Writers, Bookstagram & Mt. Rushmore | Reflections #2 Ft. Rekha Rao

Hello Awesomengers,

Welcome to the 2nd interview from the Reflections – an interview series where I bring talented people and help you know more about them and their field.

Our today’s guest is Rekha Rao from thebookdecoder.com. She is one of the top book reviewers on the GoodReads and NetGalley.

How did you first get into blogging?

I love to write. But writing on a platform like wordpress was something that didn’t happen until mid-2016. I was at home, adjusting to the new ‘life’ after facial paralysis. I wanted to divert my mind from the trauma and writing my thoughts sounded therapeutic.

Although I did not write much (or anything, for that matter) about my PTSD or the pain I had to go through every day and night, I found a new voice through my blog. I have always been the ‘weirdo’ kid in the school and neighborhood.

This weirdo kid was liked by the blogosphere. My quirky and witty sayings got me a few fans. Ahem! There was a time when I was nominated for almost all the awards in the blogosphere- multiple times. Just because they liked my “tell me about yourself” question.

I mean, how hard can it be, right? I have two eyes, one nose, two ears, blah blah – see? Doesn’t this prove I am a human? Not that I have seen any alien but ‘beings’ around me (the ones that walk, talk and have absolutely zero common sense) have similar features. (just to be clear my common sense is not zero, thank you very much for doubting!)

Anyways, nobody still wants to hear of my views on the universe. All this when I have literally been shouting saying I am an alien!

Speaking of which, if you believe men are from mars and women are from venus, that makes all of us aliens. So please go back to your respective planets. Bugger off, aliens!

So, coming back to the topic of discussion. I am very good at going off topic. Don’t mind. Even if you do, not my problem, you alien!

I do a little bit of photography. I love spending time in nature. I also happen to live in a place known as the ‘Garden city of India'(yay me!!). As the name suggests, we do have a botanical garden here which hosts biannual flower shows. So, I found blogging as a way to portray my photography skills. (Who doesn’t love a praise or two or hundred?)

I read a lot of books. Like, A LOT. With the break, I definitely managed to read at least 150 books per year. I started a book review blog in 2018. As of now, my blog is in the top 100 FeedSpot list. (Please, (don’t) stop clapping.) Yay me!! I recently had my mini-celebrity moment when my best books of 2020 went viral. Yay me, again!! Lotsa yay me’s this year.
So, the question remains, how did I first get into blogging? By fluke. I googled “how and where to blog” and created a WordPress account. Simple dimple, pus-filled pimple. Yuck!

Who is on your Mt Rushmore of all-time great writers?

Oh my gosh! (Adding a little drama to the answer) *tense music* tick tock tick tock.

The first detective novel I read was Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I have read all her books. Re-read some too. So, Christie’s in the list. Definitely in the list.

Next comes George Bellairs. Another fantastic writer of Golden Age Fiction era, I cannot believe many people do not know about Bellairs. I am doing my part in spreading the word about Bellairs’ books because honestly, you will forget Poirot and Marple once you start to read Inspector Littlejohn’s sleuthing adventures. Poirot ranks second in my list of best fictional detectives. Thank god for Littlejohn series!!

You will forget #Poirot & #Marple once you start to read Inspector Littlejohn’s sleuthing adventures. Poirot ranks second in my list of best fictional detectives. Thank god for Littlejohn series!!

Mahesh, can I do a little bit of cheating here? I certainly think the next two should also be Bellairs. All right, anyways, buggers cannot be losers, right? What is that you say? That’s not how the saying goes? Bah!

The third writer would be… tick tock tick tockArthur Conan Doyle. This guy was certainly a genius. Did you know he based the main character (Holmes, duh) on his best friend?

Now, do I really have to choose 4 writers? I believe 3 is a nice number so I am going with three faces. (Whatcha gonna do?) smirk

Mahesh: Because the 4th one is you!?😅

Anyway, moving on… I was recently trying to find book bloggers to get my book reviewed. I noticed that many of them haven’t mentioned their review policy on their blogs…

Can you tell us what other things are essential for a review blog so it will be easier for readers as well as authors?

What is a review? An opinion by a person, right?
As a reviewer for over two years, I have realized it is good to have an own style. Some write posh words (ahem!) And short sentences while some write stories about the stories they read (double ahem. I fall under the latter category).

As a reviewer, I feel readers who are looking for their next best reads must have an idea as to what to expect from a book.

Are the characters likable? Yes? no? Why? What did I like about the story? What didn’t work for me? Why do I, as a reader/reviewer, think you must read this book? The questions are endless and it all depends on what one might want to include in their review.

Again. Review policy is something that’s totally specific to a reviewer. Some might not want to include because they feel “what review policy? I review books, end of story” shrugs

M – I asked this because I have a really bad experience approaching book bloggers, I had to reach out to people only to know that they don’t review poetry or do not take soft copies… And that’s frustrating, I mean if they had mentioned that on their blog, It would have saved my time.

R – Hmm, that’s true. This is necessary. If they have a contact page mentioned, they should add what kind of review copies they want. I haven’t mentioned what genres I do not read, I need to change in the blog page now 😜

Actually, I had experimented on this on my blog. I had a review policy page on my blog. How well did it work? Well, when I specifically said I don’t read horror or fantasy fiction, I received requests to review the books of the same. So you be the judge of how well these things work.

There is one thing I wanted to say –

As a reviewer, I feel one must bash the book (if your read is really really bad)and not the author. I have seen people say things like “the author must stop writing because they do not know how to”.

A reviewer must understand authors are human beings too. They have written something and it did not work with you. Say why you did not like the book. Were the characters annoying (this happens many a time because we do tend to relate the annoying character to someone we know)? Were the sentences long and difficult to read? Was there a lot of beating around the bush? Criticize the work, not the author.

Criticize the work, not the author. #bookreview

If you could be a character from any book for a week, who would you be and why?

This is tough. But I do have an answer. Two, actually.
First, I would like to be Inspector Littlejohn. He’s the best okay, so no questions here.

Next, I would like to be Stella Wright. She’s a 30yr old candlemaker from Nantucket- Christin Brecher’s Nantucket candlemaker series. When I first read the book(the debut in the series), I immediately liked Stella. We are of the same age, have the same breed of cat (go tuxedo!!) And are completely wackalicious!!!

Though I know you are not on Instagram / Youtube, do you have any favourite bookstagrammer / booktuber?

Bookstagram? I have seen a few bookstagram posts and frankly, I do not like whatever they do to the books. Add some glitter, flowers and lights around the book, and there is no actual “review” of the same, why? You are supposed to read the book, not send it to the bling-bling contest for God’s sake!!!

There might be bookstagrammers who use their Instagram profile to spread the word about a book but I prefer WordPress better. And of course, twitter. (Well. I am only on these two sites so what can I say?)

You can follow her here-

Published by Mahesh Mali

Author of 'Reflections of My Youth' | Student @ SPPU | Former Fellow @BeingVolunteer | Freelancer @PlayoApp | Tennis Player

12 thoughts on “Writers, Bookstagram & Mt. Rushmore | Reflections #2 Ft. Rekha Rao

  1. I loved it… very well written… keep it up… I’ve followed you..I hope to see some more amazing stuff by you.. 😊 Please checkout my blog too… I hope you’ll have a good time reading them… lots of love.. 😊

    My blog link :-https://wordpress.com/home/jv4society.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

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