Monday, June 23, 2008

In the Book Reviewer Hot Seat: Julie M. Prince

We are sooo excited to kick off our mega week of book reviewer interviews with the wonderful Julie M. Prince! And..AND we will be giving away A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth C. Bunce! All you have to do is leave a comment and you'll be entered. Deadline to enter is midnight June 29th, winners will be announced on Monday June 30th. Okay, now let's get quickly acquainted with our very first book reviewer!

What’s your handle (alias)? I don’t have one, which makes me feel awfully boring all of a sudden. Maybe I should make one up right now. Um. Yeah. Any suggestions?

What kind of books do you review? I review picture books, middle grade, and young adult (fiction and nonfiction).

Approx # of books reviewed? 54 so far this year, with another 84 in my queue. Yikes!

Where can we find your reviews? ALAN Online , Teens Read Too, YA (& Kids) Books Central, The Edge of the Forest , and my blog, “Off to Turn Another Page.”

Reading turn-ons: I love humorous middle grades and witty, sarcastic YAs.

Reading turn-offs:
I’m not big on science fiction or high fantasy, although I’ve been known to enjoy both types of books on occasion.

Class of 2K8 books that you’ve had the opportunity to review:

Oh boy. Let’s see:

A Curse Dark as Gold – and here

The Opposite of Invisible

Alive and Well in Prague, New York

I Heart You, You Haunt Me – and here

The Gollywhopper Games

The Magic Thief

I hope I didn’t miss any. Most of the time, I only review a book once, but if an editor needs a particular book reviewed and I’ve read it, I’ll volunteer to write a second review…especially if it’s a book I enjoyed and want to share with as many readers as possible.

I have four more 2k8 books in my possession (and one on the way), but I won’t tell which ones.

Oh, you could just whisper it, couldn't you? No? Okay, moving on... we love the crazy handles (alias) book reviewers come up with—tell us how you came up with yours!

Okay, now the handle thing is really starting to bug me. Seriously. Any suggestions?

Ask and you shall receive! For the reviewer formerly known as Prince, we've come up with several! Naturally with your blog being Off to Turn Another Page--the name Paige Turner was brought up (however we believe it is already in use, probably by several people!), other possibilities included Read Eyes & Over Booked--since you are clearly very busy! And last but not least (and my personal favorite!)--Miss Prints!

Okay, fun time over, back to the hot seat Miss Prints, how did you get into book reviewing ?

I was asked if I’d like to write some reviews for ALAN online (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents). I loved the thought of reviewing books, but I’d never done it. This reasoning was soon squashed by the words, “neither had I, until I did it.” Good point, David. As soon as I got my first batch of books, I knew I was hooked on reviewing. What better job is there than one that pays in books?!

Describe your grading system and how that translates to the reader?

Since I review for several sites, my grading system adapts accordingly.

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?

Some are sent to me by the editors of the sites I review for, some are sent by publishers, some I purchase or request directly from the publisher myself because I’ve heard of them and they sound so fabulous I can’t resist.

I absolutely read books that wouldn’t normally interest me because I’ve stopped reading jacket flaps and blurbs. I don’t have any idea what most of the books I read are going to be about until I open them and start reading. I get a lot of surprises that way. I like surprises.

We like surprises too! Especially learning about new books. What are the best ways to find new books? Any advice for authors about getting their book noticed by reviewers?

Right now, the internet is our friend, I think. There are so many sites and blogs that review and recommend great books. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the old-fashioned way, either…browsing the bookstore to see what looks interesting. When my family and I go within 500 yards of a bookstore, Hubby always says, “Go ahead. I’ll find you in the kids section later.” I personally believe that a web presence is important in getting your books noticed, but if you’re an author reading this, you probably already know that.

Yep, we sure do! Okay, so what happens if you really aren’t feeling a book—will you make the ultimate sacrifice and finish it for the sake of the review?

Not very often. There are just too many books waiting that I know I’d enjoy. In the past two weeks, I’ve put down two books that I couldn’t get into. Right now, I’m reading one that’s “okay,” but I’m willing to keep reading this one because I was specifically asked for a review of it by an editor. Sorry, now I have all the authors wondering, “is it mine?”

Hey, you're supposed to be in the hot seat, not us! LOL. Let's move on to better stuff--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?

I rarely re-read books. I mentioned that I like the element of surprise, and if I’ve read a book, that surprise factor is gone. I’m sure I’d enjoy them again, but I’m more likely to pass a good book on to a friend I know would enjoy it than to let it gather dust until I get around to reading it again. I guess we all love books in different ways, and I love good books by sharing them and getting the word out about them. Having said that, there are some books (like all of L.M. Montgomery’s) that I have re-read many times.

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

I like to include a little bit of summary and then tell what I liked about a book, or what I thought was missing. I mix up the order a lot, and I try to keep my reviews fairly brief, because I think people trying to find a book are more likely to really read (not just skim) short reviews.

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

It happens a lot, actually. If a book can make me either laugh or cry hysterically, that book is guaranteed a great review. If it brings out that kind of strong reaction and emotion, the author has gone above and beyond.

Is there any character in a book that you wish would come to life? Or any place you wish existed?

I wouldn’t mind hanging out with the Penderwick sisters or Emily of New Moon. I’d like to stay at the Hopewell Hotel, and I think a visit to Hogwarts would rock my world!

We think Hogwarts will be a popular answer this week, LOL! What books do you find yourself recommending over and over and why?

I love Elizabeth Bunce’s A CURSE DARK AS GOLD, because it’s so unique and the writing is extraordinary. I fell in love with THE MAGIC THIEF because I know kids will adore it, and I want to help readers connect with the book. Same with THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDEAU-BANKS. That one has an audience out there of some really brilliant and opinionated teenagers who are going to (and already do) love the book. I want to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. Then there are books I just want to talk to people about, like BEFORE GREEN GABLES. I want to hold a worldwide book club meeting about that book so I can find out what all the L.M. Montgomery fans think of it. There’s Coe Booth’s TYRELL, and Jeannine Garsee’s BEFORE, AFTER, AND SOMEBODY IN BETWEEN, both of which I think are excellent examples of real teens in the real world dealing with real issues. I love real as much as I love escapism in books. I think both are important to have available. I could go on and on, but I’m probably boring you.

Ha ha, not even close... go on... please...

crickets: (chirp chirp)

Ok, now 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 knew you were going to ask this, and I dreaded it. *sigh*

I hate giving bad reviews. It’s like taking foul medicine or drinking spoiled milk. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

For the most part, the sites I review for are about connecting books and readers. They don’t like to post negative reviews because tastes vary so widely.

However, it sometimes happens that I’ve been specifically asked to write a review and I won’t shy away from being honest with readers if I don’t like a book. What kind of credibility would I have if I just handed out “good” reviews about every single book I read?

True, but we'd still love you! So, any advice for authors who get a bad review?

I don’t think authors need the advice, because if they’re in this business to begin with, they know all about subjectivity (or they should).

I think it helps to keep in mind that old adage “any press is good press.” If people are out and they pick up your book because they remember reading about it, that’s a good thing. Many people just skim reviews (as much as my ego would like to believe otherwise). “Real” readers don’t dissect and analyze reviews the way authors do. They just want to find a book to read.

Thanks for all the great answers! 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?

1) Keep in mind that it may be a very long time before I can get to the book. I do try to coordinate my reviews with release dates, but sometimes it doesn’t happen. I don’t read books in order of receipt. I often read strategically for projects that I’m involved in (articles I’m writing or authors I’m interviewing for other publications, etc).

2) I don’t guarantee that I’ll review every book I receive, nor do I guarantee that every review I do write will be good. Ouch. It bothers me to even write that, but it’s true, and authors should know up front.

3) If all of the above sounds dandy to you, please feel free to contact me. You can find review links and my contact information over at:

Thanks so much for interviewing me. The Class of 2k8 is full of talented and creative people, and I’m proud to have participated. This was fun!

Thank you! And don't forget to leave a comment to win A Curse As Dark As Gold!

"Every word counts in this amazing book. The language, while assuredly stunning and appealing, is never frivolous. It's hard to believe this is a debut novel, and I eagerly await whatever Ms. Bunce wishes to put in front of me next, as it's sure to be delightful and satisfying if it's near the quality of A CURSE DARK AS GOLD." Julie M. Prince

(Click here for more great Hot Seat Interviews)


Anonymous said...

That was a most excellent review! What a fun week this will be.


Anonymous said...

Great interview- I loved reading it! Although now I'm worried about my interview because I don't think my answers were that intelligent and thought-out, lol.

Liviania said...

Great interview! I love learning about fellow reviewers.

Jessica Burkhart said...

Great interview, guys. It's neat to hear about another side of the biz. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the interview! It was really interesting hearing about the reviewing side of the writing. :)

Kate Fall said...

I love this idea and couldn't wait to read Julie's interview. She brought up some great points about subjectivity.

A Curse As Dark As Gold is on my wish list, so I'd love to win it!

Laurel said...

This is AWESOME!

the story siren said...

great interview! i really enjoyed it!

Lis said...

Great interview. Its cool to get to know other reviewers :o)

Anonymous said...

Great, interview, guys! Very cool to hear from the reviewers.

Unknown said...

Great interview...wonderful replies. I love that you don't read jacket flaps and blurbs...I think that's a great approach for going in with an open mind and forming your own opinions. xo

Anonymous said...

That is such a great idea! Reviewing the reviewers =] Very original!

words @ blueboards

Anonymous said...

Yay Julie!!

Rachael Stein said...

i love the interviewing of the reviewers. kinda like Reviewer X's reviewer profiles, but with a twist!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview -- and of course thanks to the reviewers for all their hard work!

I came over from Verla Kay's blue boards because there was a rumor a "Curse" was going to be handed out here, and I sure would love to have one of those . . . .

Erin said...

Fun fun interview. This whole week is so exciting. :)

Anonymous said...

Great interview! And turnabout is fair play; she made me do one with her, and wow, did her questions make me think! I love Julie's reviews (and not just 'cause she was so nice to CURSE), because she's not just a fair reviewer--she's an amazing *writer,* and the language in her reviews just knocks me out.

Thanks for stopping by, Miss Prints! :D


Kristin Tubb said...

Julie, I don't read jacket flaps either - nor do I like to watch movie trailers. Like you, I'm in it for the surprise. Glad to hear from a fellow "surprise junkie" - great interview! :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a fantastic list of comments to come across!!!

Thanks for all the great compliments (especially ecb)!

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who skips jacketflaps to save the surprise. :-)

Emily Marshall said...

Excellent interview Julie!!

amaris glass said...

Ah, my fellow Emily-lover from the blueboards. I am always confused when people say they don't re-read books, but you love LM Montgomery, so I'll not question your judgment on anything else. Plus, your review of Curse has made me even more eager to read it. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You've kick-started a great week for us! Thanks!
-Nancy Viau

Anonymous said...

Great interview, 2k8 folks & Julie! I love the whole idea of this series.

Bunny B said...

Thanks for contacting me about this fabulous blog! :)

Woohoo! Cool book! Great interview :)

Little Willow said...

Go Julie.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the interviews!

Anonymous said...

I love this book. Great review, Julie.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea! I can't wait to read about all the other reviewer!

Kiki said...

It's so awesome that you are interviewing reviewers! I'm finding new and interesting review sites, plus it's nice to see the people behind the words a little...

The Compulsive Reader said...

vvNice interview! I like it a lot. It's really interesting to hear what reviewers have to say.


Vijaya said...

Love to see the tables being turned. Great interview.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally enjoying this whole series, and it's not just because of all the love I'm feeling here. 2k8 rocks!

RR2 said...

I've always wanted to try the idea of not reading the jacket flap but I can never resist. ;)
Great interview and I love your reviews, Julie!

Anonymous said...

Good review! Please enter me!

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview!! I loved reading it

Grace L

Anonymous said...

Aw, thanks, RR2!!!! :-)

Breanna said...

Great interview! I enjoyed it.

Please enter me to win A Curse Dark As Gold! =)


Aimee said...

A book reviewer who also looks at picture books - awesome!

Amy said...

Same book turn ons and turns off, so I will read Julie's reviews.

Anonymous said...

Great interview, enter me please.


Steph said...

Oh, God, I'm DYING to read Curse Dark as Gold. Please enter me!