Monday, September 14, 2009

Q & A with Jenny from *Take Me Away*

I had the very fortunate chance to interview Jenny about her very cool blog, Take Me Away, for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. She was a sweetie to interview and gave great responses. Take a sec to get to know Jenny and absolutely check out her blog! Especially the picture of her sweet pooch, via her profile. Jenny loves contemporary fiction and mystery/thriller the most, but will read from any genre.

Why did you start blogging about books and has your relationship with your blog changed since you started it?

*I started blogging because I thought it would be fun to document the books I read and talk about what I liked and didn't. Yes, my relationship with my blog actually changed. When I started it was just a place to go and document the books almost like the list I was keeping anyway. I focused on mainly reviews and didn't do much else with it. I also didn't care whether or not I had any followers meaning I didn't "network" or participate in anything other than that. (I did have other bookish friends from, though). However, this past summer it changed in that I started spending a lot more time on my blog and being involved in the community. (I didn't realize before that there was such a community for book bloggers!) I've also started participating in challenges, doing giveaways, interviews, and just being more involved all together. Now it feels more like a place to go to, like my own little corner of the book world where I can talk to other book lovers and share my thoughts and what I read. It's way more fun this way!*

What advice would you truly give to someone just starting their own book blog? What would be the most imprtant thing to know?

*To someone just starting their blog I would say to be true to yourself and to what YOU want your blog to be. There are so many book bloggers out there and so much to see and do that it can become overwhelming. That's why (in the beginning especially) it's important to know what you want and to focus on that only. Then I suggest following some other bloggers and getting to know them through commenting and all that. This is a good way to make other book bloggy friends and get more ideas. But yeah, the most important thing is to make it yours and not feel pressured to be like anyone else's blog.*

Book giveaways are very exciting to host. How do you decide on a book giveaway, and where do you get the books?

*Yes, they are exciting! And I love when I am able to send a book off to someone else who I know will enjoy it as well. Usually with book giveaways I try to use books that I have already read and enjoyed and/or that I know will be popular and others will want to read. It's no fun to offer a book for giveaway and only have a few want it. As for where I get them, I'm still early in my book blogging "career" so I'm not generally inundated with that many ARC's or anything. What that means is that while I have offered an ARC in the past, one that an author sent me, and a couple I hosted for Hachette Books, for the most part I am having to buy them on my own. This doesn't bother me b/c I enjoy buying and reading the books anyway and I just sort of figure it into the "upkeep" of my blog. Once I'm way more established maybe I will have more ARC's or author/publisher sponsored giveaways. We'll see!*

Do you ever write negative reviews, or do you ever write a review of a book that you'd give one or no stars to? What's your philosophy of reviewing?

*This is a very good question, especially since it seems there is sort of a controversy about it AND because I was in this situation recently. I can be sort of sensitive sometimes and I hate hurting other people's feelings, so I do feel bad writing bad reviews. However, my philosophy is that I shouldn't have to hold back my true feelings about a book I read. I do try to say things in a nice or fair way when I review negatively. I know some people choose not to review books they don't like, and that's fine, but on the other hand I think it's good to put your negative thoughts out there so readers can have all the information they need before buying/reading a book. I think as long as you justify why you don't like the book, there's nothing wrong with it. Of course, I reviewed a book I didn't like recently and the author replied and, while she wasn't outright rude, she wasn't that nice and she did leave somewhat of an insult. =/*

What's the coolest thing you've seen a blogger post? The most unique article/entry that really caught your attention?

*This is a hard one! I can't think off the top of my head of the coolest post. I love all book reviews but especially ones that intrigue me and make me want to read the book. I will say that Joanne Rendell, the super friendly author who wrote /The Professor's Wives' Club /and /Crossing Washington Square /has written interesting entries about women's fiction and whether it deserves all the criticism it gets or if it should be considered more than just "fluff". In fact, that's a topic that the characters discuss a lot in her second book. As for a non-author blog post, I can't really think of one right now. =/*

You participate in a lot of weekly blog memes. What do they do for the blogging community and which is your favourite?

*I think memes are a fun way to keep your blog active and to participate in the community without necessarily writing an actual book review every day. A lot of times they prompt some interesting bookish conversations and a lot of times they feature books which is fun to see too. My favorite meme is Throwback Thursday... ok, I'm a little biased because that's one that I host, lol, but that's not the only reason!! This meme is for featuring books from the past. I've had so much fun reminiscing about old books that I've read be they from when I was kid or just from a few years ago. I love seeing what others use too. My second favorite meme is sort of the opposite, Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine. This features upcoming books and it's fun to know what to look out for! The only problem is I'm starting to run out of books I know are up and coming, lol!*

How do you balance writing your for your own blog and reading and commenting on the blogs of others? What is your secret?

*I keep trying to remind myself to focus on posting what I want before reading other blogs because I tend to totally drown in catching up on blogs and never get around to doing anything else, lol!! I think I've been doing good lately though. If I have something I want to post I do that. I then read other blogs in my google reader which I have broken up into folders so it's super easy to always read my favorites first. I have two other folders for how much I like a blog and then another folder for the newer blogs that I'm sort of "trying out" before I put it into one of the other folders. I did this so I could keep up with my favorites mostly but I've found breaking it up like this helps me to keep up with all of them anyway. I just do a few minutes here and there when I have time and comment as I'm reading if I find something to say. Then at other times I go to my gmail account and read through replies to comments (I really just skim) and then clean out that mailbox.
Thanks SO much, Jenny!


Andrea said...

Great interview! I came from Jenny's blog and I'm going to start following yours. I have a YA book blog too and it's always nice to see what others are reading :)

Mandy said...

Hi Andrea! Very cool of you to stop by! I will totally check out your blog as I love all things YA.

gautami tripathy said...

Thanks for introducing us to Jenny!

BBAW: Interviewing myself

Katie said...

This whole negative review debate has got my head spinning. I wish authors would realize that we're not critiquing them, just the book. And that just because one person doesn't like it doesn't mean it won't be someone else's favorite book. I feel your frustration, Jenny.

Thanks for the interview, Mandy!

Mandy said...

Gautami: Thanks for sending the link, I will totally check it out!

Katie: I know what you mean. Reviewers can't be worried that they're going to hurt the feelings of the author by not liking their book. It's the one flaw to being able to google yourself; do you really want to know what people are saying? Also, opinions are totally subjective; what works for one person doesn't work for the next. So you get a few bad reviews, some good, some meh.
And finally, why not listen to what the reviewers are really saying about your book? Maybe they have some good points. As long as the review isn't mean-spirited and can back-up it's claims with textual evidence, sometimes not-great things have to be said.
Thanks for your comment, really. It has inspired me in an interview I'm about to do with an author for this blog. It's given me a really neat question!

Cecelia said...

Great interview! Loved the honest answers to the bit about negative reviews. I still haven't figured out quite how to handle that, though I lean towards only featuring books I liked, except in the case of challenges. It's like this for me, though: I only want books I can recommend as awesome on my blog. Why publicize for ones I can't appreciate? But I've been slightly less than where does that leave me?

Really wonderful questions! I enjoyed this post - stellar! Ha. :-)


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