I always think people who spend a lot of time reviewing books must quickly become discerning readers or drown in a sea of requests from authors desperately seeking reviews for their titles. I'm therefore always interested in chatting to reviewers to learn about their reading likes and dislikes. Today's interviewee is is reviewer Mickey Reed, whose blog is I'm a Book Shark and who kindly agreed to let me put her in the spotlight this week.
Firstly, I'd love to know a little bit about how or why you became a reviewer (and which came first, the reviews or the blog?) How do your reading commitments fit in with your lifestyle?
I have posted my reviews for books on Goodreads for as long as I’ve known about Goodreads. My husband asked why I wasn’t trying to get paid for writing reviews for a paper or something, and in Googling that I discovered book blogs. I read whatever I want and post those reviews to the blog. Lately it’s been a blog for promoting other books as my reading time has decreased dramatically.
You must receive numerous requests for reviews - how do you choose which books/authors to take on?
I do get quite a few review requests, even though I’ve mentioned that I won’t really be able to take any on right now. Quite honestly I don’t really read too many of the emails either. I don’t have much time to read, but I do skim all of the emails to see if anything catches my eye. And I do keep them all in case I want to go back and accept a request.
For me a 5* review means a book is literally 'unputdownable'. How do you 'measure' a good book?
A 5-star book keeps me guessing, makes me laugh/cry, sucks me in, and never lets me forget. It’s memorable and treasured. On my blog, books rarely get a 5-star review. I’m very picky, but when you earn it, I let the world know.
How do you feel if you really like or thoroughly dislike a book you've agreed to review?
I’m so happy when I’m pleasantly surprised by a book I’ve taken on to review. It’s happened a quite a few times. Then there have been those times when I just can’t get through a book. If I’ve agreed to review it but couldn’t stand it, I usually will still review it on Goodreads but not on my blog. Just my policy.
Do you receive feedback from writers or other readers on your reviews?
I get comments about my reviews, sure. But no one has ever told me to change my format or anything. I love having discussion, so if anyone ever has a question about my reviews I’d love to chat!
Do you know if your reviews influence the success (or otherwise) of a new title?
I’m not sure. I’ve had people buy books because of my reviews, and I’ve had people say they won’t pick up a title because of my reviews. But I don’t think my little blog will make or break a novel. :o)
Now some more general questions about reading Did you have a favourite book or author as a child?
I would always go to the library and pick up Lurlene McDaniel’s books even though she made me cry every single time!
What is your happiest reading memory?
I wish I could truly remember reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, but I do remember going back to it at different points in my life, rereading passages that made me giggle or get all sappy.
What was the first book you remember reading independently and really enjoying?
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. However, I recently went back to it and discovered that my tastes had dramatically changed. Haha.
How significant was reading to you as a child?
As a child, I enjoyed reading. I was good at it, so I kept on doing it. I was curious and loved to learn, so it helped me achieve many things.
How important is reading in your life now?
Now, reading is an adventure, an escape, and a journey. It opens me up to new worlds. Plus, I’d love to just be a fly on the wall somewhere, and it really allows me to be that for these characters.
Have you ever wished you could change places with any character from a story?
I don’t think I’ve truly wanted to change places with any character, but I’ve loved books so much that I’d wish to live in their world, be friends with the characters, and fit right in.
What are you currently reading and in what format (hardback, paperback, e-book)?
I’m actually listening to the audio book version of Moby-Dick for my English class.
Do you think the young of today read enough, and if not, how might you try to encourage them to read more?
I think some do, but many don’t. We live in a fast-paced, technologically advanced world. It’s easy to just watch the movie instead. I’d love for them to read more often, and perhaps if they discovered a world they could get lost in, they’d enjoy reading more too.
Do you prefer print or e-books?
Quite honestly I prefer print. I do read e-books, and I don’t mind reading them at all. But nothing beats the brand new book smell. Ahhh. :o)
Do you think e-books will ever totally replace print?
I think they might, which would be incredibly sad. But the newspaper still exists, so there is hope!
Do you think books transfer to films well? What is your favourite/worst book-to-film transfer?
It all depends, which is a lazy answer, but it’s how I feel. Some books do and some books don’t. My favorite book-to-movie versions are The Help, Shutter Island, True Grit, Shopgirl, The Princess Bride, Water for Elephants, Silver Linings Playbook, and Pride and Prejudice (almost any version). My least favorites are the Hannibal movies (I love them on their own, but not as book-to-movie versions), PS I Love You, Twilight, The Lucky One, and My Sister’s Keeper. I mostly like film versions when they are cast well and agree with the book.
Is there a book you know you'll never read or found impossible to finish?
I’ll probably never read the Fifty Shades of Grey series, but I never say never ;o) Books that are impossible to finish to me are the poorly edited ones.
Do you think there is anything new and exciting in modern fiction, or has it "all been said before"?
I think there can be new and exciting in modern fiction. We just need some writers with great imaginations. I’m sure they’re out there! We just need to discover them.
Thanks Mickey - that was every bit as interesting as I knew it would be.
Why not pop over to Mickey's blog to get to know her better? Just click on the image below.