Sunday, September 29, 2013

Interview with Jessi from The Book Cove

In the fourth installment to Interviews with the Reviewers, it is my pleasure to introduce Jessi.

Jessi runs The Book Cove; a site dedicated to mostly new adult books with young adult and adult books scattered throughout.  She is currently a full time graduate student that enjoys reading and blogging in her “spare time”. While she has been reviewing for years on sites like Amazon, The Book Cove is a new site that was started in June 2013 to provide a specific place for her readers to come.  Jessi loves good conversation and discussing her reads over a nice glass of Barefoot – so stop on by and join in on the good wine and good times!

Do you have specific genres that you review, and what is your favorite one?

Hard question! I love regency romance and contemporary romance…and everything in between! But for the most part I find myself reading something in these categories. One of my first loves was paranormal regency romances because I love the time period and dialog of those. So I guess I can settle with that as my favorite for now!

On average, how many books do you review each month?

 Because I travel a lot I have ample opportunity to read and so I like to stockpile my reads and reviews about a month in advance.  Right now I’m hitting on about 8-10 reviews a month. I try to get about two a week out. But this is likely to slow down in the near future as my work schedule fluctuates. (Thankfully I just added another co-author to the blog to help keep it active!)

Do you accept unsolicited review requests, or do you only review books you select yourself?

I accept a little of both. I have a form that authors requesting reviews can fill out. If the book sounds like something I’d enjoy then I contact them about a review. I also participate in blog tours through a couple of different hosts. They know what I’m interested in and send me various requests from authors and I select a few of those as well. A great thing that I’ve been able to develop on my blog is a vast network of co-bloggers and guest reviewers. So if I have a huge influx of book requests or something comes in that I’m not too interested in, I have a reliable network of reviewers that I can ask to help out. This way more books are given a fair chance at review (because it is really hard for me to turn a good sounding book down completely!)

Considering the recent surge of self-published books on the market, what is your experience with self-published titles?
I didn’t realize the stigma about self-published books until I started my blog a few months ago. I’m an avid purchaser of books on sites like Amazon and I never really thought to check publishers before purchasing. I simply read a couple of reviews and decided if I wanted to read it or not. Once I started blogging, I noticed all of these conversations about reviewers no longer accepting self-published reviews because of the “poor quality”. Then I started thinking – how many books had I read that were self-published? When I realized that a majority that I had bought – and enjoyed – were in fact self-published I was amazed! I was amazed by a few points. 1.) That self-publishing was so popular and 2.) reviewers were turning down books simply because they were self-published! So when I started my site, I specifically marketed to self-publishers. And to tell you the truth, in the 70+ books I’ve read since then there is less than a handful that stick out in my mind as being of poor quality. Some of my favorite authors I’ve come to realize are self-publishers. It’s important for people to realize that self-publishing doesn’t mean the author took a cheap and easy way out of publishing and is marketing some error ridden knock-off of a book.  Authors self-publish because it is a means that fits them best. And many have a great network of editors, proofers, and formatters behind them that allow them to turn out superior quality work.

As a reviewer, you have to state your honest opinions. Do you publish all reviews regardless of the rating?
Yes. As I said before, I originally started reviewing on sites like Amazon. So stating my opinion – good or bad – never was a question. I just did it. I realized after starting my site why some reviewers refrain from posting a bad review. I’ve had authors tell me that it wrecks their sales. I’ve had reviewers tell me that it’s not helpful to post bad reviews, so I shouldn’t.  I’ve had fans of authors berate me for finding something negative about their beloved book/author. My answer to these opinions? Posting  any kind of review is not a personal reflection on the author. It’s a personal opinion on the author’s work. I’m not going to like every book that I read and I’m not going to pretend that I do just because I have a large audience. As for the authors, if you can’t handle public scrutiny then you’re in the wrong business as a writer! A bad review will not change author sales. Now, if there are multiple bad reviews then perhaps the author should take this chance to improve upon their work and turn a negative into a positive. The bottom line comes down to this simple mindset: if I’m spending my time and money on a book and I thought that it was a book that was of poor quality or misrepresented in some way, then I will point that out to fellow readers so that they can have a heads up. Then they can choose if that’s a make-or-break deal for their reading pleasure.

Is there any particular book or author that set the benchmark for you in a specific genre?

Colleen Gleason is my absolute favorite paranormal romance writer. She likes to incorporate various history settings into her work and they are all brilliantly written. She is someone that really does her research to get the details, dialog, and events right and it leaves you lost and longing in a whole different world every time!

What was the catalyst for you to become a reviewer, and what keeps you going?

Honestly, I felt that many of the reviews that I was reading were not helpful. I don’t mean to sound like a pessimist, but I’m a believer that just about every book has its pros and cons.  When I read a review that states, “It was great!” or “Didn’t finish. Don’t waste your time.” I’m left staring at the screen wondering, “So what?”
We each have certain elements that we do and do not like. Certain writing qualities may make-or-break a book, personally. I, as a reader, would like to know what specifically drew you to the book or made you throw it out the window. So when I started reviewing, I made sure that I listed my personal pros and cons of books in attempt to give others a bit more of an idea about what they’d be reading.  Then they can decide for themselves if they want to really want to read my 2 star rated book or if my 5 star sounds like a dud. I also love discussion. Good or bad, I love conversing with others about their thoughts on anything bookish.

In your opinion, do you find the new titles original and creatively executed, or do you see more of a repeat of the same (think Hollywood's surge in remakes)?

I think there are a lot of cookie-cutter books out there. Lately I’ve noticed a reoccurring theme of book covers picturing a man holding a bar surrounded by flames and titles including “Lies”. The plot is always rich good-girl meets tattooed bad boy. Seeing these does not necessarily drive me away from these books because I think good authors can take a fairly common topic and create an original twist that keeps the reader engaged. I always tell people that if they find something “completely original” to let me know because it has all been done before.  I actually have an originality rating that I sometimes use if I want to emphasize that a particular author really went above and beyond making a plot into something of their own.

Out of all the books you've read, are there any particular books or characters that stayed on your mind?

I’ve already mentioned that I love Colleen Gleason. Her series The Gardella Vampire Chronicles was what got me hooked on Regency era paranormal books.  Her characters are strong and smart and the plots are full of action. Besides that, I would say that one of my all time favorite reads is A Different Blue by Amy Harmon. It’s a contemporary fiction book that deals with identity, coming of age, and just life in general.  The author writes in a very personal way that brings the reader right into some intense situations.
What is the one review you are the most proud of, and why?
I can’t think of just one review. I’d like to think that all of my reviews provide useful insight for readers. Though I guess one that really stands out is the review that I wrote on “Eagle (Elite)” by Rachel Van Dyken as it was the first review that was publicly acknowledged by the author! Because Rachel is easily one of my favorite authors (and I feel like I should note that she’s a NYT best selling self-published author) it was a huge honor to have her comment about my review and share it with her readers.

I'd like to thank Jessie for taking the time to answer my questions, and also for all her work as a reviewer. She's asked me to share an invitation with you: 

The Book Cove is very much a community site. There are currently two main contributors, but we accept guest posts and guest reviews frequently. We love to have community help because it keeps the content diverse and brings new insight into the conversations. If anyone is interested in being a contributor, feel free to contact us and we can work something out. Contact Us

Our guests next week will be an author and a blogger with a couple of different review sites.
If you like this series, please spread the word, share, redistribute, and thank our reviewers.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to do this Henry! It's appreciated :-)

    1. It's been my pleasure. I enjoy learning about reviewers, and I hope others who read this blog feel the same way.

  2. What a great interview :) I appreciate your honesty when answering about reviews. Plus we have Colleen Gleason in common as a favorite author! You have a wonderful blog Jessi :)