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.
Jamie is obsessed with reading and would do back flips everyday to work if she could get a job that pays to read. Apart from books she loves desserts and The Walking Dead. Her blog Books and Beverages is where she talks books, interviews authors and has other fun book discussions.
Welcome to the Freado blog Jamie. Would you start out by telling us a little about yourself?
Jamie: Hello Freya and thank you so much for having me on your blog! I currently reside in the great state of Texas (Austin to be exact – which is one of the best cities in the world!). Outside of the reading and writing, I love sports (playing and watching!), hanging out with my amazing friends and getting on an airplane to someplace new any chance I get.
When and why did you become a book blogger? Why do you review books?
Jamie: I’ve been blogging for about three and half years now. When I started, I was leaving the wedding industry as a photographer and wanted to keep writing and blogging and since I have always loved to read I thought I’d try out a book blog. So glad I did!
When I started I didn’t even know there were such things as review programs – I was mainly looking for a place to chat about books with people. As my blog grew I came across blogging programs and thought it was the best ever. Now I get to support my favorite authors and meet new people. A win win!
What do you enjoy the most about blogging?
Jamie: I love writing (shout out to my journalism degree!). Whether thinking of creative ways to review a book or thinking of creative bookish discussions, blogging has allowed me to stretch myself and have fun.
How has the book blogging landscape changed since you started blogging?
Jamie: I know there are so many more folks out there who have been doing this a lot longer than I have, so I’m sure they have some better insight, but I’ve seen many of the reviewer programs change and interact more with reviewers. I love that.
How do you get most of your books to review? Do you subscribe to sites like Netgalley?
Jamie: It’s a mix for me. I review several books I have or bought and I’m also a part of several review programs, like Blogging for Books, Bethany House, etc. (if you’re new or looking for more, here’s a post of all the programs). I use Netgalley, but it’s usually only to get a book from a publisher I’m already connected with.
How do you manage to keep your blog updated in the face of your busy day? How much time do you spend on your blog?
Jamie: Blogging keeps me busy for sure! Between reading and blogging, I spend several hours a week and right now I’m able to handle that. One thing that really helps is staying a week ahead. I used to have my blog scheduled two weeks out, but that’s a distant memory these days :). Having a few posts done and ready to go really helps though. I also write out thoughts right after I finish a book, so I don’t forget or have to search for passages I really liked.
How did you design your book blog? Did you do it yourself? Any tips to help others?
Jamie: I can’t take any credit for how my blog looks! I hired The Sketch Effect to create the blog header (and badges) and bought a template from Studio Press. I’m also a fan of WordPress over any other platform.
You’ve recently started podcasting on The Inkling Series. Would tell us a little about the Inkling Series and why you started podcasting.
Jamie: I promise to try and keep this short! C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien are two authors who have shaped me in so many ways and I love their writings and life stories. I’ve been doing the Inkling Series for about a year and half and it’s one of my favorite things to do. I pick a book written by or about Lewis and Tolkien. I announce it a month before and then put together a discussion post. It’s a blast. This past month’s discussion on Prince Caspian (from The Chronicles of Narnia) was so insightful, I was beyond encouraged from what people share.
I started the podcast because I do a lot of reading on Lewis and Tolkien outside of the Inklings series and thought it would be fun to share that in a different way. I started listening to podcasts this year, so it seemed like the perfect adventure to dive into!
Now it’s time for our rapid fire round 🙂
Which was the last book that you bought? Why did you buy it?
Jamie: It was A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 by Joseph Loconte. I’m working on a couple episodes for the podcast and one of those is how WWI influenced Tolkien and Lewis. I’m looking forward to diving in!
What’s your pet peeve as a book blogger?
Jamie: I think when bloggers have spoilers with no warnings. It doesn’t happen a ton, but when it does it’s a bummer!
Where do you normally hangout online as a book reviewer (other than GoodReads and NetGalley)?
Jamie: I’m most active on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
What’s the hardest thing about being a book blogger?
Jamie: SO MANY AMAZING BOOKS! I wish I could read them all, but life, work and such seem to demand so much of my time :).
How much time do you spend on your blog every week?
Jamie: It varies, but usually several hours.
Which is your favourite book of 2015 thus far?
Jamie: How do I choose?! I have a running list going, so I’m going to pick two random ones (not written by Tolkien or Lewis 😉 from it – Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta and The Wood’s Edge by Lori Benton.
Ebooks or physical books. Which do you prefer? Why?
Jamie: This question was also a fun discussion on my blog (you can join in here). I love both. I have hundreds of books around my house, but with the traveling I do, my Kindle is a lifesaver.
Which is your all time favourite book? One you can read again and again 🙂
Jamie: I’ll go with a few of staples: The Chronicles of Narnia by Lewis, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.
Which book challenge did you enjoy participating in the most? Your favourite?
Jamie: I actually haven’t participated in book challenges (outside of the one I’m co-hosting with my friend Cassie this year). Maybe it’s something I’ll check out for 2016!
A couple of serious questions before we close this interview 🙂
What have you learned from blogging in the last year? Personal and professional?
Jamie: Again and again, I learn how awesome the book blogging community is. I’ve had a chance to meet more people this year and I love it. Personally, blogging has continued to stretch my creative self – from trying new ideas to revamping other ones.
Which three blogs according to you are a must-follow for book bloggers?
Jamie: This is another hard one! There’s so many excellent book bloggers out there and it really depends on what genre folks love to read. Here’s three with different focuses:
Relz Reviewz – for fans of CBA (and she’s fabulous!), Library Educated – my friend Wesley reviews all kinds of interesting books, from history to graphic novels, Katherine Scott Jones – an author herself, she reviews a lot of women fiction and I always find myself adding to my GR after her reviews.
What are your top three tips for someone just getting started with a book blog?
Jamie: Most important is to be yourself – however that looks in writing and blogging. Second, don’t be afraid to comment and reach out to authors and fellow bloggers. I made great friends and connections thanks to Twitter. And last, don’t be afraid to try new things. When I first started the 4 Questions series, I figured no author would ever respond, but there are so many awesome and gracious authors out there and it’s now a staple for the blog!
I love connecting with fellow readers, so please feel free to connect with me around the web! – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads
Thank you again for having me Freya!
That’s an interview packed with info! Thanks for answering my many questions in detail Jamie. It was wonderful having you join us. 🙂