Today we interviewed Wendy of CaribousMom, a blog that offers in-depth book reviews for those looking to find a good read. Whether you’re an author looking to pitch a book or an avid book blogger fan, Wendy talks to us about some of her favorite books as well as what it takes to grab her attention when submitting a book to be reviewed.
What do you typically look for when seeking new books to read?
I want to read books with memorable characters and gorgeous writing (which is why I am drawn to literary fiction). I can forgive a lot of plot holes if the writing draws me in. I especially enjoy books which teach me something about life, whether it be showing me another culture or giving me insight into human behavior or providing a new perspective about a particular issue. I read primarily fiction because I like to be immersed in the character’s world. The best fiction is that which transports me into the lives of the characters. Although my reading is heavily literary, I also enjoy certain genre fiction (suspense-thriller, historical, women’s literature) when I want to read something lighter and entertaining.
What types of books do you wish people would send you?
I have crafted a review policy on my blog which outlines the types of books I enjoy, and those I am not interested in reading – so I really appreciate it when publishers, publicists and authors read that before approaching me about review books. In a nutshell, I love literary fiction, historical fiction, some suspense-thrillers, women’s fiction, short story collections, and translated works or world literature. I am open to non fiction books such as memoirs, true crime, adventure stories, and books about animals.
As a book reviewer with limited time on your hands, how do you go about selecting titles from the suggestions sent to you? What’s a good way to catch your eye to ensure a review?
I typically sit down once every ten days or so and sift through the requests I’ve received. I immediately eliminate requests which are not in line with my review policy – lately I have been just deleting these without response if the query has completely disregarded my guidelines. I always give literary fiction and short story collections a good look…and I like to support the small presses and debut authors. Family sagas or interesting historical fiction always tempt me. It really helps to have a book cover and a short blurb about the book, also a link to the author’s website (if available) as I do read those and I like to go the author’s site to learn more about them and their work. I have said “yes” to some review books simply because I was drawn in by the book cover, or I found the author to be someone who interested me.
I have been getting more and more requests these days for reviewing self-published books. I will be honest, I am very selective about the self-published books I read. I want to know that the writer has employed a professional editor. It also helps if they have had some published works in literary journals or an education in the craft of writing. Positive reviews by other bloggers, or by traditionally published authors, or by recognized sources hold some weight for me when I am considering self-published work.
What were some of your favorite books this past year?
I read some amazing books in 2010. Some fiction standouts include:
- The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly
- The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
- By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan
- Safe from the Sea by Peter Geye
- The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart
- Cool Water by Dianne Warren
- Nonfiction standouts include:
- Wild Comfort by Kathleen Dean Moore
- Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
- Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
- Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson
All my favorites from 2010 can be found on my blog here (with links to reviews).
So far 2011 has also proved to be a terrific year in reading. I absolutely loved The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. Other favorites this year have been The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah, Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich, and Every Last One by Anna Quindlen.