Thursday, June 26, 2008

In the Book Reviewer Hot Seat: Miss Erin

She's one of the Postergirlz (along with Little Willow who kept the hot seat hot for us on Tuesday) . Sorry, Miss Erin, but there will be no cool down here. We will be offering a refreshing read though! Simply leave a comment and be entered to win Breaking Up Is Hard To Do the awesome anthology featuring our very own Terri Clark! Comment by June 29th, and watch for a winner on the 30th! Now, on with the questions...

What's your handle? Miss Erin
What kind of books do you review? Middle Grade and Young Adult, mostly fantasy or contemporary fiction
Approx # of books reviewed? A little over 100
Where can we find your reviews?
Reading turn-ons: Characters I care about. If I don't care, I don't want to keep reading.
Reading turn-offs: Overt preaching of "messages"
Class of 2K8 books reviewed:
Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle

(There are several others I've read but haven't reviewed. I don't get around to reviewing everything I read.)

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.

Oh, Miss Erin has always been a nickname of mine. So when I started my blog and couldn't figure out what to call it, I just used that.

It's very sassy! Do people still say sassy? Um, yeah, moving on... 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 pretty much just read what interests me. I read and get recommendations from lots of other blogs, and friends, and then I put them on my (gigantic) to-read list. Sometimes, when I'm sent or given a book that I normally wouldn't have picked up on my own, I read it and am happily surprised. An example of that: recently I read The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante. The topic - growing up in a religious commune - didn't pique my interest when I first heard about it, but when a friend raved about it over and over, I finally picked it up. I'm so glad I did; it was brilliant.

Some of the best reads are found through recommendations! What are the best ways to find new books? Any advice for authors about getting their book noticed by reviewers?

For finding what to read, look to the blogs! But not just any blogs; make sure you look them over first and see that you have similar tastes to the blogger and whose review styles you enjoy reading. Getting noticed . . . start a website, or a blog - both of those things will make you very accessible while helping to get your name out there. Email some bloggers who seem to review the type of books you write and ask if they'd like to take a look at your book.

Okay, so you get a book to review, but you just aren't feeling it—will you make the ultimate sacrifice and finish it for the sake of the review?

Never! I go by the 50 page rule - if I've gotten that far and don't want to keep reading, I toss it aside for another. There's too many books out there to spend time reading one that I'm not enjoying.

So true! Now, 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?

Oh yes. I've reread the Harry Potter series, Shannon Hale's books, my favorite of Roald Dahl's books (The Witches, The BFG...), among others. I have so many comfort reads. My mom bought me The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty when we were on a vacation once. Ever since, I've decided to make it my "trip read", and so I reread it every time I go on a trip.

That's awesome! But let's not talk about trips yet, back to the work of reviewing! Do you have a basic philosophy on what should be included in a review—or does it depend on the book itself?
I believe that a review should, above all, contain my personal thoughts on it. One or two sentences can be sufficient for giving a hint about the plot. I mostly like to say what my reactions to certain things were, why I liked or disliked parts, what exactly made me love it (rather than just the fact that I loved it). I view it as myself talking about a book. If I think to myself, "I'm writing a review" it's so much more intimidating than "I'm writing my thoughts".

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

The last time I did all of those things in one book was in Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale.

Wow, all in one book! That's cool! Speaking of cool--is there any character in a book that you wish would come to life? Or any place you wish existed?

Place: Hogwarts, hands down. Or Narnia, or the Gallagher Academy.
Characters: I want Kiki Strike to be my friend!

LOL--Hogwarts is in high demand around here! Not surprising. What books do you find yourself recommending over and over and why?

Depends on who wants the recommendation (there's nothing like recommending a list of books to perfectly suit someone I know - love that), but I'd say Shannon Hale wins top position in the authors-who-I-rave-about-constantly (just ask my blog readers/friends!).

Being able to recommend the perfect book for someone is an art! Book reviews go a long way toward getting books into the hands of people who love them! Of course those are usually the good reviews... you know where I'm going don't you??? Yes! It is 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 don't usually give negative reviews. If I have major quips with a book, I'll generally only review it if I have just as many good things to say. An instance when I will give a book a negative review is if it's a popular book - one that everyone seems to love. In that case, sometimes I feel like I need to give an opinion of someone who didn't like it, too.

That makes perfect sense! Thanks for all the great answers! One last question: if they aren't scared off by all that bad review talks and an author would like you to review her book, what should she do?

Email me: mimagirl(at)gmail(dot)com.

Well that's easy enough! And something else that is easy--entering to win Breaking Up Is Hard To Do an anthology about falling out of love that features out very own Terri Clark whose book Sleepless will be out September 1st. Simply leave a comment before June 29th to be entered. Winner will be announced June 30th!

Miss Erin has not reviewed Breaking Up, but here is what other fine reviewers have had to say:

"Breaking Up Is Hard To Do is the perfect short story collection to read about, well, breaking up...I definitely recommend getting this book as soon as it comes out. It's awesome."

"The writing is straightforward and perceptive, from Clark's funny and fast paced style to Hopkins's beautiful and striking poems. This is one book that holds a powerful message between its two covers: heartbreak happens, and along with it is something better if you can let go and continue to move forward." The Compulsive Reader

"Terri's story is an extremely hilarious paranormal story that has a very awesome girl power message...A wonderful anthology from four unbelievably great authors, and one that everyone should read." Book Chic


Debbie Reed Fischer said...

I also have certain books I always reread for trips. It's like that favorite candy you reserve for certain occasions. Thanks for a great interview, Miss Erin! :)

Anonymous said...

Great interview, as always! I love reading Miss Erin's blog.

Anna M. Lewis said...

Fantastic interview!
I have the same feelings about your 'only good reviews' answer.

Little Willow said...

Miss Erin: So glad to see you here! I am not surprised that you cited a Hale book, and I am SO glad that you read Patron Saint. I knew you'd like it! :) Is that your headshot? It's adorable.

Anonymous said...

First thing I gotta say is that...

HARRY POTTER is definitely my number one series that I feel the need to re-read over and over again. I've read the entire series 4 times to this date. haha.

Anyways, great interview. However I find that I could probably never do the "50 page rule". I have this thing, where I have to finish a book once I start it. Which sometimes sucks cause the book may not be that great. But I just don't like leaving a book without finishing.

Carmen T

Erin said...

Thank you, Class of 2k8 authors, for interviewing me! I am so honored.

Thank you Debbie, Courtney, Anna!

Little Willow: I'm so glad I did, too! And yes, that is my headshot. Thanks. :)

Carmen: Thanks! Harry Potter rocks. And yeah, I know some people (my dad, for one) have to finish a book if they start it...but I've never had a problem setting one down... :)

Nurin said...

great interview ;)

I love Miss Erin's blog xD

Vivian Mahoney said...

Yay for Miss Erin! She also has great First Lines posts.

Anonymous said...

Yay, Miss Erin! Thanks for the interviews this week.

Anonymous said...

Miss Erin rocks!! :) Great interview- a fun read.

Traci said...

Good Job Erin! All your hard work payed off! ;)

Jackie Parker said...

Erin!!! Yay!!!

Even though I talk to you all the time, I learned more about you here - that's a good interview!

You'll go far, chica!

Enna Isilee said...

Woo hoo, Mima! That was a FANTASTIC interveiw!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview! Love reading her blog and reviews.

Liviania said...

(Don't enter me to win.)

Yay for the fifty-page rule! I never used to follow it, but now it does me well.

tanita✿davis said...

Erin is made of awesome, isn't she? And yay for the fifty page rule! From many of Erin's reviews I've added to my staggering TBR list. Yay, Erin! Thanks for an insightful interview!

Jessica Burkhart said...

Woo hoo, Miss Erin!! Yay! :)

Rachael Stein said...

loved the interview :D

Em said...

Yay for Miss Erin! I love your blog and reviews. I've added so many of your books to my wishlist. Keep up the great work! :)

Anonymous said...

fun interview!

Anonymous said...

Would love to win this book. Good to see Miss Erin, great interview!

Bunny B said...

Great interview!
Yay for Miss Erin!! :)

gail said...

Great stuff! Thanks for the interview.


Chelsie said...

I love all these interviews! They are so interesting....


Carolina said...

I've reread the Harry Potter books several times. I like to see what clues were hidden that I just discovered.

daphne grab said...

i love your approach to reviewing miss erin!

Aimee said...

Wonderful interview. Thanks! aimeecirucci at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

What a great interview.

Sign me up for the book!

Unknown said...

Fascinating interview! Miss Erin is awesome. I had the pleasure of getting to know her working together on the Cybils, and she's an insightful reader and all around great person.

Alea said...

I'd never been to Miss Erin's blog before! I already see a lot of things that are of interest to me over there, can't wait to look it over!

Steph said...

I've been around Erin's site. :)

Please enter me!