How did you get started blogging and what was your goal when you started Muse Book Reviews?
Several of my teacher friends asked me to keep them abreast of my reading when I left teaching. One night I decided a book blog was the best way to keep track of my reading and to share it with friends and family who were looking for book recommendations.
Have you always been a reader or was there a specific book or series that really got you into reading?
I’ve always been a reader, ever since Mom pulled us (I have two sisters) into her lap and read us books like The Big Orange Splot. I don’t remember the time before I learned to read, and I don’t remember a time when I didn’t carry a book with me wherever I went.
You recently moved from the U.S. to Canada, with a VW van full of books. What prompted the move and how are you settling in?
I decided to move to British Columbia because I fell in love, even if it meant moving far away from the family I love. (We did have an eleven-month separation because of a border guard kerfuffle, though. That wasn’t fun.)
You mention on your blog that you and your husband met because you love books. Can you elaborate on how you met and how a love of reading brought you together?
My husband found me through Bookcrossing. He contacted me because my profile mentioned that though I was an eighth grade English teacher, I was thinking about a career change; I felt more like an editor. He’s a writer, and his first contact with me was to ask whether I’d give him an honest opinion of his writing. He says my reply wasn’t exactly encouraging (there’s a gesture he shows when he’s telling this story), but he sent me a story he wrote, and I replied with my e-mail address.
We e-mailed every now and then for the first year, and then we found ourselves online at the same time so we’d chat in Messenger a couple days a week. One night I called him just to see if he was real. We sent letters. We sent each other books and book recommendations. And when it became evident that I needed to meet him, I came to BC for a week after my first year of grad school.
I suppose I don’t need to say that the two of us in a bookstore is dangerous to our budget. We’ve made a couple trips to Powells. (We don’t seem to be able to escape without spending $500 there.)
You read together every night—an incredibly romantic ritual, IMO. My husband and I often do the same! What have been your favorite books to read aloud together and how is the experience different from solitary reading?
It is a lovely ritual, and my husband is a fantastic reader. (He’s often asked to read at spoken word events.) Because we only read a couple pages each night, it takes us a while to get through books, so we’re only working on our second book right now. The first was The Shipping News and we’re currently reading The Angel’s Game, which I wanted to read with him because he’s the person who recommended I read The Shadow of the Wind. I hope to read Harry Potter to him for the next selection (because it’s hardly fair that he gets to do all the reading). He wants to read Atlas Shrugged next, but I think I’d rather to read that one on my own. He edits a lot when he reads, which I don’t notice unless I’m trying to follow along (hard to do, near-sighted as I am).
I noticed you display a Team Katniss button on your blog. What makes you Team Katniss and how do you feel about the whole Gale/Peeta debate?
I’m a sucker for a teen love triangle. I have been since I was 12. And I really think I’d probably choose Peeta if we’d gotten to know Gale better in Catching Fire, but seeing as how we didn’t… I think it’s funny that people are choosing Gale, with as little as we know about him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gale turns out to not be as wonderful as he might seem at this point in the story.
From reading your blog I can tell you’re a Robin McKinley fan. As she is one of my all-time favorite authors, I’d love to hear about when you first encountered her books and which ones are your favorites?
I don’t remember what my first McKinley book was. Possibly The Hero & the Crown. Possibly Beauty. I read The Hero & the Crown when I was student teaching, and about halfway through, it seemed really familiar, and five pages from the end, I realized that I had read it before—I’m just not sure when that was. But my all-time favorite book is Deerskin—and I don’t just mean my favorite McKinley book.
You read and review quite a broad mix of genres, everything from literary fiction to fantasy and young adult novels. What draws you to such a variety and how do you decide which book to pick up next?
I’ve often tried to figure out when I started to willingly read non-fiction. I have no idea. I just love a good story, and I love learning. I read YA books because I enjoyed them when I was a teen and even more as a teacher. As for choosing… Typically, I have half a dozen books I’ll get five or ten pages into before I decide which one will be the next one I finish.
What do you do when you hit a reading slump and nothing you pick up seems to do the trick?
I take a break. I turn off the TV. I write. Sometimes if I’ve been reading a lot of fantasy, I’ll try non-fiction. A good, quick YA book can work wonders in a slump. Usually, the problem isn’t that I don’t want to read or can’t find something good but that I’m too distracted by my environment or life to settle into someone else’s words.
What book(s) are you obsessed with lately? Do you go around foisting these books on other people so you can talk about them with someone else? Or is that just me?J
Oh, you know that’s totally me, too! I befriend librarians and strangers I meet at the bookstore. The owners of the local indie bookstore have gotten to know me pretty well. I notice since I went in to pre-order my copy of Catching Fire (and demanded to have it in my hands on the release date), they’ve stocked their shelves with The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. But lately, those Hunger Games books are the only bookish obsession I have. I really hope the third book is as good as the first two and that the ending works well. (It doesn’t have to have a fairy tale ending; in fact, I’m not sure a fairy tale ending would fit the story at all.)
Thank you so much, Jena!
You’re welcome. Thank you!