Welcome to my weekly slot Book Reviewer Interviews.
I believe that book reviewers are a valuable resource for us writers. They hold a lot of literary insight and it is their reviews that help us to sell our books. I think getting inside the mind of a book reviewer makes an interesting blog post.
So, please welcome my new book reviewer friend Em from Keystrokeblog.com.
Take a seat Em in my comfy chair!
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Em, and I am a huge book worm. I have been reading for as long as I can remember, and have always loved it.
I grew up in Pennsylvania, and since then I have lived in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Florida, and I am currently living on the Caribbean island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic). Next year I am moving up to Massachusetts for school.
I have three brothers; one older (who doubles as one of my best friends), and two younger. They are all bookworms as well, and we are always recommending books for each other to read. I also have four dogs, four cats (a mom and her kittens), and a whole slew of farm animals that are just too hard to keep track of.
When I’m not reading, I’m usually binging Netflix (which I do way to often), writing, talking/Face timing with my friends, or working on my new hobby of the week.
What made you start reviewing books?
I started reviewing books mostly because of my older brother. When I started my blog, I didn’t really know what direction I was taking it in. I called my brother and started telling him about it, and he suggested reviewing books. I guess it just kind of made sense.
How many books do you review a month?
I just started reviewing books this month, and already have read and reviewed five. So if I keep up this pace, I could easily review twenty or twenty five books in a month. However, reading isn’t a sure thing, and some books take much longer to read than others, so a more realistic number would be fifteen.
What is your selection process for reviewing a book?
I don’t really have a specific process. What I look for in a book is an appealing synopsis and a first chapter that hooks you. That’s why I ask for both of those things in the review request page of my blog.
When I pick out a book to read from a bookstore (for example) it’s really the cover I go for. My favorite thing to do is wander between the shelves and pull off any book that catches my eye. But it still is the synopsis on the dust cover/ back that determines if I buy the book or not.
What is your book review process?
I like to review a book right after I read it, so it is still fresh in my mind. When I write the review I write down my honest opinion of it, and why I liked/ didn’t like it. I don’t take notes or highlight quotes in the book as I go, I review what I remember, because that is what is going to stay with the reader once they have finished the book.
What do you think makes a good book?
There are a couple things that factor into me liking or disliking a book. The first is definitely the writing style. If the grammar is bad or the writing doesn’t have a consistent tone I don’t like it.
Secondly, the characters in the book have to be realistic. That doesn’t mean I have to like them, it just means that I have to be able to imagine them as real people. Otherwise it’s really difficult to get into the story and enjoy it.
Another thing that is really important to me is how the plot moves along. One of the biggest turn offs (for me) when it comes to reading is when there is no connection between plot points and it feels as if these situations are forced into the book instead of naturally occurring. I love when books are unpredictable and totally believable at the same time (it’s a lot to ask for, but it is magical when it happens).
Which 3 books have caught your eye recently and why?
That’s a tough one to answer. A lot of books catch my eye all the time! The ones that come to mind are:
- The Tenderness of Thieves by Donna Freitas
- Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
- Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
All three of these books are on my TBR (so you can expect reviews of them sometime in the future). The Tenderness of Thieves caught my eye while I was wandering the shelves of a Barnes & Noble (hands down my favorite store). The cover art is stunning, and I knew I couldn’t leave the store without it.
Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children took a bit longer for me to buy. I had seen it again and again in book stores and floating around online, and finally I knew I had to buy it. The movie version was announced a few weeks later, which made it an even more “must read” book. It’s sitting on top of my desk right now, and I can’t wait to start it!
Three Dark Crowns caught my eye as soon as I heard about it. It is written by one of my all-time favorite authors, and I can’t wait for it to come out this September! It also doesn’t hurt that the cover is breath taking and the synopsis is extremely interesting.
Are you a fan of a good plot twist?
Definitely, but I have gotten really good at guessing them. The books I enjoy most are usually ones that throw me off with their twist!
How important is an opening chapter?
In my opinion the opening chapter is one of the most important. Of course there are books that take a while to get into that I have absolutely loved, but nothing is better than an amazing first chapter. It sets the tone for the whole book.
How do you approach a review if you have not enjoyed the book?
If I didn’t like a book, I try to explain why as much as I can. I know that not everyone has the same taste in books as me, and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. I also know that the author poured their heart and soul into their writing (or at least they should have), so I don’t want to slam them or shoot them down. However, at the same time I’m not a fan of sugar-coating things. Because of this, I try to be as straight forward as possible without discrediting or shaming (for lack of a better word) the author and fans of the book.
What do you think is more important – plot or characters?
It’s really hard to choose between the two. I’ve read books with amazing plots and not-that-great characters and vice-versa. Both can be good, and both can be bad. It really depends on the type of story and how the author tells it.
Do you find it hard to forget a good book?
Yes and no. After reading a really good book, I’m the type of person who wants to sit down and read the whole thing again (although I try to remind myself that there is a whole stack of books waiting to be read!). But after a year of two, no matter how amazing a book was, the details blur a bit. Then It’s time to read it again!
Have any books made you get emotional? Any examples?
I am probably one of the most emotional readers out there. I find myself tearing up all the time during books. One example of just how emotional I can get is when I was reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I won’t give away any spoilers incase you haven’t read it yet, but I was reading the end of the book late at night when I was in bed. When the last few chapters came and (insert huge, heartbreaking plot point here) happened, I began sobbing so hard I couldn’t’ sleep. Then for the next few days I walked around like a zombie and kept re-reading the chapters, just to make sure it actually happened and I wasn’t imagining it.
Do you have a large book collection at home?
I have a ginormous one. Including the books I have back in Maine (my family still has our house there) I have easily over two hundred books. And that’s not including the eBooks.
If you are mid-way and struggling with a book – what do you do?
I usually try to push through it. But if it doesn’t get easier to read within the next couple of chapters I end up abandoning the book. Luckily it doesn’t happen that often, but I do have a pile of abandoned books in my room that I keep meaning to get back too.
What is your biggest book reviewer success story?
As I mentioned before I am fairly new to being a book blogger, so I don’t have that many “success stories” per say. However I have had a few very exciting moments. I guess publishing my first review counts as a success, simply for the fact that I wrote it and put it out into the world. It was also extremely exciting when I got my first request to review a book.
Thank you for interviewing me! I had a lot of fun answering your questions.
All the best,
Hey thx Em, great interview. I took from this the importance of the synopsis. Something which I need to work on.
Your collection of animals sound interesting and your passion for books came through strongly.
I wish you luck in the book reviewing world!
If you are a book reviewer and fancy being interviewed on my blog please leave me a message in the comments section.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/9611371@N03/7040599487″>Helmut’s House</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>