The Read Path

I’m looking for guest bloggers who are avid readers with their own review sites or readers who are very active on Goodreads or Amazon or other review sites. Let us meet the people behind those awesome reviews.

If you’re interested, please contact me using the contact form below, and I’ll send you the interview questionnaire.
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Olga Godim – Reader and Author

Originally posted August 2014

1. What type of books first captured your imagination?

This is a more complicated question than you’d think. I always liked reading. Since childhood, I liked to stay home on my sofa with a book much more than play outside with friends. I was a solitary child, a bookworm. There were too many interesting books to name one type.

My family was into modern literary fiction, so I read it too, mostly. After a while I realized that I didn’t like it a great deal. Eventually, I gravitated towards classics and from them towards mythology: ancient Greek myths, King Arthur’s legends, Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana, Homer.

When I was a young mother myself, with children of my own, I finally discovered fantasy. My first fantasy writer was Mercedes Lackey. I was smitten from the first moment I opened her book. It felt like coming home, finding my niche in the universe of books. Everything I had unconsciously searched for in myths and legends was there: the imaginary worlds, magic and heroes, dragons and princesses, talking horses and brave adventurers. Through Lackey’s Valdemar novels, I fell in love with the genre.

Of course, I read other genres as well – romance, mystery, mainstream – but since 2012, when I started regularly posting my reviews on GoodReads and later on BookLikes, my statistics show interesting figures. Here are my shelves on GoodReads as they stand today.

• Fantasy ​​– 277
• Mystery ​– 75
• Romance ​– 61
• Mainstream ​– 45

Obviously, fantasy dominates my reading list and it also dominates my writing. I’m a fantasy writer, too.

2. With so much choice, how do you find new reading material?

That’s easy. Once again, I’ll direct you to my current GoodReads statistics. My To-Read shelf contains 171 titles, and it’s not nearly complete. Sometimes, I don’t put books into it, but write them (the authors and the titles) into a special notebook. Most of my To-Read lists (both digital and paper) come from my online friends’ reviews and recommendations. Some come from book blurbs. I read them. I also love spoilers. They let me decide if I want to read the book.

Several of my favorite authors automatically go into my lists, whenever their new books come out. Those include in fantasy and sci-fi: Sharon Shinn, Patricia Briggs, Wen Spencer, Frank Tuttle, Sarah Wynde, Cassandra Rose Clarke (my latest love affair in fantasy), and Lois McMaster Bujold. I love Terry Pratchett, too, but I’m selective about his books. I prefer his City Watch sub-series to the others. In romance, Jennifer Crusie is my absolute favorite. Georgette Heyer is a wonderful romance writer, the founder of Regency romance, but unfortunately I already read everything she’s written, and she’s been dead for decades. Sometimes I re-read her just to re-live the pleasure. In cozy mystery, Carola Dunn holds my heart.

Before I joined GR, I was often stumped: what to read next? I couldn’t imagine myself without a book waiting, but it was hard to choose. Now, my list is getting unwieldy. I don’t know when I’ll be able to finish it. Probably never, which is encouraging.

And I still read classics, although not nearly as often as I did in my youth. My latest classical discovery was Christopher Morley’s Parnassus on Wheels – a delightful little book published in 1917.

3. How do you go about writing your reviews?

It depends on a book. In most cases, I start with a short blurb and then segue into what touched me most. I often disclose my take on the characters, the plot, the pacing, the dialogue. Sometimes, I include quotes in my reviews. Some books have deeper ideas, and I mention my thoughts on the subject, whether I agree or disagree. Some books are funny, and I point that out. If I’m irritated by a certain aspect, I write about that too. Not necessarily everything goes into every review. There are no rules.

I rarely write bad reviews, generally because I almost never finish books I dislike. Writing reviews for such books seems dishonest. And I really don’t want the writers, especially the new writers, to feel bad. I may not like their books, but someone else might. I don’t wish to spoil their chances. On the other hand, I’m not as reticent about classics or famous writers. If I dislike their books, I say so. They can’t be harmed by my negative reviews, so I don’t have to guard my tongue.

I want to stress one important point about my reviews: I never write them on demand, never accept books for reviews from anyone. I either buy my books or get them from the library. The only exception is NetGalley. Sometimes, when I want to read a new novel by a certain author, and it’s not yet available at the library, I look through NetGalley.

4. The publishing world is undergoing a radical change brought about, in no small measure, through readers. How has the new landscape affected you?

As a reader, it didn’t affect me at all, except I had to buy a Kindle to read books that are only available in electronic formats. As a writer though, the effects are still rippling. For one thing, there are so many books being published daily it’s hard to get my books noticed by readers. Hard to get reviews. Hard to sell books.

One fact is glaring though. With the ease of self-publishing, many authors opt to go that road, and the results aren’t always or even often good. In fact, most self-published books I read are bad. They’re raw, need serious revisions and deep editing. A few exceptions only emphasize that rule, but I’m glad those exceptions exist. One of them is Sarah Wynde. She is a great fantasy writer and she is self-published. Another is Frank Tuttle. I love his fantasy. There are a few more like them, and I mightn’t have discovered these terrific writers without the self-publishing option.

5. Out of the many books you’ve read, which two had the greatest impact on you?

It’s easier to name writers than books. The first one was Mercedes Lackey. I told you about her in the question #1. She started me on my current road of reading fantasy and writing fantasy. She opened the genre for me. I don’t read her much anymore, I found a better fit for my penchant for fantasy, but Lackey would always have a special place in my heart.

The other one is Sharon Shinn – my favorite fantasy writer. I enjoy her lyrical and magical tales, a blend of fantasy and romance. Her stories are full of light, without the darkness that’s dominated fantasy novels in the past decade. I especially like her older Samaria series. In it, she writes about angels, and her concept of angels is unique. It has nothing to do with biblical angels and everything to do with the writer’s imagination. She created a charming race of angels in her stories, angels I believe in, despite my atheism. When I read Shinn’s books, my spirit soars. I want to write like she does. This is my aspiration.

She is one of very few writers I use as a self-teaching aid. Whenever I’m blocked in my own writing, I ask myself: how would Shinn handle such a conundrum? I open one of her books at random and page through a dialog or a narrative to see what she does. It often helps.

In general, my reviews are helping me to become a better writer. When I analyze a book, I see mistakes the author made, see what is working and what isn’t, and apply what I’m learning to my own writing. But there is a side effect to this postulate. Because I see mistakes, I stopped enjoying books that are not written perfectly. I’ve become too picky in my reading, much more so than before I started writing reviews two years ago. It might be a good thing though.

Media links:

Website: ​http://olgagodim.wordpress.com
GoodReads: ​https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6471587.Olga_Godim
BookLikes: ​http://olgagodim.booklikes.com/
Wattpad: ​http://www.wattpad.com/user/olga_godim

Authors to Watch – Tricia Drammeh

Originally posted July 2014

1. Why did you start a book review site?

​My review site, Authors to Watch, evolved from my desire to help other authors. I started by doing interviews on my personal blog, and eventually bought a separate domain for Authors to Watch. Word spread, and I began getting requests for promotional features on a daily basis. When authors began asking me to review their books, I decided to do reviews as well as interviews.

 

2. What’s the best aspect of owning a book review site?

The best aspect is connecting with readers and authors. I’ve met so many fantastic people through Authors to Watch and have discovered books I wouldn’t have discovered if it wasn’t for the blog.

 

3. What’s the worst aspect?

One of the most difficult aspects of having a promotional blog is trying to balance my obligations. I work outside the home, have a husband and kids, have my own writing, and yet I still need to make sure I post interviews and reviews in a timely manner. I have run into some problems with authors who are extremely demanding. A few have emailed me multiple times throughout the day to tell me to shuffle the order of questions, to add a link they forgot, or to mention an award they won.

One author asked very detailed questions about how many blog views I got each day and wanted to know exactly what I planned to do to promote his interview. He treated his request to appear on my blog like a job interview, which would be understandable if he were paying me to promote him, but since I was basically working for him for free, I found his interrogation rather annoying. Most authors do understand that book bloggers aren’t getting paid for the work they do and are helping writers in their spare time, but occasionally an author will come along who acts like a diva.

 

4. Why should readers check out your website?

​If you don’t check out Authors to Watch, you might run the risk of missing out on some seriously amazing books. I’ve been known to fall so deeply in love with a book I’ve read, I will actually track down the author and beg them to do an interview. So, it isn’t all about blog tours on Authors to Watch. You’ll meet authors you won’t see anywhere else.

 

5. Out of all the books you’ve read, which two are your top must-read recommendations?

Only two? Oh, boy. I would definitely recommend The Green Woman series by Jane Dougherty. She’s published the first two books in the main trilogy, but has also published short stories and other supplements to the series. Jane’s blog is an absolute gem. She does author interviews, publishes incredible poetry, and regularly includes short stories that are related to her series.

The other series I’m absolutely in love with is the Amaranthine series by Joleene Naylor. If you’re looking for extremely well written vampire fiction, Joleene’s books are a must. She’s published six full-length novels and several short stories. Like Jane, Joleene has an incredible website with excerpts, artwork, character profiles, and much more.

Though these two series I mention are in completely different genres, there is something special that sets them apart, and that is the fact that the authors have created more than a book series—they’ve created an entire world the reader can get lost in. While I am definitely a fan of standalone novels, I do enjoy a good series. Both the Green Woman and the Amaranthine series are self-published, and I think this has given the authors the flexibility to take their books to a new level. In this day and age where self-published novels are being released in droves, readers are looking for something that sets these books apart. I think Jane and Joleene have really achieved that “something special” quality and their blogs/websites are a huge part of that.

Links:
Website: www.triciadrammeh.com
Authors to Watch: www.authorstowatch.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorTriciaDrammeh
Twitter: twitter.com/TriciaDrammeh

 

A Girl and Her Kindle – Amy Brantley

Originally posted June 2014

1. Why did you start a book review site?

​I started A Girl and Her Kindle (www.agirlandherkindle.com) because I absolutely love my Kindle and wanted to share the free books I stumbled upon with other readers. I also, obviously, love to read and wanted to share my opinions with others. Thus, I started adding the occasional review.

​The reviews have become more and more frequent and I usually post at least one review Tuesday-Saturday. I also enjoy featuring books, giving readers the chance to discover books I feel my target audience (women in their 20s to 40s) will enjoy. I feel that features that provide a book trailer and/or excerpt allow readers to get a good sample of the book before making their purchase.

​All and all, I just started the site to have fun and share my love of the Kindle and Kindle books.

 

2. What’s the best aspect of owning a book review site?

By far it would be promoting indie authors. As an author myself, I know how hard it is to get your name out there and want to provide a way for authors to have a fighting chance.

 

3. What’s the worst aspect?

I really can’t think of anything. I really enjoy what I do.

 

4. Why should readers check out your website?

​A Girl and Her Kindle ALWAYS features honest reviews. I also try to make the site as fun as possible. For example, right now I have a giveaway that runs all summer long, in which I’m giving away a $200 Amazon gift card and an Amazon Fire TV console. Readers will also find a number of free or inexpensive books featured on my site.

 

5. Out of all the books you’ve read, which two are your top must-read recommendations?

​Ugh, what a tough question! Seriously, right off the top of my head I would have to list First Frost by Liz DeJesus, simply because it was one of the most imaginative books I’ve ever read. The second would have to be Dead Vampires Don’t Date by Meredith Allen Conner, which is an incredibly fun read for paranormal romance and urban fantasy fans.

Get in touch with or follow Amy here:

www.agirlandherkindle.com
twitter
facebook

 

Claudia Stephan

Originally posted June 2014

Claudia Stephan
1. What type of book first captured your imagination?

I was born and grew up in Germany to German parents who loved reading, and I remember a house full of books. I remember a book by Josephine Baker about her “rainbow” family of adopted children from all nations. My dad brought it home for me to read when I was five. A few years later I fell in love with a story about the Nile. Adventure became my favorite genre until I was introduced to Jules Verne and I added Science Fiction to my favorites. By age twelve I was reading Albert Einstein’s “My Life” and my fascination with scientists began.

When I was introduced to the 19th and 20th century poets in high school, I began to appreciate poetry. We read hundreds of international playwrights, and for me “the play’s the thing”. During my college years in the United States we dissected Shakespeare’s great writings and I learned to appreciate his genius in his native language. I also took my introduction to American Playwrights and ran with it. This was also the time when I expanded my reading of German and Russian philosophers to the ancient Greek and modern American philosophers.
My taste in book genres has not changed, but has expanded to include all kinds of fictional mysteries and thrillers, hard science fiction, horror, science and technology, suspense, true crime and world affairs.

 

2. With so much choice, how do you find new reading material?

When a particular subject catches my interest, I look for books that address the issue and usually find one or two where the author nails it! Once I find a skilled author who writes on a subject that interest me, I tend to read anything I can find by that author. A friend handed me a paperback copy of “Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou and I have read everything this author put out there. Radio provides another source for me to find books. On a talk show once, someone recommended an excellent sci-fi novel by Tess Gerritson and after reading it, I discovered her other books. Another source was always the Bestseller List in a prominent newspaper, as well as annual Award Winners.

When I received my first e-reader, my access to books grew exponentially and something wonderful happened. I was able to sample books, read what other readers say about a book and my shelf space is now infinite. I discovered Indy authors! Indy writers not only promote their own work, but also the work of others. It is a treasure trove for an avid reader. I found spellbinding books through Facebook Author Events, hosted by authors and their friends. Bottom line: word of mouth!

 

3. How do you go about writing your reviews?

While I read a book, I make mental notes about what stands out to me as unique or skillful, what keeps my attention and why I keep reading the book. When an author elicits strong emotions, he/she establishes a strong bond with the reader. There are books that have compelled me to write a review on the spot, while it is still fresh in my mind, because I feel the need to shout from the roof tops how much I loved it and why. When a writer satisfies my hunger for a good original story that won’t let me go until I reach the end, I want to share that fact with other readers by reviewing their book on Amazon and Goodreads, as well as on my Facebook page.

I do not structure my reviews. Every review I write is spontaneous and passionate. I have met so many authors in person during book signings and one of my personal friends is a published author since the seventies. This does not influence my review. A little bias might creep in, but in general, I have met some really nice authors whose books neither impress nor interest me. Then there are authors without people skills, whose work I adore. I remember listening in agony to a completely drunk author talk about her work, telling stories about famous scientists she had met during her youth. Despite that disastrous talk, I found her books well written and highly interesting. Foremost, I am interested in the writing, not the wizard behind the curtain!

I refuse to read reviews that contain spoilers therefore I don’t include any in my reviews. I am not aiming at writing a book report. I am but a humble reader willing to allow the writers to write! 🙂

 

4. The publishing world is undergoing a radical change brought about, in no small measure, through readers like yourself. How has the new landscape affected you?

I use this radical change in the publishing world to my advantage by discovering talented self-published authors, while I wait for new books in a series by well-known authors. Once I find a great Indy author that suits my taste and interest, I remain loyal. For me it has always been about the book, not the author. Cookie cutter or formulaic books tend to get boring, even when written by famous writers! I truly enjoy the ability to read new books with original thoughts, story lines and even genres of their very own! All this being said, I will never give up my true love for the smell and feel of a hardbound book, nor my little hobby of collecting autographed books of my favorite authors.

 

5. Out of the many books you’ve read, which two had the greatest impact on you?

With so many favorites it is difficult to choose just two books. I randomly select “Rama” by Sir Arthur C. Clarke and “IQ84” by Haruki Murakami.

While reading Rama, I became an astronaut exploring the inside of an asteroid. I shall never forget the adventure and the discovery of a world so unlike ours. The images I retained from this book remain in my memory, as if I actually experienced them personally. The author accomplished his goal on more than one level!

IQ84 was so original and so different from anything else I ever read I will never forget this page-turner. In Japan it was originally published as three separate books and I read the American combined 946-page version. Having read War and Peace and other lengthy books, I did not shy away from the enormity of this book. This author stood out to me because he gives the reader plenty of room and time to think and figure things out. He skillfully reveals the characters’ pasts, internal dialogues and motivations in a manner that never gives away too much at once. Like a beautiful classical music composition, this trilogy has everything in the right place at the right time!

I was relieved you did not ask me how I find the time to read. I found a solution to this problem through full immersion reading, where I can switch to the professional audible version when I do not have the time to sit down and read and back to reading, as I wish. Not all e-books have this feature and it is a vast improvement over the robotic voice option.

 

You can contact Claudia on facebook.

 

Kate, owner of Home.Love.Books.

Originally posted May 2014

Hi everyone. My name is Kate and I am the owner of Home.Love.Books., a book review site, as well as a freelance book editor. I spend most of my days curled up on the couch reading books, hanging out with my six rescue dogs, or doing DIY projects on my husband and I’s new house. I have been a reader since before I can remember (thanks Mom), and thankfully my love of books only got stronger as I got older.
Home.Love.Books. (www.homelovebooks.com) is a review site that primarily reviews romance, new adult, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and the occasional mystery book. You will find mostly traditionally published books on the site, but I do accept indie books, so you will find a few indies in the mix as well. I hope you will check it out, it’s one of my favorite endeavors I have embarked on.
I want to thank Carmen for inviting me to be a guest on her site, I’m happy to be here, so without further ado, here are my answers to some fantastic questions.

 

1. Why did you start a book review site?

So Home.Love.Books. (HLB) is not my first book review site. My first site was Urban Fantasy Reviews, and I loved that site so much. It was my baby. I started the site because I was graduating from college with my bachelors degree in English Literature, and since I was going to have more time to read than I had in the past (college does tend to load you up on textbook reading assignments) and I knew I was going to miss writing about the things I was reading, a book review site seemed like the perfect fit for me. At the time I was basically an exclusive reader of urban fantasy and paranormal romance books, so I made a very genre-specific site. After two years with Urban Fantasy Reviews I realized how much I was missing out on by only reading one genre, so I needed to branch out, but my blog title kind of locked me in. And the need for a new site was born.
I decided on Home.Love.Books. as a title because those are the three most important things in my life, and I think a lot of people can relate to that. It’s a much more genre-open site than my old site, but I have to admit that lately I have been on a romance kick. Anything with romance in it is my cup of tea.

 

2. What’s the best aspect of owning a book review site?

This question is hard! I do absolutely love the free books. With the amount of books I read I can’t imagine how much money it would be to keep my book habit fed. But really I love talking about books and connecting with authors. And more than that I love helping authors find an audience. Even if I don’t like a book, I always try and include a potential audience for the book at the end of the review. I have such respect for authors, and the time and effort that goes into producing a book, that I honestly believe it’s part of my job to help them find an audience for their books, and nothing makes me happier.

 

3. What’s the worst aspect?

Giving bad reviews. Hands down the worst part. When I come across a book I genuinely don’t like and I know I am going to write a bad review, I feel so bad about it. I know how hard it is to write books. I work with authors every day as an editor, and I feel so bad when it’s time to write a bad review about a book. Also I think authors believe if their book didn’t get a 4 or 5 star review then it is a bad review, which isn’t accurate. A 3 star review is still a positive review.
I have really only had one truly bad experience with my review sites. I once wrote a review, I believe it was a 3 star review, and the author was so upset she started e-mailing me. A lot. And let’s just say she was not writing to say how much she liked me. It went on for a long time, and I was unbelievable happy when it stopped.

 

4. Why should readers check out your website?

You should check out my site (www.homelovebooks.com) because I do my best to write honest and upfront reviews, as often as possible. It’s a place where you can go and you know you will come across at least a couple of books you want to read. Also if you don’t have time to read every review, my menu makes it easy to click on reviews based on the rating they got, so if you want to see all my five star reviews, all you have to do is click “Loved It” and you will be taken to the books I completely fell in love with, so if you are short on time check it out.

 

5. Out of all the books you’ve read, which two are your top must-read recommendations?
My must-read recommendations are constantly changing. I like to update them with my most recent books that I loved. So that’s why this question is so easy! I have completely fallen in love with two books lately, One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker and Whisper to Me by Christina Lee. They are both new adult books, which is easily becoming one of my favorite genres, and the authors both have such amazing voices that it felt like I was having a conversation with an old friend as opposed to reading a book. You have to check them out if new adult is your cup of tea.

 

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