It’s book blogger appreciation week, and today is interview day! I was paired with Memory, of Stella Matutina, and we had a lovely chat over email. Here are her answers to my questions; you can find my answers to her questions here.
Do you work with publishers a lot? Have you done any blog tours? Do you think that type of outreach is helpful, or would you rather come to books you like more organically?
I don’t do a lot of work with publishers, and I haven’t participated in any blog tours as of yet. I’m always thrilled when publicists and authors contact me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their titles, but I feel awkward initiating the contact. I know they’re looking for people to get the word out about their products, but I don’t want them to think I’m greedy, asking for free books to feature on my teensy blog! Most of the books I review are things I’ve purchased myself or borrowed from the library.
I do think it’s wonderful that so many publishing professionals have taken an active interest in the blogosphere, though, and I’m grateful for the contacts I’ve made. The few publishers I’ve corresponded with have all been great, and I’ve appreciated the chance to read some books I might not have come across on my own. I’ve received a couple of books that didn’t work for me, but I’ve also discovered some wonderful titles and authors that I’ve since talked up big time. I think publisher-to-blogger outreach is helpful not only in that it helps publishers spread the word about their new releases but also in that it gives bloggers an opportunity to uncover new favourites.
What made you decide to start a book blog? What do you see as the advantages/disadvantages of having it on LiveJournal?
I started Stella Matutina because I wanted a place where I could ramble on about books. I used to be pretty involved in the zine scene, (which centers around independently published magazines), and it seemed to me that blogs were a more interactive form of zines. I looked into WordPress and Blogger, but I ended up choosing LiveJournal because I was already familiar with it. I love how customizable it is; I’ve never had a problem finding themes that fit my tastes, whereas most of the good WordPress designs I came across during the research stage were only applicable for self-hosted bloggers.
Most of my LJ complaints tie in with stats-related issues. LiveJournal doesn’t allow Java plugins, so I can’t include widgets and the like in my sidebar or any of my posts. I also wish I had access to some of the info WordPress and Blogger provide to their users. I’d love to see which search terms bring people to my blog. I always get a big kick out of other bloggers’ posts about their zany search terms!
What were the best books you read in 2009?
I know I’m going to have a tough time narrowing it down to a Top 5 for the year, but my Top 3 is easy: THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY by Michael Chabon; THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt; and CORAMBIS by Sarah Monette. K&C blew me straight out of the water and landed right on my all-time Top 10 list. I cared so much about the characters and their situation that I couldn’t disengage myself. It had been on my radar for years, and I’m so glad I finally made time for it. THE SECRET HISTORY was a recommendation from a blogging friend, and I’m still amazed at how much I enjoyed it. It hit all the right notes; until I’d finished it, I couldn’t do anything but read. CORAMBIS was the final book in my all-time favourite series. I do have a couple of reservations about it, but the overall effect was so competely perfect that I couldn’t think of leaving it off my favourites list. This book got me crying harder than any other in recent memory.