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Just a brief introduction, Of Pens and Pages is a book blog by Nissa Devora. She’s the same person who was mentioned previously in Featured Artist of the Month II. She’s the sister of Noni Devora, who’s also my friend and one of the artists I admire in the field of typography, calligraphy, and lettering.
The reason I had this idea was I got curious about book blogging because it’s hard to evade the spoilers when you make reviews or share your thoughts about what you read. Not only that, but I also would want to share how it is to be a book blogger.
Getting to Know Nissa
Nissa Devora (Of Pens and Pages)
How long have you been blogging?
Blog made on April 2016, but I had a Tumblr Book Blog a while back
Why did you start blogging?
I read books every day, and I’ve been writing short reviews on Tumblr for some Pride and Prejudice variations (published Pride and Prejudice fan-fiction/retelling). Plus, I have a good friend who talks to me about books a lot, and we have a private chat where we recommend books to each other. I figured since I read that much, might as well write about it as well
Pride and Prejudice/JAFF (Jane Austen Fan-fiction) and Slow-burn Contemporary Romance
Your fave book/s:
That’s the hardest question you could ask a bibliophile! haha
Pride and Prejudice is my ultimate favorite.
For Contemporary Romance:
My faves are:
- The Wall of Winnipeg by Mariana Zapata
- The Hating Game by Sally Thorne,
For P&P variations:
- The Muse by Jessica Evans
- Unequal Affections by Lara Ormiston
Your fave quotes:
I have three! haha
The distance is nothing when one has a motive.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
There’s a belief that to take care of someone else, or to let someone else take care of you––that both are inherently unfeminist. I don’t agree. There’s no shame in devoting yourself to another person, as long as he devotes himself to you in return.
Curtis Sittenfeld, Eligible
I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected to me.
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
On Book Blogging
Why did you start book blogging?
My friend and I have been talking about books, and we have this private group where we post the books we want and explain why we loved it. I also had a Pride and Prejudice variations blog on Tumblr, so I figured I should just make a legit book blog so I can include the other books I read.
How do you do your book reviews?
- Rating & Heat Scale
Like any other review, you need to add your rating. I have a 1 to 5 rating scale with half points, and a heat scale of Sweet to Wild Ride to determine the degree of physical intimacy in the book. Sweet is for the minimum (mostly YA and Christian romance novels fall in this scale) and Wild Ride is for the maximum (graphic sex scenes and alternative lifestyles; Think Fifty Shades of Grey)
- Summary & Basic Information about the characters
I write it as if answering a friend who asked about the book. I’ll give the gist of the story without giving out too much (anything in the synopsis/blurb is fair game). Readers would want to know a little about the characters before reading the book, so I’ll write about the principal characters and a little about their life in the book. For Contemporary Romance especially, it’s important to know who the hero and heroine are. Is the hero an alpha or an asshole? Is the heroine a strong, independent woman or a doormat?
For Pride and Prejudice variations, aside from the gist, I’ll write if the story followed the canon (plot of the original) or if it deviated, and if the character’s personality is loyal to the original.
- Important points to justify your rating
Why did I rate the book 5 stars? Or why 3 or 1? It can’t be just “I didn’t like the plot so I gave it a 1”. What did you not like about the plot? If it’s the pacing, plot holes, character flaws, or trigger topics, mention that, then explain why you liked/didn’t like it.
- Will I recommend this book? If yes, to whom should I recommend it?
There are a lot of sub-genres in Romance and romance readers have different tastes, so make sure that if you’re going to recommend it, explain what kind of story it is. Is it sweet or angsty? Fast-paced or slow-burn? Love to hate, or friends to lovers?
e.g., If you love fun, fast-paced, friends-to-lovers romance novels with great banter and strong female leads, you’ll definitely enjoy this book!
Can you really avoid spoiling the crowd? If yes, how do you do it?
Yes. Books have synopsis and blurbs, so base it on that. If it’s not in the synopsis or blurb, and it’s important, it’s a spoiler. Moreover, read your review and imagine yourself as someone who hasn’t read the book you’re writing about. If you think it’s going to spoil you, it’s absolutely going to spoil anyone who might read your review.
Any tips on writing book reviews/book blogging?
The most significant thing to remember when you write reviews is to stay honest without being offensive to the author or the potential reader.
- Constructive criticism is not the same as bashing. If you didn’t like the book, try to stay as diplomatic as possible.
- Write the things you didn’t enjoy about the book but make sure to write the things you loved about it, as well.
Authors have feelings, too, and pointless bashing will not help them hone their craft.
That concludes my short interview about Nissa and her book blog, Of Pens and Pages. I hope you’d visit her blog and check out her reviews. You may even treat it as your guide if you have thought of buying books under contemporary romance. 😊