Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Interview with the Lazy Book Reviewer

It is my pleasure to open the Interviews with the Reviewers series today. My first guest is Michael, the man behind the Lazy Book Reviewer. In the interest of full disclosure, I came across Michael earlier this year when he reviewed one of my books. Nevertheless, I've been following his blog ever since.

So, why did I select Michael to be the first guest?  His reviews are honest (I've seen him rate books all over the scale, not just 5 stars), he accepts and reviews multiple genres, and he reviews regularly.  Reviewers like him, who are doing this for the love of books, are a great resource for both authors and readers.

About the Lazy Book Reviewer in his own words:

By day my name is Michael, and I am a very happily married 38 year old male. I have three gorgeous children ages 11,  2, and a new baby. I live in Tasmania in a little piece of heaven called Hobart, which is a great part of the world where nature is only a stone's through away. I work as a Correctional Officer; a job I enjoy most of the time. If you have not guessed so by now, I love reading and all things bookish. It is my addiction.

By night I am the Lazy Book Reviewer, and I send forth my reviews on many a book from many a genre. Since starting my blog I have built a nicely sized readership, and I'm amazed how far the blog is read - the other day I picked up some audience members in Bhutan of all paces. My blog is a great outlet for me and it lets me share my interests with others.

I am an eternal optimist and believe hat no matter how crappy life gets the sun always rises the next day on a world of opportunities. I also am a firm believer that if you point out a problem or mistake you should have at least thought about how to fix it.


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

No, I don’t have any one specific genre I review. The books I review are a reflection on what interests me and that is a lot.
For years I would not read anything but history. My stand was, if I was going to read I was going to learn from it.  Thankfully this soon passed and now I read whatever takes my fancy and boy is there a lot of good books out there.
But I digress. If I had to pick my favourite genre it would have to be World War II history, not that you would pick that up from my blog. I have quite a sizable library of WWII books at home that I am quite proud of.

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

This year I am averaging eight books a month. I usually have two books on the go at any given time. One of these is usually an audiobook, unabridged of course.

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

I was quite surprised even before I started my blog at the amount of people approaching me to review their books. I always try to accommodate authors that approach me, I have only turned down a few because I really did not like the look of their book and these are usually romance books. I am a huge supporter of independent authors and try to support them where possible. This is of course how I came across your books. I usually try to balance my reading between requested reviews and ones I chose myself.

Considering the recent surge of self-published books on the market, what is your experience with self-published titles?

I am always amazed at the high quality of work that is coming from independent authors at the moment. True the market is swamped by self-published titles at the moment but that helps us reviewers out as more and more people are looking for reviews so they can make sound purchases. Long live the independent author revolution I say; now there is a catchy slogan for a T-shirt.
As a direct answer to your question, my experience of self-published titles is excellent. The quality of these titles has always been of a professional and high standard.

As a reviewer, you have to state your honest opinions. Do you publish all reviews regardless of the rating?

I have a standing policy with independent authors who give me their book for review. This is, if it’s crap I won’t do a review; this, for me, is a common courtesy policy. I mean, I have not paid for this book but I will not help promote it by publishing a review if I don’t like it.
As for other books, if it sucks I will let you know. I am always honest with my reviews and take great pains for my reviews to reflect exactly what I thought about the book. I will even publish reviews on books that are so bad I could not finish them. Luckily, these are few and far apart.

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

There are three authors that stand out for me over the last couple of years. The first author is World War II historian Laurence Rees. I love his books as he puts you in the mindset of the people and this gives you, the reader, a much better understanding of the subject at hand.
The second one is Hugh Howey. Hugh is the poster child for self-published authors and what you can achieve by publishing your own books. His book series Wool proves that the paying public can make the big boys pay attention. For those of you that have not read Wool yet, all I have to say is read it and do it soon; you will not be disappointed.
Thirdly, Mark Tufo for me highlights all that is good in the Zombie genre. I used to shake my head and look down my nose at those who read those awful zombie books. But these books are great entertaining reads and Mark Tufo, as far as I am concerned, is the King of zombies. His books are the right balance of horror and humour.

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

The catalyst for me in starting a book review blog was a combination of two things. The first was the fact that I had been a member of numerous book clubs on the Goodreads site for quite a while. During this time my reviews got a lot a positive comments and interest by other members. This gave me confidence in my reviews.
The second was from a need to engage in an activity to keep me occupied. At the time of starting my blog I had been off work due to having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and I needed something to keep me occupied. So I thought why not give this blogging thing a try, it could be a bit of fun.
Since then, I have loved doing my blog. It is great to be in contact with a wide range of authors and readers. It makes me feel a part of a creative community. I try to keep the blog interesting, mixing in other snippets of information that interest me. I love sharing my interests with other like-minded people.
As I have mentioned, I am a huge supporter of independent authors and I see my blog as small part in introducing these authors to a wider audience. I have great support from my family who also help out from time to time with blog, especially my 11 year old son, who puts up reviews every now and then.

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)?

 Sure there are a lot of formula-based books out there, and people love the familiarity of them. But for me, I love being surprised by a book and love it when they deliver me a story in an original manner. I have been surprised at the originality of a lot of the books that I have read. I am in awe of the creativity of a lot of authors and wish I had a smidgen of it. The mechanic of how some authors tell and deliver their stories is as refreshing as nice hot shower.
For example, your book series The Mad Days of Me was a great example of moving away from set genres. By doing this you delivered to me, the reader, a greatly entertaining and refreshing read that had me wondering what was going to happen next.
The Zombie and Post Apocalypse genres are another area that surprises me in the varied ways authors come up with ways to keep their books fresh and original. I mean, it is amazing how many ways people think up to end the world or bring back the dead.

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

For me one book that has stuck with my more than others is Black Hearts by Jim Frederick. I read this book after a particular difficult and dangerous situation at work and it struck a chord with me deep down in my soul. This book affected me more than another I have read. This reminds me I have not yet posted a review on my blog about this book yet; I will have to rectify that.
As for other books, I will see something or someone will say something that will remind me of them. I am sure I bore the pants off friends and family with the crap I go on about sometimes, all this thanks to the books I have read.

What is the one review you are the most proud of, and why?

There is no one review I am proud of the most. But what I am proud of is being able to give assistance and exposure to some great authors like you. I am thankful for the great friendships I have formed through my reviews and a lot of these go beyond the bounds of books.

I would like to thank Michael for being a good sport, and for sharing his thoughts on being a reviewer. If you would like to find out more about his reviews, you can find him here: Lazy Book Reviewer

Next time, I hope to interview a very interesting man I found on Goodreads. He does not have a blog, he does not review for any company, but he reviews a lot. His TBR list on Goodreads is stunning, his choice of titles interesting, and his reviews are top notch.

Please share this to show some love to our beloved book reviewers.

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