Our prime objective at BookSirens is to help bloggers get free books from publishers and authors. To appreciate the hard work bloggers do, we have started an initiative called Book Blogger Spotlights. In these interviews, we speak to reviewers about what led them to starting a book review blog. Our topics range from how to become a professional book reviewer to the fun anecdotes behind the book blog names. These blogging experiences are inspiring and informative for both ambitious book reviewers and aspiring authors.
This week, our spotlight falls on Stormi of Books, Movies, Review! Oh My! Stormi started her blog in 2007. Since then, she has reviewed more than 1000 books. She is also in the top 1% of Mystery reviewers on BookSirens. Her tastes are quite diverse with a particular inclination towards Thriller, Mystery, and Fantasy books. Stormi talks to us about her blogging journey including what’s in store for the future and her favorite author for a coffee date. Let’s begin!
Many people love to read, but it takes something extra to consistently and fairly review books. What do you think that something is and where do you get that from?
I am not sure if it's an extra something. I like to tell people about the books I read and what I honestly think of them. I don't care if it's a book from the library, bought in a bookstore, or from a publisher. That doesn’t change what I think about the book.
Nobody in my immediate family or friends reads as I do. They don't understand my book addiction, but people online do. That is why I like to share my love for books on the blog.
How did BMR get started?
I was following a few book blogs and enjoyed reading them. I am an introvert, but I love talking about books, and I like writing. Finally, one day I got down to starting a book blog and sharing the things I loved.
Were you blog-savvy when you started? If not, how did you learn the basics of setting up a blog?
At first, I wasn't consistent, and not very internet or blog savvy either. I still don't consider myself to be great at it. However, I am now pretty addicted to my blog.
How did you come up with the name? Were there other names you considered? Was it books and movies from the start or did one come before the other?
The name came to me one day when I was struggling to find something nobody else had. Yes, my blog had a couple of different names before I settled on this one.
First, it was Write thoughts, followed by something about mysteries, with the oh my! It's been BMR for so long that the other names have faded from memory. Sometimes I still think about changing it. Then, I’m like it has been with me for so long that it's a part of me now.
On your blog, you mention a concept of a blog "prompt" as a way to get the creative juices flowing when one is not sure what their next blog post should be about. I thought it was a neat little trick and will use it myself. How do you come up with the monthly prompt?
Blog prompt was a challenge made by someone else. I feel I didn’t do a good job of it, but it is undoubtedly a nifty little idea.
I notice you use NetGalley and care about your NetGalley %. Can you describe to those unfamiliar what this % means and why it is important? Also, what is your favorite and least favorite thing about NetGalley?
The NetGalley % is a rating of how well a reviewer is doing. It takes into account the blogger coming back onto NetGalley and reviewing the books on the site. When completed, this marks the book as read and feedback sent.
When I first started on NetGalley, I went a little "hog wild" and got more books than I could keep up with. I have been chasing my percentage ever since. It’s easy to grab more books in one month than reasonably review them. I still have this problem as I love books. So, I am always working on getting my % up on NetGalley.
My favorite thing about NetGalley is that they have an extensive collection from where you can read and review books for free. One of my least favorite is when they don't inform if a book is part of a series. Since I prefer to read in order, I now look up the book on Goodreads. This way I am sure it’s not the second book or further down in a series.
Where do you hope to see yourself and your blog in 10 years?
Wow, in ten years? I am not sure. I hope that I am still blogging because that would be pretty awesome. I started a booktube channel this year. So, there is no telling what kind of technology will allow us to talk about books in 10 years!
What, in your opinion, are the elements of a good book review?
A good review consists of summing up your thoughts about the book, the characters, and the plot. It’s important to be nice in your reviews because not everyone will have the same opinion. I don't think you should ever bash a book or its author just because you didn't like it. You can say what you felt without being rude.
Do you have an all-time favorite book review?
Not really. I guess reviews of my favorite books will probably be the ones I’m most fond of — for example, the Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn, or A Tourist Trap mysteries by Lynn Cahoon.
Do you have an example of an author who impressed you with their pitch? If so, what specifically impressed you? What did they do differently from the others?
I honestly don't remember those kinds of things. However, an author has a greater chance of getting my attention if they actually check my review preferences. There is no point in trying to pitch something that is not within the genres I enjoy.
It also annoys me when they approach without putting a photo or synopsis of the book. I usually don't even read what the book is about in such cases.
What advice do you have for bibliophiles who want to offer book review services of their own?
Just do it! You don't need contacts in the book world to start a blog. Use your own books or borrow from the library. Talk about what you love. Follow others who write about the same sort of books. Before you know it, you will have followers, great friends, and a fantastic book blog.
If you could pick one author, dead or alive, whom you would like to grab coffee with, who would it be?
Molly Harper, she seems like she would be a lot of fun.
Favorite movie based on a book?
Don't have a favorite but I did enjoy Meg, even though it was a lot different than the book.
If you highlight, what was the last passage you highlighted?
Most pages you have read in a single sitting?
I don’t count pages, but it would be around 130. I have read a whole short middle grade in one sitting.
Favorite place to read?
It has to be my bed, with a cozy blanket.
Thank you, Stormi. This has been quite an insightful chat on how to be a book reviewer. We wish you all the best for the coming years.
If you are an aspiring book blogger, we hope you picked up some helpful book blogging tips on how to write a book blog. As Stormi suggested, be friendly and honest without being rude in your book reviews for authors. If you haven't already, we also recommend you join Stormi and be a book reviewer on BookSirens.
BookSirens is a free and enjoyable way to get a never-ending supply of books, directly from publishers and authors, in the genres you love. You can read as many or as few of these books as you want, for free. All we ask is that you try your best to leave an honest review once you finish reading the book.
If you are an author looking for the best book review sites, you can read Stormi's review policy here. Keep in mind that she prefers a photo and a synopsis of the book to be a part of the pitch. Also, check out BookSirens's top book reviewers list and quickly find good book review sites that are currently accepting books in your genre(s).
Until next time, to book infinity and beyond!