Monday, June 23, 2008

In the Book Reviewer Hot Seat: Book Chic

Welcome Book Chic! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY (err Anniversary?), we hear that 1 year ago today you launched your book review site! (And, ahem, throwing quite the the party all month long--so if you haven't been there already--go now! You just might come home with a free book!) Speaking of--be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab!!! (Deadline to enter is midnight June 29th, winners will be announced on Monday June 30th.)

OK, Book Chic, please take a seat and don't mind the heat, just the facts first:

What’s your handle? Book Chic
What kind of books do you review? Young Adult books with some Middle Grade and Adult Chicklit thrown in every so often.
Approx # of books reviewed? Oh goodness, who knows… over 100 at least
Where can we find your reviews?
Reading turn-ons: complex and realistic characters, humor, compelling plot, unpredictability
Reading turn-offs: the opposite of above, haha, although not every book I read has to have humor

Class of 2k8 Reviews so far:
Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab
I Heart You, You Heart Me by Lisa Schroeder

La Petite Four by Regina Scott, Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle, and Undone by Brooke Taylor will be coming up soon, and more will be on the way throughout the year!

YAY--That's what we love to hear! Okay, now let's get down to the in depth interview, shall we? 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.

My handle really went through a LOT of changes before I made the site. My friend Lauren and I would spend whole IM conversations just trying to come up with a good handle for the site that would be easy to remember and fun. It’s much harder than it seems. Anyway, “Book” is there for obvious reasons, and “Chic” is there because I wanted the site to seem classy because I was thinking of fashion chic when coming up with it, haha.

As to how I got into book reviewing, the full story is in the first Ask Book Chic up on the blog way back in February, I think. The short story is that Lauren Barnholdt wanted to do promotion for her book Two-Way Street early last summer, so she asked her livejournal and myspace friends to post reviews on their blogs of Two-Way Street. She also said that she would be available for interviews, if we wanted her to. So, as I was coming up with questions, I thought to myself “Hey, this is fun. I should make a whole blog about this.” and so I did. And I’m so excited I did.

We are too! But reviews can be complicated to decipher sometimes, can you describe your grading system and how that translates to the reader?

I actually don’t have a grading system. I just write about what I liked and didn’t like about the book. However, I am easy to please, so I end up giving out positive book reviews all the time, and hardly find any fault with the books I read. So usually, it’s just me telling my myspace friends how much I love whatever book I’m reviewing, haha.

Nothing wrong with that! So, 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?

I just pick books that interest me. I keep a book calendar, and just look at that for titles that are coming out in the future. Then, I ask the author if I can get a review copy of the book. Other times, I get books from publicists and publishers who email me about reviewing.

I have read lots of books outside of what normally interests me- what comes to mind first are Sarah Dessen and Ellen Hopkins books, which I avoided because of their heavy subject matter. But now I love their books- they’re fantastic, and I was pleasantly surprised while reading them.

We love Sarah and Ellen's books too. Finding new reads can be a challenge, what are the best ways to find new books? Any advice for authors about getting their book noticed by reviewers?

I don’t know about the best way, but what I usually do is just randomly browse the shelves of a bookstore or library and just pick out books randomly. I’ve found a lot of good books that way.

For getting noticed, just email reviewers. I usually take on most every book that is offered to me that is being published by a major publishing house, and I’m sure it’s the same for most other reviewers. Also, be available to answer questions in a quick manner, should the reviewers have any.

If you really aren’t feeling a book—will you make the ultimate sacrifice and finish it for the sake of the review?

Actually, what usually happens is that I put them aside for a while, and move on to another book until I have more time for it. But I will eventually finish it, and it’s not always necessarily that I don’t like it, it just may not be the right time for me to read it. But I usually get around to every book I receive and finish each one, no matter what.

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?

Due to the large amount of books I receive, I haven’t re-read anything I’ve reviewed, but I have read books over again. Some include Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (a HUGE favorite of mine!), Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot, and Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett.

Do you have a basic philosophy on what should be included in a review—or does it depend on the book itself?

It all depends on the book itself because each book has its own strengths, and obviously each book is different in how things are handled or written. I just include what I enjoyed, and occasionally write what I didn’t like, if there was something. But usually, I love almost every book I read, so it’s usually a bunch of gushing.

Authors love gushing reviews!! Tell us about the last time your jaw dropped open, you laughed, or you cried while reading a book.

Well, I laughed while reading Sucks to be Me by Kimberly Pauley and In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg. In Your Room was just a fantastic, romantic book that really made me smile and say “Awww” after finishing it. It is a great book, and highly recommended when it comes out this October. Sucks to be Me is a hilarious, original take on vampires.

I don’t think I’ve cried while reading a book, but I think I came very close while reading Class of 2k8 author Daphne Grab’s book Alive and Well in Prague, New York a little over halfway through the book.

We didn't mean to make you cry, Book Chic! Let's talk about something else. Is there any character in a book that you wish would come to life? Or any place you wish existed?

Hmm, maybe all the hot guys in teen and adult chicklit fiction? Haha. Not sure there’s any specific ones, though I think Charlie from In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg (esp. if he looks like the same model used on the cover) would be a good choice. I also like JP from the Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot, as well as Gabriel Luna from her new book Airhead. And probably lots more, lol.

What books do you find yourself recommending over and over and why?

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway because it’s awesome and filled with laugh-out-loud humor; In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg because it is so romantic and has a great, original concept; Airhead by Meg Cabot because it’s a great new direction for her and different from her previous books; Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman because of its awesome and hilarious take on the Apocalypse.

Great choices! Okay, I can't hold off any longer, time for the Extra Scandalous Question—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 do fear giving bad reviews, but I basically never do, lol, because I’m very easy to please. There may be one or two aspects I may not like but overall, I normally enjoy the books I read. My advice though to authors who do get bad reviews would be to just see it as like a workshop-type criticism, and to take it into consideration, especially if the same complaint comes up again and again. Learn from it, and your writing can only get even better.

The only time I’ve had an author get upset with me, and she wasn’t even really upset, was when Alexa Young kept asking me to say something bad about her book Frenemies, haha. She enjoys getting constructive criticism from reviewers because it can help her future writing, and it’s a great attitude to have.

That is a great attitude and we hope getting to know book reviewers such as yourself will help other authors find you and your kind less scary! So thank you for all the great answers! Now if they aren’t scared off by all that bad review talks and an author would like you to review his/her book, what should he/she do?

It’s VERY simple. All an author would have to do would be to email me on Myspace, Facebook, or through my regular email if the author isn’t on either of those sites. My regular email address is: bookchicclub at gmail dot com. And usually, I will say yes, and then just send me the review copy.

Thanks so much for inviting me to be part of this reviewer week! I had a great time answering these questions and, if anyone has any more questions, feel free to put them in the comments and I will answer them when I can (which will be very often as I have no life and will be checking this blog entry pretty much every half hour, lol).

Thanks Book Chic! Stalk Away! But you won't get extra entries for the super giveaway!! Remember to leave a comment to have a chance to win a signed copy of Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab!

"Grab's debut is absolutely riveting and is told with such emotion and tenderness, which made it an absolute joy to read this book. The characters are very realistic and complex, especially Matisse, and it's just fascinating to read about her. She felt very real to me as a reader, and it's great when an author is able to convey and make that connection. Filled with wit, realism, and warmth, this is another debut book you do not want to miss. " BookChic

(Click here for more great Hot Seat interviews)


Amee said...

Ooh, I've been wanting to read Daphne's book for awhile now. :D

Great interview!

daphne grab said...

love you, book chic!!

Anonymous said...

Yay, Book Chic! And I think that story of how he got into the reviewing business is great.

TJ Brown said...

Fabulous interview! And I always pronounced it Book Chick... I thought chic was just a cute way of saying chick! How dumb was that?

Unknown said...

HURRAY FOR BOOK CHIC! You know I love you. I'm laughing that you name-checked me for getting mad at you, too. Ha ha ha ha ha. XOXO

Anonymous said...

Ambeen- Daphne's book is fantastic. Good luck in this contest! :)

Daphne- Love you too (even if you did almost make me cry- I forgot I wrote that, lol)! :P

cyn2write- Well thanks!! I'm glad you enjoyed my little story.

Teri- It's not dumb at all (well, ok, it may be a little bit dumb)!! Most people have been pronouncing it that way probably because of the fact that a girl is my default photo, so it's a natural association. However, my artist friend is (supposedly) working on a new version of it that my friend Lauren came up with, and it'll be awesome whenever it's finished! :)

Also, I totally forgot to mention your book! I'll be reviewing Teri's book Read My Lips this summer too! I'm looking forward to it!!

Thanks again for having me, Class of 2k8!!

TinaFerraro said...

I'm very excited to read Daphne Grab's book! And hello to you, Book Chic (and Lauren, if you're out there)! Fun interview.

Heather Harper said...

Me too, Teri! lol.

"Most people have been pronouncing it that way probably because of the fact that a girl is my default photo, so it's a natural association."

I'm sticking with that excuse. ;-)

And great interview!

RR2 said...

Great interview! book chic rocks :)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Nice interview! You know I love you Book Chic. I love how you hardly ever hate books..I'm the same way most of the time too. There's usually something I like.
It was fun reading the answers though. Nice idea this was!


Anonymous said...

Alexa- haha, I had to namedrop you somewhere. We are BFFs, you know. ;) I knew you would laugh at that.

Also, HUZZAH FOR ALEXA! Isn't "huzzah" a much more fun word than "hurray"? hehe.

Tina- I hope you get a chance to read it soon- it's amazing (as my review states, lol). Also, I told Lauren that you said hi.

Heather- I'm glad I could help people with excuses on their mispronunciation of my name, haha.

reader rabbit- Aw well thanks! You guys rock too!! :)

Lauren/SSM- And you know I love you too! I'm glad you enjoy my site and this interview! YAY!

Unknown said...

HI! OMG, I escaped from the crawl space Boothy keeps me in. I had to pick the lock, get over the draw bridge, and then battle a samurai but I did it! Hello! Haha, just kidding. I was working... Thanks so much for the review! We love everyone!!

Nurin said...

Ohh, I really want to read Daphne's book..I've only heard good thigns about it xD

YAY BOOK CHIC haha, great interview ;)

Trish Milburn said...

Fun interview. Nice to learn more about you and your reviews, Book Chic.

the story siren said...

I love Book Chic!! I feel like I've learned so much about your recently we could totally be best friends! Happy One Year Anniversary!! that is super cool! loved the interview too!

Anonymous said...

Lauren- Shh, you're not supposed to let other people know about where I keep you!! You can't go blabbing about it everywhere.

RR, Trish, and Story Siren- Thanks so much!! Glad you enjoyed the interview!! :)

Anonymous said...

Great interview,, gals!
I don't know what you meant, Book Chic, your answers seemed very well thought out to me! :-)

Kristin Tubb said...

Huzzah (yes - fantabulous word!) for SUCKS TO BE ME! i got to read an early version of this one in a mss exchange with Kimberly, and I laughed so hard I added a few more crinkles around the eyes! :-)

Thanks, Book Chic!

Emily Marshall said...

I love the idea of interviewing reviewers. How fun to hear about this side of the business.

Liviania said...

Why, Book Chic, you're everywhere. So Visa of you.

GOOD OMENS! Ahem, excuse me while I fangirl here. (It takes awhile, as I have to get the Gaiman out of my system and then the Prachett. And then the sheer awesome that results of the two together.)

. . . okay, I just drove everything else from my mind. This is why I don't comment.

Anonymous said...

Kristin- Woot for mutual loveage of Sucks to be Me!! :)

Julie- I'm glad you liked my answers! I feel better about them now. :)

Also, we're a guy AND a gal. hehe.

Emily- I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

Liviania- No, this is why you SHOULD comment! See, I didn't know that you were a Good Omens fan too. Commenting helps us all to get to know each other. :)

And I am everywhere, aren't I? It's quite exciting, and it doesn't just stop here! I've got one more thing up my sleeve coming up in a little over a week. ;)

Anonymous said...

I <3 Book Chic. :)

Bunny B said...

Book Chic's awesome! :)

Anonymous said...

I heart Book Chic

Little Willow said...

Happy blogiversary, Book Chic!

Anonymous said...

Terri, BunnyB, Debbie, and LW- Thanks so much!! :) You guys are too sweet!

Marissa Doyle said...

YAY! Another Terry Pratchett fan!!!

We're so glad you stopped by, Book Chic.

Anonymous said...

Marissa- Woo for Terry fans!! I also found out that another Class of 2k8 author PJ Hoover is a Terry fan as well! Terry fans UNITE!! :)

And I'm so glad I stopped by here, Marissa. I'm excited to be part of such a wonderful week on this amazing blog.

Kiki said...

Oooh, I'm looking forward to Daphne's book, too. It sounds very good.

Meredith said...

I love Book Chic and the reviews and giveaways you do! So great! In fact, I think Book Chic was one of the first book reviewers I added as friends on myspace!


Breanna said...

Go Book Chic! Great interview! =)

Please enter me to win Alive and Well In Prague New York! I've been wanting to read it ever since I first heard about it.


Anonymous said...

Awesome interview with Book Chic, I love you!

Sign me up for the book, please!

Anonymous said...

The teen author I recommend to any of my family or friends is Sarah Dessen. I totally agree that her books are so deep in the theme of relationships. She explores themes of intimacy, while giving the characters such depth and growth. Awesome author. =) Maybe I'll check out that other author you mentioned with Dessen, if she comes to mind with her.

Carmen T

Anonymous said...

Meredith, Breanna, and kisstobetray- Aw well thanks so much for the kind words!! :)

Carmen- Ellen Hopkins is simply amazing. Her books are done in verse, so keep that in mind when you go to pick up a book of hers. But they're still great. I have her upcoming book Identical in my TBR pile- looking forward to reading it! :)

Carolina said...

Great interview. Happy One Year Anniversary Book Chic. Congrats!

Chelsie said...

I really really want to read Alive and Well in Prague, New York! It looks so good!


Aimee said...

Can't wait to read this book! Great interview! aimeecirucci at hotmail dot com

Amy said...

I always wondered how the reviewed books are chosen. I'm glad I found a new place to read some interesting reviews, Book Chic!

Anonymous said...

Carol and Aimee- Thank you so much!! :)

growareader- You're welcome!! I'm glad you liked the interview, and were able to find some great new blogs to read!

Alea said...

I'm in love with Audrey, Wait! I'm about 2/3 of the way through with it. I should get back to it....! I'm hoping to read Airhead very very soon!

Steph said...

Book Chic is awesome. I love emailing with him and he gives me great advice for when I have some reviewer questions. Thanks, BC!!! I need to comment on your blog more, I know!

(please enter me, as well)