Monday, 6 August 2012

Interview a book blogger Monday

I decided to dedicate every second Monday to interview a book blogger Monday. Book bloggers are lifelines to authors and readers. Its high time these hardworking passionate bloggers also get the limelight. Book bloggers are not only informative, creative, passionate people - they have views authors and readers need to take into concentration.

 Interview a book blogger week one Sandra Valente From SSBookFantatics 

I’ve been asked by Carlyle to write 10 lines on the above topic, which as you can see, I’ve added to. I’m not sure how I’ll manage that, because if I thought 140 characters on Twitter was crazy, then 10 lines to describe what book blogging means to me is an impossible mission, especially as I suffer from verbal you-know-what. Carlyle, I’m sorry bokkie, but… *rubs hands down face in desperation*

My blog is fast reaching its one year anniversary! Surely, this can’t be right? Amazingly, it’s true. It just dawned on me one day that I wanted to ‘try’ create a blog – just for the fun of it. I sat in front of my trusty (most times) computer, didn’t have a clue what I was doing and after numerous attempts, and hours upon hours, something started to take shape! To say it was exciting is an understatement. One thing I realised early on – I was having an insurmountable ton of fun. I love being arty-farty and creative, so out of the blue, I found an outlet where I could play around with all sorts of things, and the best part, I found a place where I could share with whomever was interested, my humble reviews and fanatical book obsession. If others could do it, why not me? From that point on, I resembled a bat out of hell, yes, flying blind included. It’s been one hell of a ride, in more ways than one! Of course, the look has changed drastically as I learnt more things as time passed, but what you see now, is exactly how I’d envisioned it looking. It may change again, hey I’m female, so it’s my prerogative; we can’t help liking pretty things. Then, I joined Twitter, or was it vice versa – it seems like I’ve been doing this for years – I can’t remember. No matter. I started interacting with people, tweeted my blog while simultaneously biting my nails, starting receiving review requests, which set my head spinning, conducted two interviews, hosted a giveaway, and the rest as they say is history. Whew!

I cannot fully express the joy running a blog brings me. I love putting together reviews, which in themselves take me up to an hour and a half to think about what I really want to say, read and re-read to make sure I’m happy with it, and that what I put up on my blog is something I’m proud of. I play with layouts, theme colours, words – all time-consuming tasks – but all so worth it. I can honestly say that had I the time to sit in front of my computer most of the day churning out book promotions, interviews, guest posts and reviews, I’d be in Heaven. Realistically though, ‘real’ life must take precedence. However, every second that I can spare to tweak my blog, put together a book promo, help an author in whatever way I can, write up a review, whatever – that is exactly what you will find me doing (besides reading). The blog has grown in leaps and bounds, and although I don’t have a huge amount of followers as some do, I’m not complaining, trust me, because the amazing people that do follow my blog, are truly appreciated for taking the time to do so, and for leaving comments whenever they are able to. It’s only been close to a year, but the ‘blog view hits’ have been phenomenal, I think. What more could I ask for? I’m happy – it’s an awesome feeling. I’ve had a few what I call ‘highlights’, where I’ve been sent books from two amazing authors, one a multi-published author (all autographed), not excluding the fact that I was asked by this very author to beta read her as yet unpublished book! The other from an insightful, fabulous pen-wielding author who blew me away with his work. Another coup due to blogging and Twitter, of course, was the great honour of meeting one of my favourite authors (I have many), the NYT romantic suspense bestseller – Karen Rose. My latest ‘freak-out’ moment, has to be an e-mail I received this past Monday, asking if I would like to be a part of another NYT bestselling author’s blog tour! Really? Need I say more? Yes, of course I do. I’ve met so many talented authors from all over who have become firm friends in this vast virtual world, and one in particular whom I’ve had the good fortune of meeting personally. I also happen to love her debut novel… she’s got talent, in spades! *bats eyelashes prettily at Carlyle* I’m a very lucky person indeed. All of this for doing something I love? Never in my wildest dreams, or imagination.

Carlyle, my thanks go hand in hand with my apology. 10 lines? I knew… just knew that I could not stick to it. I’ve admitted that I could talk a dead plant back to life on numerous occasions. Apparently, not even a keyboard can stop me!

follow her blog 


 What is your favorite part of book blogging? 
I love all of it, but receiving comments on whatever I post is wonderful. Also, being told that I’ve done a good job with a guest post, book promo or review is extremely gratifying. 

 What is your opinion on negative reviews. 

No matter how fantastic a certain book is, there will always be someone who won’t like it. This is a topic that I’ve seen argued over quite extensively. I personally don’t write reviews on books below 3 stars. This is my choice. Plus, as I like to take my time over my reviews, I won’t get any satisfaction writing a review about a book I hated including the fact that the author wrote the book pretty much the same as a five-year-old would write it. However, should I have any negative comments regarding a book I’ve read whether a 3, 4 or 5 star, I will say so, always in a nice way. What I do though, should I find an over abundance of spelling errors or whatever, I e-mail the author and let them know. You’d be surprised at how many responses I’ve received from said authors thanking me for bringing this to their attention. Some didn’t have a clue as their ‘friends’ all rated their book a 4 or 5 star, but never approached them personally to let them know. I never confront an author on any social media regarding this type of thing. Not only is it awful for them to have everyone see it, but I won’t intentionally hurt their feelings. 

 Do book bloggers get the thanks they deserve? 
Hmm, this one is sort of difficult. For the most part, I’d have to say yes. I guess it depends on who you are dealing with. I’ve made some really good author friends, and these particular people never forget me and vice versa, in one way or another. However, there are those that are great for a week or two, or a month or two, but after you’ve done something that benefits them (benefits me too in some way, I suppose), they forget about you, until of course, the next time they need you. As time goes by, you come to know and manage to separate who falls into which category.

 As a book blogger what is the most rewarding feeling?  
Getting to know people from all over the world. Sometimes, I receive the most amazing e-mails from really, really nice people. It makes me want to do this even more. 

 Top achievements? 

A few blog awards, which were unexpected but exciting, and receiving 10 autographed books from Leslie Kelly, one from Glenn Starkey AND meeting NYT romantic suspense author, Karen Rose!!! It’s been an awesome year. 

 Favorite series 

Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward. 

 Top favorite books for 2012 

Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian; No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose; Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward; Lothaire by Kresley Cole; Obsession & Impulse by Debra Webb; Parallel Jump by Cameron Garriepy; Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag; the LCR series by Christy Reece; Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden; The Broken Destiny by Carlyle Labuschagne; Year of the Ram by Glenn Starkey. 

 What elements give a book a 5 star rating? 

This is a personal choice for every single reader. For me, it’s a book that just blows me away, surprises me, makes me feel anxious, upsets me, makes me cry, makes me laugh and smile, and one whose characters feel tangible – like they are a part of my everyday life! 

 Do you judge a book by its cover?

 I really try not to, but I have a penchant for gorgeous covers. In this cut-throat business, it’s almost become imperative that a cover has that WOW factor. After all, it’s what makes someone want to pick it up! Personally, if I see a book cover that I just glance over, I know it’s not a book I’m going to pick up. We all do it. I see it like this: your book cover is much the same as having your very own store. If I walk down the street and your store doesn’t look appealing, I (along with 90% of the human population if they are being honest about it) will continue walking. So, what you present on the outside should match what you are hopefully offering (and wanting to offer) on the inside. With this said, I’ve bought many a book that sported a gorgeous cover, yet found myself putting it down, or skimming over the pages as the inside was nothing it alluded to be. More often than not, I will pick up a book whose cover looks enticing over one with a cover that looks boring. Most times though, this is when I kick myself.

 Best covers for 2012? 

This is hard, because I love covers of books I haven’t even read. I’ll list a few: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake; Die for Me by Amy Plum; Fifty Shades Darker by E L James (I love the mask); Amanda Hocking (any cover – they’re gorgeous); Rapture (Fallen Angel series) by J.R. Ward (due for release in September); Blood & Fire by Shannon McKenna. I could go on and on, but will restrain myself. 

 When do you decide to put a book down and not continue to read it any further.
  When it becomes so boring I can’t bring myself to read any further. Or when it’s so full of typos (I don’t mind some typos), it eventually drives me crazy! Oh, when it hasn’t been figured out that there are different ways to spell words i.e. UK & US spelling, and a mixture of both is used often resulting in the same word being spelled differently. This is frustrating. 

 What are your pet peeves about indie authors? 

Really? This question is surely asking for trouble! How much time do you have? Nah, just kidding. Best get on with it. One of my top pet peeves is receiving an e-mail from an indie author telling me how awesome my site is, that they have checked it out, and then promptly send me their book to review including all their links and whatnot. Now, if they had really ‘checked out’ my blog, they would have clicked on my RR page and seen, right at the top, that I am currently not accepting review requests. Ask rather to be contacted back when the blogger you have approached has cleared up their backlog. When I tell authors that I am currently snowed under and have a pile of books that need to be read and am not in a position to read theirs yet, but will do so in the future, they still want to send me their book to which I reply that it’s fine. What happens after this is what sometimes really stresses me out. Not all authors do this. I get e-mails asking if I have read their book yet ‘cause I said I would. *slaps hands over eyes*. Umm, no, because if I had, you would have received an e-mail from me telling you as much. This is something I always tell authors; I WILL get back to you. I always do, but please remember what I told you in the first place. I will read it when I have caught up, and when I have time. It’s how I am. In conclusion, I am one person, with one set of eyes, a husband, a son still in school, a house to run and so on. I can only do so much. I unfortunately do not sit and hope in vain that someone contacts me to read their book. I can find them on my own – I’m quite capable that way. When I check out anyone’s site/blog, I go through every page so’s not to look like an idiot afterwards. But then, I’m actually interested in finding out more about that person and their books. Lastly, one hand washes the other – don’t expect a blogger you’ve approached to go all out for your book, and two weeks down the line, you don’t know they exist anymore, until the next time you need them. Blogging is wonderful, but it is also hard work to put posts together. It’s our time, without any compensation (I personally don’t want any), so be NICE! :D We are after all trying to market your book and help you in any way we can. As my answers to this question seem to resemble a rant, I must just say that I’m really a very nice person! :p I will go out of my way to help any author who shows me the same respect I show them. Simple.

You can find Sandra  @BookwormSans / Facebook / Blog 

~ Thank you to the lovely Sandra for visiting us today~ 


  1. WOW, Carlyle, I nearly fell off my chair! You've done an awesome job, and it looks amazing. Thank you so much.

    I had fun answering your questions.

    So great of you to showcase bloggers! :) xx

  2. Oooh, I absolutely loved reading this! Thank you, Carlyle, for bringing Sandra to everyone's attention. Sandra, the hard work you put into your blog and reviews comes through beautifully. You've had an amazing learning curve and today your blog is gorgeous, just like you! Once again, Carlyle, this is a great idea interviewing book bloggers. What a wonderful way for authors to show their appreciation for these hardworking people.

    Well done both of you! :)

    1. Abselutely my pleasure. Book Bloggers are the spine to the author world, the reader world , its taked time effort and talent, its time others realize that too. Love to ya both :)

    2. Thank you, Natasha! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this. It was crazy-scary. Carlyle asked one or two difficult questions! What do I always say? It's all good. :D

  3. Carlyle. You've picked one of my favorite people in the world to interview-- even if a ten line intro isn't enough for her. lol.

    Sandra, I'm behind as usual but it was exciting for me to see you being interviewed and by th lovely Carlyle.

    You really are one of my favorite people and I love your website and honest reviews( Can I send you a book? Just kidding, lol)When you have time you should branch out and tell stories of SA and your family. You are a wonderful, beautiful lady with a great family!

    1. LOL. Dannie, firstly, thank you for popping on over to Carlyle's blog to read my interview. Secondly, when Carlyle asked me to write something, I thought--okay that's cool. Then, I asked her how long it should be. When she replied that about 10 lines should do it, I think I must have turned green. I tried really, really hard to do just that and ended up with a whole page! It was great of her to add it to the interview, though I felt so bad I'd said she need not add it at all. :D

      I really appreciate your praise, Dannie. Yes, you can send me a book! LOL I might just do that one day. Really, thank you!!