Book Blogger Q & A: Vilma Gonzalez from Vilma’s Book Blog

Not surprisingly, I read a lot of book blogs, and Vilma’s Book Blog is one of my absolute favourites. Vilma’s reviews are fun and informative, she offers great recommendations and her site is just gogreous! This week Vilma was kind enough to share a little about her site and what she loves to read. Here’s what she had to say:

Can you tell us a bit about your site: how long have you been reviewing and why did you start?

Hi Margot, thanks for having me! I’m thrilled to chat with you! So, I started my blog—Vilma’s Book Blog—end of February 2013. I had been running a small lifestyle blog, but my passion has always been reading and writing. My best friend had just been bitten by the reading bug (post Fifty Shades and Twilight) and so I created an Excel document that kept track of all the books I read and recommended, including my thoughts on each, along with rating and characters. Before long, the Excel document kept getting passed around and the idea hit me… why not turn my blog into a book blog? That being said, I had no idea what to do! It was a HUGE learning experience, but one that’s been so much fun. 

What kind of books do you review? 

I read very diversely. Everything from romance to suspense, from fantasy to historical, in YA, NA and Adult categories. I’m simply in search of a good story. My tastes also shift quite often, and right now, I have a penchant for Young Adult Fantasy. Authors like Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh and Victoria Aveyard have made the genre so exciting with their latest releases. There are some interesting, exciting tropes and topics being explored, and I can’t seem to get enough. That being said, I especially love it when there is a thread of romance woven through any story. I’m a sucker for a happily ever after!

What’s your reviewing process?

My review process has changed drastically since the beginning, and as my blog has grown. At first, I participated in every blog tour I could, trying to increase awareness of my blog in the community. But over time, the amount of work and deadlines overwhelmed me and I scaled back.

Now, however, I’ve finally given myself the luxury of choosing exactly what I want to read. I want to be able to feed my interests and look ahead at what trends I want to explore. I do continue to get requests and recommendations that I look through to see if anything calls my attention, but I want to avoid getting overwhelmed again. Lots of people don’t realize I work full time too, and along with having a family, there just isn’t a lot of time for me to read/review/answer emails and messages/Tweet, Facebook and Instagram! O_o 

Vilma’s Book Blog is gorgeous. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with the look?

Thank you so very much! By day I work in Marketing, so my primary objective was to design a site that was easy to use. Of course, I wanted to make sure the website was pretty and represented my style, but it was crucial the pages were easy to navigate, especially with the significant amount of content. I worked out every page and navigation point into a document, and worked with Katie of Priceless Design Studio to bring that vision to life. She was amazing and delivered something that exceeded my expectations! I have some exciting changes coming too, so hopefully the site will continue to be a place readers find valuable content. 

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How do you share your reviews and connect with other bloggers?

Reviews are shared via email to subscribers, and then posted on social media, Goodreads and Amazon. My work week dictates I am pretty heads down, but events allow me to network with my fellow bloggers and that is always a lot of fun. There are so many amazing bloggers out there, each with different approaches and reviewing tastes, so there really is something for everyone. 

How do you decide what to read next?

Such a hard question, right?! I am usually completely planned out 3 months ahead, but at the end of a month, I review my TBR list, prioritize and try to give myself some flexibility for the unforseen. Sometimes, I want to rip my list up and read something completely different and I have to give myself that flexibility. 

What are three key things you look for in a good story? 

Great question! Overall, I love it when stories are more than surface deep. I love complex storylines and characters that surprise me along the way. There are four areas I tend to focus on as I think about the book in question…

  • Character arc and depth – Did the characters show growth and complexity? Did their actions make sense within the framework of the story?
  • Plot complexity – Was the plot thoughtful and engaging? Were there surprises and twists that made the story more intriguing and fascinating to read?
  • Writing – Was the writing good? Tight? Novel in style or approach?
  • Enjoyability – Was it fun to read? Did I read at stoplights? Did it keep me awake at 2 am? That is usually the sign of a 5- or 6-star read. 

What do you love most about reading, and why is it important?

The escape. The ability to travel and experience things that perhaps aren’t possible in my own life. I can follow a kickass, sword-wielding heroine, I can go back in time to Elizabethan England, I can help find the murderer in a mystery, I can fall in love with a vampire geneticist and converse with witches and super natural beings.

I mean, that’s everything right?!

Why are book reviews are important?

Book reviews should help give readers insight into a book, to help make their decision making easier. They shouldn’t give spoilers, they shouldn’t recap the whole story. Finding the right blogger for you (with similar tastes), can help make your TBR way more enjoyable. 

What’s been your favourite read so far this year?

I can’t pick just one, but I can give you a few!

Queen of Shadows and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah, Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith.

What five books should everyone reading this add to their TBR pile? 

Other than the ones above?! Let’s see…

For YA readers:

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  2. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  3. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  5. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

For romance/adult readers:

  1. The Bronze Horseman Trilogy by Paullina Simons (favourite series ever)
  2. The Bourbon Kings by JR Ward
  3. All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
  4. Anything by Kristen Ashley
  5. The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah

This question was hard!!! You can see more of my favorites here.

If you could live inside a book, which one would you pick?

I would love to kick some butt with Caelena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series. She wears a black leather suit that hides all kinds of weapons… how cool is that?!

And oh, I would love to go to Hogwarts!

Which three fictional characters would you most like to meet and why? 

  • Matthew Clairmont from the All Souls trilogy (SWOON) so we can talk science and literature.
  • Any guy (and their gal) from the hot bunch in Kristen Ashley’s books, so we can get coffee from Tex and then grab cocktails with the girls.
  • Sherlock Holmes. So I can watch him work and help him solve a mystery.

Who is the one character you’d never want to run into in real life? 

Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles. She is one scary, murdering queen.

What advice would you give to new and aspiring reviewers?

Be yourself. Figure out what you want to do with your blog, deliver the content you want to deliver, read what you want to read. It has to be FUN 

What advice would you give to emerging writers?

Same advice as above. Be yourself. Believe in yourself. Write the book you want to write.

I know getting blogger coverage is important too, and to that I would say find a blogger that is the right fit for your book… that may not always be the biggest blogger too.

And time. Everything takes time and hard work. You are amazing for putting yourself out there!

For more about Vilma and her reviews, head on over to Vilma’s Book Blog. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Goodreads

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