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’ve started the weekly interview series – Life as a Book Blogger.
This week we have Rita who runs the My Home of Books blog answering our questions of life, blogging and books.
Rita does prefer mysteries, police procedurals, suspense thrillers, small-town romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction. However she says, she is an eclectic reader at heart and will choose almost any book irrespective of its genre.
A wife, mother and grandmother, Rita when not reading or writing, loves to binge-watch a chosen a tv series via Netflix on her Kindle Fire. She owns several e-readers but her favorite is the Kindle Paperwhite. Her first and favorite mystery series is Nancy Drew. 🙂
Q: Can you tell us a little about your journey as a blogger? Why did you start a book blog?
Rita: I started a book blog a few years ago called Best O’ Books, which wound up being almost totally suspense thrillers (my fave genre). Unfortunately I started having health issues, became disabled, and in a fit of frustration deleted that blog. Then last May 2013, I was filled with an overwhelming urge to chat with book bloggers about what I was reading so I created My Home of Books, an eclectic and casual review blog. I have been an avid independent reader since age 5 when I got my first library card and could carry home stacks of learn-to-read storybooks. It is as natural to me as breathing, and I get anxious when I don’t have any book available to read when the mood strikes.
Rita: Ha! I love to join challenges, and while I’m sincere about wanting to be a part of them, I am not as good as following through. That being said, I did contribute one book to the COYER challenge (clean out your e-reader)– hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun this summer, and I’ve read Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova for my Foodie Reads 2014 Challenge—hosted by Vicky @ I’d Rather Be at the Beach— so far. I have 2 books on my stack this week to start for my RIP challenge (Readers Imbibing in Peril)–hosted by Carl @ Stainless Steel Droppings, ending on Halloween. Coming up I have Ho Ho Ho Holiday Read-athon in November hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. I like to join challenges and memes as a way of connecting with other bloggers for fun and to collect more titles for my TBR pile.
Rita: I’m a long-term lurker, then member, of Goodreads, and they offer various widgets to place on your blog. I like to feature the books I am currently reading or getting to in the near future, since blog readers can easily see which books I’ve already read from my archive and my Latest Posts widget, both on my sidebar.
Q: Is there something you think that GoodReads should do better to help you in your role as a book blogger?
Rita: I enjoy Goodreads because it’s a pretty simple format to use and you can add friends to share thoughts and reviews there. I did contribute to Kickstarter last month to attempt to get LitRate off the ground. This idea was the brainchild of Ashley & her husband, the “Coding God’, who also host my blog with their company Creative Whim. They wanted to make a new “Goodreads-like” readers’ social community, but improved with feedback from the backers. What would I ask them to improve? Hmm… several things I can’t think of at this moment, but probably the shelf feature. It needs to be more user-friendly, and easier to customize.
Q. Most bloggers we speak to complain about the size of their TBR pile. How do you manage to keep yours whittled down?
Rita: My TBR pile is virtually heaping over–I read 90% of the time on my kindle! I tried to get it pared with challenges like COYER and also using restraint during various months when I just won’t download a book or take out from the library. But then when I least expect it NetGalley comes through with an approval on a book I forgot I requested or I find out I won a giveaway– not complaining, the more the merrier! But I sometimes get anxious when I see books that I really wanted to read 6 months ago buried in a folder on my kindle and yet I’m reading and reviewing the next “shiny” It-book.
Q: You aim to read 50 classics over the next 5 years. What made you take up this challenge? Would you tell us a little about the Classics Club?
Rita: Oh, the Classics Club… my attempt at making myself a more legit reader, if there is such a thing! I’ve read a whole long list of classic & famous books in high school, college, and my young adult life, but I’ve also missed out on so many. I would like to be able to join in conversations with other readers about more literary choices. I think I joined right now because 5 years seems such a long span of time and I feel I have a shot at accomplishing this. If I fail I don’t really fail, because I would’ve read so many decent books and I would still feel better about myself. Right now I have Little Women by Louisa May Alcott ready to go and definitely will read it shortly. Besides, as mentioned in #2, I’m easily swayed by bloggers I enjoy reading to join things, and I couldn’t resist this!
Time for our quick fire round. 🙂
Q: What is your pet peeve as a book blogger?
Rita: A pet peeve would be self-pub authors who spam my email or Goodreads with invitations to read their book without even personalizing the request or looking at my blog content, or taking into account the message on my sites that I don’t accept unsolicited arcs or books. It’s a major pet peeve of so many bloggers.
Q. Pinterest, Twitter, Google or GoodReads. Which is your favorite?
Rita: I would say Goodreads. I’m not much about twitter anymore since my account was hacked 2x last year. It makes me nervous about sharing too much there, so I share on my blog and Goodreads.
Q: Which do you prefer – Ebooks or Physical books?
Rita: Right now that would be e-books on my kindle paperwhite for saving space, convenience in carrying around, a lit screen for dark areas, plus ease of reading in the sunlight. Also I am impulsive and I can press a button and get a book instantly– dangerous for bibliophiles like me! But a print book… like from the library… I love to, hold a real book still.
Q. How much time do you spend on your blog?
Rita: I don’t post everyday, but running a book review blog takes a large chunk of time *every single day* of the week! I am either reading a book to talk about, jotting down notes about a book to keep it fresh in my memory, writing an actual review or discussion post, joining in a weekly meme/commenting on other reviewers’ blogs, or skimming through online sites: Amazon, Goodreads, Book Reporter, Book Page, NY Times Book Reviews etc. to find new titles…. you get the idea.
Q. Which was the last book you purchased and why?
Rita: Probably the mystery cozy Murder and Marinara by Rosie Genova so I could belatedly start on my Foodies Read challenge and start a new cozy series. But this month I also picked up several more e-books, and bought used books from my Friends of the Library sale such as The Snowman by Jo Nesbo, The Witness by Nora Roberts, and Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness– a pretty eclectic mash-up.
Q: What’s the best part of your job as a book blogger?
Rita: Absolutely, positively, chatting with other book review bloggers!! That is the best part of the blogging scene. I’ve met so many friendly, helpful, and fun bookish friends. They make all the hard work worthwhile!
And one last question 🙂
Q: What advice would you give to a newbie book blogger? What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from blogging?
Rita: The most important lesson or advice I can give a new blogger is to be true to yourself. It’s easy to get swept up into other bloggers’ worlds and choose books that you think your reader expects you to review, even if secretly you might not enjoy it. Read whatever genre calls to you, or all genres if you desire, and stay happy! There is a high rate of burn-out in the blogosphere, and keeping it fun and varied helps. We all have down-times when the words won’t come or we are swamped in our daily lives, but if you keep positive your blog won’t suffer from it.
Thanks for answering my questions straight from the heart Rita. It was wonderful to have you with us here. 🙂