Sunday, January 12, 2014

Interview with Rowena

My guest today is Rowena, whom I met on Goodreads.


I’ve been a reader since I got my first library card at the age of 5. I’m currently in graduate school and my research and interests focus on language, literature and cultural and social issues. I’m a moderator in the Goodreads group  All About Books Apart from Goodreads, my book reviews can also be found on my personal blog Les Reveries de Rowena . I also contribute to an online blog called Media Diversified Media Diversified.

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

I prefer to review non-fiction, autobiographies in particular, world literature and classics.

On average, how many books do you review each month?
Roughly 5-8.

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

If I receive unsolicited review requests I read a synopsis of the book and decide whether I would be interested enough in the content to review it. The majority of the books I’ve reviewed have been chosen by me. However, the authors who approach me with review requests often know what genres of books I enjoy reading.

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

So far I’ve experienced a mix bag; I have to say that most of the self-published books I’ve reviewed have been of a good quality but a couple have been quite lackluster and in need of better editing or formatting. However, I haven’t had too much experience with self-published titles compared to those published by “traditional” publishing houses.

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

If I don’t really like a specific book and don’t have much to say about it, I may not review it.

Is there any particular book or author that set the benchmark for you in a specific genre?
The First Man by Albert Camus is one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read. I thought it was a masterpiece in spite of the fact that it was an unedited manuscript. It was very moving.

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

I wanted to challenge myself to put down in words why I liked or disliked a certain book. I also liked reading other people’s reviews and was a bit wary about posting my reviews at first because I’ve seen so many excellent reviews that are rather analytical and borderline academic so I wasn’t sure how my reviews would be received. However, I think I found my writing voice and I essentially just write how I feel about the book, without making it too fancy, just as authentic as possible.

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’m not sure I can answer this one because I haven’t read too many new titles.

Out of all the books you've read, are there any particular books or characters that stayed on your mind?
Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart is one of the most tragic characters in African literature. I first encountered him at age 12 and I periodically read Things Fall Apart. Whenever I do, Okonkwo’s woes remind me of Africa’s woes.

What is the one review you are the most proud of, and why?
Probably “A Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela. Writing about a man who had been a hero to me from a very young age was very emotional for me. It was my way of paying tribute to a great man who made so much possible.

I would like to thank Rowena for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to learn more about Rowena and her reviews, please visit either of the links in the "about" section, or visit her blog here:

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