Wednesday, 24 July 2013

I interviewed Sophie Kate of 23 Revew St...

This week I interviewed a very interesting book reviewer, Sophie Kate of 23 Review Street...

"23 Review Street was created by me; Sophie Kate because of my love for books. I live in the UK and I will be going into my third and final year at University in September. Though when I am not studying, I am reading or buying a new book, to add to my ever-growing collection."

How long have you been a book reviewer?

"I started reviewing books late last year, after my love for novels stemmed into writing reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads, to starting my own blog."


What pivotal moment made you think "I want to review books"?

"I loved so many books and for some of them, I couldn’t see many reviews online that gave a more interesting take on reviewing a book other than “it was a good book” and that made me want to tell people about some of the amazing books that were out there that not everyone was giving the time of day."

What is the title of your Blog and could you tell readers if you have a goal?

"My blog is called “23 Review Street” and my motto is “where books live”. I would say my goal is to make less known books more widespread and discussed online, to tell people that there is more to a book than just the cover and to explore more reading choices out there."

What are your favourite genres and why?

"I love chick-lit, romance and crime. Chick-lit because it’s a genre that usually houses comedy and funny one-liners with some drama, and that’s always a fun read. I like Romance especially, because who doesn’t love a little bit of Romance in a book? There’s nothing like a good love story. I’ve also loved the Crime genre for quite a while because I love the criminology aspect of the novel, because I study it at University, and because I love getting involved in trying to solve the crime and read between the lines of the mystery."


What is your favourite book and why?

"I love all Nicholas Sparks books, but since reading Safe Haven a while ago (before the film) I just fell in love with the novel, the characters, the plot…it was an amazing read."


What interests you most - story or characters?

"I would probably say a bit of both. The story and plot is quite important, because that’s the first thing we read about before buying a book. Though, once we’ve picked up a novel, we read about incredible characters, so both things are quite intriguing."

Who has been your greatest supporter(s) in what you are doing?

"My sister; Becca, was a book reviewer before me for about six months on her blog “Pretty Little Memoirs”, and she really helped me when I started up my blog and she also got me interested in the Young Adult genre as well and showed me how important it was to add Social Networking for my blog to get more known in the Blogger world, which helped so much. My parents were also great supporters in my blogging too!"

Has your life changed in any way since becoming a reviewer?

"One thing I noticed was the way I buy or look for books. Before, the covers were most intriguing, but now the story grips me more and I spend a lot more time not judging books by the cover. Also, since being a regular reviewer for Hodder & Stoughton, getting my blog mentioned on the Publicity announcements for a series I review for, that was a huge highlight for me."


Do you have one piece of advice to share with any budding authors?

"I would say that making a story and the characters very relatable is always something I know a lot of people look for in a novel, so writing characters that some people can empathise or understand is a quality I love in a book."

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Every Good Deed...?

When I was 13, I was on my way to the corner shop when I found a white envelope. It was lying in the gutter at the end of our Avenue and inside it was a wad of notes.

For a second, my heart leapt and I thought about keeping it but my inner self, the one already battered by a strict Catholic upbringing, said: "No" and I continued on my way to the corner shop but part of me thinking about how many Milky Way bars I could buy if I wanted to.

Once at the corner shop I asked: "Do you know if anyone has lost anything today?" I was then told how old Mrs Oxenfree (the name has been changed to protect the guilty!) had lost the money she had withdrawn from the shop's post office counter and she had been distraught when backtracking her steps. She had been saving to visit her grandchild.

I didn't think twice and went directly to Mrs Oxenfree's house. She lived 5 doors down from me and she answered the door in her fluffy slippers and a wrap-around apron. She was half my size, shrunken but with eyes like grey steel and she was surprised but overjoyed when I handed her the envelope. Mrs Oxenfree reached up, grabbed my face in her hands and said: "Bless you."  Then: "Wait right there and I'll give you a reward."

I waited for a minute, excited, pleased as Punch and basking in how good I felt to have "done the right thing." Mrs Oxenfree shuffled back to the front door, said: "Now hold out your hand," which I did expectantly, still thinking "I'll be able to afford those Milky Ways now." She then reached into her apron pocket and with her hand still closed, dropped something into my open palm; it was an egg. "There you go, you can have something nice for your breakfast." Then, she closed the front door in my face while saying: "Cheerio!"

Surprise doesn't quite cover what I felt and I learnt some kind of lesson that day although what it was I still can't say for sure. My cynical self, the one recovered nicely thank you from Catholic angst, grumbles: "I should have kept the money." However, the angel on my shoulder, the one with a bent halo, says: "An egg might have been a big deal to an old lady."

Do people get stuck in time after a certain age? I didn't eat the egg, it would have stuck in my throat so I gave it to my mum who laughed when I told her what happened.

Note to self: "Sweet little old ladies should be avoided like the plague!"

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

If you dream it, they will come...

I've always been a vivid dreamer and occasionally their imagery is so strong it stays with me for days. These are the most interesting because, either blatantly or by subtext, they are the sub-conscious wishing to get across a message to the conscious.

Most dreams I ignore as the amalgamation of too much wine, TV I've watched or something I've read or been doing that day, but the dreams that stick to me are useful and require exploration.

As an avid journal writer, my dreams deserve their own pages and by examining them, not only imagery but also emotions attached, I can come up with new ideas. I use dream imagery in my books or emotion they evoked and this inspiration serves me as a writer but it could equally apply to anyone involved in the arts, be they an artist, photographer or designer.

Some cultures believe the Gods speak to us in our dreams whereas others see them as prophecies. In our own, doctors interpret them as clues into the psyche. I pity the people who say: "I never dream."

Whether nightmares, old memories resurfacing, pleasant romps though some absurd adventure or a Dali-like menage, it's the emotion attached that counts both during and afterwards. It is the same with a good book and you can always pick it up again to relive the experience whereas, unfortunately, dreams come and go... so why not make the most of them?
My dream diaries - where they originated is important