Today marks the start of a new feature for Curiosity Quills – a feature column about book review sites! Review blogs are well established by now as one of the best and most popular routes by which readers find recommendations for good quality books in the endless slush pile of new and otherwise unknown authors.
This is word of mouth, made grand and far-reaching by the power of the internet age, and in this column we will spotlight a different blog to talk about what they review, how and why, helping you find new places to scour for awesome books.
This week’s review star is Jennifer Bielman of Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.
CQ: To start us off, tell us a bit about Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance, and what new readers of your site might expect to see.
My blog also has another purpose, small as it may be. I happen to be writing my own urban fantasy book. During my journey of writing I have attended many writing workshops, events, and clubs. I co-organize the critique group San Bernardino and Riverside County Writers and am a member of the Inland Empire California Writers Club. I have learned a lot about writing in the past couple years, and through my blog I share the many writing tips I have learned along the way.
CQ: What made you start the blog?
I actually took a break from reading for pleasure during my college years; I had to since I have a bad tendency to get absorbed in what I’m reading and let everything else go to the wayside. After graduating college, I easily fell back into leisure reading. In a matter of two and a half years, I have read over three hundred and fifty books. I started my blog because I wanted to share my love of books. I’ve read enough books that I feel I have pretty good insights on which books will rock a reader’s socks off and which will leave them dissatisfied. I’ve always loved recommending books to my friends because to me reading a great book is one of the best experiences a person can have. Through my blog, I now get to suggest books to a larger audience. What I didn’t expect was how many blogger friends I would make. Now I get to spend every day talking about books with friends in other countries.
For beginning writers, I also share, through my blog, the writing advice I wish I was given before I started writing. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t be on my fifth revision of my book. So I hope to help those writers just starting out in not making the same amateur mistakes I did.
CQ: Since you started, do you find you read more, less, or about the same? Has the act of reviewing, of recording the strengths and weaknesses of a book for your followers, changed the experience of reading for you?
The only thing reviewing has changed for me is my focus on the positives and negatives of a book. I always read for pleasure, so in the past I rarely focused on what I specifically enjoyed and what I didn’t. But now that I read knowing that I have to write a review, I pay more attention to my likes and dislikes. Being a writer has also helped me be more analytical when it comes to writing style, plot, structure, voice, characterization, and so on. I find I evaluate books more than I ever did before my blog.
CQ: How long, in number of books and estimated time, is your ‘To Be Read’ pile? Do you find a large TBR pile exciting or daunting?
My other TBR pile is my actual pile of books that I have bought and will read eventually. That To Be Read pile holds about fifty books.
And my last and most important TBR pile has the books that have a deadline. This pile contains books that either the author or publisher has asked me to review, ARCs, and the next books in a series I read that has been recently published. These books are both self-published and traditional published. This TBR pile consists of ten books that will be gone through in about two to three weeks’ time.
Large TBR piles can stress me out a little. I may love to read, but if I have to read books in a certain time frame, I find I enjoy myself less. That’s why I always overestimate the days it will take me to read a book, especially when committing to that time frame with an author or publisher. That way I have some leeway if anything comes up.
CQ: Urban fantasy and paranormal are experiencing a surge in popularity in media other than books, with TV shows like Heros and Supernatural. What’s your personal pick of UF/Paranormal movies, TV shows, comics or video games?
CQ: Which two books would you recommend to a person new to the paranormal genre?
For those who like a little more romance in their books, I would suggest Slave to Sensation, book one of the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh. This book has a perfect balance of paranormal aspects, steamy romance, amazing characters, and an intriguing story unlike any I have ever read.
CQ: What has been this year’s ‘hidden gem’ for you – a book that you hadn’t heard of until you received an offer of a review copy or had one eagerly shoved under your nose by a friend?
I did want to mention that Richard Raley’s self-published book The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady came in a close second for this year’s hidden gem.
CQ: Thanks for joining us for the first Book Blogger Column at Curiosity Quills. In the spirit of introducing reader to new and interesting review blogs, use this space to shout-out to one of your own favourite book sites.
I have encountered a lot of amazing book review blogs since I started my blog and I wanted to give a shout-out to one of my favorites. Parajunkee’s View is a great book blog that produces wonderful book reviews, gives advice for new bloggers, and helps bring the blogger community together with its weekly meme Feature and Follow Friday. I am going to cheat a little by also mentioning saz101, a wonderful book blog run by Sarah who writes hilarious book reviews (mostly young adult) and who has helped me tremendously in my blogging journey.
Thank you again to Jennifer for being our first featured site! Check back every Tuesday for our continued tour around the blogosphere, and if you would like to be featured on the Book Blog Spotlight, email me at email@example.com.