Welcome, returning and new readers alike, to Curiosity Quills’ weekly foray into the wild lands of 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 each week to talk about what they review, how and why, helping you find new places to scour for awesome books.
This week’s willing victim is the lovely Romanian L.E. Olteano of Butterfly-o-Meter Books, stopping by to discuss fiction from the PG13 of YA to steamiest erotica. Ah, the trials of a romance blogger, humn?
CQ: To start us off, can you tell us a bit about your site and what new readers can expect?
New readers can expect the unexpected, I guess? I’m not necessarily a niche reader, and my reviews take readers all over the place, romance, sci-fi, thriller, suspense, horror/dark fantasy, all sorts of fantasy and paranormal, smut of all heat levels – you name it, I probably read and review it. With a few notable exceptions, of course, we all have our do-s and don’t-s. One thing my readers, new and older alike, can expect is to find me on my blog, my honest thoughts, my opinions, my feelings – considerate, but honest.
CQ: What was your hidden gem of 2011 – the book you hadn’t heard of till an author/publisher asked you to review it or a friend shoved a copy under your nose?
I started out reviewing a lot of indie / self-pub works (still do, but I have traditionally published titles in as well now), and I was pleasantly surprised quite a few times and in places swept off my feet.
My absolute gem of 2011 was the first chapter of Coffee at Little Angels by Nadine Rose Larter, it’s called Philip. The whole book is really beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but that first chapter is an absolute work of art, I go back and read it again and again, each time finding it more delightful. My guiltiest pleasure is masterful wording and beauty of meaning, I’ll admit.
CQ: What reading challenges and memes have you decided to do in 2012 and why?
Except for my own challenge, I do them all because: a – the hosts are bloggers I highly respect and find inspiring, b – the memes & challenges are great means to interact with other book bloggers and I’m all about the mingling, and c – they help me achieve high goals (and remember what day of the week it is…iFail, lol.)
CQ: There’s quite the variety of romance and erotica on your ‘genres accepted’ list. Is there a limit to steaminess in erotica, or is it all fair game? Is there a line between erotica and porn?
I’m a very open minded person, and I’m unashamed of being a mature, sensual woman. Unless everyone else has taken vows of chastity (hurrah if they did, I’m totally cheering them on!), we all have more or less steam in our own lives. What’s wrong with being creative in rendering that beautiful part of who we are as human beings as well? In my opinion sexuality is not something to scoff at or hide under the carpet or under the blanket or whatever, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s a deeply primal part of who we are, I say celebrate it as much as you do whatever else, you know?
By content, what you might call ‘porn’ is an intense zoom into what you might call ‘erotica’. I don’t like beating around the bush (no pun intended, lol!), if I’m going to be reading one on one action, it better be intense or I’m getting bored. Intensity is not related to the fleshy details of the interaction, it’s about who the characters are in their inner most selves. Are they raging infernos, consuming and smoldering and utterly intoxicating?
It’s that intensity I’ll love, not the fleshy, more or less graphical details (though those will be fun, I won’t deny it). I don’t read erotica for the graphical aspects of it, I read erotica for the same reason I read everything else: a search for intense, haunting, memorable characters. If the steamy goes well with that, then steamy it is. I decide if I want to read a title based on how strong the characters hint to be, not on the amount of fleshy affairs it will or won’t have.
CQ: Which two books would you recommend to a person new to the YA genre?
CQ: How much reader-interaction do you get through comments, Facebook, G+ etc? How important is that to your blogging?
When any of them do, however, I’m right there replying and chatting on. I pretty much reply to all comments on my blog, for instance. It’s very important to me, because my blogging is about interaction, I’m all about the mingling, as I’ve said before. I’d like to think I’m talking to the world and with it through my blog, not at it.
At the same time, the fact that my blog isn’t followed by 1000+ readers gives me the chance to be able to actually interact with pretty much all my commenters; if any given post would have like 20+ comments, and I post daily by large, how could I ever keep up with it and interact with my readers as well? Ah, the irony of popularity and the disguised blessing of not suffering from it!
CQ: Your rating system talks a lot about your personal chemistry with a book, rather than more objective grades of quality. Is there a difference for you?
How would your grades of quality be objective, anyway? Are you not emotionally involved when reading a book? Are you not basing your reactions to characters on what you subjectively favor or dislike? Are you not holding the plot up to your subjective desires and expectations, culture, beliefs, passed experiences? You tell me then, how could you possibly be objective at the end of such a subjective process? Objectivity is like truth, love, and justice – it’s an ideal concept, a mental construct, more like something to be aimed at then an actual outcome. In order to be objective, you should have no emotional, personal implication in the decision process. If you can do that, I’m going to wonder just how much of a flesh and bone creature you really are.
And you know what? I don’t want to go for that whole objective assessment anyway. I can go for it, I’ve done enough of that during my studies, written academic papers, objective, scientific, impersonal. I don’t want to do that to books. I take my pleasures personally, and reading is one of them. If people come to my blog, I’m guessing they’re interested in my subjective response to a book.
CQ: Who are your favourite authors – both lifetime friends and ‘flavour of the month’?
Flavors of the month, or more like long-time flavors in the making really, are authors that appeal to me at any given moment. It doesn’t have to be with the whole book, it’s enough that one chapter, one part, even one line would make the strings of my soul vibrate, and just like that my list of favorites has just gotten longer. Lifelong favorites or not, I can’t say, I hope I’ll have a very, very, very long list of those by the time I’ll check out though.
CQ: And finally, use this space to give a shout-out to one of your own favourite book blogs.
I’d like to say a big, big, heartfelt thank you to Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic for being my awesome blogging friend from the very start. She has inspired me to become a better blogger, to invest myself more in the process. And though the above mentioned bloggers are all inspirational to me, and I respect them and their blogs, Alexis has inspired not from afar, but through direct, personal contact. She was there, and still is. So Alexis, I <3 you!
Thanks so much for joining us, Ms Olteano! If you want to be featured on the Book Blog Spotlight, or have a favourite blog you’d love to know more about, drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can arrange!