It’s an honor to interview today blog owner and reviewer Julia O. Her blog lets you explore different genres of books including M/M. If you’re looking for excellent quality reviews of different books, I highly recommend you check her blog and I guarantee you’ll love it!
Tell us about you and your gay romance blog. Where can we read it?
Well first of all it’s probably a good idea to tell you that it’s not entirely a ‘gay romance blog’, it isn’t even a purely book review blog (just to complicate things a bit for you ;)…).
You can find my blog under http://cambridgebooklover.blogspot.de/ and it’s called ‘Explorations – a (mostly) book review blog’ and this is what it’s all about – my blog is an exploration of art in the form of literature, but also of thought and nature. I read, think and muse because it is an escape from reality for me and a way to centre myself – I take that to my blog. Every single time I start a new book, it’s an exciting new exploration, something I am learning from, something that changes me a little bit. I will most certainly (in about 8 out of 10 cases) comment on my exploration and not just merely relay my reviews that as such can also be found on Goodreads (although reviews are of course always featured), my blog musings are really something that I also do for myself as a means to reflect on what I’ve read.
Additionally I am a fairly diverse reader, although I tend to really get my teeth into a genre and explore it to the fullest and that’s why lately there’s been a lot of M/M on my blog :).
What got you started as a m/m blogger or reviewer?
I started reviewing because I realised that if I have time to read books, I also have time to help other readers get a fairly objective opinion on them (something I thrive to relay) and also to give authors my feedback on their work. Additionally my reviews and blog posts help me remember what I read :). I started blogging simply as a means to organise my thoughts to be honest and with some encouragement from a few friends, it grew into something a little bigger. I started reading/ reviewing and blogging about M/M because I started reading it 😉 – it was something I shied away from for a (too) long time but two friends encouraged me to explore uncharted territory and I shall be forever grateful :).
Why are you passionate about reading and reviewing m/m books?
I love the imagery that many M/M writers use to portray human interest stories. A lot of the books I’ve read so far always addressed an inherent struggle and, more importantly, not an obvious one either (i.e., not ‘coming out’ etc.). I am not sure whether I am making sense here but it seems like M/M writers still thrive to present unique stories with themes that are not simply romance but things like mental or physical illness, single parenthood, falling in love with a friend when you probably shouldn’t, being brave etc. What I’ve started to realise in a lot of M/F literature (by no means all but a lot) is that writers want to attach themselves to other’s success, they think if it’s not dark or BDSM or involves some heroic deed it won’t sell. I know this is harsh and by no means fair on all M/F writers out there but just let me say this, I’ve seen a lot of people move to M/M lately (especially readers who read as avidly as 3-5 books a week), simply because they say M/F romance is getting dull and repetitive and often is “just” erotica and not much else – I have not heard this working the other way ‘round, in fact I myself am almost exclusively an M/M reader now simply because the stories seem richer and I’ve had more luck with M/M this year than M/F. In my reviews I always try to explore the more, the thing that makes a read original and creative.
Many of my readers love reading m/m blogs but what makes yours unique compared to others?
I definitively think that my reflections on my reading is a unique thing and I am hoping to get more interaction and discussion about those in the future. Also I am honest, I have a fair rating/ review system and I am open to debate which are a basis for a great experience. I’ll read just about everything so my blog is definitively very diverse. However overall I have to say, there are some excellent bloggers out there and I am by no means the best or even one of the best, just a girl sharing her thoughts. What I hope to see in the future is more discussion with blog readers which is really the thing that would make it a unique place.
Define success as a m/m blogger and reviewer.
Do I have any? Well I guess you approached me so I may have some :). Honestly, I don’t know how to answer this question – maybe it really is my honesty, I do not lie, ever (or not consciously), I don’t think I’m capable. So people find my reviews refreshing (or so I hear), reliable and well argued. I finish every book I start eventually (with the exception of one that was just too painful) and I am not mean or over-the-top loud in my review, just as objective as I can possibly be. I will not go into any detail but let’s put it like this – I follow many excellent bloggers and try to present what I myself like. Most of the time (note the wording, this is not one-size-fits-all), I am not a fan of reviews that say absolutely nothing about the book, I am not a fan of dnf reviews (unless well argued) and I am not a fan of reviews that stray too far from the book – there is no right way to do it but these are things I try to mind when reviewing and blogging.
What are some of the best m/m books you’ve read this year?
This is hard but here are some that were truly amazing:
Of Gods and Monsters: Menoetius by Wulf Francu Godgluck
Love Comes Silently by Andrew Grey
Room at the Top by Jane Davitt
The Broken Pieces Series (#1 and 2) by Riley Hart
The James Lucas Trilogy (#1 and 2)
by Elisabeth Lister
What would you like to see more in m/m literature you don’t see now?
So far many books I’ve read where either a lot of story or a lot of sexiness, the golden middle is rare and that is what I like. I do want some romance, and some heat factor but well placed along a good, original, creative story line.
What advice can you give to aspiring m/m reviewers and bloggers?
- You got to start somewhere, the first post is always the hardest but it gets easier, promise. You also cannot plan everything to the greatest detail, sadly the day only has 24 hours.
- Do not just review, add another element to it, be unique. Also be friendly, do not underestimate how your tone effects your readers.
- Be honest, even if you’re not sure – you’re readers will appreciate it greatly.
- Look at other people’s way of doing things and decide what you like and what you don’t as a reader and work from there. If you like a certain method in particular, chat to the reviewer/blogger about it and acknowledge them the first time you use it yourself – help other bloggers gain recognition for a job well done.
- In my opinion and experience – be humble, once in a while take a step back and reflect on whether what you’re doing is still fun and about books, whether it’s still a hobby. Trust me there are bloggers out there who take themselves too seriously and it shows in not-so-great ways – take what you do seriously, not yourself.