Today, I have the great pleasure of interviewing no other than blogger and reviewer Meital. Aside from being passionate with the M/M genre, her blog features many of her interests I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy too. If you’re looking for in-depth reviews on the best reads available, you definitely need to check her blog.
Tell us about you and your gay romance blog. Where can we read it?
My name is Meital. I’m 33 and I’m from Israel. My two main hobbies are my reading (as you can guess ;)) and my dogs. I have two pure bred dogs. A Blue Great Dane which is my “trade mark” – it’s the first fact people learn about me. The second one is a Whippet. But since dogs aren’t the main issue here – My books reviews can be found here – http://ultrameital.blogspot.com/
I mostly read Contemporary and Paranormal Romance both M/F and M/M. I can’t say I prefer either since for me it’s about the characters, their development, the plot etc. I don’t “care” that much if the main heroes are guys or girls I just want the book to feel somehow “real” character-wise. I want to be able to relate to the characters and understand them.
What got you started as a m/m blogger or reviewer?
Well, since I read both M/M and M/F I’ll first answer in general – About two years ago I was introduced to GoodReads and started monitoring the books I read / wanted to read. Back then I just added a few sentences to remind myself how I felt about a book I’ve read. As my reading list and my reading in general grew, I realized a more detailed review is necessary for ME in order to really remember the book properly. Somewhere along the line as this hobby grew and became more significant in my personal time, I felt I wanted a place of my own (not in a certain portal) to bring myself, my opinion of books I’ve read and maybe a bit more about my personal life. That’s how the blog came to be.
When it comes to M/M novels, well, it started totally unintentional. I had nothing against M/M romance before I juts didn’t know this genre and mind you I was pretty reluctant to read “regular” Contemporary Romance without the Paranormal streak to them at the time. I just came to read the 11th both in the “Black Dagger Brotherhood” by J.R. Ward, which is a Paranormal Romance series I really enjoy and this book was M/M. I didn’t know how I would feel about it but since I liked both the main characters (when they were introduced in the previous books in the series) I didn’t feel discouraged about reading about them as a couple. The book turned out to be great and so I started reading M/M novels.
Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?
There is something different about two guys together. It somehow makes the novel unique even if the general plot line is not that special. There is something different about how two guys are together in a relationship or how they start the relationship that is different. I’m not trying to be stereotypical, girls and guys ARE different. It’s the way it is and I guess that’s what makes it interesting to me. Reading of something that I might NOT deal with yet it’s a love story as any love story. There is also something really powerful in more “macho” oriented couples when you see their feelings towards one another. It’s somehow more powerful because it’s not just in the words, and if it is about the words, it’s the way and time they express how they feel. I’m NOT a romantic person in real life. I swear! Which is why, in a way, I get the guys couples better. As I see it, acting out your feelings is more important than saying “I love you” till the end of days. Love shouldn’t be about remembering the anniversary it’s should be about sitting by your loved one’s bed with tears in your eyes (ones you don’t usually shed) after crossing half the world to be there by their side. I ended up being romantic didn’t I? Crap! 😀
Another thing that we usually don’t deal with in M/F romance is the whole “closet” thing. While some books portrays guys that are out and open about their relationship there is still a certain “vibe” that not everyone will except them and in some environments it would be forbidden (like in the army). It gives the relationship a more significant feel. The relationship have to be really “worth it” for someone to work around the obstacles in the way. Love conquers all? It’s not that simple or possible in some cases. It brings more angst into the situation while being true to real life scenarios. I also think it makes you realize how much certain groups in society are being discriminated and how wrong it is. Which is something to take out of a book besides enjoying the read and forgetting about it. Having something to THINK about, life in general, when the book is left sitting on the shelf (or folder in your Kindle).
Why am I passionate about my reviews? That’s easy because I love expressing my opinion and my blog is my own personal space where I can say and express myself freely and since I’m really different in “real life” and most people who know me find it surprising I even read romance it’s a great place to express this side of me that isn’t that obvious about me.
Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique compared to others?
That’s a good question I can’t really answer. I’m different no matter what I do. That (!) I knew when I was less than 10 years old. It’s who I am and how I think or how I do things. I love to read, I love reviewing the books I’ve read. I actually review each and every book I read even if I didn’t like it or didn’t finish it. I’m not ashamed to write a “bad review” though I admit I HATE writing those since I KNOW the author did his/her absolute best and I hate to discourage someone after they put effort into their work. But I anyhow you’ll get my honest opinion. If you agree or not, that’s something else. I can’t even say I hope you agree with my opinion, I rather have something to talk about with whoever reads my reviews or hear my opinion about a book in real life. For me it’s not only about me enjoying to read, it’s about sharing what I’ve read with others which is why I hope my blog will get more popular and I can talk to my readers and hear what they thought of the books I’ve / we’ve read and my opinion / review.
Something I think is quite unique in my blogs are my “Series Pages”. I made specific pages for all the series I’ve read with general data about the series (some of them have information about the characters as well) with the list of books in the series, when they were published and a links to the specific reviews. I put a lot of effort in those pages. I really hope people will find them helpful.
Define success as a m/m blogger and reviewer.
Another good question. I’m not sure I know the answer but I guess getting feedback from my readers that they appreciated my reviews, that they found them helpful, getting asked for recommendations. That would make me feel I succeeded.
What are some of the best m/m books you’ve read this year?
Can I ask for easier questions? 😉 OK let’s start with “Special Forces” by Aleksandr Voinov (Vashtan) and Marquesate. For me this series was a “game changer” I’ve NEVER read anything like it. It brought me out of my comfort zone, it shocked me, brought me to tears, broken my heart and patched it up together. I can’t say it was absolutely perfect but it was a ride SO worth going through. Two more books which are VERY different from the previous ones – “The Backup Boyfriend” by River Jaymes which was an excellent read, funny as hell and a joy in general which is why I can’t WAIT for the second one in the series. Last recommendation would be “Understatement of the Year” by Sarina Bowen. I read a recommendation of this one and since I’m a bit anal about reading a series from the middle I started from the first book in the series (this one being the third) and I just fell head over heels with Sarina’s writing and characters. When I got to this one I was already hooked. While the first two (and a half) were M/F this one was M/M. A beautiful sensitive story I highly recommend.
What would you like to see more in m/m literature you don’t see now?
I think there is too much of the macho in uniform vibe going on. There can’t be THAT many gay cops / Special Forces / men in uniforms in general out there. So I guess I want the setting and side characters to be more “real”. There can’t be an entire gay unit out there… more M/F couples within M/M books (even if just as side characters with no POVs). Besides that I really can’t complain. I think there is a lot of verity in M/M books, I don’t think there is much difference from M/F books actually.
What advice can you give to aspiring m/m reviewers and bloggers?
I think I should be the one reviewers and bloggers give advice to so I’ll say what I would say to anyone in any given situation – Just be yourself. Don’t waste your time hiding behind masks, just say what you feel inside, express yourself, show your true colors! But while doing that, try not hurting anyone. There is room for all of us, with all our opinions and life styles even if we don’t share one another’s.