Each week I’ll be donating $50 to the charity of a blogger’s choice as part of the “Read, Write, Give” drive. If you’d like to get involved, you can nominate a blogger using the form at the end of the post and also be entered into the competition to win a $200 Amazon gift card.
This week, Angela Donner from Library Girl Reads and Reviews is supporting Christel House International. You can read more about them after her interview.
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 Angela Donner, who runs Library Girl Reads and Reviews. Angela is a stay at home mom to her two lovely girls, Elizabeth and Victoria, and a former librarian with a Masters in Library and Information Science.
Interview with Angela Donner: Library Girl Read and Reviews
Could you please tell us about yourself?
Oh how I dread this question! I feel like the most boring person on the planet most days. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, librarian, reader, blogger, and introvert. New experiences make me incredibly nervous and I can tell that my girls are going to pull me out of my comfort zone in so many ways. I’m told that my best feature is my smile and that my girls look just like me. My wonderful husband works hard so I can stay at home with the girls but he tells me that he will put me back to work once they are both in school. Family is by far the most important thing in my life.
You’re a stay at home mum to two girls – Elizabeth and Victoria – is it hard finding time to read and blog?
It is very difficult to find time to read and blog! When I had one kid who took two naps a day it was pretty easy. I would do the things that had to be done (cleaning, dinner prep, etc) during one nap and read, blog, or watch a show during the other. Now that Elizabeth only takes one short nap a day and Victoria still has no real schedule, I’m lucky to get anything done. I think angels sing in our house if they actually take a nap at the same time. For some perspective, last year I tracked about 60 books read in Goodreads. So far this year I’ve managed a whopping 14! Thank goodness for the guest posts and giveaways that I’ve been promoting as part of
You’re a big fan of baking – any favorite recipes you’d like to share?
My husband didn’t marry me for my cooking but he might have married me for my baking and desserts! Here is the original recipe for his favorite cookies with my modifications below:
You’ve previously worked in libraries. What do you enjoy most about reviewing books?
I spent about 10 years working in libraries from the time I started college until I moved to Indiana and had Elizabeth. I actually have my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science so I’m hoping that will help me out when it is time to go back to work. After working in both academic and public libraries, I can definitely say I enjoy public libraries more. Seeing all the new fiction books come in and being able to talk about books with other staff members and library patrons is fantastic. I missed that community built around books and I’ve found it again in book blogging. Book blogging keeps me in the loop about new releases and new authors that I probably would not hear about any other way. Writing my reviews has helped me to keep track of the books that I’m reading and to remember what it was that I enjoyed about a particular book. I read so many books that it is easy to forget the details or to mix one book up with another and reviewing has given me a record to refer back to. I also love sharing my thoughts with others and the idea that I could help introduce someone to a book that they would truly love but might have missed along the way.
You must get hundreds, if not thousands, of review requests every month. How do you handle all the requests?
I actually get far fewer requests than you might think. I’ve really had to cut back on the number of books that I accept for review because my time is so limited. Since I get quite a few books through the Amazon Vine program and the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, I do turn down a lot of requests from authors and publicists. The book description has to really WOW me at this point to even be considered for review. I also have a large number of books from my favorite authors sitting on my shelves that I haven’t read yet so that has also reduced the number of review books that I’m willing to take on. I will say that if it is obvious that an author or publicist has not read my review policy I no longer respond to the email at all. They wasted their time pitching me something that I’ve stated I will not accept and I already wasted my time reading the pitch. I’m not wasting more of my time to answer it.
What, for you, is the most important quality in a book?
I have to connect with the characters in some way. The setting and storyline can be completely outside of my realm of experience and I will still enjoy a book if I can connect with the characters. If you give me something familiar but I have no connection to the characters, I’m not going to connect with the book. Hmm, maybe this is why I always seem to ask authors to write guest posts about their characters! I think the Fourth-Wall Friday posts that Cabin Goddess hosts are a fantastic and unique way to feature authors and their characters.
Do you review self-published books? Why or why not?
I am open to reviewing self-published books although most of what I review is traditionally published. The main reason for this is because I do not review eBooks at this time. I know there are apps for reading eBooks on devices other than an eReader but I don’t have a device that I am comfortable reading on. My laptop has ‘display issues’ which is a polite way of saying that something is wrong with the video and I actually have to smack the computer at times so the screen isn’t pink. I know that it costs a self-published author much more to send me a physical copy of their book (if they even publish physical copies) but this is where I am at right now. If I ever win an eReader of some sort I will be happy to accept more self-published books.
Do you feel there is a stigma against self-published writers? If so, do you feel it’s deserved? Why or why not?
For me, the problem with self-published writers is that they fall into two camps – the ones who really work at it in a professional sense (writing, editing, marketing) and those who put words on paper and just put it out there. As Jeremy Rodden said in a recent Discover Fantasy Tour post, ‘any yahoo can upload a .doc file to Amazon now-a-days’. The problem that we have as readers is that we have no idea which camp an author is going to be in until we start reading their book because there is no name recognition. When a book is traditionally published I think people are more willing to take a chance on an unfamiliar author if the story idea appeals to them because they know it has been through some sort of formal evaluation process.
You’ve nominated Christel House International. Please could you explain why you have chosen them?
I’m nominating Christel House International because they provide education for children who might otherwise not have access to it. They do work in India, Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela, and Indianapolis, Indiana (where I live currently). In this moment they provide the children education, basic healthcare, and meals but what they are really doing is creating a future of possibilities for these children.
Angela says: “I absolutely love to read and talk about books. Currently, I’m a stay-at-home mom but before babies I worked in libraries for about ten years. We live in Indiana now but Daniel and I both grew up in Michigan and then spent several years living in Colorado, near Denver.
Elizabeth is three and keeps me very busy! She is down to one nap a day now (or at least some quiet time in her room) so my reading time has been greatly reduced but it is totally worth it to get to spend this time with her. Victoria was just born in February 2012. Having a new born means I’m not getting much sleep so I have to get my naps in when I can!”
Angela’s post is in support of Christel House International
Christel House builds and operates learning centers in impoverished neighborhoods with the goal of creating sustainable social and educational impact. Our holistic approach includes: quality education, nutritious meals, regular healthcare, life skills training, character development and work-study opportunities, as well as empowerment programs for parents and community members. At Christel House, children are taught the importance of caring, sharing and making a difference. As a result, the positive lessons learned by Christel House children are carried home, to impact the families and communities we serve.
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