What’s your handle? The Story Siren
What kind of books do you review? Anything really. Most of my reviews are Young Adult with a few MA titles and Adult titles mixed in
Approx # of books reviewed? Around 100.
Where can we find your reviews?
You can find most of my reviews at my blog, TeensReadToo and BookSwim.
Reading turn-ons: Realistic characters, humor, unpredictability, sarcasm!
Reading turn-offs: Over the top descriptions, drawn out plots, unrealistic characters/plot line.
Class of 2K8 books reviewed:
Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle
The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher
I Heart You I Haunt You by Lisa Schroeder
La Petite Four by Regina Scott
In my reading pile I also have:
Braless in Wonderland by Debbie Reed Fischer
Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab
Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head by Nancy Viau
Impressive 2K8 collection! We love the crazy handles book reviewers come up with—tell us how you came up with yours! A little bit about how you got into book reviewing would be cool too.
I don’t have a funny or interesting way that I came up with my handle. I wish that I did though. I just wanted something that would reflect what I was trying to do as a book reviewer. But instead of luring people to their deaths as some sirens do, I just lure them to good books!
Obviously I read all the time and I always have. I mean, I would hit the library up every week for four to eight books for the week. So I would often find myself being asked by my friends and family what I was reading and if I liked it, or if I knew any good books, so it seemed to make sense at the time that I would just review the books I was reading. Then my book blog was born. I was just planning on reading books I’d gotten from the library. I never anticipated authors asking me to review their books! Initially my blog was just reviews, but now I have contests and author interviews too.
We love contests and interviews! Or is that stating the obvious? What's not always obvious, book ratings. Describe your grading system and how that translates to the reader?
I actually just started doing a rating system. I’m really addicted to google reader, I think I subscribe to more than 200 blogs! As much as I want to read every post, I just don’t have the time. I really liked when a reviewer would use a grading system because whether or not I read their entire post, I could find out quickly if they liked the book or not. So I decided I should utilize a grading system too.
I have a five star system with five being the highest. Basically I break it down like this:
So a two star review doesn't mean: thanks for ruining my day, sucky author. I'll be suing you for making my eyes bleed? Good to know, this is why we need this kind of interview... why are you looking at me like that? Was that TMI on how authors think? Moving along... How do you pick the books you review? Or are they picked for you? Do you ever read books that wouldn’t normally interest you—and if so have you ever been surprised by what you’ve read?
Most of the books I review are offered to me, but I still have a say in if I want to read them or not. I don’t usually tell an author “no” if they ask me to review their book though. I’m willing to give anything a chance at least once. I’ve found myself being pleasantly surprised by some books that I never would have picked up on my own. I think that is an awesome aspect of being a reviewer. My reading horizons continue to expand. I just recently emailed an author to see if they would send me a copy of their book to review. I’ve never done that before, I’ve always been asked by the author. I didn’t have the guts to ask before, but it turned out to be a great idea. Although I’m not completely comfortable asking for some reason.
I’m a frequent book store browser. I just love going to the book store and smelling the new books.. Ahhhh. So I find a lot of new books that way. Recommendations from the ladies at the library, my family and friends, and I also get really good book suggestions from some of my patients. I also check out book groups like HarperTeen First Look, BookDivas and Random Buzzers.
As far as authors getting their books noticed by reviewers, I would say network. The internet is a fabulous tool. Use it. So many authors have MySpace or Facebook. It is a great way to connect with potential readers. Just believe in your book and talk about it.
If I start reading a book, I have to finish it. I don’t know why but I just do. I especially feel obligated if the author asked me to review the book for them. I owe them to finish it.
And if you really love a book—will you read it again? If so—what are some of the books you just had to read more than once?
Of course! I don’t re-read books now near as much as I used to. I’m too busy with new ones to read! But I do enjoying rereading a book and many times, I find something new and find my opinion changing.
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer. The first time I read it I was less than thrilled and I really didn’t like Jacob, by the third or fourth time I read it, I switched to Team Jacob and it just may be my favorite book of the series.
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I liked this book the first time I read it, but I was confused at some aspects of the story. I reread it after I watched the movie, and I understood it so much better.
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. This was my first faerie book. I was thinking this would be a story about Tinker Bell, although she is technically a pixie. Anyway, amidst the concepts of “glamour” and other faerie lingo, I was a tad bit confused. The second time I read it, I knew exactly what everything was and I got so much more out of the story.
That's so cool that you give book second chances! Do you have a basic philosophy on what should be included in a review—or does it depend on the book itself?
I think it depends on the book and the person who is reviewing it. I like to give a overall look into the book, even though I have a hard time summarizing! If you have to, I think it’s acceptable to use the synopsis from the book. Your feelings on the book, I think, are the most important aspect.
I don’t have a set plan for my review. Sometimes the plot really grabs me, so most of my review will compliment the plot other times it is the characters or the authors writing. It just varies from book to book. I think it is important to be truthful and informative. I try to write my reviews like I’m talking to one of my friends or my sister. They are much more informal than professional!
Informal is great! After all it is hard to stay detached and professional when reading amazing books. Tell us about the last time your jaw dropped open, you laughed, or you cried while reading a book.
All of these things have happened to me recently! I finished Queen of Babble Gets Hitched by Meg Cabot the other day. I love this series. But I couldn’t stop laughing the whole time I was reading it! On top of that there were a lot of jaw dropping moments! I love reading Meg’s books she always has me laughing. If I need a feel-good book, I’ll try to pick up one of hers. The last time I cried was while reading The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith. She isn’t a 2k8er but she is a debut author this year too. It was a very touching story, I wish that I had read it a lot sooner.
Love it!! Okay, so here comes one of our favorite questions--is there any character in a book that you wish would come to life? Or any place you wish existed?
This is a loaded question for me! Absolutely, every time I read a book I wish I could step into the pages or the character would come to life! That is what a book is for me ultimately, it is an escape to a place that I only wish could exist! If I had to pick a specific place, I would love to be a student at Hogwarts! I recently posted on my blog about how I would love to go back and live in the historical fictions books I’d been reading. Like La Petite Four and Bewitching Season! I also wouldn’t mind living in a parallel world that isn’t much different from ours now, but with a few additional characters. Like the world for Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments, or even Tantalize or Blue Bloods. I’d be more scared of the dark I think, but it would be worth it!
LOL, yeah there are a few things in books that would be downright terrifying if they came to life! So let's change the subject to something less scary! What books do you find yourself recommending over and over and why?
I find myself recommending authors more so than books. Jodi Picoult, Catherine Murdock, Catherine Ryan Hyde, Mary E. Pearson, just to name a few.
Excellent authors! Okay, we've been gentle up till now, but it is time for the E.S.Q. Really bad reviews—do you ever fear giving them? Ever had an author get upset with you? (It’s okay—you can tell us, just don’t name names!) And what advice do you have for authors who get a bad review?
I don’t have a fear of giving bad reviews, but I hate the fact that someone might not read a book just because I didn’t like it. I try to remind whoever is reading the review that this is just my opinion and if they want to read the book, they should. Some of the books in my favorite pile are books I’ve read bad reviews for. And no, I haven’t had an author get mad at me, but I try not to be brutal!
If I got a bad review for a book I wrote I think I would be devastated! But unfortunately not everyone is going to like your book. So take what they say at face value and use it. The main thing I think is to remember that it’s only one person’s opinion.
Great advice!! And great answers! Thanks so much for joining us in the Hot Seat! One last question: if they aren’t scared off by all that bad review talk and an author would like you to review her book, what should she do?
I am always thrilled when I have an author contact me. It never gets old. It’s like Christmas morning every time! It’s really easy to contact me. You can email me at thestorysiren (at) hotmail (dot) com!
Okay reader you know what to do--leave a comment and you'll be entered to win La Petite Four by Regina Scott. Here's what The Story Siren had to say about it:
"This was a great read! I love historical fiction and La Petite Four is a wonderful addition to the genre! Regina Scott is an awesome writer! I really enjoyed this book and I hope she continues with books for Young Adults. La Petite Four has a little bit of everything; mystery, suspense, romance and of course really beautiful dresses!" The Story Siren