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Life as a Book Blogger with Liza Shaw of The Reading Head

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.




Liza is a mother and a grandmother, and is currently studying for a degree in social psychology. She likes curling up authors like Maeve Binchy, Josephine Cox, Jackie Collins and Dan Brown. In the non-fiction section she likes to read anything psychology, self-help, or meditation. When not reading Liza enjoys gardening and crochet. She blogs at The Reading Head.




Welcome to the Freado blog Liza. Would you tell us a little about yourself? Your life beyond books? Your quirks?

Liza: Well, I was born with a book in my hands, so my mother used to say, so, beyond books? hmmm. Well I am disabled, with CFS/Fibromyalgia and Osteoporosis, but I also care for my elderly mother-in-law who has dementia. So life is kind of busy.

As well as all that, I have a monthly radio slot, where I review a couple of books live on air. That’s a new thing but a lot of fun.

Oh and I like to sing too. So I am a member of the local choir. We are doing The Messiah this season, which is proving to be a lot of fun.

I have a dog, who thinks she’s a cat, and a cat who thinks he’s a dog, so sitting watching the two of them is a lot of fun. Here’s a story about them that will give you the idea:
We have a cat flap, which the dog uses quiet happily, but Taz, my cat, sits by the back door, looking at the handle, watching the dog going in and out, and meows until we get up and open the door for him!


Can you tell us a little about your journey as a book blogger? How did you get started? What motivates you to continue to maintain your blog?

Liza: Well as I said earlier, I was born with a book in my hand, and I’ve had one or two blogs in the past. While chatting with a friend on the university facebook page, she shared a link to her blog. I hadn’t even considered book blogging before, so her site was an eye-opener.

She had a link to netgalley so I clicked through and had a look. You can imagine my joy that I could get books for free! I threw together a blog there and then and requested my first book. That was back in January, since then I have taken part in a few tours, read loads of fab books, and interviewed some really interesting people.

I think finding great new books, and meeting the authors are my two main reasons for keeping the book going.


What do you enjoy the most about blogging?

Liza: Ah that’s easy, the books! I love interviewing authors too, some of them are characters in themselves.


What is the worst thing about blogging? What do you do to make it okay?

Liza: Hmmm. would it be awful if I said authors? Most are fantastic, but there is always one or two that simply don’t read! That annoys me no end.


How do you get most of your books to review? Do you subscribe to sites like Netgalley?

Liza: Yup, Netgalley was where I started, although I do tours occasionally, I usually only do spotlights or an interview. Most of my books now come direct from publishers who contact me. I do still use netgalley occasionally if I have a schedule gap.


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How much time do you spend on the blog? What’s a typical book blogging day like for you?

Liza: I don’t really spend more than a couple of hours a day on my blog, I’ve managed to streamline things quiet well now. First thing in the morning, I check my email, and answer as many as I can at that point, I also share my posts via Social media etc. That’s takes about an hour.

At 2pm I go to my office, check email again, schedule any new posts and reply to publishers or authors, who have requested, usually giving them a post date. I then set up the bones of upcoming posts of requests just received. Finally writing up a review or interview post.
I write all my posts 2 weeks ahead of schedule, as much as I can. That all takes another hour or 2.
Finally, from 7pm until I fall asleep, I do the most important job of all: Read!


How did you design your book blog? Did you do it yourself? Any tips to help others?

Liza: The color scheme I did choose myself yes, it’s my favourite colors. My graphic was designed for me by a guy on which I recommend, it’s cheap and there are some good graphic designers on there.
As for the design itself, it’s a pre-made theme called customizr, along with about a dozen plug-ins to get it looking the way I like it.

I guess my biggest tip is to look around, there are great themes, etc out there. Ask what others are using, but mostly be yourself, and reflect yourself. Oh and keep it simple and not to dark. I hate seeing blogs with dark backgrounds, makes for difficult reading.


You’re quite active on GoodReads. How do you use GoodReads? How does that help you as a book blogger?

Liza: I use GoodReads really just to share my reviews at the moment, and meet other reviewers and authors. When I started blogging Goodreads was a great place to find books to review too.


Have you ever participated in a GoodReads giveaway? What was the experience like? Would you recommend it to other book bloggers/readers?

Liza: I Always recommend a giveaway! If you want the book, enter is what I say. I have entered a couple on goodreads, but sadly haven’t won anything yet.


Now it’s time for our rapid fire round with some fun questions 🙂

Which was the last book you bought? What caused you to pick up that book?

Liza: Grey! I just had to hear Christopher Grey’s view point of 50 shades.



What’s your number one pet peeve as a book blogger?

Liza: Authors that don’t read submission info before submitting.


Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook or GoodReads. Which is your favorite?

Liza: All of them. Twitter I think


How many books do you read every week?

Liza: 3 or 4 on average for the blog, Depending on length of books, I’ll squeeze in an extra for myself.


How much time do you spend on your blog?

Liza: couple hours a day on blog, 4-5 hrs day reading.


Which is your favourite book of 2015 thus far?

Liza: Oh that’s easy, High Tide by Veronica Henry which came out last month. Awesome read!



Ebooks or physical books. Which do you prefer? Why?

Liza: I do like physical books, but due to my disability I find ebooks easier, so I can prop it up.


What happens to books that you don’t finish?

Liza: They get put in a separate folder for me to get back too another time.


What is your favourite book quote?

Liza: There are so many I can’t pick my favourite, but this one from High Tide has my smiling every time I read it:

“she called him at three in the morning and asked him to toast her slippers and bring them to her on a silver tray”.

I think you need the context to see why I smile, so maybe it’s an excuse to get the book?!


And finally before we wind-up, a couple of serious questions. 🙂

You have listed your reviews by rating, genre, author, Title, etc. How did you do this?

Liza: I have a book reviews plug-in called the Ultimate Book Blogger which does it for me, when I write the post I enter the details into respective boxes and they get added to the listing page.


Which three blogs according to you are a must-follow for book bloggers?

Tyngas Reviews apart from great reviews, she runs so very big meme’s too.
Opinionated Cupcakes is a must read, this is who got me started!
Caffinated Book Reviewer just because.


What are your top three tips for someone just getting started with a book blog?

1. Plan! That’s my number 1, get a scheduling calendar, I use co-schedule, but any old calendar works. Schedule when you will post, and when you will read the book.
2. Allow time to read each book! For me I allow 3 weeks, even though I read in a day or two, always allow plenty of time.
3. Network, chat to others on social media, comment on posts, get your name out there.

And just to be cheeky here’s a fourth: Have FUN!


Thanks for that useful advise Liza, it was wonderful having you join us. 🙂