Mary's Minute: The Hype Machine

One interesting aspect of the bookish community is the way we the readers put so much into promoting the books (and authors) we adore. It's not enough for us to love a book, buy a copy, and be done. We love a book. We rave about it. We draw fanart, we write reviews and fanfic, we create designs and merchandise, we post inspiration boards and fancasts, playlists and top tens. We cosplay. We preorder. We tell our friends, our families, our coworkers, our postmen, our cashiers, our random strangers in the bookstore. We don't tell them once or twice. We tell them once or twice daily until they pick up the book already. We face books at B&N. We show up at events. We join street teams and push even harder. We tell the world in as many ways as possible.

What I want to talk about for a second is... does all this non-stop promotion ever HURT a book (pauses to hum a few bars of "Non Stop")? Let me tell you a story. In April 2015, I received an advance copy of a really cool book at the TLA annual conference. I had been looking forward to this book. The author had become a favorite because of another series and was an auto-read, auto-buy for me. I did not immediately read the book because it was six months before publication, and there were some other great books with closer release dates. Unfortunately for me, just a month later, everyone at BEA got this book and read it immediately. They RAVED about it. They posted pictures of pages. They created dozens of blog posts and my Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram feeds were plastered with updates, posts, and pictures for about three months. The end result was that I didn't want to read the book anymore BECAUSE everyone was talking about it. I was especially incensed by the spoilery pictures of the pages.

And so I waited. I bided (bode? UGH irregular verbs are the worst) my time. The book released with much pomp, but after about three weeks, the promotion had abated, and it was finally "safe" for me to read without expectation. I read the book in two days and LOVED it. I posted a review, recommended it to friends and family, touted it as one of my favorite books of 2015, met the authors on tour (like four times), posted a gif review of the sequel, and posted a review of the audio. For those who clicked the links, bless you. Yes, it was, in fact, Illuminae. Those of you who know me know yeah, I adore this book and its sequel. I love its authors. I think it's fantastic and want everyone to read it... but too much hype killed my initial desire to read the book.

While I think it's amazing that everyone is always so excited by the books they love, I'm always intensely wary of listening to gushy OMG IT'S THE BEST EVAR type recommendations, particularly from people whose reading tastes I am not wholly certain line up with my own. I tend to be a bit skeptical of recommendations, and I completely ignore the ones my Goodreads friends send me. I have many times fallen into the pit of despair disappointment caused by high expectations caused by too much hype.

In recent days, I have been especially annoyed by the street team of a certain sequel. I want to read this book. The author is a delight, and it's an intriguing world. Last night, someone checked the audiobook of book 1 out at work, and I told them how much I enjoyed it. However, it is IRRITATING AS FUCK because for the last two weeks straight, my timelines on every conceivable platform have been taken over by this book's overeager champions. At this point, I'm so sick of hearing about this book that my desire to read it has dropped from about an 8 on the I Want It scale to about a 2. AND IT STILL HAS SEVERAL WEEKS TO GO BEFORE RELEASE. I'm trying to hold out hope by the release, the frenzy will have lessened somewhat, but that's probably futile.

If any of said champions read this (because some of you are friends of mine), I really do love you guys. You're great, and I think it's great you love this book, this series, this author, but maybe cut the promotion down a smidge. It doesn't have to be non-stop promo 24/7.

For anyone who does any type of promotion (and LBR, all of us do some type of promotion, whether for a book, an author, a merchandise shop, our blogs, whatever), maybe follow authors Beth Revis's & Paula Stokes's advice (the entire post is about promotion, but question 2 is the most applicable part): post once in the morning, once in the afternoon, once later at night, which will ensure social media users who jump on at different times each day will see one of your posts. Or maybe post once a day and figure someone will see it on Wednesday who missed the Tuesday post. Please stop posting every hour on the hour on every platform you're on. It's excessive.

Here's the thing: sometimes authors with no clue how to social media comes on and tweets a link to their book to me with no previous interaction. I immediately check out their feed. If I see they've tweeted the same exact tweet to myself and several other book bloggers, I report them for spam. What you're doing, it's spam too. I won't report friends for spam (that's seriously reserved for "buy my book [link]" or "knoxdiver, win an iphone 8!"), but I will stop listening. I'll start avoiding that book book and the people talking about it. I'll utilize things like the mute button. I'm contrary like that, but hey, there's literally a nursery rhyme about the contrariness of people named Mary.

Street teams can be fantastic. They're a great resource for authors, particularly when the piece of the publisher's publicity pie is that weird randomly skinny slice while the other pieces are all fatter (you know what I'm talking about, but see below because it was fun to google).

But for me, I'd rather talk to people about the book rather than face down a wall of inside jokes, increasingly ridiculous hashtags, and purchase/preorder links.

I think it's also a matter of focus. I'd rather hear WHY a book is great instead of just seeing "OMG I HAVE THIS BOOK IT'S AMAZING THANKS [insert publisher here] [insert all the heart eye emojis here]" a thousand times before the book comes out. If I hear "wow, the writing is so beautiful!" I'll keep an eye out for the writing. If I hear "Henry is SUUUPER swoony, and I ship it so hard!" I'm definitely going to be looking out for Henry and the ship. Expecting general awesomeness is a good way to become disappointed, but if promotion is focused, I know the book has some specific strengths that will definitely push it up my TBR. This is 100% why I still prefer Twitter to Instagram. Book pictures are pretty, but rarely do I ever have a meaningful conversation about a book on Insta.

I don't want people to think I'm just picking on street teams here. Yes, while the intense presence of The Team That Will Not Be Named broke me pushed me to post this now, I've actually been thinking about this topic for several months, although primarily regarding individual recommendations. *scrolls up, sees how long this post already is* Basically, even when a friend I love encourages me to read a book, sometimes I balk 1. if they recommend it every day (it is established that I'm contrary) or 2. if they love it, and I'm afraid I won't.

To conclude, I'll leave you with this: I recently apologized to a friend because I realized I was being wholly obnoxious with my book pushing (I really did yell at her almost every day for several months in our group chat), and it's something I'm going to work on. I always want to be a person who encourages people to pick up a book, someone others seek out for a recommendation instead of bombarding them with suggestions. It absolutely kills me when I get a comment like, "thanks for this. You saved me from reading this garbage." That's not the kind of reader, blogger, and library staffer I want to be. I also want others to be conscientious of the difference between helpful promotion and obnoxious spam.

Please leave a comment whether you agree or disagree. I would love to hear other readers' and bloggers' opinions regarding promotion, recommendations, and expectations and if they're connected for you the way they are for me. Has the hype machine ever ruined a book for you or have you ever pushed a book lower on your TBR to avoid the hype? 

Mary's Minute: Dream Panel: Teenagers in Space

This week I have the opportunity to do something unique and cool. I was asked to create my own dream panel of authors and/or characters for a fictional conference. I totally love this idea, especially considering I had the ability to use Big Name People or even characters.

I have a few ideas for this so I might do some more panels in the future. However, lately I've been really into science fiction, but only the ones that go where no man has gone before. Therefore I have brought in my favorite epic space authors and a few special guests (because when I reach for the stars, I literally reach for movie stars). Behold, I bring you:


Basically, Teenagers in Space would be a panel all about creating and enriching stories set in space. I would moderate because this is my dream panel, and I'm not passing up on an opportunity to meet Melissa, Chris, Sigourney, and Joss (the others I have had the pleasure of previously both meeting and moderating panels for!). We'd talk about boss ladies (Sigourney would monologue about Ripley, obviously) and sassy boys (Chris and Jay would discuss Star-Lord and Nik). We'd talk technology (what's up, AIDAN?) and badass spaceships, space battles and alien monsters, contagious diseases and loneliness in the big black. Research and gross stuff would also be a hot topic, and Beth would make the audience queasy with stories about boiling spit and other delightful effects of the human body in the vacuum of space (I have heard her talk about this & it's amazingly horrifying). 

If I blew this up into a festival or convention or if my picks weren't available (because sometimes you do need backups for your dreams), potential guests would include:
Mindee Arnett - Avalon series
Karen Bao - Dove Chronicles
Rhoda Belleza - Empress of a Thousand Skies (out in February!)
Pierce Brown - Red Rising trilogy
Alexandra Duncan - Salvage duology
Tessa Elwood - Inherit the Stars series
Claudia Gray - Lost Stars, Defy the Stars
Ava Jae - Beyond the Red trilogy
RC Lewis - Stitching Snow, Spinning Starlight
Marissa Meyer - The Lunar Chronicles 
Michael Miller - Kaitan Chronicles (book 1 Shadow Run released next year!)
Kass Morgan - The 100 trilogy
Phoebe North - Starglass duology
Adam Rex - The True Meaning of Smek Day (book that Home was based on)
Megan Shepherd - The Cage trilogy
AdriAnne Strickland - Kaitan Chronicles
the cast of Firefly
the cast of The 100
the cast of Star-Crossed (still mad this got cancelled)
the writers of Halo

Do you have any favorite space-based books? Who would be on your dream panel & what would it be about? Let me know in the comments!

Eventbrite is the the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world that helps people find and plan events. Be sure to check out their conference management page, which is a great resource for locating or planning conferences and events in your local area!

Book Blitz: Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly

Today I'm really excited to celebrate the release of Stephanie Tromly's Trouble Makes a Comeback, sequel to Trouble is a Friend of Mine! I really want to read the Trouble series because not only have so many of my friends loved Trouble is a Friend of Mine, I've also heard comparisons to Veronica Mars, Sherlock Holmes, John Hughes, Ally Carter's Heist Society series, and more. Plus, I hear it's super swoony and chock full of shippy goodness so I am 100% here for that! 

Release Date: November 22, 2016
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Genre: young adult mystery
Status: book 2 of the Trouble series
Summary: A whip-smart, screwball noir mystery—with snappy prose, wry humor, and breakneck dialogue—this sequel to Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, Sherlock, John Hughes, and Carl Hiassen.

After a fall semester of fiascos: getting arrested, then kidnapped, then blown up in an explosion (all thanks to the weird but brilliant Philip Digby), Zoe Webster is looking forward to a quiet spring. Now that Digby has left town, she's finally built a regular high school life for herself. She's dating Miles, the alternate QB; she knows girls she considers friends; she's learning to enjoy being normal and semi-popular. Which of course is when Digby comes back: He's got a new lead on his missing sister and he needs Zoe's help.

Suddenly Zoe is tussling with a billionaire arch-villain, locking horns with armed goons, and digging into what makes the Digby family tick, even as she tries to navigate the confusing and emotionally fraught world of high school politics and locker-room drama. After all, it's hard to explain Digby to a boy like Miles, especially when Zoe isn't sure how she feels about Digby herself—or how he feels about her.

Now that Digby's back, get ready for another hilarious whodunit filled with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and the most charismatic, dynamic duo you've ever met. And just try to stay out of trouble.

We dare you.

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Available from:
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Meet Zoe & Digby in Trouble is a Friend of Mine!
Pub Date: August 4, 2015
Publisher: Kathy Dawson books
Genre: young adult mystery
Status: Book 1 of the Trouble series
Summary: Of course I didn’t like Digby when I first met him. No one does.

The first time Philip Digby shows up on Zoe Webster’s doorstep, he’s rude and he treats her like a book he’s already read and knows the ending to.

But before she knows it, Zoe’s allowed Digby—annoying, brilliant, and somehow…attractive? Digby—to drag her into a series of hilarious, dangerous, and only vaguely legal schemes all related to the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that might be connected to the tragic disappearance of his little sister eight years ago. When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can’t say no.

But is Digby a hero? Or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exorcize his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies? And does she really care anyway?

This is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and a dynamic duo you won’t soon forget.

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Book Buy Links:
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About the Author
Stephanie Tromly was born in Manila, grew up in Hong Kong, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and worked as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. She is the author of Trouble Is a Friend of Mine and lives in Winnipeg with her husband and son.

Author Links:

Enter for a chance to win one of three (3) sets that include a paperback of Trouble is a Friend of Mine and a hardcover copy of Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly (ARV Per Set = $28.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 9:00 AM Eastern Time on November 22, 2016 and 11:59 PM Eastern Time on November 28, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about December 1, 2016. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. 

This giveaway is hosted by Penguin. Mary Had a Little Book Blog is not responsible for giveaway or lost prizes.

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Review: Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: January 17, 2017
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: young adult science fiction
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: book 1 in the Carve the Mark duology

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Fans of Star Wars and Divergent will revel in internationally bestselling author Veronica Roth’s stunning new science-fiction fantasy series.

On a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not—their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power—something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuvhe, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive—no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive—or to destroy one another.

Audio Adventures Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Rating: 5 stars!
Narrator: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, Johnathan McClain (and many, many, many more!)
Pub date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Listening Library
Length: 11 hours & 41 minutes

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Links: see my review here

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Illuminae is one of my favorite novels of all time. Full stop. It's funny. It's scary. It's thought-provoking. It's swoony. It's smart. It's so very many amazing things, all wrapped up in a creative and unique package. I LOVE the epistolary style Amie and Jay used. Illuminae is a visual pleasure, but that meant I was a bit trepidatious to give the audio a try. I wasn't sure how it would translate given that so much of the story relies on the documents and the art. HAVE NO FEAR, audio listeners! I was immediately put at ease when I started listening to the audio because of the talent of the narrators (of which there are many) and the production quality and the audio effects.

First of all, the narrators. I've always had narrator issues since usually it's one or two people performing a whole cast. Illuminae gives me what I want in a full cast! Everyone is distinct. Olivia is Kady, Johnathan is Ezra, Lincoln is AIDAN (I think?), and then all the major secondary characters—video surveillance analyst guy, Jimmy, Winifred, Syra Boll, Torrence, Byron, etc—all had their own narrators too, plus plenty of background people to make up the rest. I was never confused about who was who, and I loved the IMs and interviews where the characters interacted because it actually sounded like a conversation between two people! BRAVO! The only time I ever had an issue was when I was looking forward to a particular scene with Jimmy, but because it was "video footage," the analyst guy ended up reading that scene. That was kind of disappointing. It's a sad scene, but I wanted to hear Jimmy's narrator perform it. Overall, though, I was ridiculously impressed. Everyone wholly embodied their character.

Olivia-as-Kady was sarcastic and prickly, but then she also pulled off soft, uncertain, exhausted, and emotionally wrung-out. Johnathan-as-Ezra was earnest AND THE DRUNK EFFING EMAIL IS THE GREATEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE (it sounds particularly awesome if you slow down the speed. MAJOR lolz!). Lincoln perfectly encapsulates AIDAN's robotic AI tone, but he also manages to be superior, weirdly humorous, condescending, and even, at times, sweet (but only with Kady); plus he did a great job with the computer code and the damage AIDAN sustains (ie "<error>"). It's a masterful performance. Syra is unsure; Winifred confident yet disapproving, the Marine with a heart. Jimmy is fun and a total bro, but I adored him. Everyone did such a great job, and I also love that listeners can hear a diverse cast reading diverse characters.

Illuminae the physical book has fantastic art, as mentioned, and yes, it's sad there's no way to really translate that audibly. Like Kady's space walk across the Alexander's hull, Ezra's rose, etc. But I thought the production team did a remarkable job creating unique aspects to the audio that couldn't be replicated on the page. There are sirens and alarms, blasters and gunfire, and more. We can't see the text bounce across the page during Kady's spacewalk, but we can hear her breathing in her envirosuit. We can hear Ezra's dogfight during the second encounter with the Lincoln. We can hear the afflicted tearing through the ship. It's visceral and intense, and you feel like you're IN the story. It's absolutely engrossing in the best way. I always know I love a book when it makes me forget the real world around and I feel like I live in the story's world, and this audiobook accomplishes that better than most.

I have been championing Illuminae for over a year now, and I have always recommended people both read and listen to it. Although I love to listen to books I've read before, I know not many people double up like that. In this case, for anyone who is able, I highly recommend it. The book is phenomenal and the audio perfect, but they are both wholly unique parts that create a whole story. It's incredible, and I don't know of any other book and audiobook that can do it.

Book Links:

About the Authors:
Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of the Starbound trilogy. Jay Kristoff is the award-winning author of the Lotus War trilogy. Collectively they are 12'5" tall and live in Melbourne, Australia, with two long-suffering spouses, two rescue dogs, and a plentiful supply of caffeine. They met, thanks to international taxation law, and stuck together due to a shared love of blowing things up and breaking hearts.

Amie's Links:

Jay's Links:

One winner will receive a digital copy of the Illuminae audiobook from Audible via the Send This Book feature. Open to anyone who can receive an audiobook this way. Terms and conditions of Send This Book are listed here. Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CST November 1. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck! 

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Book Blitz: The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Author: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Release Date: October 18, 2017
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult contemporary romance
Status: sequel to Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Summary: New York Times bestselling authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan are back with a life-affirming Christmas romance starring Dash and Lily.

Dash and Lily have had a tough year since readers first watched the couple fall in love. Lily’s beloved grandfather suffered a heart attack, and his difficult road to recovery has taken a major toll on her typically sunny disposition. 

With only twelve days left until Christmas—Lily’s favorite time of the year—Dash, Lily’s brother Langston, and their closest friends take Manhattan by storm to help Lily recapture the holiday magic of New York City in December. 

Told in alternating chapters, The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily reunites two beloved characters and is bound to be a Christmas favorite, season after season.

Available from:
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About the Authors:
Rachel Cohn is the author of the critically acclaimed YA novels Very LeFreak, You Know Where to Find Me, Cupcake, Shrimp, Gingerbread,and Beta. A graduate of Barnard College, she lives and writes in Los Angeles. Find her online at

Author Links:
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David Levithan is a children’s book editor in New York City and the New York Times bestselling author of several books for young adults, including Another Day, Every Day, Boy Meets Boy, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green). In 2016, David was named the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, given to honor an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. You can learn more about him at
Author Links:
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10 winners will receive a copy of The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily

This giveaway is open to US residents only. Must be 13+ to enter. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. This giveaway is sponsored by the authors and their publisher. No purchase necessary. Mary Had a Little Book Blog is not responsible for lost or damaged books.

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Many thanks to Jean of Jean Book Nerd for giving me the opportunity to be part of this Nerd Blast. You are awesome!