to finish a post – and then I get behind. How to find balance? Never let it become a chore. Learn how to say NO.
Q. What are your top five favorite new authors or books that you discovered as a result of becoming a book blogger?
1. Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein.
2. The Matthew Swift series of books, by Kate Griffin
3. Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan
4. The Immortal Rules, by Julie Kagawa.
5. Monstrous Beauty, by Elizabeth Fama. This is cheating a bit, as I haven’t read it yet, but I had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth at her book release party and she is just the sweetest woman ever, and I have been assured by Coranne that I’m going to love the book.
Coranne: Sarah! I was going to pick Elizabeth Fama – no fair! Elizabeth is pretty awesome – I stalked her through Goodreads and then through Twitter and I think she has become a wonderful friend. My heart hurt for her earlier when a bit of drama surrounded her, but I know her as a person who is genuine and completely awesome.
Other books and authors I have discovered? Well Divergent absolutely! I remember reading other blogs right as I started up mine and they were going gaga over it. I think the most fun I have had meeting authors has been through our feature Best Book Ever. It has been so fun working with these 2012 debut authors and following them up to their debuts. Now we have a new crop of 2013 authors and I can’t wait to get to know them more!
Q. What are the top three favorite posts each of you have written that you’d like to share? They can be reviews, discussion posts, etc. (Links please!) And why?
Sarah: In no particular order…
1. My review of Pushing the Limits. I like this one because of its perfect usage of GIFs. Unlike the rest of the blogging world, I really really did not like this book. I could really only express my annoyance in pictures. One of them is of Matt Bomer. You’re welcome.
2. My review of Feed. This is one of my most favorite books ever, I read it all in one sitting and I love it just because blogging about it gives me the opportunity to try to force more people to read it.
3. My review of Unspoken, aka that one where I kind of get up on an undercover feminist-y soapbox. I loved this book because it has the kind of spunky, witty, don’t-need-no-help-from-boys kind of main character who I would have loved to read about as a kid, and who I strongly feel that there needs to be more of in YA lit.
Coranne: Erm… I am awful at this – can I offer up 3 reviews written by other people? I don’t really have three – but I will absolutely pimp Best Book Ever. It is hands down my favorite part of the blog. I had to step down from running it at the start of this pregnancy because I was too sick, but Sarah has done a magnificent job keeping it up. I just wish more people saw it- I really think they would love it!
Q. You have a feature on your blog called BEST BOOK EVER. What is the best book ever for each of you? (You can only choose one!)
Sarah: Ahhhhhh this is so difficult. I already want to start throwing lots and lots of books at you. Um. I am probably going to go with Kushiel’s Dart, by Jacqueline Carey. It’s definitely NOT a YA book, as it is full of mature content, but I have read this book so many times that my copy’s starting to fall open to certain well-read passages. Carey’s worldbuilding is exquisite and while I think a lot of authors have tried to copy what she’s done, none have lived up to it.
Coranne: Ha ha, whoops – totally didn’t realize the next question was about BBE when I answered the last one… My favorite book ever? Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marrilier. It is a combination of the 12 dancing princes, vampires, faeries, and the frog prince – it is just perfect.
Q. What made you decide to participate in BBAW? Did you participate last year? If you have, what was that experience like for you? Did you “meet” new bloggers? If you hadn’t, what do you hope to gain from the experience this year?
Coranne: Last year during BBAW, I am pretty sure it was just me running the blog. I participated and I had no idea what was going on! I found a few new blogs but really didn’t get a chance to be part of the community more. This year, I really want to focus less on my blog and more on getting to know new blogs. I really haven’t had time during this pregnancy to go out and comment on other blogs as much as I wanted to. I am trying to do more now – and get to know more bloggers, rather than staying in my introverted bubble.
Print, audio or eBooks?
Sarah: Print. eBooks are great for convenience and travel, but there’s nothing like holding an actual paper book in my hands.
Coranne: Print, hands down
Readers or followers?
Twitter or Facebook?
Sarah: Twitter. I resisted it for a very long time until a friend talked me into getting an account. Now, I’m kind of addicted.
Blogger or WordPress?
Sarah: Our blog’s hosted on Blogger, but I’m a WordPress girl, all the way.
Coranne: …. ha ha I don’t really care…
Reading Challenges or Blog Tours?
Sarah: Blog Tours.
Thank you so much Coranne and Sarah for answering all my questions and for letting us get to know you, your blog and your reading preferences just a bit more. I definitely plan on stopping by to check out some of your Short and Sweet Reviews and to see just what you both think about some titles that I consider favorites!
If you’d like to visit Coranne and Sarah and the rest of the team (when they’re back to blogging) at Short and Sweet Reviews, here are a few places to find them…
Find Short and Sweet Reviews
Their FACEBOOK page
Coranne on GOODREADS
Coranne on TWITTER