Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ten Years Later: Becky's 5 W's (Or More About Becky)

On April 19, 2007 I asked myself some questions. Today I'm updating my answers because a LOT has changed in ten years.

I keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.

From "The Elephant's Child" by Rudyard Kipling

What is the purpose of "Becky's Book Reviews"?

To promote the love of reading by sharing reviews of all the books I read. The focus is on BOOKS, BOOKS, MORE BOOKS, and also what I think about those books!

What do I look for in a book?
  • Character-driven books with substance
  • Action-driven books with amazing premises
  • Good, solid writing no matter if they're character-driven or action-driven
  • Books that are near-impossible to put down
Where can you find my reviews?

Essentially my reviews appear at my two blogs: Becky's Book Reviews and Operation Actually Read Bible.

Also Goodreads.

And occasionally Amazon when a publisher requires an Amazon review.

Where do I get my books?
  • Review copies sent by publishers
  • Review copies sent by authors
  • Library Books
  • Library Books Through Inter-library Loan
  • Borrowed from Friends or Family
  • Gift from friends or family
  • Bought
When is the site updated?

Becky's Book Reviews usually has a new review every day of the week. This isn't a solid-promise because there have been times I've failed to do so. (Like when I was in the hospital 12 days unexpectedly!)

Operation Actually Read Bible features two to three book reviews a week. All reviews which appear here are linked to in my monthly reflections post. 

How do I choose what to review? 

Mostly whimsy. I read what I feel like reading at any given moment. Library books have a due date attached. New library books especially have a due date attached! Blog tours have a due date attached as well. But mostly, I decide what I want to read next.

I have a theory that entering the library boosts my curiosity. I love, love, love to browse. And so you never know what I'll check out at the library. Since I have to pay $50 for my library card, library books do tend to get preference over review copies. For better or worse. But I feel the library card is worth every penny.

How do I approach writing reviews?

My goal is to both describe the book--give an honest peek into what the book is like, what it's about--and share what I think about the book. By doing both I hope that even if the person reading my blog has completely different tastes in book, they can still know whether any specific book is likely to appeal to them.

How long does it take me to write a review?

It varies. I've written reviews quickly--ten minutes or so. But I've also labored over reviews taking hours to come up with a first draft and then revising further another day! So it depends on the book.

How do I feel about spoilers?

Essentially my view is that if a book is forty-to-fifty years old and likely to have at least one film or tv adaptation from it, it is open to spoilers. Charlie gets the chocolate factory. Scrooge is a changed man after being visited by three spirits. Elizabeth and Darcy live happily ever after. Jane Eyre marries Mr. Rochester. I will not purposefully spoil newer books.

Why do I continue to blog? 
  • Because I can't stop reading.
  • Because I don't want to stop reading.
  • Because I don't know what I think until I try to put it into words.
  • Because If I'm going to go to the trouble of putting it into words, it might as well be public.
  • Because I like being part of the reading community. Especially the reading challenge community. 
  • Because it's satisfying to look back and see what I've read and how I felt about any particular book at the time.
  • Because I'm thankful. Thankful that I have made the friends I have--in part because of the blog. Thankful that I have received the books I have. Thankful that I am able to keep reading, to keep hosting. 
Why two blogs instead of just one? 

That's a VERY good question. Both blogs reflect who I am as a person and reader. Operation Actually Read Bible is where I blog about my faith, the Christian books--fiction, nonfiction--I read, the quotes I'm loving, all of my weekly Bible updates, the occasional movie/music review. It is very much ME. No holding back, just me loving God and loving theology. I don't deny my faith at Becky's Book Reviews. I don't try to hide the fact that I'm a Christian. But the focus is on everything else. Emphasis on everything!

I tell myself that it's for readers I separate things out. That the fan of Becky's Book Reviews would lose patience, lose interest if I included the faith-driven posts here. And that the same would be true at Operation Actually Read Bible. Those looking just for Christian books would be impatient and out of sorts if they had to wade through reviews of everything else--every genre for every audience.

But is that the real reason?! I'm not sure. I think I just like the design and layout of both so much that I couldn't bear to let the other one go.

Why do I include what I include in my bibliographic "citation"?

I use that term loosely because it's one of my own devising.

Title. Author. Illustrator (if applicable). Year of Publication. Publisher (if I have the book handy and especially, especially if it's a review copy). # of pages. Source of book. 

The title and author are obvious givens. You couldn't really review a book without mentioning these two!

Year of publication. This matters to me. Not just because I'm focusing on everything new-new-new. Though that is a part of it. (When it comes time to nominate books for Cybils--if it's a children's or teen book--this is essential.) But because I like to keep track. Is it new? Is it old? Is it likely to be in print? out of print?

Publisher. It's a matter of gratitude on the one hand. If a publisher sends me a book, the least I can do is mention the publisher by name! It's a matter of courtesy on the other hand. Treat others the way you want to be treated. When I come across a book I want to read, I want to know the publisher too!

# of pages. Again this is personal preference. I think this can tell potential readers a lot about a book, what kind of book it is, what age group it's for, how much time and commitment it may require.

Source. This is a must. Not because without disclosing it I'd be prone to dishonesty and bias. But because I think it doesn't hurt to be upfront and straight forward about where I got a book.

Who am I? One person sharing opinions on books because I read a LOT. I am more than a reader. I'm not only a reader. But this post is long enough!!!

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Susan 7:16 PM  

You have to pay $50 for your library card? Crazy! I have cards with both my city and county library systems and they don't cost me a penny. All those library fines, though ... ouch!

Paula Vince 11:55 PM  

Congratulations for 10 years of blogging. I read somewhere that the average blog's life span is about 3 years, so it's great that you've far surpassed that, and so prolific too. I'm hoping to get that far with my book blog too (for reasons you've listed here). So far my former blogs have all fizzled after a few years.
I like your stance on spoilers. I agree, after a certain amount of time, some books are fair game. A friend told me she was chastised by some readers after reviewing a book set on board the Titanic, because she revealed that it sank!!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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