What is life like for a reviewer? What does it mean to be a book reviewer? How does book blogging impact their lives?… These questions tell a reviewer’s side of the story, and that is a side we hardly get to hear (compared to authors, that is). To bring a balance and to ask these and many more questions of book reviewers, we started the weekly interview series – Life as a Book Blogger.
Diane is an avid reader and some of her preferred genres are history, horror, dystopian, and mystery. Apart from reading she is also passionate about crochet and craft. She is a mother to 3 fur kids and blogs at To Read, Read and Reviewed.
Welcome to the Freado blog Diane. Would you start out by telling us a little about yourself?
Diane: I have loved reading since I was 5 years old. One of the things I remember from my childhood is sitting on the porch, Dr. Seuss book in hand, yelling out the letters of words I didn’t know to my Mom who was hanging laundry. My love for mysteries goes way back to Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Trixie Beldon – yep, I know that ages me and some of our readers may not even know about those series.
I worked in the medical field for 35+ years and am retired doing what I love – taking care of my 3 dogs (2 Boxers and a Great Dane), crafting and reading. I can’t think of a better way to spend my retirement.
Why did you become a book blogger? How did you get started?
Diane: I reviewed books off and on for several years – time allowing. When I retired I listened to audiobooks while I worked on crafts and then my sister and I were talking about reviewing books (she is writing her first book and reviews books all the time) and I wanted to get back into serious reviewing again. I found that a lot of the groups that dispense books to review want you to have a blog. I already had a craft blog and had had for years sooooooo now I have a book blog too.
What do you enjoy the most about blogging?
Diane: Of course, I love sharing my reviews but I also found that I like posting about what’s going on in the ‘book’ world. I try to everyday post articles I find about authors, interviews I find, news in the publishing world and anything that I think might be interesting to readers. For instance today’s was an article I found about The 25 Most Challenging Books to Read. I found out I’ve only read two. It is not only for my readers but I learn something everyday too.
Do you think you will ever stop blogging?
Diane: Now that I’ve started I can’t imagine ever stopping. Afterall, who doesn’t like sharing their opinions about books (grinning here) but I also like all the facts and trivia I find and post on my blog. It is way too fun to stop doing.
Where do you get review copies of books from? Are you a part of sites like Netgalley?
Diane: I have lots of resources that I use. I belong to Library Thing – their member giveaways, Booklook Bloggers, Bethany House’s Blogger Review Program, Blogging for Books, Netgalley, and of course, Freado. I might have a slight addiction problem with reviewing -hehe
What’s a typical day like for you? How much time do you spend on the blog?
Diane: First thing when I get up I have to have my Diet Coke, lol. It gets the brain going. Then I’ll spend time searching the web for something readable for my feed. Once I find that then I put it up on the blog, usually I also look for some kind of clip art that goes with the theme of what I’m posting. My blog is at blogspot.com so I then share the post using google plus and I share it on my FB feed. To actually say how much time I spend, I couldn’t say. I never really keep track. Some days even get 2 posts if I find something else interesting while perusing the ‘net.
Then later in the day if I’ve finished a book I post the review to Goodreads and put a link on my blog to that review. I then share it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Library Thing, whichever site the book came from, FB, Pinterest, and two google communities: Book Reviewers and Book Lovers. That part takes a bit of time.
How did you design your book blog? Did you do it yourself? Any tips to help others?
Diane: I am no computer expert at all. I grew up during the time of no computers, calculators or anything like that. In high school we finally got to use calculators and electric typewriters – I know I’m ancient.
Blogspot is awesome because they have very easy to use templates for every kind of blog. If I can use it, anyone can have a blog there. That’s why on the separate pages I have for genres the links are there for my review on Goodreads. I couldn’t figure out any other way to do it. In doing it that way it allows me to have many, many more reviews on a page.
Most bloggers we speak to complain about the size of their TBR pile. How do you manage to keep yours whittled down?
Diane: I’m not reading anything other than books to review. At any given time there could be up to 30 books on my TBR but my goal is to read each and write the review within 4-6 weeks of receiving the book. I don’t let the TBR stack get any bigger than that. Let me tell you though, that requires discipline because there are so many books out there that I want to read. It is one of the hardest things I face as a reviewer.
Now on to some fun questions in our quick fire round 🙂
Which was the last book you bought? What caused you to pick up that book?
Diane: OMG, it has been so long ago because before reviewing I belonged to a swap group. Let me think. It would have been an audiobook because at that time I drove an hour to work one way. I’m sure it was one of James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club books. I picked it up because I love everything he writes! I also admire him for all he does to promote literacy.
What’s your number one pet peeve as a book blogger?
Diane: I think the thing that bothers me the most as a book blogger/reviewer is when someone does a review and they are downright harsh or nasty about the book. OK, you may not have liked the book but that is no reason to go and attack the author or the plot. I’m not saying “if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything.” I’m saying that there are nice was to say that you didn’t like a book. ie: what didn’t you like, why? but say it in a helpful way don’t just tear the author and his/her work apart.
Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook or GoodReads. Which is your favorite?
Diane: This is a hard one. Pinterest for crafts for sure. It is addicting and the amount of patterns I have saved will take 3 life times to complete. FB for staying in touch with friends and learning about new books coming out. G+ for my blog and Goodreads to help with reviews and see what others think of books.
Guess I wasn’t too specific on this one, huh?
How many books do you read every week?
Diane: Anywhere from 3-5 depending on the books. The middle of the day is my crafting time and then from about 8p-1a or later if I’m really into a book is reading time.
Ebooks or physical copies? Which do you prefer and why?
Diane: This is a hard one. I love real books. There is nothing like the feel of the pages, seeing the cover and reading the actual physical book but ebooks are definitely more convenient and take up less space.
What happens to books that you don’t finish?
Diane: I haven’t had many of those lately thank goodness. No matter what kind of book I’m reading when it is for review my rule is to to read at least 35% of the book. If it is an ebook and I can’t finish it, I delete it. If it is a physical book, I see if anyone I know wants to read it and give it away.
What bookish things do you love? Share 3 (eg. bookmarks, bookshelves,…)
Diane: Definitely libraries are the first on my list.
Bookmarks – love to make them.
A stack of books is so cool to have!
Which is your favourite book of 2015 thus far?
Diane: hmmmmm, this is a hard one. I think Pawnbroker by Jerry Hatchett for adults. For kids The Wurthiington Diary series by Reynold Jay is awesome.
And finally before we wind-up, a couple of serious questions. 🙂
What is the most important lesson you have learned through blogging?
Diane: This is a tough one. I think what I see everyday is that there are many, many creative people out there. If you just stop and think about it – writers – artists – crafters that create their own patterns- builders – doctors – and more. They all have God given talents and I so appreciate that I get to in some small way in my reviews promote a sector of these talented people. I’m not sure that’s the answer you are looking for or meant but that’s what touches my heart the most about blogging.
Who are some book bloggers that you follow?
Diane: My sister, Debbie Browdy, of course, Tori Dennis, Caroline S on google+ and more on the Google Communities Book Reviewers group.
What do you think one should do to have a successful blog?
Diane: Diversity in what you post, have fun with it too – everything doesn’t have to be serious, and don’t stress the numbers. People are worried about ‘how many followers do I have?’ ‘how many G+ do I have?’ that’s a blogspot thing, ‘how come nobody checked my blog out today?’ Don’t stress, have fun and time will bring you people. I only have 15 actual followers but I get anywhere from 500-600 clicks a month, so my blog isn’t that known but I do it because it is what I love doing it. I don’t worry about numbers, that’s not what it is about.
That is an excellent piece of advise Diane. Thank you for joining us today and answering my many questions.