Books and coffee are two of our favourite things, so we were super excited to discover Book Baristas, a site bringing readers ‘hot drinks and hotter reads’ (and also some really stunning Instagram pics). We caught up with Natasha, the main Book Barista, to learn a little more about her review process and what she loves to read.
Can you tell us a bit about your site: how long have you been reviewing and why did you start?
I started Book Baristas with a friend last June (2014) because I wanted to contribute something to the book community, seeing as I had been reading a ton of books in such a short amount of time. I truly believe that the best way to support a book and its author is to leave a review (whether good or bad) because feedback will benefit both readers and authors. Also, who doesn’t want to tell the world about their favourite reads and why they think you should fall in love with them, too?
What kind of books do you review?
I review a ton of romance novels, both young and new adult, as well as the occasional thrillers! I don’t mean to narrow down my reading genres; it’s just what I’m currently obsessed with. That being said, I would review any kind of novel that I would want to promote on my site.
What’s your reviewing process?
I don’t feel that I have an actual reviewing process; I just sit down and start typing my thoughts on the novel. I like adding in my favourite quotes and explaining certain parts that I really enjoyed without giving away too much about the story. Short and sweet is my review motto!
How do you decide what to read next?
I have a ridiculously long TBR list that’s actually daunting to think about. That being said, I like to schedule some of my readings so as to not drown in my TBR. If I get off track (which happens, a LOT), it’s probably because someone recommends me a read that I just have to get to, ASAP.
What are three key things you look for in a good story?
I’ve never thought of having key things to look for in a good story—I love going into a new book with zero expectations and letting the story give me what it wants. Some key things that can keep my interest in a story include realistic dialogue, an interesting plot, and a unique writing style.
What do you love most about reading, and why is it important?
Oh gosh, I love everything about reading—being able to escape the world into one made out of just words and pages. It’s seriously incredible to think that a book can do that for you—it can be an escape without you having to actually escape. Reading is so important because it also does more than just give you some time away from your non-fiction life; it educates you and makes you a better-rounded person.
Why are book reviews are important?
Like I said before, book reviews give you a place to air your thoughts on a story and allow you to provide feedback to the author and their readers. So pretty much, you get to rave about your favourite stories and hopefully help someone else find their favourite story, too!
What’s been your favourite read so far this year?
Without a doubt, Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid is my favourite read of the year. I would go so far as to say it is my favourite read, ever.
What five books should everyone reading this add to their TBR pile?
Eeep, I have too many that I want people to read! Okay, the five books everyone should add to their TBR right this moment are:
Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Healing, Hope and Wholeness by Ceci Frost
Trust No One by Paul Cleave
If you could live inside a book, which one would you pick?
There are so many books I’d love to live inside, but I think I would choose The Allure of Julian Lefray by R.S. Grey because it is all kinds of hilarious and steamy. I can totally dig that.
Which three fictional characters would you most like to meet and why?
Only three?! I’d choose Niall Stella from Beautiful Secret by Christina Lauren because he might actually be my dream guy. I’d also choose Matisse Evans from Between Everything and Us by Rebecca Paula because she is one helluva gal. She’s so brave and talented and even though she is afraid of the future, she does what she has to do to get to where she wants to be. Aka, she’s kind of my role model. Lastly, I’d choose to meet Max from Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin. He is one of the most beautiful fictional characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. A true inspiration and his story is one I will never forget.
Who is the one character you’d never want to run into in real life?
Definitely Amarantha from A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I would very much never like to meet her—ever.
What advice would you give to new and aspiring reviewers?
Be honest with your reviews. Try not to get too stressed—you are doing this for fun! Don’t feel bad about not finishing books that you aren’t feeling—not every book is going to capture your attention. Your time is valuable so use it wisely. Read what you love and forget what you don’t. Be respectful with your reviews. Remember that authors are people and when they release their work into the abyss of publishing, they are putting pieces of themselves into their stories. That being said, if you didn’t like a certain book, it’s not because it was a bad book, it just might not have been your kind of book. I firmly believe there is a reader for every book, so be honest with your opinion while still being respectful!
What advice would you give to emerging writers?
I can’t imagine that I could give solid advice to emerging writers, but as a reader, I’d say to write what you would love to read. If you’re passionate about your work, it will show, and readers will love you for it! At the end of the day, writing is for you and we are all just invited to read what you are willing to give us.
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