Hello and welcome!
Today I have a good friend from the blogging world whose opinion I respect. Her reviews of books and audio books are amazing, in-depth that give you a real insight without spoilers. What attracts me the most to her blog is her way with words that pull me in and keep me engaged.
Please welcome Eileen from BOOKTALK WITH EILEEN !
Eniko, thank you for having me on your blog. I know you’re always chatting with an author, a narrator or a character. I’m not an author, although I love to meet and get to know them. I’m not a character in a book, but I’ve been one thousands of times. Today, I present myself as a reader firstly and then a reviewer.
When we spoke earlier you said you’d like to talk about POV (point of view) of a reader. What did you mean?
I stop to read blogs about reviews, the importance of a review to an author. I want to hear what authors have to say about reviewers.
Today, however, I’d like to talk about what readers have to say about reviews? I’ve been reading quite avidly for the last 15 years. I read, so therefore I’m a reader.
What prompts you to read a certain book?
The cover, along with the title, are the first two items to catch my attention. It doesn’t, necessarily, keep my attention. I quickly read the synopsis on the back cover, or publisher’s summary available on Goodreads, Amazon, Noble and Barnes and the author’s website. Am I still interested?
I, then, look at genre. I’m partial to historical romance, if any of your readers who have stopped by my blog, Booktalk with Eileen or my page on FB, have seen I also like fantasy, paranormal, mysteries, time travel, and stories which are contemporary in a small town setting. I will venture outside my likes, but there are so many wonderful books to read in my chosen genres, I almost don’t have time!
You do a lot of reading. I see that from your blog.
I’m driven, or mayhap, I live to read. To live those lives I can’t live myself. That’s the beauty of finding a gifted author that does this for me. So writing style is very important. I’ll latch onto some authors and whatever they write I’ll read. Style and plot, additionally description need to transcend me outside myself, if you will.
As a reader, I must be drawn into the story, not just standing on the side. I must be emotionally connected to the characters, either with compassion, or disgust. I love to be so emotionally impacted I end up crying. And when the author makes me fall in love with her/his world they have created a fan and a forever reader. For example, I’ve followed Christine Feehan and read some of her books three or four times. She always takes me to her world over and over again, no matter how many times I’ve read the book. It is never boring. Others that come to mind: Kathryn Le Veque, Mary Morgan, Amy Jarecki, Cynthia Wright, Deborah Cooke, aka Claire DelaCroix, Diana Cosby, Lucinda Brant, Sharon Cullen, to name just a few. I’m sure as I continue exploring new authors I will add to the forever fan reads.
I get that, because I’m a reader, too. But what about reviews? Let’s say you love the book, how do you write a review?
Okay, I read a book which has me totally engaged. I think it’s terrific. My review should express my enthusiasm for the read. Perhaps mention a quote which captures a feeling of a particular character. The excerpt also helps the reader see the writing style of the author. I don’t, generally, quote a long excerpt. I like to talk about the characters, not so much tell the story, but something of the characters’ flaws, challenges and connections to each other.
But what about the elements of a great book? Things like pacing, scene structure, internal dialog, arc? Shouldn’t they be talked about?
You know, I think it’s nice to add some of that. As I read more and more about how to craft a novel, I’m learning the terminology and as I read, I will identify these parts. But are they so important in a review? But you may ask, if you don’t like a story and can identify why, shouldn’t you tell the review reader?
In this case, I would mention it. For example, I’ll mention the story didn’t totally engage me from the first page because there was little action I could react to. If the story does pick up and I’m connected, I’ll add that to. If dialog feels contrived, I’ll mention it is a bit stiff, or if I can’t stop reading – the book won’t let me put it down—I’ll mention that. Certainly, these feelings are due to the skill of crafting a story. If the author has a sluggish story, that is a question of pacing, it hampers the overall like of the book. Consequently, my gushing moment of excitement in the review will not be there.
But, as a reader of a review, I, personally, am not really interested in knowing the craft elements that make the reviewer like something, just that the book was awesome and why or conversely why not.
Now, maybe some of the readers of your blog could comment on what I just said.
I think my mission in writing a review is either to make the reader of my review say, yes, I’ve GOT to read this book or maybe this isn’t the book for me to read, because I don’t like, for example, plenty of violence, or scenes to make your toes curl, or weak women!
I don’t like to read a review which only says the book was great, or a fantastic read. It isn’t enough to capture my attention. It doesn’t clarify anything about the book.
So there you have it, Eniko, my POV as a reader and a reviewer. I’d love to have a discussion take place on this subject. I’d also like to know if a reader of a review on a blog doesn’t see a star review, does this make a difference to her/him?
May I ask a few more questions?
What is the first book you read that started your love of reading?
I loved reading from the first words I could read. (chuckling) I remember running around the house and reading my Dick and Jane book. I’d read it over and over to anyone who would listen.
By age 12, I would borrow during the summer month from the school library 40 books or so and read. I probably am the person I am through the experiencing those stories.
What started your journey in blogging/reviewing books?
I love technology, because I grew up learning to type on one of those old Underwood typewriters with round keys. I lived technology, from electric typewriters, to word processors, to my Commodore, and now desktops, laptops, iPads, smartphones, coupled with cyberspace. I’m excited to be able to live in this day and age, enjoying how quickly it all changes.
When we returned to the states in 2011 after our last 8 years in living in Lebanon and I decided to learn about blogging. I kept hearing the word. While living in Lebanon I read a lot. It was how I entertained myself. Coupled with my love of reading, I started a blog to review what I read.
But I want to take this question of yours further. I’d like to use my blog, eventually, to share what I am writing. Yes, I have the writing bug. Reviewing allows me to express myself, but personally I want more. I took the NaNoWriMo challenge back in November 2013 and wrote my first draft of my first novel. I laughed. I cried. I talked about the characters to my hubby ad nauseum, and couldn’t seem to stop. (He thought me mad.) To those authors out there, I get it when you talk about your writing. I know the elation of creating the microcosm of reality, for indeed it is your reality.
That is great! I hope I get to read what you wrote one day.
What is your advice to the readers who think they are not good at writing reviews?
My advice is what I would tell anyone who wants to learn a craft or skill. Practice, practice, practice. Learn what a good review consists of, what to avoid discussing, how to delicately parse what you don’t like, and how to express your delight in a good read. I find taking notes while reading helps me remember some moment of irony, poetic justice, a down and out calamity, a gut-wrenching moment, etc. This makes it easier to formulate your thoughts in the review process. I strongly urge you to find your creative voice, yes, even writing a review. Reviewing, as when writing a novel, painting, singing, running, etc., it’s also about you, your expression of how you react to the story experience.
Do you have a nickname?
Well, I guess I’d say yes. I lived in the Middle East close to 18 years. My name is not common there so they tended to pronounce it wrong. I took the last of my name, ‘leen’, and made a nickname, spelled Lina. It is a common name in the Middle East. I still have people from that part of the world use my nickname and I answer to it, as well.
What is one word best describes you?
What makes you laugh out loud?
Comical, eye-rolling situations where the initiator of a situation tries to fix it and only makes it worse! Or if I get tickled!
What is your favourite dessert?
I love dark chocolate candy, the kind that melts on your palette and is rich, creamy and smooth.
What is your favourite drink?
Red wine in winter, white in summer.
What is your favourite colour?
What is the perfect romantic date?
Ha! I’m not sure what a date is any longer, let alone romantic. But if I were younger… I’d say dinner for two at a restaurant with plenty of ambiance. Perhaps afterwards go to a piano bar, talk and dance.
Thank you Eniko, for having me on your blog. It has been a genuine pleasure to share what I enjoy and who I am.
Eileen, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you for chatting with me.
Thank you for joining us and I hope you enjoyed the chat and get a little insight into the blogging world and writing reviews.
Let us know your opinion about reviews, why you write them, or why not. Maybe answers some of the questions Eillen asked.
I urge you to subscribe to Eileen’s blog, if you haven’t done so. You will discover many new books, as I did.
Until next time read a book, listen to a book and don’t forget to show your love by leaving a review!