I’ve often said that book bloggers are the “Fairy Godmothers and Godfathers” of the literary world – and I really believe it. Therefore, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview some of these wonderful bloggers and shed a little light on why they undertake this epic labors of love!
This week’s interview is with Krystal, who runs Live to Read – despite a grueling school schedule and commute. Krystal has built up a beautiful blog and provides an immense amount of support to authors! I’m delighted that she’s willingly given up her valuable – and limited! – time to be interviewed today.
Every blogger interviewed will be asked to nominate a charity for the day. For every copy of In Leah’s Wake sold via this page between 8 a.m. (EST) on Friday and 8 a.m. (EST) on Saturday I will donate a $1 to the charity of the blogger’s choice! Keep an eye out for our huge September event – the Celebrating Bloggers Charity Blog Hop – which will be raising even more funds!
Krystal’s chosen charity is the Greater Chicago Food Depository and you can read more about them after her interview. Complete the entry form at the bottom of the blog to register your purchase of In Leah’s Wake and be entered into a draw to win a $200 Amazon voucher! So far $50 has been raised towards our September target of $1000 for charity!
Krystal, thank you so much for joining me, and for your amazing support! Could you please tell us about yourself?
I have a feeling I’m pretty boring. I’m a young college student hoping to graduate early. My life revolves around grades, research, and reading. I love reading in the local Botanic Gardens and am more likely to watch SpongeBob than Gossip Girl.
That sounds far from boring! Could you please describe a typical day ?
This is my school schedule: I have to wake up at 6 in the morning (I’m lucky if I brush my hair) to go straight to the train station where I read or study until I get on a bus which takes me close to my school; then I walk. I’m stuck in classes or the lab for most of the rest of the day; then, I take the same commute home. When I get home, I have to walk my dog and finish any homework I haven’t done already. If I’m lucky, I get to play a couple games (yes, board games) with my family and work a little on my blog. I do have a ‘fellow booklover/review team’ that takes on some of the book load once in a while.
That’s an unbelievably full day! It must take real devotion to commit to your site with a schedule like that. Could you please tell us why you started the site and how you’ve built your following? What other projects are you working on?
I started the site for slightly different reasons than most. For my career of choice, I have to ‘stand-out’ and was told by my advisors to choose something I loved and run with it. It was a simple decision to choose books; besides studying, I always choose to read (my poor eyes -.-). I love volunteering in the library, and several librarians encouraged me to blog. Building my following or – as I prefer to call them – my fellow booklovers, isn’t really that big a deal to me. I did join in a few blog hops to meet other bloggers and do hold my own contests – thanks to the generosity of authors and publishers and my mother :D. I am currently working on finishing up school as well as a few research projects (i.e. Atlantic Slave Trade and exo/endocytosis in neurons).
That’s amazing Krystal! Your site is very eyecatching and well designed; how did you come up with this theme?
I can’t take full credit for my site. My original idea was to simply put up book covers as my background every once in a while. I also used a beautiful tree; I loved to read under trees at the Botanic Gardens. Butterfly-O-Meter was recommended to me by a fellow blogger who was kind enough to run a book blogger promo.
You’ve read thousands of books. How do you find the time?
My mother would tell me I don’t have enough time >.> I have a 4-5 hour commute each day and read during the commute as well as before bed and sometimes during class (I know: ). When I was younger: and I still do this: I read books by the dozen for my local libraries’ summer contests; my love of reading evolved from there.
What do you enjoy most about reviewing books?
I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t enjoy reading books before their official release date; however, I have to say I love being able to give my books to local libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Some of the schools I have volunteered with do not have the most up-to-date selection of books due to the cost. I was happily surprised that many of the children who did not appear too interested in reading changed their minds when they had a wider selection. I do think reading has expanded my vocabulary and critical thinking skills as well.
Do you have a preferred genre? Are there any genres you really don’t enjoy?
I’m 20, and my reviewers range in age from 12 to 46, there really isn’t a genre we turn away. I suppose my absolute favorite genre is Teen/YA, but I love romance too. I honestly can’t think of any genre I absolutely dislike. Thanks to some great teachers and my mother, I have even reconciled myself to non-fiction.
What do you enjoy most about blogging? Least?
I love the chances to meet/talk to the hardworking publicists and authors. As far as I’m concerned, authors like Josephine Angelini and Jeri Smith-Ready are the true rockstars. As to what I would dislike the most about blogging? Probably the random ‘mean’ emails: either having to do with a contest I’m holding or how it’s not fair I get certain books:
That must be so disappointing – I’m sorry! You must get hundreds, if not thousands, of review requests every month. How do you handle all the requests?
If it’s a book I’m dying to read, I’d say yes. If it’s not a book I prefer to read, I ask around with my review team. It’s not the end of the world, of course, but I don’t like it when I get requests from people who clearly haven’t read my policy (it’s only a couple lines, people!). I can no longer review more than a few ebooks a month, I prefer the feel of ‘real’ books. I did recently acquire an ereader thanks to a wonderful site, but wouldn’t want to take the ereader with me to school: and my sister currently has it >.>
What, for you, is the most important quality in a book?
Characters. If I don’t like the main character, I have a very difficult time finishing the book.
Do you review self-published books? Why or why not?
I used to and still do every once in a while. Many of the self-published authors I get are for ebooks, which I do not think I can return in a timely manner.
Do you feel there is a stigma against self-published writers? If so, do you feel it’s deserved? Why or why not?
I’m the wrong person to ask, I tend to be oblivious to certain things. I have had the chance to meet plenty of wonderful bloggers and talked to many more and this query has come up. When I review a self-published book, I am often speaking directly to the author. At times, when the author doesn’t like a review (three stars, true story!), the conversation takes a heated tone. I always debate if I should change my review policy to ‘no self-pubbed’ like some other blogs. However, I don’t think I can hold a bunch of people responsible for the actions of a few; I’d miss good books that way! As for the deserving part, I reiterate my own troubles. While it is not only self-published authors who have argued with reviewers, I think that reviewers talk: and it slowly becomes more of a lump-it-all together thing.
For indie authors in particular, getting reviewed is one of the biggest challenges. Do you have any advice?
Try a bunch of blogs; don’t give up after just a few. Don’t forget to use every venue available, the site ‘The Book Blogger List‘ may help connect reviewers to authors as well.
Are there things authors do that make you say, wait, don’t do that? OR maybe that turn you off altogether?
Well sure, but that doesn’t usually stop me from reading the book altogether. It seems hypocritical for me to judge when I know I’m not 100% angel.
Krystal says: “I’m a young college student who has probably read over 5000 books over the course of my short life; some of the books were classics, some of the books were terrific, and some of the books were…misses. Even with the latter part I will always believe in the power of books to completely remove the reader from his/her present reality. Long Live Books!”
Krystal nominated the Greator Chicago Food Depository
The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 69 million pounds of nonperishable food and fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 140,000 meals every day.
Innovative training programs and initiatives developed by the Food Depository also work to provide men, women and children with the tools necessary to break their individual cycles of poverty.
Krystal says: “I’m from Chicago and go to school there. I have had the pleasure of volunteering with them and really love and believe in what they do. “