When and how did you get started with book blogging?
n Randi: Well, this is a bit of a long story. I’ll try to make it short. J Back in January 2009, Becky and I met as fellow English majors at a little college in rural Iowa. Our snarky attitudes and love for books created a slow bond. Fast forward to the summer of 2012. Becky and I had been hanging out on Goodreads and Skype together, and one day I mentioned “hey! We should start a book blog!” Since I’m a pre-service language arts/English teacher and Becky’s a soon-to-be youth librarian, it was one of those “duh” moments. We both thought it was a cool idea and pretty soon, while chatting on Skype, Becky informed me she had started our blog! And the rest is recent history. ;)
n Becky: Here’s my version of the same story…Randi made me do it ☺
LOL I love it!
What can readers expect from your reviews?
n Randi: Readers can expect honest reviews, first and foremost! We mostly review young adult books, with the occasional middle grade, picture book, and adult book thrown in. We try to keep them brief and to the point, though sometimes fangirling is unavoidable. We also try to be conversational and informal in our reviews so that they’re more like conversations about books rather than the stuffy kind of reviews you might see from literary critics. We love books and we want to share that love while having fun and meeting other readers!
n Becky: I think we also try to provide a usability aspect to our blog and reviews that is not common in book blogs. We have our reviews separated by ages (picture books, tween, teen, adult…) so if you’re looking for something to hand someone right away then you can just do a quick scan. In the works are a series of booklist pages such as “books for boys, GLBTIQ books, Historical Fiction etc). I think they will be helpful to teachers and librarians who need a quick reference.
What is your favorite genre and is there anything you won’t review?
n Randi: My favorite genre varies. By far, my favorite is young adult, so I’ll try to break that down a little. (Favorite adult genres are gothic and fantasy!) It used to be primarily fantasy, though the broader my reading becomes, the more I find I need different kinds of books at different times. Fantasy still catches my eye the most, but I’ve been reading a lot of young adult contemporary this year and have fallen in LOVE with this subgenre. I like the occasional paranormal, dystopia, post-apocalyptic, mystery, thriller, verse, etc., but honestly my favorite changes from book to book and week to week! I won’t review erotica, and I’m picky about nonfiction, but that’s really it.
n Becky: My favorite genre hands down for any age is horror/scary. I never feel all the way invested in a story unless it creeps me out. I read fairly broadly in the other genres, particularly fantasy and science fiction. I gravitate to darker stories and don’t care much for romance. I won’t review erotica or most romance. I don’t review much nonfiction either. I do love picture books, though ☺.
What was your most exciting ‘fan-girl’ moment with an author?
n Randi: I read a spectacular book by Trent Reedy called Words in the Dust (read my review HERE). It was one of those hard-hitting make-you-feel-all-the-things books. So I just had to send Mr. Reedy an email (also, he’s from me & Becky’s beautiful state of Iowa!) and he RESPONDED. I almost passed out. Especially because, as a pre-service teacher who hopes to teach middle school, this is a book that I would lovelovelove to teach in my classroom. I included that note in my email, and Mr. Reedy responded that he does Skype visits and such! WHAT?!?! Total fangirl moment. There was also a tweetback from Courtney Summers about me talking someone into buying her latest book, This is Not a Test, and that was also a fangirl moment!
n Becky: I’m not a fangirl lol. I don’t have those moments. So sorry.
Randi, that's awesome! And Becky, don't apologize. Viva la difference!
Is your significant other/family supportive of your book addiction?
n Randi: Luckily, my husband is also a reader, though I read far more often and more quickly than he does (he also has all those video games to play, ya know). So he understands my addiction to book-buying. And besides, I have that nice little phrase “But I’m building my classroom library!” which usually garners an eye-roll, a sigh, and reluctant acceptance. My friends always give me crap every time they see my ever-expanding bookshelves. But they know it’s just part of me!
n Becky: I don’t really buy mass amounts of books. I’m an avid library user, as you might expect from a future librarian. I do have a bad habit of checking out 20 books at a time hee hee. Since I don’t have that towering stack of books that Randi does, my reading addiction stays (for the most part) off my family’s radar.
Do you have a pet who loves to snuggle with you when you read?
n Randi: I have three! Hester Ann, Brady, and Bacon are my three cuddly guinea piggies. Hester Ann is especially cuddly so she’s my most regular reading buddy. They sit on my chest (one at a time) while I read and/or do homework. J
n Becky: I have a new-used English Cocker Spaniel named Kit who chillaxes with me on my bean-bag chair when I read. When she feels left out she either shuts the book with her paw or comes and sits on my book…she’s very direct.
What does it take in a book to absolutely annoy you to the point where you quit reading or throw the book at the wall?
n Randi: Generally, bad writing. I notice typos and bad grammar, so when there’s a lot of mistakes like that, I get really annoyed. I wouldn’t say I’m either pro-plot-driven or pro-character-driven, because I like both and there are different times when I prefer reading one over the other, but I need whatever book I’m reading to have at least strongly written characters or plot, otherwise I won’t finish it.
n Becky: I’m always up for good book toss and I usually love books or hate them, as Randi can attest. I’m a woman of many feelings lol. My biggest issue with books, particularly YA, is that characters don’t have consistent personalities or actions. They do and say things just to move the story that don’t really make sense for them.
What makes you a fan for life?
n Randi: Short answer: a book I can get lost in. If I can fall into a book’s world, that’s my kind of writer!
n Becky: I’m a fan for life if the author has 1 book that I absolutely loved, even if I don’t like all of their others. I’ll keep trying until they stop writing. The key element for me is atmosphere. I’m all about a richly described setting and tone, hence my love of gothic literature. Stephen King is an all time favorite for this reason, Juliette Marillier, and Shirley Jackson are two more.
Do you have a popular blogger meme started by you?
n Randi: I’ll let Becky take this one since it was her idea! J
n Becky: We are a very new blog, so we’re still figuring things out. We do have a meme that we’ve started, called Twice Baked Thursday. Randi and I read the same book and “argue” with each other about it in a post. It’s great fun and if you have more than one blogger on your site or a guest partner, feel free to join in.
You mentioned earlier that you try to keep your reviews conversational, which is what I love about your Twice-Baked Thursdays. Sometimes you agree, sometimes you don't, but it truly does come across like two friends chatting (discussing/arguing) about the book. :)
Can you share with us up to 5 authors who are auto-buy for you?
n Randi: I can’t wait for these authors to write MORE: Huntley Fitzpatrick, Erin Morgenstern, Ruta Sepetys, Diane Setterfield, and Trish Doller. All of their debut novels are absolute favorites of mine, and I will auto-buy anything they write!
n Becky: I never auto-buy. I’m a very selective buyer and I can count on my hand the books I’ve purchase this year. If I had a full-time job and a huge bookshelf, though…. Stephen King, John Green, Joanne Harris, Maggie Stiefvater, and Juliette Marillier.
Definitely some great authors!
A huge THANK YOU to Randi and Becky for taking the time to answer my questions and spend the day with us here.
Find Becky and Randi here:
Twitter: @BeckyandRandi (blog twitter)
@randinicole13 (Randi's twitter - better to get ahold of us!)
Reader's, now it's your chance to ask them any questions you may have.