Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In the reviewer hot seat

The Class of 2K8 has a great feature this week where they are interviewing two blog book reviewers a day. There are prizes too - so head on over!

Even though I am not in the line-up over there, I thought it would be fun to answer some of their questions over here on my own blog. (I hope they don't mind me piggybacking on their idea).

So here goes:

What's your handle? Presenting Lenore

What kind of books do you review? So far literary, YA, and MG fiction plus a bit of non-fiction. I also read lots of picture books, some thrillers, chick lit, memoirs, sci-fi. I plan to review most everything I read, so you never know what might show up.

Approx # of books reviewed? So far I have reviewed 28 on my blog– but that is just since the end of April 2008.

Where can we find your reviews?
Right here!
I also post some of my book reviews at other websites and online communities, such as Library Thing, Young Adult Books Central and Amazon

Reading turn-ons: High concepts that follow up with excellent execution. Well developed characters. Exciting plots that keep me up all night to finish. Fun language. Unique narrative structures. Dystopian worlds.

Reading turn-offs: Plots that go nowhere. Dense and flowery prose. Crudeness.

Class of 2K8 Books Reviewed: None yet. But a few are coming up:
Read my Lips by Teri Brown
Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce
The Emerald Tablet by PJ Hoover
The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas

We love the crazy handles book reviewers come up with - tell us how you came up with yours! A little bit about how you got into book reviewing would be cool too. I decided to start a blog so it would be easier to share my vacation photos with my family (some of my first posts are actually from my trip to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe). And when confronted with having to pick a name for my blog, I sort of froze. I thought the blog might be about advertising, so I decided on Presenting Lenore because in my advertising copywriting, I am always talking about presenting products. I had an inkling even then that I would incorporate book talk, but I had no idea then that it would take over! I started reviewing in earnest when I saw how much fun it was and how great the online book community is. Now I’m hooked!

Tell us--how do you pick the books you review? Or are they picked for you? I review what I read and finish. If I finish a book, I will review it. Some are sent to me, some I buy based on word of mouth, and some I get from the library.

Do you ever read books that wouldn't normally interest you - and if so have you ever been surprised by what you've read? It’s sometimes hard to say what I will like as I have a wide variety of interests. I pick up books a lot of times on a whim and read the first page to see if it can hook me. I was surprised that I really liked “Devil the White City” a non-fiction look at the 1893 Chicago World fair that reads like a great novel.

What are the best ways to find new books? I used to find most of my books by surfing Amazon features like those lists that people make. And I think Entertainment Weekly has an awesome book section. Lately I’ve found a ton of books for my wish list on other book reviewer blogs. I also go the library about once a month and to bookstores about once a week.

If you really aren't feeling a book - will you make the ultimate sacrifice and finish it for the sake of the review? Most books that I start, I finish, especially if someone has sent it to me for review. If I got a book from the library though, then I don’t hesitate to employ the 50 page rule – if I am not into it 50 pages in, I can put it down and move on.

So if you really love a book - will you read it again? If so - what are some of the books you just had to read more than once? Yes and I keep books that I love especially for that purpose. Let’s see… there are tons I’ve read twice. More than twice… I have read “The Doomsday Book” a time travel back to the middle ages book by Connie Willis at least 3 times, “Beauty” a sci-fi fairy tale retelling by Sherri Tepper at least 5 times. “Trap for Cinderella” a great noir thriller about identity by Sebastian Japrisot 3 times. “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad always gets me hooked. Holes by Louis Sachar… Oh I better stop before I go on all day.

Do you have a basic philosophy on what should be included in a review - or does it depend on the book itself? I try to think about themes and find a thematic entry into my review. That doesn’t always work, but I think it makes the review richer.

Tell us about the last time your jaw dropped open, you laughed, or you cried while reading a book. The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry made me laugh. The Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff made my jaw drop open and the last book to make me cry was Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

Is there any character in a book that you wish would come to life? Or any place you wish existed? I would love to hang out with Frankie from E. Lockhart’s Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks. And Tuesday Next from Jasper Fforde’s series that starts with “The Eyre Affair”. She could take me jumping into books!

I wouldn’t want to visit any of the dystopian lands I so like to read about and I guess I am not a big reader of positive fantasy – ha!

What books do you find yourself recommending over and over and why? Friends come to me all the time wanting book recommendations for themselves or for presents they want to buy someone. Just yesterday I had someone want to know 10 books she could buy for a 12 year old girl, and I was happy to send her a list. What I recommend really depends on the person.

Really bad reviews - do you ever fear giving them? I think that’s natural. Fortunately I haven’t had to give many so far – and in one case the author was long dead so that made it easier. Of course I am going to be honest - I like to accentuate the positive while mentioning things that may have not worked for me personally.

If an author would like you to review her book, what should she do? Contact me at lenoreva (AT) hotmail (DOT) com and let me know about your book. If it is something I’d be interested in reading, I’ll send you my snail-mail address. Also mention when you’d ideally like to see the review posted and I’ll let you know if it’s feasible.


Anonymous said...

This is really neat! :) I thought you have been reviewing longer.

PJ Hoover said...

I'm glad you did the interview! I find these fascinating.
And I love how you say you read a first page sometimes to see if it will hook you. Proof the first page is so important!

Lenore Appelhans said...

J. it feels like a lot longer :)

Thanks PJ - yes the first page is essential. When I was a kid, I always used to read the last page too - glad I grew out of that!