Book Bloggers Plagiarising -What Happens Now?

25 April, 2012 Musing Musers 91 comments

There’s been many blogs with varying ideas on what should happen now in regards to the plagiarized posts by book blogging behemoth, The Story Siren.  Forgive and forget?  Move on?  Vilify?  Suggest nothing wrong has been done to begin with?

But what happens now?  How does this scandal affect our community and the way we continue blogging and why has it unfolded this way?  Because, like it or not, this has marked the book blogging world.  It is now an indelible part of our collective history and community identity.  Unlike other scandals, Sirengate is unlikely to exit the memories community of bloggers any time soon.  Whenever there is a discussion on plagiarism, or scandal, it will only be a matter of time before Sirengate is referenced.

When the story broke, it was 11:50pm for me and I had 10 minutes to finish that week’s Buzz Worthy News.  Then I was told via Twitter that I might want to hold on for a last-minute story.  My response was. Of course, once I saw the story that had landed on my plate, I knew I wouldn’t be getting to bed soon.  With no time for anything but the briefest scan of the posts provided, I had to put together the main details and go live.  This meant the following:

a) We did not name the blogger – because she was not named in the links and we were unsure if we should or were legally able to without fear of recourse.

b) I did not have time to verify the information and charges against the Story Siren and thus had to use language in our post that reflected our lack of conviction over whether Kristi was guilty.  For this we apologize to the bloggers affected.

c) Were unable to give all the details and present the story as we would have liked to.

Having posted one of the biggest stories in the blogger community, we sat back and waited to see what happened.  Like a match to a flame, Twitter – already discussing the news – took off.  A more comprehensive, accurate and detailed reporting of the story was then blogged by Smart Bitches and Dear Author.

But this was not the usual case of plagiarizer being discovered and condemned.  For starters, such a condemning would usually be supported, if not championed, by The Story Siren.  But there were other subtle differences that have impacted how the drama has played out and how it will likely proceed.

The plagiarizer was, in this case, a beloved and very powerful blogger. The Story Siren is, at this point, somewhat irreplaceable.  There are few YA bloggers who could realistically take her place and provide authors and publishing houses with anywhere near comparable exposure, who runs such a popular meme and who connects the community like the Story Siren does.  There are even fewer who want to.

The victims are not part of our community.  They are largely unknown to Book Bloggers.  Thus they are viewed with suspicion and, without connections in our community, have a difficult time gaining empathy and support from us.

We are not the victims.  We are the perpetrators.  Nobody likes to be the bad guys.  Nobody likes to think of themselves like that.  It would be easier to find a way to excuse it, to make out like what was done wasn’t such a big deal.  Then the narrative of the Big Bad Book Blogger blatantly thieving from the hardworking fashion blogs would become the Misunderstood Book Blogger who made a little mistake and was burned as a witch.  That’s a much easier narrative to accept because, in that telling, at least we are still the good guys.  This is why the victims in all of this, the fashion blogs affected, have received hate mail.  But every story needs a villain, and if it can’t be The Story Siren then, logically, the only one left are those rallying for justice.  Therefor their anger becomes bullying, their demand for justice becomes vilifying and their personal outrage becomes petty, jealous attacks.

There is nothing to be gained by standing up to The Story Siren.  Authors and Publishers will miss out on the exposure if they do.  Many, many book bloggers are standing behind her – in some part because they benefit in their own exposure, industry contacts etc, in doing so.  Those that do stand up to her, are not well-organized or being led by any party in particular and so have no focal crusade.   By standing up for what’s right you lose: blogging contacts, publishing contacts, alienate audiences, miss out on the benefits of some blog hops and memes and any other benefits a powerful blogging ally might give you.

-Nobody wants to turn on a friend.  A lot of people are genuinely supporting The Story Siren because she is a close friend.  Nobody wants to think their friend would purposely do something like this.  It is a decision every person must make for themselves – to support what’s right or to support a friend who is wrong. Unfortunately, when you choose a friend, you also chose to turn your back on those who truly deserve our support, our sympathy and condolences.

But the evidence is quite clear.  The Story Siren stole content from other bloggers and benefited greatly from that content.  We are the bad guys because we are supporting theft of content, and enabling a blogger who, rightly, should be condemned – because we will benefit from that.  When Cassandra Clare plagiarized and was not only supported by a large portion of the Harry Potter Fan Fiction community, but given a home on the popular site Fictionally, where she prospered, the community had to accept that as part of their identity.  They had that reputation as hypocrites who enabled a plagiarizer.  That drama is very reminiscent of how Sirengate is playing out now.

It is very likely that Kristi of The Story Siren will never truly receive any comeuppance for her theft.  I would probably bet that, ultimately, she will continue to grow and prosper.  The moral high ground is not as high as it was before this scandal.  Whilst the majority of bloggers will continue to agree that plagiarism is wrong, the severity of the social stigma has officially waned for us.

So where does that leave us?  Most likely with our reputation in shatters and something of a blight to deal with.  It is most likely that when others are discussing our community – they won’t collectively see us as good or righteous or just.  We all read stories, we know how they’re supposed to go.  Good triumphs over evil, characters are tested and the protagonists prevail.  Unfortunately, this narrative will have no such ending.  The perpetrator goes free, the book blogging world must pull itself back together and the true victims in this tale will continue to receive some hate mail and frustration but no real justice.

Kat Kennedy

Kat Kennedy

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
Kat Kennedy is a book reviewer and aspiring author in the Young Adult genre. She reviews critically but humorously and get super excited about great books. Find her on GoodReads.
Kat Kennedy

91 Responses to “Book Bloggers Plagiarising -What Happens Now?”

  1. Kara @ Great Imaginations

    I agree. And it sucks. The only thing I can personally do is stop visiting her blog. I never went there a lot to begin with (TBH) but I did participate in IMM and I WAS doing the debut author challenge. Not anymore. I have already pulled her button from my blog and updated my DAC post with a statement saying I am no longer participating but will continue to read the books. I just don’t want to be associated with a blog that steals content and has a bunch of kool-aid drinkers. Sorry but that’s what they are. I still love this community and I have made a lot of new friends over this and strengthened some existing friendships. But back to the matter at hand, I just hope that other bloggers will make the right decision for them personally. I do think her stats will take a small dive. But that’s probably about the extent of it.
    Kara @ Great Imaginations recently posted…Review of The Other Life by Susanne WinnackerMy Profile

  2. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Sirengate…loling forever.

    Okay, time to be a bit more serious. I agree with everything you’ve said here, and I am duly disappointed. It’s taken me a few days to decide what my actions were going to be with regards to this event. I definitely knew that I did not support either radical camp. There’s no need to be insulting everything about her now (assuming you wouldn’t have before) but I also think it’s absurd how many people are fighting back by name-calling and praising Kristi’s perfection. Perfect, really? Even if this were proved to be false, which seems unlikely, especially since she got caught in a lie already, no one’s perfect. Why exaggerate to the point that your statement is undeniably untrue? I’m also not a big fan of the people writing this off as a ‘mistake.’ She did this intentionally, as has been shown. I’m not saying she cannot or should not be forgiven for her actions, merely that we should be honest about what has happened, without diminishing or exaggerating it.

    I have no desire to demonize Kristi, but I do not have any intention of reading her blog anymore, not that I was a huge reader before, but still. Like Kara, I suspect that nothing much will happen to her, except a slight loss in stats. She’s not going anywhere though. I mean, she’s got even more giveaways than usual going right now, so I really doubt she’ll be losing too many people. Oh well, blogging, like life, is a popularity game, and some people are better at it than others.

    Most of all, I would really like to see a completely sincere apology from Kristi, one which outlines exactly what she did and what her thought precess was. Reading the apologies on her blog, someone outside of the community would probably have very little idea what was going on, which isn’t exactly being honest and straightforward. I, for oen, might be willing to forgive her and read again should she do so, setting herself up as an example of what not to do and how temptation and laziness can affect even the biggest of us.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (5)My Profile

  3. Heidi

    I have visited the bloggers she abused and am appalled at the backlash. They back up their claims. What she did is disgusting and I read several of her posts that she lifted from these ladies. Luckily,my enthusiasm for her site died months ago, the poor reviews for one, and I know I am in the minority but I find the IMM meme irritating, now more than ever since she is saying her actions were motivated by her desire to please publishers and ultimately get her access to free books. Deep breath…and here is why I complain…I don’t like the meme because every week she is on the blog showing off these books and encouraging others to do the same and then what? Displaying them on a shelf to show off your gluttony, especially when in reality only a fraction of those books will be read. Do something good with them make a difference, share them, give them to underprivelaged kids and help under funded libraries instead of plagiarizing to get books to put on a shelf. Books are at their best when they are being read, not collecting dust on shelves. I will not in any way show support to a blogger who refuses to step up and make a full confession on exactly what she plagiarized. Until that happens, I cannot appreciate her voice in the blogging community.
    Heidi recently posted…Unraveling by Elizabeth NorrisMy Profile

  4. Donna @ Bites

    This is a great post, Kat, and it highlights nearly everything I’m feeling. Like Christina it took me a few days to really get my thoughts together on this and I’ll be making my own post on it tonight. But it is rather shameful how many people are victimizing her, as if SHE were wronged and was so courageous for coming forward. Srsly? I’m distancing myself from her as well because I’m not sacrificing my own integrity for popularity. I function in a bubble anywhere where it’s either my way or no way so I’m pretty noncompliant as it is when it comes to promotions and stuff. So I doubt me wanting to maintain that long-standing integrity will hurt me any. it just really saddens me because all of these people supporting her make the rest of us look like dicks by default. Plagiarism should not be supported. Period. All this is doing is saying if you’re big and popular you can get away with more. Which I guess is true in other aspects of life but that doesn’t make it right.
    Donna @ Bites recently posted…Not In My School (1)My Profile

  5. Pocketful of Books

    I have been absolutely fascinated by this scandal and have read everything I possibly can about it. It is an absolute car crash that you can’t look away from. What makes it all the more embarassing is that The Story Siren has always adopted this holier-than-thou, righteous attitude towards plagiarism in the past. She definitely preached but in no way did she practise it. It makes me feel angry that no justice will be done. Her smug apologies will suffice and everyone will carry on doing IMM because it’s the best meme out there with the most exposure. She was the best the YA book blogging community had…and now she’s let everyone down in the worst way and only seems to care about her precious publishing contacts. Ugh if this was anyone else she would have their head on a stick. I feel no guilt in saying: I wish someone with more power would show her there are repercussions for this. It was not a mistake or accident….it was pre-meditated, carefully executed plagiarism. No excuses.

    Also: what is this about? What was she thinking?
    Pocketful of Books recently posted…‘Waiting On’ Wednesday!My Profile

  6. Fangs for the Fantasy

    Thank you for such a well thought out summation and a pre-emptive rejection of the often knee-jerk

    One thing that heartens me is that I think there has been relatively little knee-jerk defence, we haven’t seen people fanpoodling around the plagiarist, which gives me some hope. of course I could be hanging aorund the wrong circles and have missed it (may I continue to do so)

    As bloggers and especially as book bloggers, plagiarism isn’t something we can be ok with. It is a shame that a pillar has been knocked down by it – but, mmaybe optimistically, I take heart that there will be people moving into the vaccuum
    Fangs for the Fantasy recently posted…Wednesday Reboot: Sleepy HollowMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      @Tatiana (The Readventurer):

      Thank you, Tatiana. I think the best thing we can do now is, with a clear head, try to put our community back together – but something has been lost for now and we will probably have many repercussions to deal with.

  7. Jordyn

    This is THE BEST post I’ve seen on the topic. You brought out so many points that needed to be made in such a wonderful way. I’ve seen quite a few bloggers say that worse than Kristi’s plagiarism is the “hateful” reaction to it and that bums me out. While I’ve definitely seen people going too far in making the focus on her and how much they hate her (this seems always to be jealousy-colored to me), the fact that being angry about this is seen as “bullying” or overreacting really worries me.
    Jordyn recently posted…Cover Talk: Amazing Books With Sad CoversMy Profile

  8. Molly

    I want to tell you that I love your posts. The buzz worthy news has really enlightened me on the darker side of YA. This particular story was especially disappointing. You articulated everything I was thinking in my head perfectly. The only possible way Kristie would experience any sort of backlash from this is if publishers stopped giving her, her precious ARCs and authors stop contact with her. I honestly don’t see this happening though unless a mass wave of readers wrote directly to said publishers and authors. And since there are many people who are arguing that this should be simply be forgive and forgotten I doubt that will happen.

    What’s especially eye opening about this scandal was that it was a blogger, not author, behaving badly. And for that matter, a well known blogger in the blog-verse who has done a lot of good for the reviewing world letting people network with each other. I think this shows, if anything, that anyone is capable of committing plagiarism. And that everyone should be held accountable.
    Molly recently posted…Sorting Hat for YA Fictional CharactersMy Profile

  9. Julie@my5monkeys

    OMG this is perfect and some of my thoughts too about sirengate. I think she is tainted , and this will effect her after. I only did the IMM but not any more.
    I am frustrated that other are supporting her behaviour and what gets me is that she wanted it quiet and this was 3 months late. That reeks of guilty. Sorry if this was ANY other blogger , they would have been gone.
    Julie@my5monkeys recently posted…Interview with Elizabeth Norris of Unraveling & GiveawayMy Profile

  10. Beautifully Invisible

    As you can probably imagine, I’ve been knee-deep in this scandal (perhaps drowning would be more accurate) since it happened. I have been reading a lot of the opinions out there in the book blogging community but haven’t commented on anyone’s posts until now. THANK YOU for this. Thank you for approaching it the way you did and for presenting it professionally and with a clear head.

    I am sorry that this has divided your community the way that it has and I am truly sorry that there appears to be so much misinformation out there about what happened and how this all went down. I know I speak for Grit and Glamour as well when I say that we don’t believe Kristi’s actions are representative of the larger community in any way, shape, or form. The one positive that has come of this for us is that we have both been introduced to some truly wonderful people, and for that we’ll always be thankful!
    Beautifully Invisible recently posted…A Tale of Plagiarism Continued: Clarification of The Story Siren’s ClarificationMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      @Beautifully Invisible:

      Thank you so much for commenting. I know this has been crazy – but I’m glad to know that you don’t hold us all responsible. We manage, most of the time, to be a fairly good and supportive community.

  11. Parajunkee

    Yes — we should troll all over this one! But it was so great, I can’t troll. I was trying to figure out the method behind to love madness and this makes perfect sense. I guess because I don’t consider myself part of the YA blogger community, I didn’t sympathize that much. I’ve tried to distance myself actually because of the earlier ridiculousness. But, I guess we will all pay for this. That’s why I want to send a message — organize if you will. Who is up for it??
    Parajunkee recently posted…Get me to 5000 – I give you a book…My Profile

    • Kat Kennedy


      We have signed up to that link. But we know how you feel. We don’t, and have never, participated in memes on Cuddlebuggery and often we feel very much outside the blogging community because we’re a little unconventional in our opinions and methods. BUT I’m glad to know there is a way to organize and get book bloggers together to make a stand against plagiarism.

  12. Rachel Hartman

    “The Story Siren is, at this point, some­what irre­place­able. There are few YA blog­gers who could real­is­ti­cally take her place and pro­vide authors and pub­lish­ing houses with any­where near com­pa­ra­ble expo­sure, who runs such a pop­u­lar meme and who con­nects the com­mu­nity like the Story Siren does. There are even fewer who want to.”

    The Story Siren wasn’t always The Story Siren. It took her some time to get going. I think there’s an opening here that someone could fill. It would be a lot of work, and you’d have to really, really want it, but it’s there. You two don’t have lives or anything, do you? 😉
    Rachel Hartman recently posted…In which Neil Gaiman makes me feel better about lifeMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      @Rachel Hartman:

      Haha! Unfortunately we’re just not big enough to do that. That would truly be a David and Goliath moment. As it is, we spend hours and hours on our blog every day – and whilst it’s growing and a fantastic rate (might I add) it is STILL only two months old!

      We are getting a lot of page views for such a little blog. But it’s a two way street. As well as getting the views, we have to get the content – and a lot of authors don’t want to entrust their cover reveals, arc giveaways and blog tours to inexperienced and new blogs.

      The good news is, we HAVE just landed our first cover reveal – and whilst it’s not an exclusive one – it’s a start! And we’ve also just landed our first few invites to blog tours – so whilst our hard work is paying off, we still have a long, difficult slog ahead of us to gain recognition and status.

      We’re still very much the little guys and anyone that takes The Story Siren’s place now would have to be much bigger than us to do it.

  13. Cassi Haggard

    I find myself agreeing with Rachel (that happens a lot, I blame the Kentucky roots). I think The Story Siren is replaceable. There are tons of great blogs and great bloggers out there. I personally feel like Kristi should shut down her blog or the publishers should stop supporting it. I wish I had enough faith in the world to believe this would actually happen. She should at least post a more acceptable apology and call her fangirls off the true victims of this crime.
    Cassi Haggard recently posted…The Immortal Rules (review)My Profile

    • Stephanie Sinclair

      @Cassi Haggard:

      As someone else mentioned on GoodReads, ultimately publishers are going to look at the bottom line. They are going to want to send their cover reveals, giveaways, tours to whoever is going to give them the most exposure. Right now TSS is that blog. I think the biggest thing that would stop that is if her readers and other bloggers stopped following her and stopped giving her page views. Unfortunately, based on the reactions it seems like many continue to support her and what she did. And while I hold no ill will towards her, I’m in agreement with Kat that these sort of things have consequences. As such I will not visit her blog or enter her giveaways.

      What I really want to know is what all the YA authors think of this. There are a few that have stated their opinion on the matter, but most have, for the most part, been very hush, hush. Will they continue to advertise their books on her site or will they seek other blogs? Only time will tell, I suppose.

  14. Kate C.

    OMG! People have been sending them HATEMAIL???!!! WTF!

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Haters will hate. Still, that sucks so hard!

    Also, your entry makes me very depressed. Kristi was the first YA blogger I ever read, but I had to stop reading her after awhile because I like bloggers that give the good and bad (personal preference). I won’t state what my previous opinion of her “always happy” blog was, because that would be catty, but man it sucks that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of justice for the people she ripped off.
    Kate C. recently posted…Artsy FartsyMy Profile

  15. Lissa

    It’s so sad that the Siren’s half-assed ‘apologies’ were written more to victimise herself, and the backlash is against the real victims, not the perpetrator. The fact that popularity always wins makes me more than sad. It makes me angry. If she openly confessed that she plagiarised, that she did the wrong thing, her fans wouldn’t be sending so much hate mail to the real victims. Like Cassandra Clare, she’s not actually admitted to any wrongdoing, and that leads her fans to believe she’s innocent.
    Lissa recently posted…Review: Wither (Chemical Gardens #1) by Lauren DeStefanoMy Profile

  16. Adam Pring

    I whole heartedly agree with all of this. Like I’ve said I’m relatively new to this community. I started on GR and then extended it to my blog and am still learning the ropes. But from all that I’ve learned one thing was prevalent. The Story Siren was literally the book blog to aspire to. Now however, for me at least it isn’t. I’m truly disheartened about the hate mail the victims are receiving it is most uncool. Yes I hate the fact that our community in this is the villain, I think everyone does. But there is a right way and a wrong way to go about dealing with it. And I personally think Kristi’s fans are going about it the wrong way. In my eyes the right way would be as follows.

    “Our community fucked up. On behalf of every book blogger out there I apologise. This deplorable action is not representative of book bloggers as a whole and it is certainly not condoned.” Or words to that effect. What makes me sick as a dog though are the bloggers standing behind Kristi who are proclaiming her to be the victim. She fucked up, badly. Nobody is perfect but in my eyes her apology was insincere to the victims.

    I applaud you Kat, Steph and the bloggers from Grit and Glamour and Beautifully Invisible.
    Adam Pring recently posted…Hobart… After DarkMy Profile

  17. Lily @ Moirae the fates

    Like I’ve said on other sites, I’m waiting for the badges to come out saying who each person supports.

    With publishers I would hope that they would send blog tour stops and things like that to other well established bloggers like Tynga, Parajunkee, All things Urban Fantasy and others that have a well established following.

    You’re right there is no one on the same level as SS. This isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

    I for one just wish she would grow a pair and own up to what she did, the ladies at BI and G&G are the victims. I feel badly for them and support them. Like it’s been stated on many blogs, they didn’t out her WE did. The community.

    Which is good, I’m glad it happened, I’m glad the truth came out. Heck when SS’s content was stolen (If it was her’s) she lead the campaign with others who were stolen from to get that blog deleted and it was.

    She’s like a politician, she has power and will always have admirers which makes it hard for any real justice to happen. As of now she just got a slap on the wrist. I’m not going to go to her site, not sure what I’ll do for IMM, I haven’t decided that yet. But I do not support her or what she did.

    It boils my blood when people call this a mistake it wasn’t it was deliberate she is NOT a victim. That’s like saying the jerk who broke into my car a few weeks ago is a victim. I also hate how she is trying get this thing as it’s been put many times “Swept under the rug.”

    I would have had respect for her if she would have come clean in January and fessed up and said “I plagiarized from BI and G&G I am sorry.” AND MEANT IT! Her half assed ‘apologies’ come across to me as someone who is more afraid of not getting the latest ARC.

    BTW Sirengate that is CLASSIC!! Love it!
    Lily @ Moirae the fates recently posted…Author Interview with Alethea KontisMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      @Lily @ Moirae the fates:

      Thank you very much! We actually can’t take credit for Sirengate. A commenter on our blog referred to it as such and we just picked it up and ran with it. But I agree. Actually I’ve had a few authors ask for my opinion on what they should do with their cover reveals etc. I have told them that I won’t hold it against them if they still use The Story Siren, but have also directed them onto Parajunkee and Tynga – which the authors loved as they hadn’t heard of them.

  18. Nafiza Azad

    I honestly don’t know why her actions should reflect on the community. Okay, okay, I understand why it does but I don’t want her actions to reflect on me. Ergh. Anyway, I like how succinctly you phrased your thoughts. I’ve been seeing some posts around that seem to be focusing on her as a person than the actions she took and it made me feel very icky. That said, I do believe (and hope) there are severe (therefore effective) repercussions to her actions. Plagiarism is not cool. In any way or form and how ridiculous is it that the victims are getting hate mail? Fangirls, I tell ya.
    Nafiza Azad recently posted…Interview with Pamela Sargent, author of Seed trilogyMy Profile

  19. Ellen Faith

    This is such a tricky issue, one that I’ve been trying to make sure I don’t comment on, but like all people I have this undying urge to say what I feel (damn you, urge).

    The Story Siren was one of the first book blogs I ever visited. In all honestly, I’m pretty sure it was the first. And since then, I’ve always looked up to Kristy. I started blogging on my original blog back in 2010, so to find out what happened is devastating and its taken me a few days to decide my course of action. I’m not all that angry anymore that it happened, I’m more angry about the fact that Kristy didn’t handle the situation correctly and as a YA book blogger who is practically famous in this community, you should set an example. Obviously she didn’t choose to have that influence, but she has it and she should use it and this incident to set a precedent to other bloggers. A sincere apology is THE LEAST the ladies deserve.

    And at the same time, I’m angry at people for abusing Kristy as some people have been. Mistakes–intentional and unintentional–happen every day by everyone. However, what Kristy did has been proved as intentional (if the time on each page and the dates of the posts don’t prove it then I don’t know what did) and that is wrong. But to abuse her and call her names makes the person who said them look just as bad (I’ve read some of those icky posts Nafiza has probs read). I don’t think Kristy should get away with plagarism, but I also don’t believe in bullying. It goes back to when my parents taught me “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

    Like I said, it’s been a hard decision. The Story Siren was my first book blogging experience and as a newly dedicated book blogger (who participated in her IMM) it sucks. Especially because when I was making my blog last month, I read those articles and took her (or their) advice on stuff.

    But I’m taking my stance to show that I am not okay with this. I’m not going to accept plagarism. Yes, everybody makes mistakes but when there’s evidence in front of you to suggest it was intentional it’s kinda hard to deny. I’d hate it if plagarism happened to me, so I have to be fair to myself (not being in denial or going easy on Kristy or anything) and to the ladies who were plagarised so I’m no longer following her and participating in her memes. (Which kind of sucks because I liked IMM! Haha.)

    In the words of the stone man from Fantastic Four to all little children out there: “Don’t plagiarize.”
    Ellen Faith recently posted…#DaemonInvasion 2012!My Profile

    • Kat Kennedy

      @Ellen Faith:

      I am probably similar in where I am to you. I don’t hold any grudge to The Story Siren. As author Jay Kristoff would say, your first fuckup comes free. So whilst I forgive and am over it – I won’t support her blog anymore either because I believe in taking a stand against plagiarism. This is not a charge where you shrug it off and go on with life. There needs to be consequences for this.

  20. Leah

    Wow, this is a fantastic post! Thank you for your insight into “sirengate”.

    I’m not a book blogger. I would love to be, but I just don’t have the time. I do religiously read my favorite book blogs, so I feel pretty plugged into the scene. What is so frustrating from my perspective is how little reward there is for actually just writing really brilliant reviews like you guys do. It’s all about memes and hops and getting on blog tours, and currying favor with authors and pubs so you can get freebies.

    It’s been a real struggle to find blogs that actually have a voice. It’s true that Kristi is irreplaceable to that headless “must link up! must show books! must get MORE books!” blogmonster, but as a reader I find so little value in that insular gamish scene. I suppose the blogger/wordpress blog widgets created this natural tendency toward gameification in book blogging, but it comes at a quality cost in most cases. My favorite blogs really don’t dip into memes much (that top 10 meme is a good one though, it actually provokes discussion about books).

    I always found it strange that Kristi was so popular, because her reviews are so brief and dull, like a book report for a pass/fail class. Again, it’s just like a game, like a scavenger hunt for her. She just signs up for tours, and reads and reviews what she must as quickly as she can so she can keep getting more offers. Not very interesting or valuable. In all honesty, it appears to me, as an outsider, that she sits at the top of a giant pyramid scheme. The only reason I ever went to her blog after I discovered I don’t actually LIKE her blog, was because publishers keep sending me there. She had played the contact game well, and publishers let her host big reveals and big interviews, and make her crucial to tours and challenges. If you took all those publisher favors away, I would never visit her blog. I have a feeling a lot of others wouldn’t either.

    I followed her on twitter for awhile before I realized I didn’t like her blog, and found her to be very passive-aggressive and snide to other bloggers, independent authors, and a wide variety of other random people, and self-righteous in general. It was a turnoff and I ultimately stopped following her there too.

    I bring this up not to trash her, but to say that I can picture, with 100% clarity, how she would have reacted to any other book blogger doing this very act, with the same fashion blogger victims. She would mercilessly tweet/blog about it, and probably re-tweet her sanctimonious anti-plagiarism post (now deleted, of course).

    She and a few other of her closest blogger pals who I won’t name have always displayed alarming schadenfreude when any controversy arises (usually author/blogger stuff), and they never mince words or consider the “feelings” of their target. These same blogger pals have gone almost dark right now when it comes to this controversy, or have flat out defended her, asking everyone to mind her “feelings.” These bloggers who are having a hard time admonishing her publicly (because they’re friends of hers, advertising their blog on her site, or just plain scared of her) would join the #stoptheplagiarist chorus gleefully if she were leading it. With her being the plagiarist to stop, they are totally flummoxed.

    I think you’re right, that Kristi won’t suffer too much, but the community will have to rearrange its definition of acceptable plagiarism (ie what they let their biggest and brightest get away with). The only way Kristi will not continue to be the “biggest” ya book blogger is if publishers stop sending page hits her way. I wish they took plagiarism seriously enough to do so.

    • Lily @ Moirae the fates

      @Leah: You’re right.
      She has always been the first out of the gate with her pitchfork and torch when there is even a HINT of plagiarism. She screamed SO loud when her shit (if is was hers who knows anymore) was stolen.

      Aside from the plagiarism which is never okay, what upsets me the most is the lying and scheming to cover it up, not to mention the hypocrisy.
      Lily @ Moirae the fates recently posted…Author Interview with Alethea KontisMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy


      I have to say – it does take a lot of work to NOT do memes and blog hops etc. We don’t do them here on Cuddlebuggery. We post six times a week and sometimes it’s a mad dash to come up with something new and unique. But your comment has convinced me that it’s worth it. Thank you.

      • Louise

        @Kat Kennedy: Just gunna second the thank you for not doing all the memes, ‘gamification’ and cliquey networking you get on some other bogs.

        I’m fairly new to book blogging and YA isn’t a genre I dip into very often (I hadn’t even heard of this Story Siren blog until this scandal hit) but I check this website almost every day because you guys are obviously passionate and opinionated about the books you read and your reviews are entertaining and informative. Although I’ve always found the YA displays of wall to wall identicovers in bookshops and libraries a bit daunting, I’ve actually now amassed a fair old list of stuff I might just check out reading because of this site.

        And to be honest I couldn’t give less of a crap whether a blog recieves lots of ARCs or has a special relationship with publishers/authors or is linked up to a milliontyone other blogs or twitter followers or any of that. If its reviews aren’t good and it puts being ‘popular’ ahead of being a good reviewer than I’m not interested. I’m not a publisher or an author, I don’t have any interest in self-congratulatory promotion or reviews that simply summarise the blurb. I’m a reader and all I want know is if a book is good or bad from someone whose opinion I can respect – and why it’s good or bad. If that person also does general posts about trends and issues in fiction, even better.

        So yeah…thanks again and keep doing what you’re doing. As far as I’m concerned this whole Story Siren plagarism thing is only reflecting badly on those who care more about their blogging popularity than the subject they’re actually blogging about.
        Louise recently posted…Cinderella: Fables Are Forever, Chris Roberson and Shawn McManusMy Profile

          • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

            @Stephanie Sinclair: I just found you guys through all of this drama business. And, honestly, I just read the post and followed the comments. I’m coming back now to follow the blog, because I love the mentality you have towards blogging and agree with ALL of it.

            I’ve been blogging for going on two years now, and only started participating in memes a couple of months ago. Before I joined in on all of the social networking stuff, I had 65 followers. That has more than trebled.

            I’m not all about followers, but I wanted people to be able to find me and read my reviews and comment.

            I’m backing out of some memes, like one that takes place on Sunday (cough). Some I’ll still do for a while, because it is a nice way to see new things, but I think two a week is the most I would ever do. Even if I do meme-like things, I’d kind of rather do it on my own terms.
            Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Take Me Out to the Ball GameMy Profile

      • Leah

        @Kat Kennedy: I want to say, I REALLY appreciate that you don’t participate in memes and hops, and I hope you never feel pressured to do so. Not to imply that you should care what one reader thinks, but personally I love love love that you do your own thing, that you don’t feel like you have to follow the hordes. I actually found your blog through reading several of your (Kat’s) reviews on Goodreads and going, “YES! now this is a well-written, hilarious opinion” and was delighted to find a blog behind it all. I love BOTH of your reviews, and the other daily features on your blog, but I came first for the reviews, stayed for the rest. My absolute favorite bloggers do their own thing and write really insightful reviews (you guys, forever ya, book smugglers to name a few).

        Not to say memers are worthless. I do follow and love two bloggers who participate in the whole meme thing. They write fantastically brilliant reviews, on top of shouting “here! present!” on all the cliquish IMMs, WOWs, Teaser Tuesdays, and on and on each week. I have a feeling they felt the pressure when they started blogging to join in to that scene, or face losing the attention of readers and publishers. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the memes, but I hate that a lot of bloggers who might not have otherwise done them feel a lot of pressure to conform their online creative space to fit the trends.

        I think the best case scenario in this whole thing would be for TSS to decline in popularity and for the whole zombie meme thing to die down (I’m forever devoted to fantasy worlds, or can’t you tell). Bloggers have seen her success at getting linkups and follows by hosting a large weekly meme and now I can barely check out a new blog without seeing them scrambling to declare their own meme (“point to a random word in your book and post it Friday!”) and begging people to link up, or worse, squabbling over who came up with the worthless meme first. GAG.

        Anyway, as always, keep being unapologetically awesome. That is all. 🙂

  21. Lexie B.

    It still blows my mind that people are pinning this on them. The plagiarized. The victims. The ones who should be receiving every ounce of our support. But then, at the same time, it doesn’t. People will always be more willing to pin the blame on those they don’t know, excusing them, their community, their friends. It’s just easier. Easier not to take the fall, to pretend there wasn’t any fault in the book blogging community.

    But these guys don’t deserve that shit for simply revealing what was done to them–to them–and I’m glad there are awesome people like you guys who see that, and post about it. I hope a lot of people see this. I really do.

    • Kat Kennedy

      @Lexie B.:

      I agree. I only speak to one of the fashion bloggers on twitter but she is a lovely person who has done nothing to bring this on her.

  22. AnimeJune

    Fantastic, thoughtful post. That is exactly how I interpreted the backlash as well – all the supporters of the Story Siren feel guilty for possibly having supported a plagiarist, so they team up to convince themselves and other than she isn’t so that they can sleep peacefully.

    I really side-eye the commenters who chewed out the victims for “not keeping it private.” Why should they? Kristi owns a public blog with a huge readership and she displayed plagiarized content in public – why should her plagiarism not be public as well?

    One thing, though – I wouldn’t have found your blog if not for being linked to it from a commentary on the scandal, so that’s one positive thing to come out of this!
    AnimeJune recently posted…So Your Favourite Blogger’s A PlagiaristMy Profile

    • Kat Kennedy


      I agree completely. I also read and loved your “So Your Favourite Blogger’s A Plagiarist” and COMPLETELY agreed.

      If there are a hundred perfectly good How-To posts out there, then the correct response is NOT to steal one, tweak it a bit and claim it as your own. If you really don’t think you can write your own, unique, valuable post – then take excerpts from the best, link them, and add in any extra information you think will finish off the post. This whole idea that it’s okay just because they’re all so similar is ridiculous. Many medical text books are very similar, but if I wanted to write one I couldn’t just rip them off!

      So thank you. I’m glad you found our blog and we found yours. It is, at least, one positive thing that has arisen from this drama.

      • SueCCCP

        @Kat Kennedy: You are right: we should look at the positive in this crappy situation. I for one have been led to many blogs that I hadn’t seen before and will be adding to NetNewsWire. Although I would have preferred to have found them some other way. 🙁

  23. Sarah (saz101)

    Well put, Kat. I absolutely cannot comprehend the logic behind ANYONE bullying the girls who were plagiarised. They didn’t name Kristi, then did NOTHING wrong. The whole thing is just sad, and the thing that makes me saddest is bullying. Whether it’s people bullying Kristi, or–more concerningly–people bulling the victims. I’ll defend anyone being bullied. Not their actions, but their right to not be bullied. I’ve said this a few times on a few blogs. But it’s one thing applying reasonable pressure (as you, Smart Bitches, Dear Author and Parajunkee) has done, and… well.. bullying… but seriously. There is NO excuse for the way people are using this as an excuse to behave towards one another. Very, very sad, and the effect on the larger book blogging community is even sadder. *sigh*
    Sarah (saz101) recently posted…Insurgent (Divergent #2), Veronica RothMy Profile

  24. zapkode.marie

    New follower here:

    I just started book blogging and walked right into this disaster. I had no idea what to think about it other then it is true drama can pop up everywhere. I do not condone the actions of either party because it shouldn’t have happened and those in retaliation could have handled it better. But whats done is done and everyone needs to find a way to move past it or sever ties.
    zapkode.marie recently posted…{a note}My Profile

  25. Luan Pitsch

    you know how sometimes you get in on the very end of a conversation and you really want to say, “what?” Because it sounds really vital to the world as a whole, spinning on its axis and all. But then it would be obvious that you are just totally clueless about life in general and that topic in particular…

  26. Lia

    Nicely said! Although it’s terrible that this might blow over in a matter of days and we all might be seen as a double-standard community.

  27. Madigan

    Great post. I feel quite naive, but I honestly was ready to take bets on how long before we got a tearful post from Kristi, announcing a hiatus. I thought this would be a serious setback for her. But, instead, everything seems to be business as usual over at her blog. You really called it. A lot of bloggers have absolutely nothing to gain by shunning her, and so, the show must go on.
    Madigan recently posted…Picture book mini-reviewsMy Profile

  28. Alexia561

    Excellent post, with some really good comments! Like Madigan, I was surprised that Kristi hasn’t gone on hiatus when this all blew up. Unfortunately, unless authors and publishers boycott her, I don’t think anything will change. She might just be “too big to fail”, which is a shame. So glad I found your blog though, so something good has come out of this! 🙂
    Alexia561 recently posted…Book Review: Hidden by Kelley ArmstrongMy Profile

  29. sayitcharlie

    I am surprised about this issue. I feel like I’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks and I don’t know anything about what happened with Kristi. I obviously don’t know the whole story but I can’t say that I’m not disappointed with it. I’ve been supporting her blog even before I started mine and knowing what she did seems to go against my beliefs about one of the issues that exist in our blogosphere. This surely blows.

  30. Rachel

    As a newbie blogger of a few months I feel like I can’t really weigh in on the issue. Obviously, I’m opposed to plagiarism, though I think in some cases it can be done for more ‘genuine’ reasons. The comment I’d like to make is that I remember quite a young girl who copied reviews being bashed quite a bit on Twitter, and things flared up quite quickly with her being ‘named and shamed’. I’m not saying that I felt that was the right way to go about it but I do think plagiarism should be treated equally, regardless if you’re a new blogger or the biggest one about. Status shouldn’t get youa get out of jail free card. If we accept this from one person, we can’t hold others accountable in the same way. In fact, the actions of a young girl probably should have been handled with a little more understanding than a fully grown woman.
    Rachel recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’ve Put DownMy Profile

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  33. Taxandria

    Please make all the spam go away!

    I have never been to this Siren person’s website. And FTR I loathe Cassandra Clare/Claire. Her Draco series is mediocre at best.

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