If you’re like me then you love to read, to get lost in a new world where you feel so close to the characters that they feel like old friends. Those are the sort of books that you want to tell your friends about, send them a link, show them where they are in the library, perhaps even lend out your own precious copy. “You should read this,” you’ll say. “It’s a great book. I really liked it. I couldn’t put it down.” But when your teacher asks you to keep a reading log and write reviews about books, even your favourite books, do you groan inwardly? Does analysing a book – summarising its good and bad points – make you shudder? I know for a lot of people, this is the case. Some say it spoils the reading experience for them, but not Paula Phillips. By day, my friend Paula is a softly-spoken bespectacled city librarian, but by night Paula turns into the Phantom Paragrapher, writing hundreds of book reviews every year and posting them to her blog, one of the most trusted book review blogs in the world. Good heavens! Does she even sleep? What makes her want to do this? Let’s ask her some questions about being a super hero.
Hi Paula. How many books have you reviewed this year? To the middle of March – 93 books reviewed this year.
Yikes! That is a lot. What sort of books do you review? A wide mixture of different genres from mysteries to romance, as well as children’s, tween’s and teen fiction, and the odd non-fiction book for all ages.
Why are book reviews even important? Book reviews are important as they not only help you, the reader, with your writing skills, but they give you the ability to read between the lines. Who reads them? Anyone who has a computer and loves to discover the titles of new books out there to read and buy.
What do you look for when analysing a book? What makes a 5-star review? The first thing is to decide whether I can read it or not as I hate books that are BORING, and this is decided if I can make it through the first couple of pages/chapters. If it succeeds, then it is all down to holding my attention. If a book manages to not only hold my attention but it turns out to be a book that I cannot wait to finish reading and finding out what happens – then more often than not that is my 5 star review. When reviewing books I look at:
- the story – is it fast reading or are you finding yourself falling asleep?
- the language – is it something that you can understand, free from all technical jargon?
- the cover – is it an amazing cover and totally to die for?
- then, I rate the story on how it makes me feel when I am reading it.
If I am I tempted to skip parts but don’t, then the book might get a 3-star rating. A “I finished the novel but I’m not jumping up and down” gets a 4-star. Five-stars is a really amazing read but it’s still missing something important, and then a 5-star plus a silver star means the book is like totes amaze-balls and I cannot stop raving to the world about it.
What’s your favourite thing about being a reviewer? My favourite thing is getting to read the new books that are being published before everyone else and meeting an awesome lot of friends through Facebook.
Some of our readers have book reviews to complete for their homework and we were just wondering, can you be bribed? Actually, yes! Sometimes people donate money to have me review their books, but it doesn’t change the rating I give the book, which depends on how much I enjoy the story.
You can check out Paula’s blog at http://thephantomparagrapher.blogspot.co.nz/