Turn the Tables – Steph Warren

Book bloggers are invaluable to authors and help to get our books known, make recommendations for future reading and are generally supportive without any compensation except our heartfelt thanks.

They often feature authors on their blogs and it suddenly occurred to me, it might be nice to ‘turn the tables’ and actually feature book bloggers on an author’s site as a way of showing appreciation.

This is the first in a series I will be running over the next few months, and it’s a fascinating start. Please pop over to the blogger’s site, (details below) and give them a round of applause.

Hello and welcome. Lovely to have you here. Hospitality first – Tea, coffee or something stronger?

Ooh, tea would be lovely! Oat milk and one sugar, please!

Now we’re settled would you like to introduce yourself and the name of your blog?

I’m Steph and my blog is called Bookshine and Readbows. The name really reflects my personality – incurably optimistic and a bit on the sickeningly cheerful side – rather than my reading tastes, which encompass… well, pretty much anything really!

How long have you been blogging and what got you started?

I started my blog in 2017 when I found myself with rather too much time on my hands and a feeling of hopeless unproductivity thanks to a chronic illness diagnosis that stole away my day job and most of my social life (I kept the husband and kids!). An author friend suggested that my love of reading could be turned into an outlet to help myself and authors at the same time, and I fell into it joyfully. I have always been an obsessive, compulsive reader and this gave me an excuse to indulge myself and feel useful again.

On average, how long does it take you to prepare a blog post?

I set my posts up on a template so that bit generally doesn’t take more than half an hour, depending on how easy it is to collate any relevant pictures and author information. I write my notes on a book immediately after reading, in a kind of brain dump splurge, and often only write the review days or weeks (or months…!) later.

The actual writing of my opinion can take anything from ten minutes up to an hour. I find it a lot easier to write reviews of books I have strong feelings about – for better or worse – rather than books that I just pleasantly enjoyed, as I always want to be able to say something new and relevant, rather than just repeating the same platitudes, however true they might be.

Do you have a set time or day when you post your blog, or does it depend on what else you are involved with at the time?

If I am organised enough to schedule a post in advance, I tend to set it for 7am or 9am. If I have two in one day, I would then schedule the second one for 1pm. But if I’m scrabbling then I just post as soon as I’ve got the thoughts on the page!

Approximately how many books do you read in a typical week/month?

This is a bit of a tricky one, as it depends greatly on my fluctuating health!

I’ve checked my Goodreads stats and have read 161 books as of 4th August 2022, which works out as roughly 23 books per month, so I guess that is a rough guide. I do read pretty fast – a superpower that I didn’t see much demand for until I became a bookblogger. Now I wish I could read faster!

Do you read on Kindle, paperback or both?

Both. I prefer a hard- or paperback book, but my Kindle is so handy for out-and-about, and I always feel it’s easier (and cheaper!) for authors and publishers to send e-copies than finished books.

What is your favourite genre, and are there any categories you won’t read?

I will read pretty much anything if the blurb, cover and title grab me. That said, my personal bookcases are packed with fantasy (especially urban, comic and fairytales) and mystery (especially cosy, comic and classic). And I am less likely to grab anything that mentions gangsters, espionage or Westerns (although less likely doesn’t mean never!).

What do you love about blogging, and is there anything you dislike?

I love the books, the authors, the publishers, the PR people, the blog tour organisers, the other bookbloggers and the other readers.

I struggle with deadlines (again, due to my health) and I HATE having to turn a review request down because my plate is already overflowing! I wish I could read them all.

What’s the best way for an author to approach you and request a book review?

Via my email.

I don’t mind if an approach isn’t personalised – although I do love it when someone makes the effort! – but I do all of my review schedule organising through my email (bookshineandreadbows@outlook.com) and so when authors approach me through my social media channels to request a review, I always worry that I’ll miss them. Especially as the social media accounts don’t always notify me about new messages!

Ideally, how much notice would you like to be able to review an author’s book?

The more notice the better, as I tend to be full months in advance, due to my policy of not turning down books if I have the space for them. And I can’t always promise a timeline at all, due to my health issues interfering, but if I say I will review a book then a review will ALWAYS come, even if it is long after I planned.

What is the worst thing an author can do when requesting a review, and is there anything you find really irritating?

I don’t worry about things like using the wrong name or blog name (mistakes happen!) or generic emails (timesaving!) but I do hate when authors argue with me about my schedule.

I really don’t like turning any books down and only do it when I really don’t feel like I can fit any more in, so when an author starts sending me further emails insisting that their book is a ‘really quick read’ or ‘unmissable’, it immediately puts me off trying to squeeze them in in the future. And yes, this does happen!

On which platforms do you share your reviews? (Facebook, Amazon, Goodreads etc.)

Well, on my blog, obviously, and that automatically posts links to my Facebook and Twitter accounts for me. If it is a hard copy of a book then I usually create an Instagram post with a photo of the cover, but I don’t tend to use Instagram for Kindle reads as my Kindle is quite an old-school, black and white one, so pictures don’t look very enticing!

I copy all of my blog posts to Goodreads and Amazon (UK and US) as standard, and am happy to post to other sites on request.

Have you any suggestions for newbies wishing to gain an audience?

I try not to worry about viewer stats and things like that, and just focus on sharing the book love and giving my honest opinions about the books.

Joining blog tours and sharing other blogger’s posts is a good way to create relationships with the community, and many authors and publishers will share reviews if you tag them (although you should NEVER tag an author in a critical review, only the glowing ones!).

Mainly, if you are enjoying yourself, then other people will enjoy reading your blog!

Thank you so much for being my guest, and on behalf of authors everywhere, thank you also for being part of the support network of book bloggers, who provide the stepping stones between authors and readers.

Thanks for having me! 😊


Wow. I didn’t expect such an great insight. Thanks so much, Steph for being my guest, and despite all your health problems I’m pleased you kept the husband and kids. 😀 Purely coincidence but I started my author career when an accident left me hospitalised and bed bound, but gave me the time and opportunity to write my first novel.

Readbows and Rainbows are us.

Here are the links but as Steph suggests the best way to contact her regarding her review schedule is by email, and allow time for the bad days if she doesn’t respond immediately. Thanks for reading. x

Website:  https://bookshineandreadbows.wordpress.com/blog/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bookshineblog/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/bookshineblog

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/bookshineblog

Email:  bookshineandreadbows@outlook.com


3 thoughts on “Turn the Tables – Steph Warren

  1. My Goodness, all those books in such a short time – 23 per month! I am seriously impressed. When do you eat, sleep and have a life? Talk about dedication. You are amazing and thanks goodness for people like you. So interesting finding out about you. Thanks Val and thanks Steph. Good luck.,

    Liked by 1 person

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