Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Overstuffed Bookcase is Now Live!

Hello all!  I just wanted to let you know that my new book blog, The Overstuffed Bookcase, is now live!  So far I only have one post and a few pages on there, but my first review, for The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, will be up soon!  I plan on dedicating a lot more time to that blog than to this one, which will remain a personal blog.  So please follow the new blog if you're interested in my book reviews.  I appreciate it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

John Green Week: The Fault in Our Stars Release!

Happy The Fault in Our Stars Release Day (also known as Alaska Young Day), everyone!  I have decided that my first review for my new blog will be for The Fault in Our Stars!  

However, while many of you have picked up your copy from your local book store or are patiently awaiting the delivery of your copy, I was a doofus and selected standard shipping when I pre-ordered from Amazon.  I believe my line of thought, way back in August, was "I'll have already waited so long, I can wait a few more days."  Stupid.  

So yesterday when I checked my account and saw that the expected delivery date for my copy was January 13th-January 17th, I thought, "Well, I'll just change the shipping."  But it was too late for that - there wasn't even an option to change the shipping.  Then I thought, "I'll cancel my order and make a new order and do overnight shipping."  But when I tried that, it said that the cancellation couldn't be guaranteed, because it was so close to the ship date.  Which I understand - they probably had it already boxed and labeled and ready to ship.  So this morning I got an email from Amazon saying that my order had shipped and the expected delivery date was Thursday, January 12th. Which is only two more days, of course, but one of my friends has already gotten hers and I want to read it NOW!  (Oh, boohoo, Andrea, suck it up.)

So all this basically means is that my first review on my new book blog won't be posted until probably Saturday or Sunday.  But that's okay.  As long as I have read the book before the 21st (when my friends and I are going to the Tour de Nerdfighting in Austin, TX!), I'll be okay.  And then, while there, I'll be getting two more copies (one for my spot at the event and one for my hubby's spot, although I don't think he'll be able to go because it's so late and it'll be past our son's bed time) that I'll most likely be giving away on my new blog!

Today I'm also excited about the release of A Million Suns by Beth Revis, which I should also be getting in the mail on Thursday.

So I hope you all enjoy your nice, new, shiny signed copies of The Fault in Our Stars, and be on the lookout - I'll post here when my new book blog officially goes online!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren where bloggers can share the books they've received/bought/borrowed each week.

My new book blog is in the process of being made right now, and this blog will turn into a personal/writing blog (which is pretty much what it is already). But I really wanted to participate in this week's In My Mailbox, because I got a lot of book goodies over the past couple of weeks.  It's my first IMM, and I know a lot of people do them every week, but I plan on only participating every once in a while on my new blog.  So this one is not only for the past week, but for the past couple of weeks.

Christmas Gifts
From my parents I received:
The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
The Death Cure by James Dashner
Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire
(Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

From my brother and his wife I received a Barnes & Noble gift card and with it bought:
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
(Thanks T & K!)

With some leftover Christmas money I bought:
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (found this at a used bookstore in town for $6!)
The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

From the Library
Finally got my book club book in that I had on hold:
Bag of Bones by Stephen King

In the Mail/Delivered
And then, what I was really excited about, was my Christmas gift from my hubby:

Yea!!!  New bookcases!  I needed those!!!  Thanks, Jeremy!

So what kind of bookish things did you get this week (or couple of weeks or month or whatever)?  Let me know if you participated in this week's IMM and I'll check out your blog!

Friday, January 6, 2012

John Green Week: My Favorite Videos

I've decided to make a whole new book blog soon (this one is too personal, I think).  It's in the works, but until then, I'm still participating in John Green Week, hosted by I Eat Words and a whole lot of other bloggers.

A little background for you about John Green:  he's an author, and has written several beautiful, heartwarming, and poignant YA contemporary novels.  His new novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is coming out on Tuesday (eeek!), thus the reason for John Green Week.  Also, he and his brother, Hank, make extremely awesome videos each week on their YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers.  The fans of these blogs are called Nerdfighters (and basically all that being a Nerdfighter means is that you're made of awesome).

Okay, so some background into how I was introduced to the awesomeness that is John Green and Vlogbrothers:  I'm in a book club, and a couple of the girls in the book club are huge YA readers.  I myself have now become a huge fan of YA (thanks Tracy and Mandy!).  Anyway, at one book club meeting, my friend Tracy, who had read all of John's books, got on a computer and told us that we MUST watch a couple videos.  A little background to the videos:  John and Hank set a schedule (it changes sometimes at the beginning of the year) as to when they will post videos.  If they fail to post a video at the scheduled time, the Nerdfighters can come up with punishments for them.  These two videos are punishments that Hank and John had to do for missing a post.  I'll show you those videos now (they also happen to be some of my favorites).

This one is of Hank trying to put on makeup like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games:

And this one is of John doing some Nerd exercises:

If those videos aren't a great introduction to Vlogbrothers, I don't know what is!  

So this summer I set out to watch ALL the Vlogbrothers videos, from the beginning, in order. It took me a while, but I finished!  And I had a blast watching them!  Now I've read all of John's books (except for Let It Snow and Zombicorns.  And The Fault in Our Stars, of course!) and I really enjoyed them all!

Here are a couple of my other favorite videos from the Vlogbrothers:

This is the origin of Nerdfighters, where John misreads a video game called Aero Fighters:

And here's one from Hank that made me so happy - I correct people about some of these things all the time, especially the first one:

And one more funny one from Hank - I love when he says "Marchy times":

I hope you enjoyed my favorite videos.  What are some of your favorite Vlogbrothers videos?

(I just realized that in just over two weeks I will be seeing both John and Hank in the Tour de Nerdfighting in Austin, TX!  Woooohoooo!)

Thursday, January 5, 2012


A couple of days ago, I decided that I wanted to make my blog more of a priority in my life this year.  I also decided that I wanted my blog to focus on book reviews, mostly YA.  And I wanted to make my blog grow.  So I set out to do that.  I signed up for a few reading challenges, along with my own goal of reading 80 books this year.  Then I started browsing other book blogs, and started following quite a few of them.  My Google Reader is extremely full right now, but I'm steadily pecking away at it, hence the new comments on many bloggers' older posts.  

I'm reading blogs, following, commenting, getting ideas for my blog and learning a few dos and don'ts along the way.  But I still feel like I'm doing all the newbie things that older bloggers roll their eyes at.  Yes, I know I'll make mistakes.  And yes, I know it's a learning process.  But I still feel way, way behind.  

Luckily I signed up for the event Busting the Newbie Blues, hosted by Small Review.  It's a way for us new YA book bloggers to meet others like us, and get advice from old and new bloggers as well.  And I guess that's exactly what I'm going through - the Newbie Blues.

So here are the things that I'm questioning with my blog, and I'd really like your opinions and advice.

  • Do I really want to go full-throttle with this thing, and make a fancy Review Policy where I try to get publishers to send me their books, and list what I will and won't review, etc.?  This seems like the thing to do if you're serious about book blogging.  So far I've only been reviewing books that I've bought or borrowed (with the exception of the Glow ARC I received from a Goodreads giveaway).  I also haven't had very in-depth book reviews, which I definitely plan on rectifying in the future, no matter if I do the whole Review Policy thing or not.  I'm still going to stay away from anything that might be spoilerish, but my reviews will be much more than just saying if I liked the book or not.  But I'd also love to become more of a part of this community, and I'd love to be able to someday go to conferences and meet other bloggers (and authors!).  That would be awesome!
  • Should I change my blog name?  I really think this should be done.  The Mantis Connection conveys nothing about books, and so I feel like the name should be changed. Of course, if I simply change the name of the blog the URL would stay the same.  Unless I made a completely new blog, in which case I feel like I would lose those old posts, which I wouldn't be happy about (unless my husband or others know how to fix this!).  Just the reviews, mind you.  I wouldn't take all my soap-box rants over there.  Nor would this post make its way to the new blog.  It would be all reviews, reader challenges, and book related memes.  Maybe a bit of writing.  Or maybe I could keep this blog as a personal blog/writing blog and then the new one could be book reviews.  That sounds like a pretty good idea.  Also, I have NO idea what to name the blog.  Something book related of course, but I don't know...  
  • I think, even if I just change the name and the URL stays the same, I would need a new layout.  I can draw, but boy do I fail at art on the computer.  At one time I thought I would like to be a graphic designer, but once I took a class in high school I realized that it was not for me.  So I'd need someone to fancify the blog...
These are all things that can be done, of course.  This is just a problem of mine - I jump into things before I think them out sometimes and then I get overwhelmed with everything.  And I go over everything in my head, but writing/blogging about it helps to figure it out.  Plus, I'd appreciate the advice from my friends and followers.

Some people might wonder if I have the time to commit to something like this, and believe me, this has crossed my mind.  I am a stay-at-home mom of a 2-year-old, so I don't have a typical 9-5 job, but that doesn't mean I have tons of time to sit in front of a computer.  Basically I have a few hours during the day to read, blog, shower, whatever, while he's taking a nap.  And then I have my evenings when my husband comes home (and weekends, of course).  But we love to watch TV and I enjoy spending time with my husband.  Then I also have Reviews in 5 (a movie blog), which is also time-consuming.  I also write fiction, and while I'm not writing so much right now, I'd like to write more this year.  And then there's my social life. 

But I think, because I read so much, that I have time to take a few hours after finishing a book to write a thoughtful review post, and also to occasionally participate in a few memes.  And I feel like this year can be a sort of trial period, and if it's beginning to seem like too much, I can take a step back.

Anyway, what do you guys think?  Should I go all out for this?  Or just continue to do what I've been doing, but focus more on book reviews?  Any ideas for new blog names (I'm looking at you, Kate.  You came up with that awesome name for Courtney's blog - Abducted by Books - and yours is great, too - Midnight Book Girl.)?  Any other advice or sage wisdom you'd like to dispense?  Thanks in advance!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Waiting On" Wednesday: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

(Whoa, Andrea, more than one post in a day?  What's happening here? - I told you I'm going to take my blog more seriously this year!  Let's get to it!)

So this post kills two birds with one stone (or kills two memes with one blog post) - I'm participating in the "Waiting On" Wednesday meme hosted by Breaking the Spine and I'm also participating in John Green Week, hosted by I Eat Words and several other blogs!

Photo copyright Penguin Group
The Fault in Our Stars
By John Green
Publication Date:  January 10, 2012

From Goodreads:  Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Now some might say this is the easy way to start John Green Week, but let me just tell you, I CANNOT WAIT for this book to come out!  I've only been a Nerdfighter now for a little while, but I've watched all the videos, and I've read all of John's books except for Let it Snow and Zombicorns.  I am a huge fan of his writing, and I really respect him as well as his brother, Hank.

Luckily The Fault in Our Stars is coming out in just 6 short days - the wait is almost over!  I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon months ago, and I hope it gets here at least by Wednesday, if not on Tuesday.  My friends Courtney, from Abducted by Books, and Tracy, from All About the Three R's, and I, along with my husband and son, are going out of state for one of the book signings!  We're all super excited and are even making our own DFTBA t-shirts.  (Laugh all you want, but we're Nerdfighters and it's cool to be nerdy!)

So, for anyone who doesn't know, John Green is an author and has published several YA Contemporary novels (Looking for AlaskaAn Abundance of KatherinesPaper Towns; and Will Grayson, Will Grayson with David Levithan are the others that I didn't mention above).  The Fault in Our Stars is his widely anticipated new novel, and with that plot plus John's beautiful writing, it's sure to be a wonderful book!

John and his brother, Hank, also make hilariously funny, heartwarming, and awesome vlogs every week.  You can see their videos on their YouTube page, Vlogbrothers.  I plan on posting later this week with a few of my favorites of their videos.  (Also FYI, fans of these vlogs are called Nerdfighers, in case you were wondering what the heck I was talking about above.)

So, let me know, what book are you waiting on right now?

Busting the Newbie Blues

This year, I've decided to make my blog more of a priority.  I've had this blog since December of 2009 (Yikes!  Two whole years!) and it started out without any kind of direction.  I posted about random things in my life, got up on my soap box for a few things, etc.  Then last year I started reading a lot more and most of my posts were book reviews.  However, I didn't post on any type of schedule, and I only had about 30 posts last year.  

So this year, I've decided to make this blog more about book reviews, mainly YA books, since that's a lot of what I read.  I'll still probably have posts about writing here and there as I try to figure out what I'm going to do with my current story, and I may also have a few off-topic posts.  But mostly I'm going to shoot for book reviews.  I also would like my blog to grow - to find some followers that I don't know in real life (although I still love the fact that my friends follow my blog).  

The first thing I did to start this new phase of my blog was to sign up for some reading challenges (you can see my post on this here).  Then I realized that I myself only followed the blogs of my friends and a few other big-time blogs.  So I set out to find other book bloggers and I started following some cool sites.  I'm going to try to commit to commenting on several posts a week as well - I've been lagging in this department, too.  :(  

Then I came across Small Review, who is hosting a great event throughout January, just for book bloggers, called Busting the Newbie Blues.  New and Old YA book bloggers can sign up, meet other bloggers, and get advice and tips on blogging.  This is perfect for me!  I've been blogging for a while, but still have only a small amount of followers, and I'm pumped to actually become a part of the book blogging community!

So here are my answers to the questionnaire for this event - I have chosen the one for new bloggers since my blog is still so small.

1.  When did you start your blog?

      December, 2009.

2.  Why did you start your blog?
      I just wanted to have a blog.  I didn't know what I would blog about or anything, but I've always been a writer, so I thought blogging would at least be a good kind of writing exercise.  But now I'd like my blog to have more direction, and to focus on book reviews, mostly YA books.

3.  What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
      When I first started out, I had no theme for my blog, so it was hard to come up with topics to write about.  Once I started reading a lot more, book reviews became an obvious topic.  Now I'd say the hardest thing is making sure that I post regularly, and also to find more followers.

4.  What do you find most discouraging about being a new blogger?
      No followers!  :(  I love my friends and I'm so glad that they follow my blog - without them I probably would have quit a long time ago.  But I'd like to see my blog grow even more.

5.  What do you find most encouraging?
      On my blog - comments.  It lets me know that at least someone is reading what I've written!  (Note to self - comments go both ways!)  In the blogging community - other book bloggers are really encouraging.  I see all these great sites with wonderful reviews and great humor and it makes me feel like one of these days my blog could grow.

6.  What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog?
      Well, I just started following more than a couple book blogs, but as far as my friends' blogs that I've been reading for a while, I just love their humor and their honest reviews.  I always try to put humor into my posts (and in my life), but sometimes that might not always come across.  And I always give honest reviews, and I try to make them positive even if I didn't like the book.  I am a writer myself and someday when I have a book published, I'd like to read kind reviews, even if the reviewer really didn't like my book.

7.  What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this?
      Spoilers!  And yes, I really try to avoid this.  I'm crazy about spoilers - I only read the description of a book once, then put it on my to-read list if I want to read it, and then once I have the book I don't read the back or the blurbs again.  I know with reading others' reviews sometimes I'm going to find out more than I wished to know before reading the book, but I'm okay with it as long as it's not a major spoiler.

8.  Any advice for other new bloggers?
     I'm not sure I have any advice, because even though I've had this blog for a while, I still don't know what I'm doing and feel like I might be doing it wrong.  But I guess I can say that if others feel this way, just know that you're not alone!  And we'll get the hang of it eventually!

9.  Any questions you'd like to ask newbie or established bloggers?
     Of course I'd like to know how to get ARCs (I've gotten one through Goodreads before, and I know of some of the ARC tour websites, but I'm curious if there are other ways to get them).  And also I'd just like to know how they keep themselves posting on a regular basis, and just any other tips and tricks of the trade that they can pass along.  And also a good way to find more followers.  I'm starting to sound like I'm desperate here - I don't expect to have a hugely popular blog or anything, but I would like my readership to grow.

10.  Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your blog? Feel free to link a few of your favorite posts or posts you wish had more comments.
     I am a huge Harry Potter nerd, so Harry Potter comes up a lot in my posts.  I also love The Hunger Games, and one of my favorite posts that I've done was where I picked my dream cast for the movie.  Of course, the movie is already in production but if you're a fan of the books and would like to see my picks, you can check out that post here.  I also write fiction, and participate in NaNoWriMo each year, so I talk about that sometimes in my posts.  NaNoWriMo is awesome and if you don't know about it and you write fiction, go check out their website!

So there you have it.  I'm excited to read some new book blogs and to become a part of this awesome community!  Please let me know if you are participating in this event and I'll check out your blog, too!