Getting to know the blogger behind the reviews!
Hey everyone! I'm so excited to be starting this feature again after that little break I took last month. I won't be doing that again for another few months..hopefully! Another reason I'm really excited is because today I'm interviewing Kara from My Thoughts and Book Reviews! Enjoy :)
Thanks for this interview Crystal, I’d be happy to! It’s a way for me to express myself, talk about my love for books, help authors and publishers to publicize their latest works, connect with other bloggers/book lovers, and share what I’m going through in my walk with Christ. I’m open minded about books, but I do have certain standards and I consider it a responsibility and a privilege to stick with those standards. I never realized the purpose and enjoyment I would get from telling others what a book meant to me and that it would make such a difference in the blogging community. I have fun on my blog, but I also keep it real for my readers.
How long have you been blogging?
I started a blog about attempting to lose weight two summers ago. That one didn’t go anywhere and I erased it recently. I started book blogging August 2011, so it’s been about 8 months. I never realized my book blog would reach this point. I’m both amazed by it and developing new goals with it. I’m VERY excited about the growth God has both in me and in my blog.
What got you started in blogging your book reviews?
Wow, good question :) A family friend sat down with me a while ago and suggested I started blogging as a way for me to write. I didn’t know what she was talking about; I knew nothing about blogging and forgot about the conversation. Then I saw the movie Julie & Julia and was inspired by Julie’s blogging with Julia Child’s recipes. It looked fun. I graduated from college last May with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and couldn’t get a job teaching as I had planned. I remembered my friend’s suggestion about blogging and started looking up information. I found Goodreads, Booksneeze, Tyndale, Blogging for Books, and netgalley online. When I saw amazon reviews stating that people got the books for free and these other websites, I got to work. The hardest thing for me was thinking of a title for the blog. That’s how My Thoughts and Book Reviews got started!
What genre is your favorite and why?
I love Christian fiction, but there are so many good books out there that are not in this genre. I also love YA (young adult) and general fiction. I fell in love with YA books after reading the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. Christian fiction is safe for the most part because there’s nothing inappropriate within those books. Some are extremely violent depending on the author and type of story, but they are reliable for not having profanity, gore, or sexual content. I have been disappointed by Christian fiction in the past, but overall the faith and stories in that genre speak to my heart the most. YA has several great books about teens and a younger audience overcoming realistic obstacles, but still providing a good story. I also enjoy some romance novels. Christian fiction and YA books are the books I review most on my blog.
I've been wanting to read the Uglies series for the longest time! What are your favorite books of all time?
*smile* Love this question! The Chronicles of Narnia, The Face by Angela Hunt, Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs, Uglies, Miss Match series by Erynn Mangum, The Guy I’m Not Dating by Trish Perry (the main character is named Kara-one of many things I love about that book).
Who are your 3 favorite authors?
Only 3?? Okay, let’s see. Angela Hunt, MaryLu Tyndall, and Frank Peretti. There are many more, but I’ll keep it there.
If you had to pick one, what’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Oh boy, you had to ask that :) I would go with The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson. It was one of the first reviews I did for my blog and it really touched me.
If you had the chance to invite some book characters over for dinner, who would you choose?
This will be fun!! *Edmund from The Chronicles of Narnia *Emma from Jane Austen’s Emma *Tally from Uglies *Chloe from The Left Behind series *Legolas from The Lord of the Rings *Lauren from Miss Match by Erynn Mangum *Laura from J. S. Bailey’s The Land Beyond the Portal *Sarah Sims from Angela Hunt’s The face (I’d want to know what happened after the story, she got married and moved on) *Marshall Hogan from This Present Darkness; I’d want to know how things are going between him and his daughter. Wow, I should write a story about that :)
Now that would be an interesting dinner =D Great choices! Is there a particular movie or TV series that you preferred over the book version?
Another great question!! A big time yes to that one! I preferred these movies over the book versions: The Green Mile, The Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, Tuck Everlasting, Little Women, Bridge to Terabithia.
What are you reading at the moment? How do you like it so far?
I just finished Graceling by Kristin Cashore and it really spoke to me. I didn’t finish the book, but I posted my comments on it and was really surprised by how much the story affected me. My next review will be on Rocky Mountain Oasis by Lynnette Bonner so I’ll be starting that shortly.
Have you read a book that you would like to rewrite the ending of?
I’m sure there are, let’s see…. *pondering*
The Bridge to Terabithia-would make it a happier ending
Tuck Everlasting-happier ending
Favorite book character?
Edmund from The Chronicles of Narnia and Tally from Uglies.
Edmund was such a terrible/mean/bitter person in LWW and such a good example of what happens to us when sin invades our hearts. He found redemption by the end and in Prince Caspian he was the character I respected most.
Tally is another character that found strength and overcame impossible obstacles due to hope and faith. She ends up changing the entire system because she’s the first to question what really happens with boldness and assertiveness. Throughout the story, she has no idea how brave she is and I loved her journey.
How many books do you read in a month-roughly?
I take notes on every review so I probably review about 3-4 books a month. For pleasure I try to squeeze in another 2-3 books. So it’s about 6-7 books a month.
Which do you prefer, Ebook or Print?
That’s easy, Print please! It’s much more convenient for me to read print books and I love finding space for them in my room. They’re my treasures!
Me too! What do you like to do when you’re not blogging?
I enjoy playing praise and worship songs, playing video games on my laptop, watching movies with my parents, spending time with my family, going to church, getting coffee, and doing housework. I’m now spending more time with God as I seriously balance my time to include writing my own books. I also spend a lot of time looking at and participating on other blogs, praying for bloggers and writers when these needs come up, and I help edit/proofread documents for my family and friends.
What advice would you give new book bloggers?
Wow, that’s a good question. I would say be patient and diligent about your blogging efforts. Find the style you’re most comfortable with and be consistent with it. Some people like to schedule their posts during the week, I haven’t done that and I’m more comfortable being flexible. Join other blogs to get ideas, meet bloggers with the same tastes as yourself, and be yourself when posting book reviews. I joined goodreads.com and that’s how people starting following my blog.
Another suggestion that I recommend to all book bloggers: when you’ve reviewed a book you really enjoyed, email that review to the author and let them know what a treat it was to review their book. You can find many authors by looking up their websites. They appreciate the feedback. Also, please show your name and some way for readers/authors to contact you. That’s really helpful when people look at your blog and don’t want to leave a comment for everyone to see.
I’ve seen from many bloggers that there is guilt when doing a review when they’re not enjoying a book, sometimes they are unable to finish the book (the plot is too slow, they don’t connect with the characters, the writing doesn’t flow, or the content is offensive). I recommend always being honest, but at the same time being respectful about the writer. I like to edify each author whether I liked their work or not, but I try to give my honest opinion as to why I didn’t enjoy that book. I have learned to stop reading after 100 pages when I’m not enjoying the book so I’ve learned enough about the story to give my comments. Some bloggers/writers have expressed they stop after 50 pages if the story doesn’t wow them.
Lastly, and this is all something I’ve learned while blogging, don’t get overwhelmed with review deadlines. I have been stressed knowing that I requested books and the time is ticking with each read to have the review ready at a certain time. That takes the fun and enjoyment right out of the book. Be respectful of deadlines when you commit to reviewing a book, but have fun with it!
Great advice! And I've been in the position a few times where review deadlines got pretty overwhelming, too. It really does take the fun out of it. If there's something you’d want your readers to take away from reading your blog, what would it be?
I pray that my readers would see that I love God, I love my family, I love books, and I love blessing people. I love learning and sharing how God blesses me in my walk with Him. I enjoy encouraging others, praying for others, and supporting my blogging friends. I love working with books, but I’m also interested in connecting with other bloggers and writers as well as doing reviews. I bless God for those who follow my blog and read about my journey. If I’ve touched one person, if I’ve helped somebody in making a choice about what to read, if I’ve encouraged someone or shown them something about God they didn’t already realize, or if I’ve listed a giveaway that helped someone win something then I’m truly grateful and utterly humbled. Thanks for this interview, Crystal, that was great!
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