Harmony Book Reviews

Interview with The Compulsive Reader

Posted on: August 2, 2008

(I’m doing this on Saturday instead of Friday because I had too much to post yesterday. This will be my last post before I leave. Have a good week!)

The Compulsive Reader was one of the first reviewer blogs that I discovered and also one of the few that inspired me to start reviewing. I love going to her blog. Her reviews are full of facts and straight to the point. She also hosts some awesome contests occasionally.

Now, without farther ado, here’s an interview with the girl behind the blog.

How long have you been reviewing? What made you decide to become a teen book reviewer?

For about 5 1/2 years, the first year or so for myself and blog, and the last 4 for websites and publishers.

Well, it all started when with HarperTeen and their First Look program. I was ecstatic when I got my first book to review. This was back when they only had one or two books on offer per month. I think I spent like 2 hours trying to figure out what I would say, and I’m sure it didn’t amount to anything more than, “This book is awesome, I loved it, everyone should read, the ending made me cry, now go buy it.” Haha.

So, I was reviewing for HarperTeen for a few years before I started going to the BookDivas website and posting sort of impromptu reviews on the message boards whenever anyone would ask me about a book. This got the attention of one of the administrators, and she asked me to become a reviewer for them. Of course, I said yes. And so for about a year I reviewed for BookDivas and I also reviewed books on my Xanga blog. Then, Xanga started hating me and deleting all of my posts and generally becoming quite uncooperative, so I moved to Blogger back in November. Ironically, I’ve gotten WAY more traffic there in my first week than my whole career with Xanga, which led to being recognized by authors and publishers. Which is why I *heart* the Google people

What do you think is the best feature you run on your blog? What do you think people enjoy most about it?

 Eeek…Hm. I think that the reviews really are the most important–they’re the foundation of TCR. But, I personally hate reading reviews. Once I get it in my head that I want to read a book, a review is not gonna stop me. So when thinking about how I was going to write my own reviews, I wanted to keep them short, professional, and engaging. That way, people can read enough to decide if it’s something they might be interested in without getting bored out of their gourd, and because I take that approach, I think that is the best part of TCR.

As for what people enjoy the most, I’d like to think that they come back for the reviews, but I suspect it’s the contests. I love giving away books. It’s so much fun. Soon I’ll be doing one every week.


Is there a specific way you run your blog? Do you have to be in a certain chair to write reviews?


I do a Book of the Month, which I devote one day a week to, and then I have an Author Spotlight feature. I also like to do interviews and guest blogs and keep up on all YA news. But in between all of that, I like to have lots of reviews, and that’s the main focus.I like to give a nice two paragraph review, the first paragraph being a description, the second one a critical analysis. However, I’ve found that as my writing has matured, I’m okay with straying beyond these boundaries. And as for my ritual…well, it’s kinda complicated and silly, but it’s habit. First, I write my review in my email program (Gmail). Then I email it to myself. Then I copy and paste it into Microsoft Word for final edits. Then, I save the final version on Word and email the revised version to myself again and archive it. That way if Google blows up or my computer crashes, I have more than one hard copy. Hopefully they won’t ever do that at the same time.



What, if anything, are you trying to accomplish by running your blog?

Recommending and spreading the word when it comes to great books. As a complete book maniac growing up in a tiny (and I do mean tiny) private school, I didn’t really have anyone to relate to when it came to books. So it’s a great way to share with other people who are as passionate about books and YA as I am. I would like to think that my enthusiasm is contagious, and that it is evident on my site. 

In your opinion, what is the one thing that makes a book perfect?

 Ah, the elusive perfect book. I think that it really does differ from person to person, and I’m not sure if I’ve found mine yet, but it has to be hilarious, poignant, engaging, full of action, have great characters, be highly imaginative and innovative, and most importantly, it has to have that wow factor that keep you thinking and dreaming about it long after you’ve read it.

Any advice for authors trying to attract the attention of reviewers?

Just contact us. I love to work with authors (and publishers and publicists!), even if I’ve not read your book and you don’t have a copy for me to review (although, it is pretty helpful). I know not many reviewers are too eager to work something out without having read the book they’re promoting, but I (and others) would love to work with you no matter what. The goal is to work together to get the word out. Be available. Offer to do a guest blog (or vlog!), interview, or other activity. Be polite though. I’ve worked with authors who’ve not been very nice, or who have treated me badly because of an honest review, and it’s such a complete turn off.

What about for teens (or adults) that want to start their own book review blog. What’s the first thing they should do?

Just get to it. Too many people start reviewing because they see it as a way to get free books. That should NOT be the incentive to start reviewing. Update frequently, and tell the truth–but don’t be negative. Don’t waste your time on lots of pessimistic reviews. One of my biggest pet peeves is a review of a book that has nothing positive to say. Even if you didn’t like it, make it constructive.

Okay, we all have our favorite books. What are five of yours? Has there ever been a book that has changed or greatly affected your life in someway? What about authors?

Only five books…sheesh. How about 5 really great books I’ve recently read instead?

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

The Explosionist by Jenny Davidson

The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

Generation Dean by Daniel Waters

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier (this one left me reeling for a really long time)

I read Aranka Siegal’s two book recollecting her life during and immediately after World War Two, Upon the Head of a Goat and Grace in the Wilderness for an AP class, and they made me cry, cringe, and really think.

 Also, some of my favorite authors are Melissa Walker, PC and Kristen Cast, Scott Westerfeld, Maria V. Snyder, Tamora Pierce, and JK Rowling. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there.

If you could plan a party anywhere in the world and invite anyone you wanted, who would be there? Authors? Musicians? Fictional characters (I didn’t say they had to exist)? Where would it be? Describe the event.

 Wow, you’re really making me think. I’d probably have the cast from HP, especially Fred and George cause they’d sure liven things up, then I’d have Meg Cabot and Michele Jaffe (along with Jas and her gang) cause they’re pretty hilarious, along with the brothers Green, Maureen Johnson, and Libba Bray (their videos are amazing), Melissa Walker cause she’s very nice and her character Violet because she’s so real, Alice Cullen because I love her sense of humor (though the other Cullens are certainly welcome, hehe). Scott Westerfeld’s Tally and her gang, but before they got all creepy weird. I’d want to meet them in their Let’s-jump-off-of-this-building-during-the-middle-of-this-party stage. And I’m sure I could come up with tons more if I thought about it some more…

As for the location…right at my house. I love giving parties

Name three of your favorite animals, bands/singers, T.V. shows, and movies.

Animals: Pigs, horses, and dogs (can you tell I’m a farm girl?).

Band/Singers: Ooh, a tough one. I don’t listen to too much music, but I like Sugarland, Casting Crowns, and Abba (guess who’s going to be first in line for Mamma Mia). Eclectic, I know. You’re also thinking that I’m kinda funny right now too. It’s okay, I know.

T.V. Shows: Lost all the way. I started watching it from the beginning. It’s kinda hard to believe it’s been going on for almost five years. I think my commitment to that TV show is the longest I’ve ever made in my life. And then Law and Order SVU, House. But since neither of those shows are on right now, here are my favorite summer shows: In Plain Sight, Design Star, and Army Wives.

Movies: Bride and Prejudice. Who knew that Jane Austen Bollywood style could be so hilarious?

The Princess Bride. This movie is powerful. I remember my 8th grade English teacher showing it to us, and the guys in my class (you know the ones who were more of the shoot em up bang bang type of guys and abhorred princess movies?) were completely enthralled. It is that good. The Importance of Being Earnest. I saw this movie after a little bit of an ugly encounter with The Picture of Dorian Gray. Colin Firth and Rupert Everett are amazing in this. Surprisingly, it follows the original play quite well…it certainly restored my faith in Oscar Wilde.

And now, ask yourself a question and answer it. (Can you tell how original I’m being?)

Can you name all of the books of the Bible in order in under a minute?

Why yes, I can. However, you wouldn’t know if I were lying or not unless you met me…



8 Responses to "Interview with The Compulsive Reader"

hehehe – do you know that song with all the names of the books of the bible too? it’s funny how it’s so much easier to remember something when you set it to music…

Great interview!! I love TCR’s blog, and pretty much check on it every day, lol. It was great to learn more about her through this interview.

hey i go to the compulsive reader site too i love sites with book reviews, including this one of course, it helps me find out about books and know about other’s opinions on them so i’ll know if i’d be interested in reading them. xanga sounds horrible : ( i like a lot of the authors you listed up there and some of those tv shows too lost is sooo awesome!! : )

Nice interivew. I love TCR’s blog as well!!! I check it practically every day…or I try too!
I loved the movie version of The Importance of Being Earnest as well. Rupert and Colin did a fantastic job, and I really do love the actual play…to read, I mean.
I enjoyed the book The Picture of Dorian Gray though. Did you not? Or just the movie? I’ve only read the book…

Good fun reading these Harmony. I loved the questions! 🙂

I love TCR’s blog too!! 🙂 We’re all your fans. hee hee.. I love Oscar Wilde too!

Ooh, thanks Harmony! And Lauren, I did read the book, and I hated it…call me weird. It’s just that I guessed what the ending was going to be, and I wanted Wilde to hurry up and get done with it.

That, and Chapter 11.

I love the compulsive readers blog! She has such great contests, and books that i actually want to look at.

I like The Compulsive Reader’s blog… and I really want to read The Explosionist and Audrey, Wait! I too am caught up with that impossible search for the perfect book. I’ve gone through hundreds, but I haven’t found it yet. Hmm… I’m thinking about starting a book blog.

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  • Megan: Just read LAST CHRISTMAS. I would SOOO reccomend it to people who havent even read the private series. It is soo good.The suspense was kiling me all t
  • Lola: Oh my gosh! i just finished it....i googled the song for i had never herd it before......may have been a mistake because it is in my head for taciturn
  • mais: heeeyyyy.... can anyonePLEASE give me the link or even send me the copy of the eighth book(revelation on my email because i cant find it anywhere for


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