Meet the Book Blogger – Corinne Morier of The Discerning Reader

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

Connect with Corinne:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmFnxeO654NXuFTZUasP3KA

Twitter:

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/cmauthor/

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5762436.Corinne_Morier

Website:

http://corinnejet.wordpress.com

Review policy and information:

http://corinnejet.wordpress.com/contact

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this book blogger:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the book blogger

To support this website and the bloggers and authors interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

 

Meet the Book Blogger: Louise Cannon of Bookmarks and Stages

Today we travel to Menstrie, a small village in Clackmannanshire, Scotland to chat with Louise Cannon of Bookmarks and Stages about how the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, discovering authors and books, being shortlisted as Citizen of the Year, resilience, a bucket list, visiting museums, and exploring places come together as part of Louise’s past and current life.

A dedication from Louise who just recently lost her gran:

Dedicated to my wonderful, fun and strong gran – June Hoffman who died aged 90. On April 25, 2020, my wonderful gran died of Covid 19 in her care home. Gran worked for the NHS before retirement as a secretary to a Consultant. My blog will still go on as best as I can manage. My support to readers and authors and publishers is still there.

Why did you choose to be a book blogger or how did you come to be a book blogger? How long have you been bookblogging?

My blog is called Bookmarks and Stages. I became a blogger after meeting up with Scottish crime author – Wendy H. Jones at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland, for what started off as an innocent coffee. I was then asked if I blogged/reviewed/tweeted by her and Kelly Lacy from Love Books blog tours. I didn’t do any of these things.

I returned home and a fortnight later, the idea mulled around my mind and so did some research and taught myself how to blog. My first blogs were at Bloody Scotland in Stirling, since I had tickets and then at Morecambe and Vice, since I was meeting Hugh Fraser there. I have done many book reviews since then and also was invited to return to Morecambe and Vice in 2019 to review it and Bloody Scotland now have me on their files. I have been blogging for just over a year and a half. My blog is called Bookmarks and Stages because I love books, festivals and theatre and love reviewing all of those.

Are you accepting requests at the moment? How do you prefer to be contacted?

I am accepting requests and there is a Contact button on my Bookmarks and Stages blog.

What information do you want to receive with the request?

The info I like is a bit about yourself and blurb and any photos you would like to appear on my blog. If there is a specific date you would like a review to be published on my blog, that is useful, but not necessary. These things can be talked about via email, after initial contact has been made.

What types of book blog posts do you offer? Reviews, interviews, book spotlight, guest posts, etc.

I offer reviews and interviews. I have not done spotlight or guest post, but I am absolutely open to them both.

What is your preferred book format to read? If digital, what digital file do you prefer?

I prefer print copy. I won’t necessarily say no to PDF or Kindle, if there is no other option, it just isn’t my first choice, especially if print is an option.

Do you only participate in official blog tours or do you accept requests from authors? Do you accept request from indie authors, or indie publishers?

I accept requests from Indie publishers and authors. I also accept request from larger, mainstream publishers and authors and I also participate in blog tours. I like to be inclusive to all.

What is your preferred genre? Do you read nonfiction, memoirs, or any style of poetry? What genres do you NOT read?

I read all genres of books and both fiction and non-fiction and occasionally poetry. I prefer not to review the more hardcore horror.

Do you write a review if you did not like the book? Do you use a star rating system for reviews you write?

I use a star rating – 1 to 5. 1 being poor and 5 being excellent.

Once contacted, when can the author or blog tour operator expect to hear from you?

On the whole, I respond either on the same day or the day after. I like to respond as quickly as I can, so not to have people waiting too long.

What is your favorite aspect of bookblogging?

Favourite aspect of blogging is hard. I love blogging so much, from having contact with the author, publisher, and/or blog tour operator to the reading of the book to the writing of the review/blog post, to the publishing and sharing of the review/blog post. I also love discovering authors and books I have not read before or considered before and being pleasantly surprised by them.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Journeys in the Wild by Gavin Thurston. The award winning cameraman who films for David Attenborough.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through reading and book blogging?

The most surprising thing I have discovered about blogging is that I may be alright at doing it and people actually seem to want and like to read my blogs. For all those people, I am forever grateful and thankful.

What is the craziest or most inspiring thing that has happened to you?

The most crazy thing, is that I come from a small village and am just being me and yet met so many lovely authors/actors and for where I come from, that’s not considered as all that average. Yes, that and that I was shortlisted for Citizen of the Year for volunteer work I do and have done. I’ve done nearly 19 years volunteer work so far. Always feeling grateful for all of that.

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

At this stage of my life, my young self would tell my mature self, I would say that bullying will reduce and life will become interesting. I would say that life challenges always present themselves, but resilience and determination will often kick in. I would also say that the bucket list was worth creating in your teenage years and sometimes good things will happen and some of the bucket list will be ticked off and other things may be at some point.

What do you do when not reading or writing book blog posts?

When I am not reading or writing a blog post, I work in the day job and do some voluntary work. I also like being in cafes and restaurants with friends. I love walking, visiting museums and art galleries. I also love going to the theatre, food and book festivals and gigs. I like exploring places. I also enjoy cooking.

It was wonderful to have you be a part of MTA, Louise. I am so very sorry that you lost your gran. Sending you much love as your family works through this loss. All the best to you .. – Camilla

Connect with Louise:

Blog link: https://bookmarksandstages.home.blog/

Twitter: twitter.com/Lou_Bookmarks

Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/bookmarksandstages.home.blog/

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this book blogger:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the book blogger

To support this website and the bloggers and authors interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Book Blogger: Maria and David Marvin of Scintilla

Welcome to this new series! We’re shaking things up at Meeting the Authors. Once or twice per month, MTA is turning the tables to feature Book Bloggers. A huge and hearty welcome to the third book blogger to take the Turning the Tables Plunge!

Today we travel to State College, Pennsylvania to chat with Maria and David Marvin of Scintilla about how merging libraries, children’s literature, being grandparents, Reader Road Trips, being a librocubicularist, Earl Grey tea, owls, chocolate, and dragons come together as part of the their past and current book life.

Tell us a bit about yourselves.

We are Maria and David Marvin, also known as Scintilla. Our blog, www.scintilla.info, was the brainchild of Maria, and she was kind enough to invite David to play along in her toy box.

We are wife and husband, parents, and grandparents. We met in 1985 and married in 1986. We don’t know what every couple does early in their marriage to connect their lives together, but we merged our libraries. In 1999, Maria completed her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, with her project being children’s literature. In 2003 we came with our three sons to State College, PA.

Our oldest son and his wife have three amazing children, two girls and a boy. Becoming grandparents has been an incredible joy. Of course, they are the most beautiful and brilliant children ever born!

Why did you choose to be a book blogger or how did you come to be a book blogger? How long have you been bookblogging?

We began Scintilla in April, 2018, so we are right at 2 years. Our children were getting older and leaving the house, and Maria felt it was important that we have a shared activity that was just ours, that did not involve the children. Since books were always important to us (one of our very first dates was to a used book store in Indianapolis), her idea was to start a book blog. Much more fun than therapy.

Are you accepting requests at the moment? How do you prefer to be contacted?

Although we are accepting requests, we should probably be a little more selective since we are scheduled almost into June at this point! But typically an email to one of the Scintilla addresses is the best way to approach us. Maria does most of our children’s books, so those requests should go to [email protected] Adult fiction and non-fiction requests can go to [email protected]

What information do you want to receive with the request?

A link to a secure account in the Caymans is always appreciated! 😉 Seriously, though, a little about the book, a little about the author, and maybe some books that might be similar in style and genre are helpful in making our decision. Also, if there are any specific deadlines or preferred dates for us to post. Again, we already have some reviews scheduled for June, so if you are in a hurry to get a review, we are not the right folks to approach!

What types of book blog posts do you offer? Reviews, interviews, book spotlight, guest posts, etc.

We typically do reviews. Sometimes we will review a whole series by an author, sometimes we will spotlight some books that fit a theme (especially with children’s picture books), sometimes we have fun with it by putting a recipe or teatime beverage that would pair well with a book or an author. We have not yet featured any guest posts or interviews, but we are not opposed to doing that someday.

Something that we have a lot of fun doing are “Reader Road Trips.” Maria usually writes these. We have featured local indie bookstores, our trip to the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, and some smaller book festivals as well. These give us a chance to get out and share the book love with others in person, as well as share our experiences with others through our blog.

What is your preferred book format to read? If digital, what digital file do you prefer?

David is old school and prefers print. Maria is more digital. But neither of us is so picky as to reject a book based on the format. Typically we like the .mobi or .epub format, but we have a lot of different e-readers so we can adjust to the formats we are given.

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?

Dave has done several blog tours with Anne Cater. She is wonderful! He has just signed up to do blog tours also with Emma Welton (damppebbles.com) and Rachel Gilbey (Rachel’s Random Resources) but those are coming up later this spring. We do accept requests from indie authors and indie publishers. We are not opposed in principle to reviewing self-published books, but it is unusual for us to accept those requests. It has happened, though.

What is your preferred genre? Do you read nonfiction, memoirs, or any style of poetry? What genres do you NOT read?

Maria enjoys reading a variety of books, but usually reviews children’s books and cozy mysteries. She will also do the occasional thriller, mystery, or fantasy, especially if a recipe or tea seems to fit well with it! Dave is very eclectic. Science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries/thrillers are his go-to genres, but he also reads non-fiction, poetry, literary fiction, and various others that catch his eye. Maria will confirm that Dave is not very good at romance…nor at reviewing that genre. And it is rare (though not unheard of) for us to do horror. We like sleeping at night.

Do you write a review if you did not like the book? Do you use a star rating system for reviews you write?

No, and no. Our goal is to encourage people to read by giving them good books to read. There are too many books to waste time reading and then writing about a book we don’t enjoy. We don’t use a star rating system. If we like it, we review it. If we don’t like it, we don’t review it. It’s very much a pass/fail type of system.

Once contacted, when can the author or blog tour operator expect to hear from you?

We try to respond promptly, within a day or two. Unfortunately that is not always the reality–Dave recently went through some old emails and discovered to his horror that some requests had been missed going back a few months. He did quickly get back to those authors with an apology. Like we said above, though, replying and accepting does not mean we will always get to the reading and reviewing quickly.

What is your favorite aspect of bookblogging?

The goal for us was to have a project that brought us closer together. Talking about books, going on our Reader Road Trips, planning future reviews, working together on a labor of love has strengthened us as a couple and been a lot of fun. The other terrific aspect has been making new bookish friends. Dave has made an author friend in NYC who Maria believes must actually be his long-lost brother. We have become part of the local writers’ group (shout out to the Nittany Valley Writers’ Network!) and have become good friends with some local authors through that group.

What is an interesting reading quirk you have?

Maria is a librocubicularist and whenever possible likes to read a book in one sitting even if it has a heavy page count (think, last 4 Harry Potter books — one of the many reasons picture books are a superior format).

Dave has been known to read a series out of sequence, but he hates doing it and complains vigorously when blog tours, time, availability, etc. require it.

What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?

Maria has been fond of owls since she saw Archimedes in Disney’s Sword in the Stone; so, long before they were pop culture trendy. She has owls on stationary, tote bags, pens, and mugs. However, her spirit animal would actually be a dragon, because … well, it’s a dragon. Dave loves cats, but Maria is deathly allergic to them, so they are his animal in spirit only.

What are you currently reading?

Dave is reading a couple of poetry books, American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassins by Terrance Hayes and Tricks of Light by Thaddeus Rutkowski. Maria is devouring the latest Tom Clancy novel by Marc Cameron, Code of Honor. Actually, she devoured Pigeon Has to Go to School, by Mo Willems and did a re-read of Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg with the grandkids for the book’s 30th anniversary.

What do you do when not reading or writing book blog posts?

Maria is loving the whole grandma gig. She is “Mimi” to our three preschool grandchildren, and loves spending as much time with them as possible–as well as the adults they live with. In addition to playing Grandpa, Dave enjoys being a volunteer on-air host for WPSU radio and is editing his first novel.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through reading and book blogging?

Maria spent years reading academic journal articles, literary theory/criticism, and pretentious technical writing; now she’s totally ok reading things that are light, trendy, even cheesy, that she would have been embarrassed being caught reading 10 years ago. Beach read anyone? Pass the potato chips.

Also, spending 4 hours wrestling with the backend of WordPress is a legitimate thing that can greatly expand your adult vocabulary and use of metaphor.

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through reading?

Different levels of chocolate intensity (milk, semisweet, dark) can greatly enhance the reading experience when matched to the appropriate literary genre. However, certain genres (like spy thrillers and satire) will always be best suited to salty snacks. Likewise, a cup of tea (earl grey, hot) can keep one going during a long reading session.

What do you miss about being a kid?

Reading a classic for the first time and savoring the experience.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

We went to see 1917 with Dave’s sister and her family when we went to visit them. Dave’s sister was dying of cancer, and she wanted to see that movie. That was the last time we got to see her.

A giraffe knocks on your door and is wearing a bowler hat. What does he say and why is he there?

Hello, I have this delightful chapter book, Yours Sincerely, Giraffe by Megumi Iwasa about a fellow giraffe who finds a pen pal in a penguin. Do you perhaps know any inquisitive little folks who would enjoy such a tale? Anyone who likes the adventures of Flat Stanley would surely appreciate such a story. You do know someone, that’s great, please pass the book along with my compliments. Thank you kindly, must really run now, no time for tea. Have a pleasant day.

If you could ask your pet three questions, what would they be?

Seriously, did you not see that chipmunk? Why are you resisting a trip to the groomers–do you like running into furniture? Decide if you’re going to tattle, I’m not going to share.

It was wonderful to have the two of you on MTA. I am so deeply sorry to hear about your sister, Dave. Sending much love and warm hugs as you work your way through losing her. I am inspired by how your book blog came to be and that it has been so meaningful to your relationship. Here’s wishing you all the best!! – Camilla

Website: www.scintilla.info

email: [email protected]

[email protected]

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this book blogger:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the book blogger

To support this website and the bloggers and authors interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Book Blogger: Kayleigh Whittle of Cooking the Books Review

Welcome to this new series! We’re shaking things up at Meeting the Authors. Once or twice per month, MTA is turning the tables to feature Book Bloggers. A huge and hearty welcome to the second book blogger to take the Turning the Tables Plunge!

Today we travel to South Yorkshire to chat with Kayleigh Whittle of Cooking the Books about how guinea pigs, chocolate, becoming a teaching assistant, coffee, the smell of a paperback, and Indie authors come together as part of Kayleigh’s life.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in the UK originally from Norfolk. I now live in South Yorkshire with my two boys, 9 and 5, who keep me on my toes! Our two Guinea pigs and my partner of 14 years. A long term sufferer of anxiety, reading is my escape. I am your typical stay at home mum our family dynamic has meant that I have stayed at home whilst Daddy goes to work.

Reading is my main hobby and the past two years almost is when I have really gone at it and found some pretty fabulous authors. Now that my youngest son is at school full time I am pursuing a career as a teaching assistant, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Whilst reading I love to snack! Probably not the best idea when reading a paperback! My favourite things to eat are, chocolate, nuts and crisps and of course coffee. Although I have to drink decaf because it plays havoc with my anxiety, sorry coffee lovers! That’s me.

Why did you choose to be a book blogger or how did you come to be a book blogger? How long have you been bookblogging?

I became a book blogger purely because of the fantastic Indie authors I have discovered over the past 18 months. They get little or no recognition and I wanted to change that. They need and deserve to be seen. I have been book blogging since around May last year so almost a year. I do love it, especially when it’s a book or an author I really love. I love to be able to share such great books.

Are you accepting requests at the moment? How do you prefer to be contacted?

I do accept requests and have had authors email me after finding me on Book Connectors facebook group.

What information do you want to receive with the request?

When they contact me I found almost all of the time they ask if I would like to review, what genre the book is and a blurb and most of the time a purchase link. This is perfect for me I don’t really need any other information apart from that.

What types of book blog posts do you offer? Reviews, interviews, book spotlight, guest posts, etc.

I offer reviews, reviews for blog tours and I offer Indie author spotlights once a month which can be anything that the author wants me to blog ie a review, Q&A or an extract from a new book or one that needs more exposure.

What is your preferred book format to read? If digital, what digital file do you prefer?

I love a paperback! The feel, the smell, the fact it’s yet another book filling my bookshelf I mean what’s not to love? I do have a few hardcovers but I don’t typically buy those. I do read digitally via the kindle app on my fire 7 and prefer a Mobi or epub file. But I much prefer a paperback.

Do you only participate in official blog tours or do you accept requests from authors? Do you accept request from indie authors, or indie publishers? Would you like to share a few of your favorite blog tour operators?

I typically only take part in official blog tours organised by blog tour operators. I mainly do blog tours with Rachel from https://www.rachelsrandomresources.com/. She is fantastic at what she does its always a breeze and I have never had any issues. She gets some great books for tours. I have and always will jump at the chance to read for review for an Indie author or Indie publisher. #iheartindieauthors they are my absolute favourite authors. That is not to say I don’t love trad pub authors because I have some great interactions with them and a lot of them are genuinely lovely people.

What is your preferred genre? Do you read nonfiction, memoirs, or any style of poetry? What genres do you NOT read?

I am pretty eclectic when it comes to reading and will read most genres. Now I am going to contradict myself a little bit here. Non-fiction is something that I rarely read if at all if I am honest. I read to escape. To get lost in a make-believe world or a new place with a fun story. My favourite genres are Rom-com, Historical Fiction especially world war 2 based although I am partial for to historical fiction that has a fantasy element, for example, Helen Pryke’s The Innocenti Saga. YA fantasy, horror, sci-fi and contemporary fiction. So quite a few genres.

Do you write a review if you did not like the book? Do you use a star rating system for reviews you write?

Never, never, never. No, absolutely not. If I really dislike a book, and it’s a rarity then that is my opinion and one I keep to myself. I find it pointless to publically slam and slate an author and rip apart their hard work. Who is it really helping? It’s a no-no for me. Yes, I do use a star rating 3 being a minimum but again that is very rare.

Once contacted, when can the author or blog tour operator expect to hear from you?

When a blog tour organiser or an author asks me to review or be on a blog tour I try my best to reply to their email the same day. I always try to get back to everyone sometimes a few here and there might slip through.

What is your favorite aspect of bookblogging?

My favourite aspect of book blogging is showcasing the talents of Indie authors. They are very much underrated in my opinion. They give so much yet receive so little. The attitudes surrounding them as authors are poor in some book circles, I personally happen to think they are brilliant. So anything I can do to shine a light on the fantastic stories they write and to give them much needed exposure I will do.

If you could have a fantasy coffee date with an author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

If I could have a fantasy coffee, always coffee, with any author, and it will be a reality one day, it would be my beautiful Indie author friends Helen Pryke and Sarah Northwood. I know I’ve cheated and picked two but these two lovely Indie authors have given me so much. They are an inspiration to me. We are very close even though we have never met. We have shared similar journies in life, we get each other and we support each other in whatever it is we are doing. I would be lost without them.

It was wonderful having you on MTA! I very much enjoyed learning more about you Kayleigh, and I know MTA readers will enjoy it, too! – Camilla

Connect with Kayleigh

Blog https://cookingthebooksreview.home.blog/

Twitter is https://twitter.com/kayleighw851

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this book blogger:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the book blogger

To support this website and the bloggers and authors interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host

Meet the Book Blogger: Tina Hartas of TripFiction

Welcome to this new series! We’re shaking things up at Meeting the Authors. Once or twice per month, MTA is turning the tables to feature Book Bloggers. A huge and hearty welcome to the first book blogger to take the Turning the Tables Plunge!

Today we travel to Wylam, which is in the Tyne Valley in Northumberland, near to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, to chat with Tina Hartas about how travel, Donna Leon, Inspector Montalbano, Boekenweek, being a trained psychosocial therapist, and David Attenborough come together as part of Tina’s past and current life.

Why did you choose to be a book blogger or how did you come to be a book blogger? How long have you been bookblogging?

I have been blogging for about 8 years on the back of setting up our website www.tripfiction.com – I have always loved to travel and I have always searched for books that are strong on location, set where I am going. It is wonderful to get those little insights that authors can offer when they know somewhere really well, it’s like looking over their shoulder and seeing a location through their eyes.

So we blog on books with a strong sense of place, we chat to authors and we combine that all with travel, both actual and armchair! Just think of what Donna Leon has done for Venice or Andrea Camilleri for Sicily (and did you know that the equivalent of two (yes TWO) aircraft land per day in Sicily with people following in the footsteps of his delightful main character Inspector Montalbano!

Are you accepting requests at the moment? How do you prefer to be contacted?

We are always happy to be contacted! If we can’t commit to a review, then the author can (in any case) add their book to our database and get exposure in that way, as long as the book is strong on locale.

What information do you want to receive with the request?

A bit about the book is always good! But it’s nice to have an informal chat with the author.

What types of book blog posts do you offer? Reviews, interviews, book spotlight, guest posts, etc.

We offer reviews, interviews, the opportunity to offer a #TalkingLocationWith… feature (authors, whose work is strong on setting, can talk about their setting and offer some top tips. Just get in touch). And if you authors already have a good quality video where they talk about setting, then, if it is suitable, we can possibly add it to our YouTube channel.

We also have a monthly Newsletter and a bi-monthly book club (#TFBookClub). In March/April we are reading The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo.

What is your preferred book format to read? If digital, what digital file do you prefer?

We tend to prefer paper format but certainly will read PDFs and digital on Kindle.

Do you only participate in official blog tours or do you accept requests from authors? 

We have stepped back from participating in blog tours because the deadlines were becoming quite stressful. And we also found that often creating our own schedule worked better for us. But I know that they work very well for many…

What is your preferred genre? Do you read nonfiction, memoirs, or any style of poetry? 

Love fiction, both contemporary and historical (with histfic a reader can really get a sense of the footsteps past. For example taking Alberto Angela’s wonderful novel A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome was just brilliant for getting a sense of what life was like in Rome, in proper Roman times!) Memoir, romance… most genres, really! Nonfiction, too, I just read Lisa Taddeo’s “Three Women” which is the story (yes, it focusses on the sexual side of their relationships) of, well, three women in modern America. It was insightful and thought provoking (Marian Keyes says she is busy giving a copy to every single one of her female friends!) and it read like fiction. If you ever read it, let me warn you, you will never look at a Cadbury’s creme egg in the same way (I will just leave that there! 😉 )…

Do you write a review if you did not like the book? Do you use a star rating system for reviews you write?

We do use a star rating and yes, we do write a – hopefully – constructive review if a book has a low star rating. I feel if you don’t write reviews that reflect the reading experience, both good and less good, then you are not offering a balanced overview.

Once contacted, when can the author expect to hear from you?

Within a couple of days. We have four reviewers contributing to our blog so sometimes we need to have a conflab about who does what!

What is your favorite aspect of bookblogging?

Meeting lovely people via Social Media!

What does your ideal reading space look like?

I can read anywhere, virtually (maybe not a sauna) and can immerse myself for a few minutes or an hour. It depends. Ideally I would love my reading space to have clean lines, white and uncluttered with a super comfy chair (or, thinking about it, a chaise longue would do the trick!).

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading books for Boekenweek. That takes place 7-15 March 2020 and is a celebration of Dutch literature in translation. The Boekenweek phenomenon goes back several decades in the Netherlands and each year, to mark the week, a novella is published. It is then given out free to people who purchase a book and if you produce that novella when you travel there by train, then you have free passage, ANYWHERE on the Dutch railway network! How amazing is that!

List  something interesting about yourself.

I have always read but I am a trained art conservator and a trained psychosexual therapist (and no, the two do not go hand-in-hand!)

What do you do when not reading or writing book blog posts?

I would like to say I mainly travel but that all depends on other commitments and of course money!

If you could have a fantasy tea or coffee date with an author, book blogger, or famous person from the past or present, who would it be and what would you ask them?

It would have to be David Attenborough. He has done so much to raise awareness for environmental issues and brought the joy of the natural world into people’s homes. He seems such a reasoned person, judicious and kind, which seems a little rare in this world at the moment. I think, though, that my questions would dry up if I actually met him. I would just be in awe.

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself through reading and book blogging?

That I can write (well, to some extent, anyway!). When I did History A Level my teacher told me that I was an appalling and undisciplined writer! Thank you Miss Quinn!

What is the most enjoyable thing you’ve found through reading?

I love being transported to other worlds and places. What more can I say?

At this stage in your life, what advice would your young self give to your more mature self?

I would say, follow your intuition. As a counsellor it became so evident that people don’t listen to their inner voices and often get taken along a less desirable path. When I have listened to mine and given it a lot of thought, then it usually holds me in good stead. When I haven’t, I have sometimes got myself into a tangle.

What’s the last movie you watched and why did you choose to watch it?

Parasite. I was curious to see the Oscar Winner for Best Film. Really enjoyed it, thought it was more bloody than anticipated and felt that it was a slightly curious choice for Best Film. Loved the house in which it was filmed!

Thank you for being a part of the book blogger interviews, Tina. I absolutely adore what you’ve created in having focused on a niche. Wishing you loads of great reading … and travel!! –Camilla

About TripFiction:

Connect with TripFiction:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC71lR1VEe4wTwPKV2dqohVw?view_as=subscriber
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TripFiction.literarywanderlust/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tripfiction/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TripFiction

website: https://www.tripfiction.com
To ask for a Review: We ask people to use [email protected] and take it from there…
Contact form link: https://www.tripfiction.com/contact/

**************************************************************************

Here are a few suggestions on how to further support this book blogger:

  • Comment on the interview
  • Share the interview using the social media buttons
  • Click through to learn more about the book blogger

To support this website and the bloggers and authors interviewed, visit Support MTA for suggestions. Thank you! – Camilla, Founder and Host