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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Readers Writes - Where Readers Talk About Books

Sandra Richardson
I've been waiting excitedly for some time to introduce this week's guest reader to you.  Her name is Sandra Richardson and I think she's special because she's a book reviewer who runs the excellent blog Jeanz Book Read N Review.  As someone who reads and reviews books on request, I thought it would be very interesting to find out what she picked out to read purely for her own pleasure.  As you can imagine, I had quite a lot of questions to ask her, so let's get straight on with the interview.

Firstly Sandra, 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 always been a reader, and have always loved and enjoyed a variety of books. I used to work in a large well known book retailer but due to health issues, was made redundant. As I am a full time carer now to my mum, my reading and reviewing fits perfectly around that.
I was already on Goodreads and had spoken to an Author or two on there when one lovely lady suggested I should/could have my own book review blog. She even put together a list of authors who would give away a copy of their book for me to read and a copy for a giveaway on my blog too. The lovely author I am referring to is Patti Roberts, she writes The Paradox series of books. I started my own blog in August 2009.

It's a wonderful blog too -very lively and interesting.  You must receive numerous requests for reviews - how do you choose which books/authors to take on?
I try to take on only books I know that I would definitely want to read. My blog has recently become busier so I do find myself having to say “sorry no thanks” to more Authors, which is hard because you want to help promote everyone’s books for them.

Difficult, I'm sure, and reviewing must require a lot of skill and tact.  For me a 5* review means a book is literally 'unputdownable'.  How do you 'measure' a good book?

I always say I am “tight” with my stars in that I don’t give 5 stars easily! Having said that, last year 2012 was a great year for 5 star books for me. To gain 5 Stars the book has to grab me within the first chapter or so, keep me hooked, maybe have a little twist in the tale, and make me want to read a book two straight away!

Can't argue with that!  How do you feel if you really like or thoroughly dislike a book you've agreed to review?
If I really like a book, then that’s great, though sometimes the more you like a book the harder the review is to do without giving away spoilers.
In a way if you dislike a book it’s easier. Sure it’s harder to slog to the end of it, but then the review can be easier to write as you have something to discuss, the reasons you disliked it, and what you would do to improve it.

As a writer, I welcome constructive criticism, so I'm sure your authors are very grateful.  Do you receive feedback from writers or other readers on your reviews?
Sometimes other readers or bloggers will comment on your post on your blog and let you know if your review has made them re-consider and want to read a book they wouldn’t normally have chosen.
Or maybe they disagree with your review which is also fine as it wouldn’t be normal for us all to like the same books would it?
When you put your reviews on  people/readers give feedback on if your review helped them decide whether to buy the book etc, which is great.

Do you know if your reviews influence the success (or otherwise) of a new title?
I suppose reviews must influence the success of a book as if a book is on for example and you are unsure whether you would like them or not you can read other peoples thoughts on the books to help you make the final decision on purchasing or not.

Indeed.  Now some more general questions about reading - Did you have a favourite book or author as a child?
As a child I loved books by Enid Blyton, such as the Amelia Jane Books, The Magic Faraway Tree and The Secret Seven Books. I also remember reading Mrs Pepperpot Stories by Alf Próysen myself when I was old enough. From the titles I have mentioned you will see I have always loved a fantasy/magical element book.

Ah yes, I remember The Secret Seven books very well.  Have you kept or sought out a favourite book from childhood to pass to your own children?  If so, what is it?
I sought out The Magic Faraway Tree books by Enid Blyton for my daughter.

Hope she loved it too.  What is your happiest reading memory?
It’s more a book purchasing memory really, I remember an auntie taking me with my mum to Leeds to a large “old fashioned” book store, where I had been given vouchers to choose my own books. Previously I had always had the books chosen and bought for me. Wow you would have thought I had been given the Golden Ticket in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory! I loved handling the books and choosing which ones I could get in exchange for my vouchers.

A magical memory.  What was the first book you remember reading independently and really enjoying?
Hmm this is a difficult one as I actually can’t remember my first ever book. I just remember always having books and receiving them for Birthdays and Christmas too.

How significant was reading to you as a child?
As an only child, reading was really significant as it was something I could do that didn’t depend on having anyone else around. Reading was something I always enjoyed, it was never a chore.

How important is reading in your life now?
It’s really important as it is something that fits around my caring duties. I enjoy the escapism of great books. You can read about other people’s lives in Biographies or read the fiction that authors come with. I think if I didn’t have my reading I would go mad! Reading is something that I can do with my health issues too, that doesn’t cause me further pain. I read to relax and wind down in the evening. I enjoy lying in bed reading for a couple of hours before turning off the light and trying to sleep. Also if I am in a lot of pain or cannot sleep I can pick up my book and try reading as a distraction too.

A good book can be marvellous medicine!  Have you ever revisited books you read in childhood to try to recapture the magic?
Yes, I revisited many books by buying them for my daughter as she was growing up, starting with the Enid Blyton books, then books like When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. Now she reads and recommends books to me!

Lol, isn't that always the way!  Have you ever wished you could change places with any character from a story?
Maybe if the characters had an easy, great life, but then you look at the good things in your own life which is real and have to get on with the hand you have been dealt.

Very wise.  Is there a fictional world you would love to visit or live in?
When I was younger I would have liked to have visited Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton.
I also remember reading about a girl called Clare who could time travel and I always kind of envied her!

Who wouldn't want to time travel?  Do you think the young of today read enough, and if not, how might you try to encourage them to read more?
I think the young of today have so many other distractions such as computers and electronic games etc that they just don’t bother finding the time to read.
I also believe that schools don’t encourage the children to read enough, or the right type of reading material. My daughter always loved reading, from being read to as a baby onwards to her being almost seventeen and having her own book read and review blog like I have. We decided we both read so much that we needed our own blogs and that sharing one blog would just not work! So luckily my daughter always had an advanced reading age, so much so that the tattered, battered, falling apart, books that the school had along with the nicer new books they had did not challenge my daughter enough. 
They then bought what they thought she should enjoy reading like girly books such as Jacqueline Wilson books. Don’t get me wrong Jacqueline Wilson is a great author and has many young girls who are fans but having that type of book pushed onto you doesn’t encourage reading. Anyhow at the time I was lucky to have a little staff discount at the Book Retailers I worked at and I bought her the books I knew she would like to read, which were books such as Eragon by Christopher Paolini and The Various by Steven Augarde.
I think the schools should encourage the children to sit and read both to themselves and to sit and read to either a teacher or parent. My daughter's school realised my daughter to be a competent reader and so she never got to read to the teacher after a while. Then they hit on the idea of having the less competent readers to read out to my daughter whilst another child got to read to the teacher. Which I suppose was a compliment to my daughter but I felt they were taking her own personal reading time enjoyment away.
I would love to help teach children to read more, or help find books suited to the individual child and their reading preferences. It was something I loved doing in the retail environment I worked in. I loved helping the youngsters find something that they truly wanted to read. To see them return to the store to buy the next book in the series to read, and then come to me to recommend another series I thought they would like as they had enjoyed that one so much.
I could really rattle on forever about my view on children and reading, there are so many ways we can encourage them to read. I mean there’s audio books to listen to when they go to bed or at a “quiet time” in school, or magazines, or factual books on subjects the child is interested in. I used to love the teacher reading to us at the end of the school day.
This is music to my ears!  We are clearly kindred spirits on this subject and like you, I could discuss this forever.
Do you have a favourite book or author as an adult?  If so, who/why and have you read it more than once?
This is seriously hard as there are so, so, many great Authors out there that I read and also many more I am sure I have yet to discover. I love so many genres of book that I never tend to stick with just one author. At one time Catherine Cookson was a favourite, then I also love Rachel Vincent, Richelle Mead, J.A. Belfield, Patti Roberts, Collette Scott, Samantha Towle, Suzy Turner...... I could go on and on.

Yes, reading is an ever-changing journey of discovery.  Do you prefer print or e-books?
On one hand I’d say e-books. I love reading on my kindle. I can adjust the print size so that I don’t need to wear any glasses! There’s no storage problems with e-books, you don’t need a book shelf.
On the other hand I still love the experience of holding a book, curling up in a chair and reading. I also love looking at my books on the book shelf! I like seeing a book cover, whereas with an electronic copy the cover is not seen as much.

I know, and yet it seems to be just as important to readers when choosing e-books.  What are you currently reading and in what format (hardback, paperback, e-book)?
At the moment I am in the process of reading two books. Which I don’t usually do. If I read more than one book I have to make sure they are totally different. Also if I start more than one book at a time i tend to have a favourite of the two and read that one first anyway.
The reason I have two books on the go together at the moment is one is an e-book, it’s a Beta-Read for a Bk#2 in a Series by an author who has become a good friend and it is the second Beta–Read I have done for her. I have Beta-Read about four books now and really enjoy it. You are privileged that the Author is really interested in what you maybe would change in the book.
The other book I am reading is an Advance Reader Copy of Fuse by Julianna Baggot, which is Bk#2 in the Pure Series and is officially released on 19th February. I slipped straight back into this book. Am about half way through and totally hooked back into the plot, characters, drama and action.

Personally I think beta-readers are the most important people an author knows! 
Do you think e-books will ever totally replace print?
No, I don’t. I mean CDs never completely replaced vinyl records did they?  There will always be book collectors.

True.  Do you think books transfer to films well?  What is your favourite or worst book-to-film transfer?
Sometimes they do transfer well, it depends how closely to the books the Films and TV shows are kept.
I mean most people will have heard of Twilight by Stephanie Meyer and I think the first book and film transfer was great. The film was kept totally true to the book. I do however think that as the films have gone on they are maybe not as true to the books as they perhaps could have been.
One Book to TV Series transfer I hated was The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith. In fact I hated them so much I stopped watching the TV show.
I also hated the True Blood by Charlaine Harris Book to TV Series transfer. I hated the fact characters were totally changed, removed, or appeared earlier in the TV show than they did the books. It totally put me off watching it and sadly for me spoiled the future books somewhat too.
Another Book to TV Show I watched and enjoyed was The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith but maybe that’s just because I have yet to read the books. I also think now I have seen the TV show will I ever get round to reading the books?
There are so many Book to Film Transfers or Book to TV Shows coming up, like Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl, Delirium by Lauren Oliver, The Selection by Kiera Cass, The Host by Stephanie Meyer and I’m sure there will be even more by the time this Interview is posted!

Have you discovered any new writers you'd recommend to other readers?  If so, what was great about their work?
I’m always discovering New Authors with doing my blog. So please give it a look. So I should recommend a few I suppose. If you like a realistic tear jerker then Collette Scott, Paige Dearth, Terri Morgan, and Stacy Eaton. Some great Dystopian Authors are  Sophie Littlefield, Mike Mullin, Lissa Bryan, Jack Blaine and Lauren DeStefano are just a few I’ve read recently. You do realise I could literally go on forever and ever!

I've heard of many of these and they're all excellent.  Is there a book you know you'll never read or found impossible to finish?
I tried reading The Secrets Of Nymph when I was younger and just couldn’t get into it. I also know I’d never read something like Lord Of The Rings, it just doesn’t appeal to me.

And now my favourite question.  If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you choose and what would you hope to talk about?
Only three! I always ask this question to Authors and I think it’s a great question but when I am asked it I’m sort of thinking only three! But ...but three! Can I cheat and have two dinner parties and have Indie Authors one evening and Mainstream Authors the other night?
Well Indie Night. . . would have to be Patti Roberts as I’d love to meet the lady that set me off blogging! Then Collette Scott, the first Author that trusted me to Beta-Read for her and finally Karen A Wyle who I also Beta-Read for. . . . . Can I sneak just one more? Terri Morgan who provides Guest Posts for my blog every 4-6 weeks.
And Mainstream Author Dinner guests would be, Sophie Littlefield, Mike Mullins, and Lissa Bryan all dystopian authors!
I really could have gone on and on, a Dream Meet would be Jana Oliver! I love the Demon Trappers Trilogy so much. I rarely reread books but I think I will re-read those. There’s a never ending list of Authors I would love to chat with and have chatted with via e-mail too.
I’ve “met” some great people, Authors that have turned into friends through my book read and review blogging, which I hope you include yourself among. Thanks for “turning the tables on me” and asking me to do an Interview for you. I have really enjoyed taking part.

And thank you, Sandra for providing such fascinating responses.  Don't forget to visit Sandra's wonderful blog - Jeanz Book Read N Review to read some of her reviews.

If you're an avid reader and would like to be interviewed about your reading habits, likes and dislikes on my blog, please contact me at


ManicScribbler said...

Once again Sandra, thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog and provide such an interesting interview. I've really enjoyed talking to you.

Lissa Bryan said...

Thank you so much for recommending me. :)

Jeanz said...

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, it was a little strange to begin being on the other side of the questions lol but once I got started I really enjoyed it!

Angela Westbury said...

Great post, and how nice to get so many recommendations of new authors from an experienced reviwer.

Vicki M. Taylor said...

I just found your blog from Twitter. I have a question about your interviews. I am an author and have written 8 books. How can I get an interview through you? Please respond to me at so that we can open an ongoing dialogue. I'd really appreciate it. Thank you. You do a great service for authors and readers. I want to reach more readers and I think I can do so here. Have a blessed day!!

ManicScribbler said...

Thank you for coming over, Vicki and for your kind comments. I have sent you an email.

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