Announcement: We’re Blogger Award Winners!

So imagine our surprise and flattery when Steve D. from Redstring Paper Cuts gave us the Blogger Recognition Award (which we presume is a recognition of badassery and awesomeness).

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Our blog is a year old and it’s really something we’re quite proud of, so to receive an award for it is so incredibly humbling and gratifying. Major, major thanks to Steve D. We’re truly honored.

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But unlike Frank Cross, we mean it. (source)

So to officially accept this award there are certain steps that we have to go through. We’ve covered thanking the person who nominated us. The next is to write a post showing the award. And the rest are as follows:

How Did This Blog Get Started?

We have been friends since we met at our graduate program for Library and Information Sciences, and as one would imagine, we both love to read. Serena had the idea that we should put together a blog of book reviews, reader’s advisory, lists, and various other booky things, and Kate agreed. For a year now we’ve been doing this and have really enjoyed the collaboration and the fun that it has brought, as well as all the reading it’s encouraged us to do.

Two Pieces of Advice for New Bloggers

  1. Blog about things you are passionate about. Reading is a huge part of our jobs, but it’s also one of our favorite hobbies in our spare time, so I look forward to writing reviews and lists and posts about reading, books, and librarianship. And make sure to set time for it at designated times a week, because it’s easy to get frazzled and behind if you’re hoping to post consistently. If you make time, it will happen. – Kate
  2. Don’t fret too much about having a unique “voice” in your writing. As a reader of other book blogs, I was always very impressed by the creative and entertaining styles of other reviewers. This, in turn, intimidated me when I began reviewing books myself. I felt pressured to come up with some clever “take” on things. As it turns out, if you write enough, your own natural voice/style will emerge. Be patient with this process. Writing is like any other hobby/skill: with practice comes results. And there is always room to continue growing (which is a relief for those times that writer’s block sets in and you begin questioning how you ever managed to write anything before). – Serena

We Nominate…

Kristen Twardowski : She’s not only one of our favorite fellow bloggers,  she’s a very insightful writer with a well written blog about writing and literature. Kristen is great and you should check her out!

The Untitled Book Blog: Donna is a passionate reader who reviews the books in her TBR pile on this site. Solidarity with fellow book bloggers!

Bookish Feminist: Kate’s friend Sarah has a blog that follows the feminist books she and her book club have been reading. There’s a social justice bent to her list and it has lots of great recommendations.

YAPS!: This YA blogger and fellow librarian covers a wide breadth of YA books. This blog is fun to read for a couple of YA nuts like us, and has some great insights into YA fiction.

Storyscope: Marianne is another relatively new blogger on the scene, but her great writing voice and similar taste in reading material (shout out to “Anna Dressed in Blood” and “The Name of the Wind”) makes her blog one of the many that we check out.

Escape Into a Book Site: This blog covers romance fiction more than anything, and as a genre that we don’t cover here but do read occasionally, it’s a good one to check out!

Bec’s Books: This blog is fairly new too, but Bec is a passionate book blogger who reviews stacks of books on this blog, as well as talking about books she wants to read and books she has in her possession.

Book V Book: Another new site, but this one is very fun and spunky. The two bloggers who run it each pick a book from a similar genre, and each make the case as to why their book would win the book fight. It’s funny and well thought out.

 

NerdCon Stories 2016!

Hey readers! Kate here! We’re shaking things up with the Monday blog post, as I was
presented with a rather unique opportunity this past weekend. Serena and I are based in Minnesota, as you all know, and the Second Annual NerdCon: Stories, occurred on Friday and Saturday in Minneapolis. Though Serena was unable to attend with me, as she was out of town, I went wi20161014_152656_hdrth our dear friend Alicia, a fellow librarian and former classmate of ours. So I thought that I would write about this convention and what Alicia and I did while we were there.

 

So what is NerdCon: Stories you may ask. John and Hank Green, two brothers (one of whom is an author, known for “Looking for Alaska” and “The Fault In Our Stars”, and both of whom run a podcast together) founded a convention based on the idea of storytelling. It gathers for two days and brings in authors, musicians, poets, and many other people from many walks of life to talk about the importance of storytelling. It was held in the Minneapolis Convention center, spread out across many rooms and event spaces. I will be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. Alicia sent me her schedule asking if I’d put mine together, and I responded with ‘Uhhhh….?’ Content to just follow Alicia around, I let her take the wheel and let myself just float from place to place, taking it all in.

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“Storytelling in Tabletop Gaming” panel.

 

One of the most prominent events of this convention was a large amount of panels. Many of them were about storytelling, though there were also panels where authors took the wheel, or panels about librarianship, or panels about different kinds of storytelling. I attended a few, and the ones that stood out for me were “Storytelling in Table Top Gaming”, and the two randomly generated panels “Lightning” and “Wild Cards”, where the audience came up with topics for various authors to speak on. As someone who just likes hearing authors talk about many different random things, I enjoyed hearing the likes of Paolo Bacigalupi, Patrick Rothfuss, Wesley Chu, and Mikki Kendall talk about foods they like, Halloween costumes, and childhood stories. But then in “Storytelling in Table Top Gaming” we had various gamers and storytellers (including John Darnielle, author of one of my fave books of last year “Wolf in White Van”) talking about how D&D and other role playing games can also tell stories, which is something that some may not think about. I’m a huge tabletop game fan, so this was my favorite panel of the convention.

 

20161015_110155_hdr-1There were also various opportunities to have social and networking moments. Alicia and I attended a library and librarian meet up group, where we ended up talking about different aspects of librarianship and what we do in our libraries. At the end of this group meet we were exchanging contact info with other librarians, connections that we may use in the future, or maybe not. But even if we don’t it was a rewarding little meet up group. Along with networking, we did have opportunities to meet different authors who attended the convention, and get them to sign their books. As an avid book lover and someone who has been collecting autographs since ALA 2014, this opportunity was an exciting one! I asked Cindy Pon to sign a book for me (“Silver Phoenix”, a YA fantasy novel with a BEAUTIFUL cover), and I asked John Scalzi to sign a copy of “Redshirts” for my husband (he gave him a very funny personal message too, which was very cool). The signings were well coordinated and I didn’t have to wait long at either signing, and both Pon and Scalzi were very kind and talkative when talking with the convention-goers.

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We do rock, Cindy! Thank you!

By and large, however, my favorite events were the Variety Shows that happened twice a day. Presenters could present on whatever they wanted to, so you could either get authors reading from their works (such as Daniel José Older, John Scalzi, and Cindy Pon), or giving presentations on topics of their choice (like Joe DeGeorge talking about “Mrs. Pac Man” or John Green talking about Mental Illness and Creativity), or having an author conversation

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Patrick Rothfuss and Wesley Chu.

on stage (like Patrick Rothfuss and Wesley Chu talking about video games). Or participating in a lip sync battle. Yeah. That did happen. These moments were fun and relaxing, and while it never felt totally cohesive it did showcase a lot of different and mostly interesting pieces that I enjoyed. One of the more powerful moments was a presentation on undocumented immigration and how undocumented immigrants are trying to tell their own stories now, and how important their stories are. I didn’t expect this kind of presentation, but I was really happy to see it.

 

 

And finally, one of the most important things of a convention, in my opinion, is the SWAG you can get! I love going to the expo and dealer rooms of conventions I go to so I can 1) get good information, 2) make connections with interesting people, and 3) get cool stuff to bring home and treasure! I’d be lying if I said that that I didn’t value point three higher than the rest. 20161015_152004_hdrNot only did we get signed books, we randomly met up with audiobook narrator Kate Rudd and she gave us signed copies of a few mp3 CDs of books she’s done, all because we did her a solid! The expo area at NerdCon was smaller than other conventions I’ve been to, but boy were there a lot of books for sale, sometimes by the authors themselves. There were also tables being manned by local book related organizations, from Ramsey County Library to the St. Catherine MLIS Program. I got myself a cute necklace that has a tiny little version of the book “Emma” on it, as Emma (well fine, Cher Horowitz) is my personal hero. Lots of really cute trinkets, though probably not as much to see as you might at other conventions.

So is NerdCon Stories coming back next year? That isn’t totally clear at the moment. Attendance was down and it seems that it wasn’t the success that the organizers really wanted it to be. I think that a few factors kind of conspired against it this year. One is that the Twin Cities Book Festival was going on this past weekend as well, which also has lots of books and really neat authors to meet. Plus, NerdCon did have a pretty pricey attendance fee, about one hundred dollars for two days (one of which is Friday, typically a work day). True, it’s two days of lots of cool things and opportunities, but one of the big local cons here is four days at about the same price, and quite a bit cheaper if you register at the early bird rate. I think that locals just may not be as willing to pay that much when there are other, cheaper opportunities.

All that said, I did enjoy myself greatly at this convention. I think that if you like stories and you want an experience that is a bit more interactive and in depth, NerdCon Stories is a fun way to spend part of a weekend. If it comes back next year, I say give it a chance! So thank you, NerdCon Stories! It was a nice way to spend a weekend with a good friend!