Saturday, September 14, 2013

Into the Confessional: ME!

Into the Confessional is where I show case authors, and the occasional character for a guest post.  However, this is a very special edition of Into the Confessional, here at Confessions of a Bibliophile.  I was actually the one being interviewed.  My dear friend Sue Ward wanted to interview a reviewer, and I was victim number one, an honor to be certain.  So, I present to you the interview that I did for Sue Ward over at Read along with Sue.

How did you come about being a reviewer for books, was it by accident or a conscious decision.

I became a book reviewer because ultimately, I read so much that I wanted to share my opinions about the books that I read. It also actually started when I joined the Goodreads community and started reading a lot more. So, it was a conscious decision to begin starting to review books and things went from there.

How long have you been a reviewer for books?

I have been reviewing books for about a year and a half, so I'm fairly new to writing reviews (at least in my opinion!)

Do you have a blog that we can visit to read you're recommendations?

You can find my reviews here:

What genre's are you interested in?

I tend to be drawn to YA (all aspects of it for the most part), however, I will at least attempt to read anything once. If I don't like it, I won't revisit it – if I love it I will continue reading books in that particular genre.

If you get a book or series that you read and its outstanding, what actions do you take to advertise the book/s?

I write a review on both my blog & goodreads, I share it via my facebook page (personal and my blog fb page), I tweet about the book, I recommend the book to friends that I know who read the same genres as I do, and we all usually enjoy the same series.

If you come across a book that is badly formatted or riddled with errors, what actions do you take? If any.

I have learned my lesson from the last time this has happened – I will, if posting a review that has heavy errors, poor formatting, and the like, contact the author and let them know that my current review will be pointing out these details.

Have you ever given up on reading a story because:
A] you can't get “into” it? Yes, I hate to admit it, and it takes a lot to make me want to give up on a book. If I am 25% into a book and I have no emotional investment in any of the characters I simply cannot bring myself to finish it.
B] Its badly written? Yes. The book that comes to mind is The Macabre Masterpiece: Poems of Horror and Gore, and this book is filled with horror and macabre poetry – but the repetition of it all is maddening and every, single one of the sixty poems in the book RHYMES! Also, there is very little variation on the themes within the poems themselves. Honestly, how many poems do you need titled River of Blood?!
C] You find its not your genre after all? No, actually. I've not had this issue with a book that I've read. I am picky about my genres, but am willing to try something at least once when it comes to my obsession with books.
How do you explain this to the author if they ask you if you have read their book yet?

I do explain to the author that I have had trouble getting into a book, I do tend to explain why I had trouble getting into the book given to my by an author. It will also be reflected in my review – these books usually get 2 stars from me, occasionally I do get blowback for this, but it is stated in my review guidelines why I give out a 2 star review. I also tend to, provide the author with a copy of the review before it is published on any site.

Many books we receive from authors are asking us for an HONEST review. Are you 100% honest at all times?

My reviews are 100% honest. I will not sugar coat my opinions on a book. I will not simply give a book a five star review because that is what the author is looking for. I don't dance around my opinions on things in life – and I take my reading & reviewing seriously. So, you will get blunt honesty from me. Will I be brutal at times? If it is required of me, yes I will. If you cannot deal with an HONEST review, then perhaps you might not want me reading your book.

Do you believe that you can be constructively critical without upsetting the author?

I want to say yes, but history has already proven that some authors will, despite receiving constructive criticism act like children and demand a review get taken down simply because it wasn't the “sunshine and rainbows five star review” that they ACTUALLY wanted from me. I am honest in my reviews, and sometimes that does come back to bite me because I will offend with some of my criticisms. However, I'm trying to be nicer when things require criticism from me in a review.

Is it harder to review a book from an author who you have got to know personally on groups that you are in which you didn't enjoy?

No, because prior to any author giving me their book – asking me for a review they are encouraged to read my review guidelines. They will know ahead of time that my review does not in any way reflect on my opinion of them as a person, change our friendship or anything of that nature. If they have asked of me an honest review, then that is EXACTLY what they will get.

All authors books are their “babies” and they have given time, blood, sweat and tears to their final page, right down to the chosen book cover.
If they get a bad review this upsets many authors, which I can understand fully, however, they have asked for an HONEST review, if your review is going to mention something that you know will upset them, what actions do you take ?

From past experience, I have written a 2 star review, and the author acted very, very unprofessionally. He demanded that the review be removed, he accused me at one point that I'd gone against my own review guidelines when I refused to give him the five star review that he wanted. I understand that this is your 'baby' that you have put blood, sweat and tears into the creation of this story, but you have to remember that not everyone is going to like your work. I have long since stood by the guidelines that I set. I do not deviate from them. They are black and white, and any edits to them take great consideration. The review, for the record, was not removed, nor was the rating changed on Goodreads. From that experience, I will now, discuss the review with the author, but they had ultimately been warned that they did ask for an honest review from me.

There are many “bullying” campaigns around at the moment where many gang up and give full on bad reviews that are simply not bad reviews as opposed to bullying the author, have you seen this and how do you feel about this?

Honestly, this practice disgusts me. To simply give a bad (harassing) review of a book simply to ruin the author's credibilty or bring their self-esteem down is simply wrong. Anyone who has the guts to put their heart and soul out into the public format deserves to be given kudos because THEY were able to actually get published (even if it was self publishing) and should not be bullied simply because someone thinks that it would be a good idea.

Is the cover of the book important to you?

Yes and no. It is not the most important thing to me when I read a book – but chances are it will be a large part the reason that I pick up a book. I like covers that can grab my attention and make me want to get lost in that world. Also, if the blurb catches my attention and makes me want to read the book I will definitely be adding it to my collection.

Has your reading enlarged in genre's and styles since becoming a reviewer?

Yes. I've read more into the horror genres, and I've gotten completely sucked into the YA genre and even explored genres that I hadn't really explored before – such as epic fantasy, high fantasy and such.    

Many thanks to Sue for putting me in the hot seat.  It was an honor! 

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