Welcome to Day 2 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I've seen the BBAW interviews before, but this is the first year I've participated. It's just as fun as everybody says it is! (Side note: new visitors might want to enter my AMERICAN DERVISH giveaway.)
I interviewed Charlotte of Charlotte's Library and she interviewed me. You may be familiar with her blog because of her weekly Sunday round-up of posts about middle grade science fiction and fantasy. But whether you've heard of Charlotte's Library or not, it is my pleasure to introduce her.
IBWB: What is your favorite thing about being a book blogger?
CL: I've been blogging for five and a half years now, and my perspective on blogging has changed a lot! If you had asked me this back in, say, 2009, I'd have said that the Excitement of it all was the best thing--the community, the books arriving in the mail, the getting to know authors, the delightful feeling that there were so many books waiting to be read...
Now my favorite thing is much more prosaic. It's the sense of
accomplishment when I write a review and hit the publish button. So
many things in my life (house, job, children) are never Finished, so I
love that little thrill of having satisfactorily completed something
that it as least a little worthwhile to have done.
IBWB: What's the most challenging part?
CL: Finding enough uninterrupted time to read and write is a huge challenge. I'm not entirely sure how I do it, and still manage get my children of to school in (mostly) clean clothes...
IBWB: I find that writing a book blog takes up a decent chunk of time. How do you balance motherhood with book blogging?
CL: The greatest challenge motherhood poses to book blogging for me at this
point is not that the children themselves are demanding all that much of my time. My cunning plan to have two of the same gender reasonably close in age has paid off, and they play together nicely, and they are also old enough to forage for themselves. No, the big problem is that we have only one computer, and they love it so. I have had to resort to leaving home to go blog on the library computers down the street...
I have not guilt whatsoever about book blogging. I am utterly convinced that they are better people in so many, many ways because they have a mother who blogs, and I'm sticking to that story. Now if they were from a two blogger family, that might be a bit much...
IBWB: What has been the coolest thing that happened to you because of your book blog?
CL: The first and one of the most memorable cool things that happened was that
Candlewick invited me to be their gusts at the banquet for the Independent Booksellers Association, when I'd still been blogging for less than a year...It was So Cool to be part of the book world! Here's the post I wrote about it: http://charlotteslibrary.blogspot.com/2007/09/taste-of-life-in-childrens-book-world.html.
IBWB: Can you name a few books flying under the radar that you really love?
CL: So far this has been a slowish book year for me book love wise--there have been lots of books I really liked, lots of books I think their target audience will love, and lots of books for which I can understand other people's enthusiasm, but not so many new books that I Loved just for my own reading pleasure. House of Shadows, by Rachel Neumeier, and The False Prince, by Jennifer Nielsen, are the only two I actively want to re-read, which is my measure of book love, but neither of those is really under the radar...
However, this year is my first time ever keeping track of the books I read on Goodreads (194 right now, but the day is still young), and so I am reminded that Yes! There is a book that I think many more people should read! Last year Seven Sorcerers, by Caro King, didn't get anywhere near the attention it deserved, and this year the sequel, Shadow Spell, is in the same boat. Anyone looking for a truly entertaining, good read of a middle grade fantasy should try these two!
IBWB: What book do you find yourself recommending the most?
CL: Odd and the Frost Giants, by Neil Gaiman, is one that leaps to mind, if I'm recommending one for, say, nine year old. My own most favorite books tend to be out of print and English...so though I might well recommend Sally's Family, by Gwendoline Courtney, to anyone wanting an utterly soothing comfort read full of domestic detail set in just post WW II England, it won't do them much good...
IBWB: Not many bloggers specialize in middle grade novels, but you cover MG more than YA. What led you to your niche?
CL: I was a sci fi/fantasy Cybils panelist for two years, at a time when the
panelists read both YA and MG (it's now done by two separate panels), and I realized that I really liked the MG books much better. They are shorter and snappier. They aren't as often in written in the 1st person present angst tense. There are fewer love triangles, and less romance in general (I love a nice romance, but my favorite ones are the smoldering ones where the tension is everything...). I don't like zombies or vampires. I don't like people suffering (although well-done suffering makes good reading, so there are exceptions), and fighting tends to bore me. And one time through high school was plenty.
With MG you risk going back to junior high (ick), but odds of getting a fun escapist read are much more in your favor (it makes me feel a little consternated, typing that, because the reason I don't read grown up books is that they are too much real life for me... soon I will be reading mainly picture books if this trend keeps up). Middle grade books tend to take place in more pleasant settings, too--I love books that make me see lovely and interesting things, and what with all the darkness in YA, you don't see many appealing vistas. It's true that with MG there's more chance of running into pirates and dogs (which are on my do not care for list along with the vampires and zombies), but you can't have everything in this imperfect world....(that being said, I have no objection to dogs in real life. And the original Lassie is a really good book).
So there I was three or so years ago, liking the middle grade better, and this was about the same time that the YA bloggerverse seemed to explode, and there were tons of people reviewing the YA sci fi/fantasy, and the same YA books were getting attention all over the place. I feel it's a bit pointless to review books that have received lots of attention elsewhere, and in the meantime, there were all these middle grade fantasies getting not many reviews...
And here I am today, niched, but not trapped. (And I actually read a lot more YA than I review.)