Category Archives: The Sunday Salon

TSS: Anniversary Special: Pros & Cons of Blogging

  Yesterday, Jenn’s Bookshelves turned six years old! I must say, it’s been a wonderful six years. As I was contemplating how (or if) I was going to celebrate this year, I reflected back on some of the more interesting things I’ve experienced as a blogger.  A few years ago, I shared some advice that I’ve learned and discovered over the years, a post called Things I Wish I Knew as a New Blogger.

This post has certainly gone through several revisions. First I focused on the more negative experiences I’ve had as a blogger. Then I tried to soften it up a bit and found myself reminiscing on the fun things I’ve experienced since I started this blog.  The end result: I’ve combined the best of both worlds in this Pros & Cons of Blogging post!  I tend to ramble so I’m going to do my very best to keep this short! Cons:

  • Entitlement. It’s such an ugly word, in my opinion. We, as people, as bloggers, are entitled to nothing. Truly. As I say over and over again, having your name on an area of the interwebz entitles you to nothing. I don’t care if you have 5 or 50 or 500 or 5,000 followers. Making a scene because you didn’t receive a particular ARC or access to a particular author doesn’t make you look important, it makes you look like an idiot.  I’ve seen it online and in person and it’s embarrassing and insulting to see bloggers behave this way.
  • Hoarding/bragging:  I always say you aren’t obligated to review every ARC you receive. True statement. That said,  you should probably review at least some of the copies you receive. After any major book conference, dozens of posts or videos will pop up, bragging about the books they snagged. How many of those are actually reviewed? The books are there they can get promo prior to publication. Not to serve as a bragging point. Not sell them on ebay. Or, you know, if you’re not actually a blogger anymore, maybe you should stop asking for review titles entirely?
  • Bullying: Bullying is not accepted from children, so why do people find this acceptable as adults!? Don’t gang up on someone because they didn’t like a book you loved.  Or conversely, if you didn’t like a book, fine. State your opinion, but not brutally. Book bashing is simply an attention-getter. There are more professional means of displaying your opinion.

And now, the lighter side of blogging, the perks of blogging!

  • Friendships-some of the friendships I’ve formed over the past six years are some of the strongest I’ve had my entire life. We all have a connection, a love of books. A need to tell others about them.
  • Community- Side-by-side with friendships, the community of book reviewers and bloggers is an amazing one. We’re supportive of one another, providing advice and support when needed.
  • Opportunity: the connections formed during this six years of blogging have provided me with endless opportunities, including opportunities to provide books to the less fortunate, introduce children to some really phenomenal books and authors, as well as opportunities to write for various publications.

Notice I didn’t mention access to review copies at all? While this is a benefit of blogging, it is most certainly outweighed by the benefits I have mentioned above.

So there you have it. My pros/cons of blogging, based on my six years of experience. What are yours?  Are there benefits I didn’t mention, or pet-peeves I’ve overlooked?

TSS: Week in Review

Another week has come to an end. We’ve been teased with spring weather this week but the cold temps and snow are just around the corner again. As usual, the boys are keeping us active with all their activities: skiing trips, school concerts, basketball, & birthday parties. I really am glad they are so active!

Since our oldest was off with his scout troop skiing this weekend, i assumed I would have more time to read. Not so much. Instead, since our youngest had no one to bother or annoy, he decided to spend ALL his time with me. I know, I know, it’s time spent together that I will miss as he gets older.  So, while I didn’t get to do as much reading as I would have liked to yesterday, there’s still today, right?

Although I didn’t get a lot of reading in this week, I did have the opportunity to really outstanding historical fiction as well as look ahead to books I can’t wait to read:

How was your reading week?

TSS: A Week in Review


I’m baaack!! My insane travel season is over and I’m finally getting back in to my reading groove!  It’s definitely a gradual thing; I have discovered that since I haven’t had a lot of time to read, I’ve definitely become a pickier reader. So many books have been started, only to be put down, some temporarily and some permanently.  I simply don’t want to waste my precious reading time on a less than stellar book!

This week I featured some of those outstanding reads. You may sense a theme with a few of them. All in all, great books perfect to curl up with on a cold winter’s day. A few are dark and chilling while others are warm and uplifting. Outstanding reads, all of them:

How was your reading week? Any books that stood out above others?

TSS: A Week in Review

Here’s to a new year full of fresh new starts and new beginnings!  While I enjoyed all the time off, the busy travel season for work has started for me.  While airplane time means more reading time, it’s quite exhausting by the time it’s all over!  So, bear with me if things slow down  and my posts aren’t as frequent. By the beginning  of February, though, things will be calm again…well at least for a little while.

In case you missed it, here’s what happened on the blog last week:

Review: Return to Tradd Street by Karen White
A Year in Review: 2013
Review: Starter House by Sonja Condit
Review: The Descent by Alma Katsu

So, how has the start of the new year gone for you? Read anything you’ve loved?

TSS: Week in Review

Whew! I don’t know about you but the holiday season is really catching up on me! While we finished Christmas shopping relatively early, getting prepared for family coming into town is a bit overwhelming!  Thankfully, the boys’ extracurricular schedules are calming down for the holiday so that helps tremendously!

My crazy busy schedule has me a little behind in my planned reading. That said, I did manage two really excellent books this week:

Also, I posted about a special giveaway to my readers: GoneReading Gift Certificate

Now that the year is coming to an end, I will be diligently working on my “best of” year end lists, which I traditionally post at the end of the year.  I’ve intentionally put off doing this so I can be certain to include titles I’ve read up to the end of the calendar year.

I always look forward to the calendar year because I generally allow myself a few “free” weeks, in which I don’t schedule review books and just read random books of my TBR shelf. I can’t tell you how excited I am to do this, yet  the obsessive planner in me gets kind of panicked when I don’t see anything on my review calendar for the rest of the month. I’m learning to let go…it’s a process!

So, stay tuned for my favorite books of the year, as well as reviews of books that may have come out earlier in the year (or in previous years)!

TSS: Week in Review

Fall is definitely in the air here! Frost on the ground, dressing in layers, and treats/forecasts of snow next week!   I won’t complain! I think this is the perfect time of year to curl up with a book!

It was a quiet week on the blog.  I’m just getting over the cold so I didn’t have much energy to read, instead spending the day curled up in bed.  Here’s what happened on the blog this week:

I’m really looking foreword to once again hosting Thankfully Reading Weekend! No Black Friday shopping for me! I’d much rather stay home and read!  No rules, not obligations. Join us!

In the next week I will be posting more information on Cozy Mystery Week which will take place the first week in December. I had a lot of fun hosting this last year, discovering quite a few new cozy mystery series! I hope you will stay tuned and sign up!

I don’t know about you but I’m going to go curl up with a book! Have a wonderfully bookish week!



TSS: A Week In Review

What a whirlwind of a week!  It’s a crazy busy time of year for me at work so I’m not getting a while lot of reading done lately.  I hope to make that up soon!

I have been able to listen to audiobooks, though, and squealed with delight when I received…you guessed it…Doctor Sleep earlier this week. I’ve been listening as often as I can.  First thoughts: it’s very different than The Shining. It definitely shows how much King has progressed and evolved as a writer over the past few decades.

In case you’ve missed what happened on the blog this week, here’s a brief recap:

I was quite active off the blog as well.  I was featured on Springpad’s blog with a post I did on 5 Tips for Hosting a Great Bookclub (Using Springpad).  Also, on SheKnows, I interviewed James Patterson on his new endeavors to get children to read.

Also, even though I’m not reading a lot, I’m working on quite a few projects behind the scenes.  First, I will be announcing the first title for the Mother/Son Book Club next week. There’s still time to sign up! I will have a contest to win the first book pick for all who sign up!

Finally, you may have heard me mention Murder, Monsters, & Mayhem, my annual celebration of all things spooktacular, a few times. I asked people to write about the first book that terrified them and those guest posts have started to come in! Also, many of you submitted titles in my “Scare Me” challenge so I need to get started on those.

Whew! Considering the blog looked pretty empty this week I’m certainly keeping busy!  How was your week?

TSS: Review: Rivers by Michael Farris Smith

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (September 10, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1451699425
  • Source: Publisher

After years of debilitating and destructive hurricanes in the Gulf coast, the United States government, unable to sustain or assist the depleted region, has drawn new boundary lines.  The new boundary, ninety miles north of the coastline, is referred to as the Line. Anyone south of it has signed their own death sentence for no government support, including resources, electricity, military support, shall be provided.

Cohen is one of these people.  His wife and unborn child were killed during evacuation.  He returned to bury them on their family land in Mississippi but has been unable to leave them behind. He is one of the few survivors who continues to live in their home, sustaining himself on a host of carefully collected supplies and food. That is all taken away from him when his home is ransacked, all of his food and supplies taken. Cohen is forced out of his home, determined to recover what has been taken from him.  He encounters a colony of survivors, led by Aggie, a fanatical preacher with horrific plans to repopulate the region. Cohen must come to a difficult decision: does he help the the people Aggie has been holding captive or does he continue his journey to the line…alone?  His decision is influenced by a secret that could be deadly to those individuals whose lives he is trying hard to protect.

Rivers is a novel that is both dark and devastating yet, beneath all the devastation, a semblance of hope remains.  Cohen’s character represents a sense of hope in an area so decimated by nature’s destruction.  His character, up until now, is unable to leave behind the life he once had.  It is only with his assistance that the survivors of Aggie’s “cult” can escape the dangerous region below the Line.

The setting Smith creates is bleak: imagine a South completely destroyed by hurricanes and flooding.  Rivers of water now exist where there were once roads and homes. Long gone are the semblances of a civilized life. What replaces it, a world in which pirate-like individuals brutally murder for a a few gallons of gas, is absolutely chilling.  Smith could have easily politicized this novel, turning it into a rant about our government and its response to devastation by hurricanes like Katrina. However, he does not. Instead, this novel is character-driven.  Their survival, the sense of love and hope that binds them, are what makes this novel excel.

I read this novel in two sittings. Smith’s rich and descriptive writing enveloped me, parts were so eloquently written that I had to pause and read it out loud.  A glimpse of humanity in the midst of devastation, this is a novel that will reside within me for months to come. Highly, highly recommended.

TSS: Week in Review

Well, we survived the first week of school!  Our oldest started eighth grade and our youngest, third.  Thankfully, the first day was free from drama; I seemed to be more overwhelmed than the boys!

While we had some hints of fall weather, today the temps were back to the average for this time of year. I’m ready for sweater weather!

Despite having just a few reviews posted, it was a busy week on the blog this week. I launched a Mother/Son book club.  Have a son and interested in signing up? We’d love to have you.  I’m hoping to announce a the first selection soon.  The plan is to alternate between younger chapter book type reads and older, middle grade reads.

As far as reviews, I only posted two but both were pretty memorable!  Lexicon  is a must-read for anyone who is a fan of the written (or spoken) word. It’s a book that continues to haunt me, not because it was overly terrifying but because it’s simply outstanding.   I also reviewed The Edge of Normal, a suspense thriller that I particularly enjoyed due to the author’s connection to the story and the fact that the protagonist is a pretty kick-ass young woman.

How was your week? Did you read or review a book you particularly enjoyed?


TSS: A Week in Review

What a beautiful week! We got teased with some fall weather last week. I loved waking up to cooler temperatures.  We still have a bit of summer to go but this little fall preview has me craving cooler weather!

Speaking of fall previews, next Friday, I will be joining Swapna and Katie at One More Page Books & More in Arlington, VA to do a preview of the fall books we’re excited about.  There are so many excellent books coming out this fall and I’m really looking forward to talking about them. I’ll be sure to post a list of the books we chat about next week!

Looking back at last week, I reviewed some pretty stellar thriller titles, including Let Me Go (the latest in the Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell series) by Chelsea Cain and Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes.  In preparation for my fall Halloween feature, I’m hoping one of my readers can suggest a title that spooks me!

In a little over the week, the entire JCrew and I will be heading to a cabin in the Shenandoah Valley. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to this getaway! School starts in just two weeks so this will be the last chance we have to relax before the chaos begins.

How was your reading week?