Ask A Book Reviewer: Tabitha from Behind the Pages
We're kicking off a new series today called "Ask a Book Reviewer," where we talk about bookish faves, what draws reviewers to certain books, and of course recommendations! Wannabe book bloggers can also find tips on getting started.
Without further ado, we present our first guest: Tabitha Tomala of Behind the Pages. You can find her About info below!
Hello my name is Tabitha! I've loved books since I was a child. I also love to write. In 2015 I received a BA in English and Creative Writing.
I started Behind the Pages to have my own corner of the internet to geek out about books. I've met some great people in the book community and found many new authors to follow.
I also wanted to start my own page for authors and publishers to find and request book reviews. Having learned how important book reviews are for authors and readers, I now review every book I read.
(Psst, if you like the sound of any of these books, just click the link to add it to your Goodreads!)
1. What are the top 3 books/series you are most excited about reading in 2021?
My top three that I am looking forward to reading are A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas (I was leery of Nesta’s story until I finished A Court of Frost and Starlight), Million Dollar Demon by Kim Harrison (although I need to read last year’s American Demon still lol), and The Girl and the Mountain by Mark Lawrence (my absolute favorite dark fantasy author).
2. What are your top 3 books from 2020 that you recommend reading?
I would totally recommend The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco. It’s a new take on necromancers and it’s a nice walk on the darkside of young adult reading. I’d also recommend Alinguard by Alexzander Christion, for anyone who likes a fast-paced and bloodier read in dark fantasy. And then for the last recommendation, let’s go a bit lighter and say Dust on the Altar by Michelle Winkler. Okay, so it’s still a dark urban fantasy, but it has good vibes as well and the magic system is fun.
3. What has been your favorite aspect about book blogging?
My favorite aspect is meeting so many other people who read. Growing up, I was the odd one out who read in my circle of friends. It’s nice to connect with other readers and chat about books. If I ever need a recommendation, I know exactly who to ask for whatever genre I’m looking for. I’ve also met some pretty awesome authors along the way.
4. What advice would you give to a newbie book blogger?
Start small. Don’t try to join every social media at once. It can be pretty stressful, especially because every single site has a different algorithm.
Also, research SEO and try to figure out what key phrases you want your website to appear under on Google and other search engines. Don’t forget to branch out and make sure your site is showing up on search engines around the world, not just Google.
5. What do you look for when reviewing a book? What makes or breaks a book for you?
I tend to pick apart everything I read because of going to college for writing. They sort of programmed my brain to overanalyze writing styles. Because of that, I want to see characters that evolve on the pages and a world that is solidly built. I’m very much a content and character development reader.
As for what breaks a book, that would be when it doesn’t have enough of a foundation to make it believable. I also don’t like tons of filler in stories. I DNF overly-descriptive writing styles, when they are going into the history and background of things/people that don’t matter to the story or plot.
6. What types of book promotion sell you on a book, particularly for indie?
Now this is an interesting question. I have actually never thought of promotions that sell me on a book. I would have to say what sells me on indie books is first and foremost the cover. I know, it's kinda cliché, and I hate that I judge books by their covers, but it's a fact for me. I tend to go for books that show strong female leads. The same can be said if a book is promoted as a woman being independent and working towards a goal like rescuing someone, or stopping a great evil.
7. What types of book promotion steer you away from a book?
If a book is being compared to a bestseller, I steer clear. I don’t want to read a book and have preconceived notions of what it should be based on the book it was compared to. Again, it's that overworking brain that will dissect the writing and auto compare it. It ruins the beauty of diving into a world for fun.
8. What are your favorite character types/tropes to read?
Give me a good antihero story any day. I love the conflict and tension these characters always bring to the page. And like I said before, I like reading about strong female leads. Characters who may need help but certainly aren’t helpless.
9. What are your favorite plot types/tropes to read?
Favorite plot types or tropes . . . hmmm, I would say redemption arcs are huge for me. It ties into seeing characters emerge from the ashes. Love seeing characters rebuild themselves into better/stronger people. I also enjoy books that develop into heroes fighting against an ancient evil. Something that has been locked away and forgotten in history. But there are still stories about it, and no one wants to believe the evil exists. Except it does and a chosen few must fight it.
10. Who are your favorite fictional villains and why?
My favorite fictional villains . . . let's start with Takhisis from Dragonlance. What makes her one of my favorites? She’s the Goddess of evil and is a five-headed dragon. Takhisis is always finding loopholes to mess with the world. And she creates some pretty impressive followers that heroes have to rise up against. The best in my opinion being Mina from the Dark Disciples Trilogy.
My second favorite would have to be Goddard from Neal Shusterman’s Arc of the Scythe. He is just vile in every sense of the word and twists whoever and whatever he can. Goddard is deceptive and gathers followers to him that he could care less about. Whatever helps him gain advantage over others, he’ll do it without thinking twice.
11. What are your favorite types of story settings?
My favorite settings are on opposite sides of the fantasy spectrum. I love medieval fantasy with older technology and magic. But then again I love urban fantasy which takes place during modern-day cities. As long as there is a good magic system in place, chances are I’ll be happily reading away.
12. Do you have any fictional crushes? If so, who?
Um . . . do you have like an hour to read an entire essay on them all? No? Okay, top two then. Jace from Mortal Instruments. Why? Because he’s sarcastic and broken. I am a sucker for men who have huge vulnerabilities that they cover up with dark humor and sarcasm.
Then let’s say Rhysand from A Court of Thorns and Roses. Uh, do I need to explain this one? Have you read the series? He is fiercely loyal and has a sharp sense of humor. He’s willing to die for Feyre and sacrifice all he can for his people.
13. What fictional characters do you most look up to/relate with and why?
I look up to fictional characters who have to overcome their doubts about themselves. Not to go too deep, but I am a pretty conflicted person. Having anxiety makes doubts and fears a daily struggle. Seeing characters who can overcome these types of difficulties helps me deal with my own.
14. Has a book ever shaped your way of thinking, sparked a new interest, or taught you something you’ll always remember? Which book and how did it impact you?
Recently, I read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. Pretty dark and gritty. I tend to fall on the darker side of reading to begin with, and this one took it to another level. And shocker, it wasn’t in the fantasy genre. So now I am hunting down more books similar to Gillian Flynn’s writing style in fiction, a genre I have only dabbled with before.
15. Finally . . . what’s your favorite reading beverage and snack? (Bonus points for recipe or purchase links!).
Chips and dip for sure is my favorite. I tend to make my own dip out of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and onion soup mix. Sounds weird, right? Give it a try, it’s pretty good. I mix a cup of Oikos nonfat plain Greek yogurt with two tablespoons of onion soup mix. Just let it sit for a few hours in the fridge and give it a good stir before eating it.
A huge thanks to Tabitha for joining us and to you for reading! If you're a book blogger interested in featuring here or having us feature on your blog, you can shoot us a request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you read any of Tabitha's book recs? Let us know in the comments!