One of my bestest bookish buddies and one of three I’ve met offline, is Liz from My Favourite Books. So when I decided to do this feature, I knew I wanted to interview Liz and the rest of the MFB team. Liz, Mark and Sarah are madcap readers, who read voraciously and omnivorously. While there is a lot of SFF content, they don’t just keep to those genres, they travel outside them as well. They are also terrible enablers: when I read their reviews, most of the time I end up adding the book to my wishlist! In addition to being fab bloggers, the MFB team are also super friendly and funny. Unsurprisingly, their answers proved entertaining as well…
Let’s start with the basics. Who are Liz, Mark and Sarah?
We are geeks – we love books and reading and unfortunately for all our readers, we gotta tell the world about what we’ve been reading. They are going to hear about it, even if they don’t want to.
What got you into blogging?
I (Liz) started innocently enough, trying to figure out what I liked about certain books…then, I invited Mark along to review some books and then I grabbed my friend Sarah, dazzled her with awesome books, and hey presto, Team MFB was born.
Why My Favourite Books?
Hmm. Why not My Favourite Books? To be honest, it was a panicked title – I couldn’t think of any other name…also, wanted to write about my favourite books – very deep, I know.
What is your unique selling point? Interviews, humour, news coverage?
We review books – all ages, most genres. We don’t do a lot of news coverage, we stay out of online shenanigans and focus on what we set out to do: review books. We also review a lot of kids books, younger fiction and YA. Not many blogs do this, which is a pity, because picture books and MG fiction is such a fertile ground for great writing and stories.
What are your goals for your blog?
Give good reviews! I know, we are so lame, but seriously. We’ve been going for a long time and we like to think our readers like what we’ve got to tell and we do try and tell it honestly.
One of the eternal book reviewer debates is to rate or not to rate? Where do you stand on the issue?
Not to rate – I reckon it’s easy enough to tell from any of our reviews if it’s worth your while as a reader to go out and spend your £6.99 on this book or not. The more we love a book, the more we gush. Easy. Maybe we should put pictures of fountains in our reviews? Five fountains gushing = awesome reviews? (Ed. note: Maybe fountains of variable height?)
Negative reviews, yay or nay? And why?
Negative reviews…yes, but never personal. Never ever personal attack on the author – that’s not on. If you have issues with a book, say so and say why, but also point out – if there is – what you liked about it. Even if it is only the cover. And importantly remember that reviewing and reading is subjective: the stuff you hate, other people may love to bits.
Seeing as there are three of you, how do you divide the blogging duties? What if you guys want to review the same books, do you draw straws?
Uhm, to be honest: there really isn’t some kind of mad structure behind MFB. We review whatever we like – occasionally, Sarah and I will thumbwrestle electronically about one or two books but usually, I’m happy for Sarah to go ahead with reading whatever title as she is far more organized than I am and also, reads faster.
How important are blogs to your reading choices?
I’ll be honest – most of my recommendations I pick up via twitter. I am the easiest person to sell a book to. Sarah I know reads a shedload of blogs and is also far better on goodreads than I am. Mark…well, Mark is this wild child who tends not to read blogs, twitter or reviews online. He just picks up whatever he feels he’s in the mood for.
How do you think blogs and reviewers fit in the book business?
Ah, back in the day, publishers didn’t know who we were. Now though, these days we’ve become an important part in the way they promote titles, not just online but all over. The days where newspapers and printed press had the chance to review books is long gone – you’re lucky enough to get three reviews in The Times these days and it’s hardly ever a genre review. So that’s where fans and readers come in, with book review blogs. We have our readership and our online platform and we can shout and dance about a book we’ve fallen in love with and it costs us nothing.
What is your current read and what book are you most eagerly awaiting?
I’m reading – picked it up today: Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim and so far, I’m loving it. (Ed. note: Me too!) Mark is reading Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne and Sarah is reading The Golden Lily, Richelle Mead’s latest.
Is there something else you’re obssessed with other than books?
Uhm. Handbags – I am convinced that my search for the perfect handbag will one day pay off. Also: the world knows I love moleskines, so yes, lovely gorgeous notebooks.
For Mark…I’d say it was 2000AD stuff and PS3 games.
For Sarah… she collects tarot decks, is Harry Potter obsessed and loves cooking.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
For the Tiny Tardis House: you’ve seen our crazy shelves. (Ed. note: I did and they’re awesome.) We try and keep certain authors together, but its higgledy piggledy and mad. I love it.
I’m pretty sure though that Sarah is far better organized than we are with her books!
For Sarah: I order books alphabetically for fiction and Dewey for non-fiction (roughly Dewey – honest) (Ed. note: a true librarian!!)
Thank you Team MFB, for this cool set of answers!
If you haven’t visited My Favourite Books before, I hope this interview has peaked your interest. I definitely recommend checking out their thoughtful and funny reviews. You can them over at My Favourite Books. You can also follow them on Twitter: Liz, Mark, Sarah