Today we travel to California to chat with Corinne Morier of The Discerning Reader about how living in Japan, teaching English, having autism, being hyper-focused, reading outside of comfort zones, the inability to recognize social clues, online role playing games, readathons, Pokemon, and a Rainbow Bookshelf come together as part of Corinne’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a reader-turned-writer-turned-book reviewer who taught herself to read Clifford the Big Red Dog in preschool. At eight, I proudly DNFed my first book, The Diary of Anne Frank, with a very astute observation: “Anne. Frank. Is. Dead!”
I share the book love on my blog, The Discerning Reader, which I started in September 2018. Up until that point, I was writing sporadic blog posts about what it was like to live in Japan, but after returning home to California in August 2018, I decided to change my blog to a book blog.
Along with blogging and writing my own novels, I also am a passionate Booktuber, proudly choosing my monthly TBR with my Lord of the TBR game. For more information, please feel free to visit my latest video; which I always have a lot of fun filming, though it’s not as much fun editing them. xD
Why did you choose to be a book blogger?
Up until August 2018, I was living in Japan and teaching English in the public school system. I was also attempting to write sporadic blog posts about life in Japan, though my job kept me very busy and I often didn’t have the time or energy to do so.
My friend Ellie came to visit me in Japan and we went traveling during Christmas vacation.
After finishing my contract in summer of 2018 and returning to my native California, I thought it would be fun to rebrand my blog into a book blog. I did so after “careful” consideration (read: within about an hour of first getting the idea) and have never looked back. I used to post all the reviews of every single book I read, including negative reviews and DNF reviews, just to be able to have content, but when 2018 ended, I decided to only post reviews of books I’d enjoyed and would recommend so I didn’t have to sling hate. Because what’s the point of talking about a book if I didn’t enjoy it? Obviously my readers aren’t going to rush out and buy a book if I only rated it two stars.
Are you accepting requests at the moment? How do you prefer to be contacted?
I am open to requests! I am really picky about the books I accept, but in general, I like most subgenres of YA speculative fiction, including fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, and dystopian. (Though I recently have been unable to read dystopian because of the current world situation–hits too close to home, if you know what I mean.) The only subgenre I don’t accept is urban fantasy and paranormal romance–it takes a lot for me to get into that sort of story and I just don’t enjoy reading it.
I’m a little bit pickier about middle grade–I only accept MG fantasy or sci-fi, not any other subgenres. I don’t really accept adult books, but I do make exceptions for epic fantasy or sword and sorcery in the style of Brandon Sanderson or Robert Jordan. Also I have a soft spot for books set in or about Japan or for fairy tale retellings.
Interested authors should read my submission guidelines at http://corinnejet.wordpress.com/contact and then fill out the contact form. This is because I have a filter set up to mark emails from my contact form and it’s easier for me to stay organized, and if someone doesn’t use the contact form, it tends to end up in my spam folder or get lost in my inbox.
What information do you want to receive with a request?
If you’re filling out my handy-dandy contact form, there’s already places to put everything I ask for, but in general, I need your book’s metadata and a writing sample (usually this can be solved by providing me with the Amazon link to the Kindle version of the book so I can read the free sample; if the book is still on pre-order, then you can simply upload the first chapter to Dropbox or your website or Google Docs or what have you and then give me the link to that so that I can have a taste of your writing and the story.) Authors also are given an option to put in a request for a preferred month in which the review should be posted, as well as give any comps that they might be able to provide, though this is not required.
I know that authors sometimes feel frustrated about not receiving replies from bloggers, so as long as you’ve followed my rules, you will receive a response, no matter what! 🙂
What types of posts do you publish?
Mostly just reviews, though occasionally I’ll do cover reveals or promotional posts for books if an author would prefer that. Over on my Youtube channel, though, you can find more overview-type posts such as top tens, trope talks, and of course, my TBR game. 🙂 At the end of the year, I also release an overview-style blog post discussing my reading challenge and yearly reading stats.
What is your favorite book format to read? What digital formats do you prefer?
I definitely am an old-school physical book girl. This is because I don’t have a specified ebook reader, so I have to read ebooks on my computer or my phone, and I get easily distracted by the Internet. Also because I get a lot of reading done at my job, and let me explain. I work in a customer service position, and if it’s a slow day, my boss is cool with us reading books at our stations as long as there’s no customers, though they have to be paperbacks or hardcovers, because we’re not allowed to have our phones or any other electronics with us when we’re out where customers can see us.
Also should be noted that I am not an audiobook person. I need something visual to read, and if it’s just audio, I cannot follow the story whatsoever, so I am definitely not a good fit for audiobook requests, lol! Ebooks should be in mobi format, though if that’s not possible, I would also be able to accept epubs or PDFs.
Do you only participate in official blog tours or do you accept requests from authors? Do you accept requests from indie authors, or indie publishers? Would you like to share a few of your favorite blog tour operators?
I do blog tours as well as requests from authors and publishers. If a book is interesting, I’ll read it, whether it’s a book from a blog tour or from an indie author, or an indie publisher, or what have you. I’m always super honored to get requests for book reviews, so I don’t care who sends it to me. 🙂
I would like to give a big shout-out to the Queen of Blog Tours, Lady of Book Love, and God of Bookish Things, Anne Cater. She runs Random Things blog tours and is super awesome. She does all the bookish things, including blogging, running blog tours, and being the admin for the awesome Book Connectors Facebook group, and if you’re looking for a blog tour organizer, Anne is the lady to go to. She can be found at http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox.blogspot.com.
What is your preferred genre? Do you read nonfiction, memoirs, or any style of poetry? What genres do you NOT read?
My favorite genres are fantasy (of course) and just speculative fiction in general. I like fantasy and sci-fi in both YA and MG, and I also enjoy YA contemporary romance and YA dystopian (though recently I have not been able to read dystopian because of the current world situation–hits too close to home). I have also been trying to get more into thrillers and historical fiction lately, though I am a hard sell for historical fiction and it has to be specifically an East Asian setting in either Japan or China. You may think I’m being picky, but because of my autism, I get hyper-focused on certain areas of study and ignore everything else. East Asia is one of my special interests (considering I got my degree in Japanese language and culture, it’s not surprising!) and I’m not interested in reading about other countries or time periods.
I definitely will not pick up urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or anything in the adult age category that isn’t epic sword-and-sorcery fantasy like Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson. I’m not really interested in poetry or memoirs–I can count on one hand the number of memoirs I’ve read, and they were all by athletes or actors I admire or by famous kidnapping survivors like Jaycee Dugard or Michelle Knight, and I’ve read literally one poetry book in the past fifteen years, and that was a haiku book my dad gave me for a Christmas present. I am definitely not the best fit for poetry, nonfiction, or memoirs, lol!
Do you write a review if you did not like the book? Do you use a star rating system for reviews you write?
I don’t review a book on my blog if I didn’t rate it four or five stars.
I use Goodreads to track my reading (actually, my Goodreads account is always super up-to-date, so it’s the best place to see what I’ve been reading lately and what I like to read), so I will always write a review, short or long, on Goodreads. For my star rating system, I use the five-star system found on Goodreads, for the most part.
For a book to get a five-star rating from me, it has to either be a book that either:
defies genre expectations and sets the bar for new books in that genre,
I want to shove in everyone’s faces and reread immediately after finishing,
or makes me just sit and stare at the cover for a few seconds and be like “Wow, that was a super-good book. I can’t believe I just spent time in such a good book.”
A four-star book is one that I’d still recommend to other people and that I could see myself rereading, though that reread is probably far off into the future. Also common in four-star books is if it activates the darned “editor brain,” where the entire time I’m reading I’m just like “BUT THIS WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER WRITTEN THIS WAY INSTEAD!!!” but I still enjoyed the overall story.
If a book gets a three-star rating from me, it’s a good book, just not one that I’d want to reread or recommend to others. It didn’t have that “rereadability” factor, but otherwise, it wasn’t bad. I probably forgot the entire story as soon as I closed the cover, or I just was like “Meh,” the whole way through.
I will rarely rate a book one or two stars, unless it has a damaging trope of some sort (for example, the “bury your gays” trope), and for the most part, I don’t rate indie books less than three stars because it’s hard enough for indie authors to get reviews to begin with, and a one-star rating on an indie book could tank its average overall rating, when it’s hard enough for indie authors to get reviews to begin with. If I didn’t enjoy an indie book, I’ll omit the star rating and just write a short review explaining why I didn’t enjoy it.
Once contacted, when can the author or blog tour operator expect to hear from you?
I always respond to review requests, blog tour offers, etc. within 48 hours of receiving an email, either with a “no thank you, but thanks anyway” or “sure I’d love to.” The 48 hours thing is to allow me to read your book sample, check my blogging schedule, make sure I have availability, things like that. Also I do have a day job, so that is a big time-sink, as you can imagine. xD
What is your favorite aspect of book blogging?
That I get to shout about my favorite books, shove them in everyone’s faces, and make them read things that I like. Also I’ve met so many awesome people through blogging, and set myself so many challenges and goals to read more books outside of my comfort zone, and loved said books.
One that I recently loved that I never would have picked up had I not been a book blogger and Youtuber is Katherine by Anchee Min. Last July, I joined the Year of Asian Stories reading challenge hosted by my good friend Ari at Bookish Valhalla, which was a challenge intended to get us to read more Asian-based stories.
Katherine was one of those I picked up because of that challenge–this was a historical fiction novel set in 1980’s China about an American who came to China to teach English and how her students come to love her, despite her complete rebellion against anything in the Chinese system, to the point where she gets deported for showing her students a Playboy magazine. I would have never picked this book up if it hadn’t been for the reading challenge.
Tell us a little more about what it’s like to have autism.
I have Asperger Syndrome, which is a disorder on the autism spectrum. I make no secret of it and talk about it openly whenever anyone asks, which is definitely not how I viewed it as a teenager! Back when I was in school, I was embarrassed and always tried to hide it. Having Asperger’s means that I have certain obsessions, like Japanese and Lord of the Rings, and I’m unable to process sensory input properly, like loud sounds or strong tastes or smells. I’m also really sensitive about my clothes because some materials don’t feel right against my skin, and I’m unable to recognize social cues.
You might have heard this analogy before, and I am definitely not the one who invented it, but imagine that life is just a big board game. All the allistic people (people without a neurological disability) are having fun and playing together, but there’s no rule book that comes with the game and everyone else just seems to know what to do without being told. You can’t figure out the rules just by watching everyone around you, and you have a rule book that you were given before you sat down to play, but no one else is following the rules in your rule book.
Everyone’s conversations hurt your ears, but you can’t ask them to be quiet, and you’d rather be in a separate room reading a book or watching TV, but for some reason, you’re being forced to sit at the table and play this game with everyone else. So you end up just having to pretend you know what’s going on, because when you try to play it according to your rule book, they tell you “you’re doing it wrong” and to “do it the right way.”
In terms of reading, it means that sometimes even if an allistic person would understand why a certain character was upset, or would be able to understand the unwritten context of a situation, I don’t understand it. (eg. sarcasm: a recent example would be from just the other day. I went shopping with my dad to help him with his groceries, and we got three or four different kinds of cheeses. When my mom saw how much cheese we got, she remarked, “I don’t really think you bought enough cheese.” I took her at face value and asked her, with all seriousness, “Oh, we got a lot already. Maybe I should go out and get some more?” at which point she had to explain to me that she was being sarcastic.) Also I have very limited interests as to what I will and will not read. Sometimes it comes off as picky, but that’s why I’m The Discerning Reader. 🙂
What is an interesting reading quirk you have?
Can I say two? Because I can’t decide which one of these is more worthwhile.
The first is that I twirl my hair when I’m reading or thinking about something. Some autistic people have “stims,” physical or verbal repetitions that help us focus better, and for me, twirling my hair is my stim–it helps me to focus on the book.
The other one I’d like to mention is that I can’t stop reading in the middle of a chapter. If I’m going to stop and take a break, I have to finish the chapter first. Even if the chapter goes on for another ten pages or I’m running late for work! xD
What are you currently reading?
As of writing this, I’m currently in the middle of a reread of Where Carpets Fly, my favorite indie book of all time, as well as reading House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones, though it’s rather bittersweet to think that I’m going to finish that series and there won’t be any more books to look forward to. xD
What do you do when not reading or writing book blog posts?
Usually you can find me filming my Youtube videos, writing my own novel (a pirate adventure! Yargh, mateys!) hanging out with my doggo, or playing my favorite MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), a side-scrolling 2D fantasy adventure game called Maplestory.
What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through reading?
I don’t know, lots of things! Let’s see…
After starting my Youtube channel, I browsed other bookish channels to see if I could get ideas for mine and see how to make mine a successful channel and got inspired by all those other Booktubers making their bookshelves look fancy! Now I have a gorgeous Rainbow Bookshelf that I was inspired to make from watching those other creators.
My TBR game is another one. I think that even if the day comes when I decide to quit Youtube/book blogging, I’ll still play the game to decide what books I’m going to read because it’s just so much fun and it forces me to read books I wouldn’t normally read, rather than just deciding to reread The Hunger Games every month! xD
That’s another thing. I didn’t know I liked dystopians, but then I gave The Hunger Games a try, and… I love dystopians! Almost every single dystopian I’ve picked up since then, I’ve enjoyed.
Also being able to read and enjoy new books. I used to have a really hard time trying new things, but since starting my TBR game, I’ve read so many new books that I ended up loving!
Not to mention being able to track my reading on a site like Goodreads. Being able to set goals for reading, and then go back after a certain amount of time and feel a sense of accomplishment having read a certain number of books, especially ones that were out of your comfort zone!
Need I go on?
What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?
The last one I watched (well, rewatched) was A Silent Voice, for about the twelfth time. What a movie! Amazing exploration of bullying, how it affects victims even years later, and FRIENDSHIP! SUCH A GREAT STORY ABOUT FRIENDS LEARNING TO FORGIVE EACH OTHER! I AM IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION EVERY TIME I WATCH THAT FILM!! *cries*
What is the most anticipated book you have on your TBR that you just haven’t gotten to, for whatever reason?
That’d be Seventh Tower by Garth Nix. Nix is my favorite author of all time, and whenever I get my hands on one of his backlist books, I always try and prioritize it. I still have his Seventh Tower series sitting on my unread shelf, but that’s just because I couldn’t get it to fit any of the prompts I needed for the readathon I’m doing this month, so I decided to save it for June, which is also my birthday month, because I deserve to read my favorite author on my birthday. 🙂
Do you participate in readathons? Which ones are you currently doing?
Glad you asked! I love doing readathons, and they’re so much fun! Last month, I did the Magical Readathon hosted by Book Roast on Youtube, which is a readathon inspired by the exams that Hogwarts students take. We had to “take exams” by reading certain books that fit certain prompts, and it was so much fun! This month I’m doing the Bookemon readathon, which is a readathon inspired by Pokemon Go. Team Mystic for the win!
I also have plans to organize and run my own readathon, which will start in July, inspired by my favorite movie and book series of all time, Lord of the Rings! It’ll be a three-month long challenge, and you have to choose if you want to be on the side of good or the side of evil, and each month, I’ll give you prompts inspired by various parts of the Lord of the Rings story, and it’ll be tons of fun! The two teams will compete against each other and whichever gets the most books read is the winner! Keep watch on my social media for the announcement.
If you were trapped in a cartoon world from your childhood, which one would you choose and why?
Pokemon, without a doubt, Pokemon. Are you kidding me? Get to travel around the world meeting different Pokemon and becoming a Pokemon master? And the only thing standing in your way is Team Rocket, who are pretty much the most cartoonish villains ever and have gone hundreds of episodes without winning a battle once? I’d probably get homesick on my journey and have to return to Pallet Town every other weekend, but I’d love to be trapped in the world of Pokemon!
It was lovely to have you be a part of MTA, Corinne! I love how you took this post and made it shine with your personality, taking the time to create memes to match your responses. I appreciate how you’ve made it clear what types of books you enjoy reading and those you do not! HA! And, I adore this photo of you! Here’s wishing you all the best! – Camilla
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