It’s always a great pleasure when a writer finds a book blogger who is fair, positive and enthusiastic in their reviews, and I believe that the lovely Catherine Bibby, who runs Rochelle’s Reviews, easily fits that description.
Take a look at her blog; I think it is beautifully designed, and wonderfully comprehensive. Her joyful enthusiasm clearly shines through, and I love the organisation behind the site – take a look at the Authors A-Z page, the Book Database page, and the constantly updated Books Available on Amazon Directory is superb – detailing all books Catherine is currently aware of, organised by category: Free, 99 cents, $1.99, $2.99, On Sale, Kindle Unlimited, Coming Soon, Just Released, and Reviewed!
I asked Catherine if she could take some time out of her busy schedule to agree to an interview, and I was delighted that she agreed to let me know more about the heart of a book blogger who adores stories about the beauty and power of erotic love. I wanted this interview to be a long and detailed one, because I thought it was only fair to shine the spotlight of support on a hardworking reader and reviewer who has tirelessly supported us authors, and I’m so glad that she was so patient with my probing questions!
So, it’s over to you, Catherine… and by the way, the graphics in this interview for “Rochelle’s Recommended Read”, “Myka and the Millionaire”, and “The Claiming of Callan” were designed by Catherine and her husband. Aren’t they beautiful?
Tell me about your love of reading – how has it developed over your life?
Ever since I was little, I loved to read. My mom said I actually learned to read from my grandma’s romance books when I was laying beside her. So I guess my love for romance started then… lol.
My grandmother had books all over the house, and was particularly fond of historical romances. My mom is a reader as well – she has always liked Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel, but I recently got her into the newer edgier romances. My hubby actually bought her the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy for her birthday last year… lol.
I am an only child, and have never really had friends who liked to read, which made me the odd duck, but it didn’t stop me from constantly having my head in a book.
I have always tried to instill reading in my daughters’ lives. We started when they were young, taking them to story time at the library, and perusing the books afterwards to find some books to take home. I have always believed in the freedom of what you read, so I try to give my girls lenient boundaries on what they pick. They have even read a few of my favorite milder romances. I feel that if you put up too many limits on what they read, then they won’t develop the love for reading.
With your father being in the military, did you move around a lot as a child, and would you say that reading offered you a sense of stability?
We moved around A LOT! Which I think helped me to learn about the differences in the way people live in different regions, and to be more tolerant of people who are different from yourself.
As you age and go through adolescence, it becomes harder to make friends, so I became more introspective, and my books became my friends. I talk about characters like they are friends, and love to discuss story lines, which is what I love most about the booking community, because I have found so many book lovers like myself.
What does reading mean for you? And what do you look for in a book?
Reading means so much to me. I gave it up for a long time when my kids were younger, but am a much happier person now that I have rediscovered my love for reading. I am an introvert, so I have always thought of characters and books as my friends. It is my escape from reality, and romance shows us the love that the world has. I have to have my Happily Ever Afters.
If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only have five romance books, what would they be, and why?
I would have to say Texas! Sage by Sandra Brown, because it is one of my old favorites, and I named both of my girls from female characters in the book. Foreplay by Sophie Jordan, because this was the first romance book I read after my long absence from reading. Resist Me by Chelle Bliss, because Izzy is such a strong female and James does not try to stifle her, he glories in her strength and she submits to him.
Asher by Jo Raven, because only she can write about troubled bad boys with such a tragic past that you just want to wrap your arms around them, and never let go. Hard To Break by Bella Jewel, because her female characters are amazing, and this was the first book I read when I discovered her books. They are strong, witty, passionate about life, sexy and sassy!
Her Alpha’s Heart series shows women with jobs that are usually considered male oriented, such as bounty hunter, mechanic, and body guard. They do them with such zest, and the men who love them encourage and admire their women.
What makes a good book blog?
Giving new authors a chance is what makes a book blog better. If you just go after the big names in your preferred genre, you may miss out on some budding new authors that you otherwise might not have discovered. I have been blessed with many new amazing books, and have become friends with the authors as well.
What makes a good review?
I think objectivity is one of the main keys. I read books outside of my favorite genres at times, and even if I didn’t particularly care for it, I ask myself if I think a lover of that genre would like the story line, characters, and the writing style. Books are like art and music, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
I also like reviews to be positive. Give your honest opinion, but be kind, because the author puts in a lot of time and effort to share that story with the readers. There is no need to be negative.
Another thing that makes a good review… is to talk about how the story line and characters made you feel, but to be vague about the story. The reader should be able to read a review and still discover all the surprises in the book along the way. I never want to spoil a book for the reader.
How many novels do you read a week? How many hours a day do you spend reading?
It is hard to judge how many, because they are all of varying lengths, but I read at least 5-6 a week. I used to love to visit old books again, but do not have much time for that anymore, due to the demand of reviewing. I leave one fictional world, and am off to the next. I have had to learn how to transition quickly, to give every new book and author a chance.
I read from about 8pm every evening, until anywhere from midnight till 2am in the morning. How late I can make it really depends on how full my day has been.
There is so much more to the blog than just writing posts. After I read a book, I post my review on goodreads, and post the same review on Amazon and my blog on the day of release. I add a some quotes to give the readers a glimpse at the book when they stop by and visit. I also schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, and even pin posts to Pinterest. It really doesn’t do the author any good if I post a review but do not draw the readers to my blog, Amazon, or goodreads to check out the book.
I try to schedule at least 15 posts a day consisting of reviews from Rochelle’s Reviews, and I like to find different books that would interest me on Amazon and point those out to the readers as well. I guess I would say I spend about 3-4 hours a day reviewing, posting, and blogging.
The great thing is, I can schedule it around family time. Although when you are on vacation, it gets a little tricky trying to get everything done, and spend extra time with family that you don’t normally see.
Does your love of reading eclipse your watching of TV and movies?
I do prefer books to movies. When watching a TV show or movie, it is more of a group activity, and you compromise on what you want to watch. You have to stop and start according to what is going on in life, but I prefer to read “racier” stuff that others might not deem appropriate. Although my family does not judge me based on my reading material.
As a family, we have read some YA books together, and we love to go and see the movies when they are released. The characters and story line aren’t always portrayed the way we imagine them, but we take into consideration creative licensing.
Reading offers you to use our imagination more. You can imagine the surroundings and characters the way that you would like. I think that it helps stimulate the flow of creativity, and that is why I believe so strongly that children should read on a daily basis.
What qualities do you look for in a book boyfriend?
I want him to be a commanding, take charge kind of guy. I don’t really prefer the debonair millionaires, I like the tattooed bad boys. Self confidence and cockiness is a must!
He has to be the type to throw the heroine up against a wall, and have his way with her and not be submissive. At the same time, some of the men in these books need their egos deflated… lol.
He should keep her hot and bothered, but also cherish and protect her. The more of a dirty talker the better! Women love dialogue to go along with their sexy action… speak up and tell her what you want to do to her!
I loved Julian from Julian & Lia by Maria Monroe, James from Resist Me by Chelle Bliss, and Kane from Protecting His Forever by LeAnn Ashers that is coming out this February…oh my did he rock my world! Dirty, sweet, and protective…that is the way I like them!
What qualities do you look for in a heroine?
I cannot state enough that I like the strong females. Maybe that is why I don’t usually care for BDSM, unless the female sub is still strong outside of the bedroom.
I want a heroine who is sassy! Who can stand toe to toe with a man verbally, passionately, and with her wits! No weak women here! Just amazing women that are head strong, have a colorful vocabulary, and hearts of gold for the people they love.
Izzy Gallo from Resist Me is a good example, because she thought that to be submissive in the bedroom that she would have to be weak, and she thought she could only have a guy who was submissive to her. James came crashing into her life and showed her who was boss in the bedroom, but cherished her and her opinion no matter what!
Addison from Bella Jewel’s MC Sinners series is another one, and the list could go on and on. A woman shouldn’t have to give up her own opinion about the world and herself to be loved – she should be able to flourish with the right man!
What are your thoughts about paper books versus ebooks?
I use to love paper books, but now I am ereader all the way, although now I have started a signed books collection. The pro of the ebooks is that the ereader is compact and able to hold so many books. I like that mine is backlit, which helps with my eyes since I am not getting any younger, and it is easier to hold an ereader for longer periods of time.
The pro of a paper book is that I used to always turn to the back first and read the last page, so I could prepare myself and start with the end in mind. I also like that I didn’t have to worry about battery power when I was traveling – now when reading, the low battery sign terrifies me…lol.
I recently acquired a Kindle Fire 7 and absolutely love it! Before that I owned one of the first generation kindles, then a tablet that didn’t really do well, then a Nobis tablet that lasted a year. I am hoping that my kindle fire 7 can stay with me longer.
I cannot really tell how many books are on it, but I would say over 300, since I read 220 just last year, so possibly even more. I am a frugal person, so I became a Kindle Unlimited customer years ago to feed my addiction without the guilt of taking money from the family. There were still a few select authors that I would still purchase their books. Now with being a blogger, I hardly ever have to purchase a book and I read non stop!
I use my kindle with black text on white. I seem to mostly use it just for reading, and use my laptop for social media, review posting and blogging. I use my ereaders so much for reading, that I want to extend the life of my ereader and not use it for other uses, unless absolutely necessary. Although I do have my email and social media apps downloaded. I am an Amazon Prime user too, actually I don’t know how people live without it, but I use it solely from my laptop.
What you said about reading the last page first is really interesting, can you tell me more about that?
I have always been a bit of an anxious person, and my brain and body have to be engaged in an activity all the time. Reading and blogging are the only times I usually sit still and don’t worry about every little “what if”. I like to be in control, even when life tends to throw wrenches in our plans.
So I even wanted to be in control of my reading, and I would ask myself questions such as… What if it is a love triangle, and I really like the guy that she doesn’t pick? What if one of my favorite characters dies? I would read the last page to kind of prepare myself. I know that sounds silly, but since I started reading kindle books, I have stopped doing that, and I feel like I am enjoying the stories more. I am trying to learn how to relax and give up control in different areas of life.
You are given a magic wand. It allows you to be any heroine in any romance book you’ve read. Who do you choose to be, and why?
Delaney from Hard To Forget because I admire her for being a bodyguard which is such a male dominated career; her bravery to protect and serve is unparalleled. Noelle Bond from the Hollywood Files series – she is a private investigator in a family full of detectives, and doesn’t let anyone intimidate her. Lia from Julian & Lia because she gives up the person that she loves so that he can accept a prestigious job offer while she finishes college. She was completely selfless… luckily they eventually get their HEA.
What are the worst mistakes a romance writer can make?
To forgo the sexual tension in a romance, although it still works for some romances. Romance and Erotica are completely different, and I think that there should be emotional attachment first with a romance. Erotica is more about sexual gratification. I prefer not to have the H/h die at the end. I stopped reading YA because they tortured me with it. Romance should be all about the HEA – if I wanted reality I would watch the news for entertainment.
What mistakes can a romance writer make when creating a hero, and a heroine?
A hero has to have the perfect combination of caveman and gentleman: he can slap her ass, sling her over his shoulder, and especially have his way with her against the wall, which is one of my favorites. But let him cross the line into disrespect, or call her names, and that’s it, I am no longer a fan. My motto is dominate in the bedroom but cherish the heroine.
What I dislike in a heroine is if she is weak willed, and lets the hero treat her bad. That is unacceptable, I only like to read about strong heroines who can stand their ground. Submissive in the bedroom or dominate, I don’t care which role they play, but in the story they must command admiration and respect.
Tell me more about the kind of love you enjoy in the books.
I want a love that can endure tragedy and persevere, although I don’t like to see them endure too much pain as a couple, and be apart for most of the book… I want to see the romance!
When a hero falls in love with a heroine with a child/children, and treats them like their own, my heart melts. I love a hero and heroines love that will allow each other to be who they really are, and not try to change each other, and together they become better people.
I found that reading hasn’t just allowed me to explore the power of love but all different walks of life from doctors, fashion designers, rock stars even being a stunt double. I find every book to be fascinating for different reasons and can learn something from every book.
Similarly, what kind of sex do you like to read about in the books?
Carnal and physical is what I really like, although I still prefer there to be emotions attached to the physical actions. I like dirty talk because let’s face it, we are women and more turned on by words, but I do not like it if he calls her names such as slut and so forth. I find that to be too demeaning, and it gets my feminine hackles up in arms, and there goes the whole point of the sex scene.
I think words mean so much in romance, because a woman wants to hear how much a guy is turned on and affected by her body and her actions, and they love to hear what the guy has planned for sexy activities.
I think it ramps up the sexual tension in the story, and sometimes brings a little shock value. I love it when he instructs her on what to do, how to please him and how he is going to please her. Words are powerful and can evoke strong feelings.
I like the sex to be graphic, and I don’t mind scenes about self gratification especially when they are thinking of the other person, but I don’t care for the fluid play that can become demeaning as well in my eyes. I won’t go into detail, but there have been a few scenes that I couldn’t finish for that reason, and I feel that I can be an objective reader.
There are so many authors that write some downright naughty, dirty sex scenes that I love, so I guess I will just name a few: Bella Jewel, Chelle Bliss, Jo Raven, Louise Bay, Natalie Gayle, Emma Hart and Lacey Silks are some of the more seasoned writers.
Give me a hero who is self confident, tells his women what he is going to do to her, and worries more about her pleasure, and I am putty in the author’s hands.
I believe your husband helps out with the site. Tell me more about that, and how it all started. And why is it called Rochelle’s Reviews?
Since I have been into reading, I would talk about the characters and story lines of books with my family, who aren’t as into reading books as I am. I kept noticing that some of the reviews just eviscerated the book, and didn’t provide helpful criticism or build up the pros of the book, and they just focused on the negatives.
My mom suggested starting a blog reviewing books, products and websites, because ironically enough we didn’t feel we would accrue a big readership with just reviewing books. When I started, I wrote post about products to save money, homeschooling, and of course romance books.
I just reviewed Kindle Unlimited books to start with, and I didn’t know anything about featuring cover reveals, blog tours, or receiving ARCs in exchange for an honest review. After I signed up for my first blog tour and authors started contacting me, I was hooked! Free books before they are even released and I get to talk to authors, which to me is like talking to a celebrity… what’s not to like?
My hubby has been such a tremendous help along this journey. I could not do it without him. He designed the website, and he puts together all the cover reveal and release day packets that are sent to us, and he also helps manage my twitter account. We have been married twenty years next month, and he is not intimidated in the least that we help out romance authors, and that I read steamy books. He is proud that we have helped so many authors, and have seen great success in the short time since we have created Rochelle’s Reviews.
We called the blog Rochelle’s Reviews instead of a catchier name for several reasons. First off I didn’t just review books when I first started, so some of the cuter names that bloggers have wouldn’t have applied to the website at the time. Rochelle is my middle name, and I used it instead of Catherine for alliteration purposes, because it just sounded better – I know I am such a nerd… lol.
You say on your blog that you read alongside your husband on the sofa – is this while he’s reading, or watching television?
I read some downstairs while my girls are finishing up their homework in the evenings, and then continue reading when we go upstairs. I love to listen to music while I read, and even when I am writing a review. To me it is better than silence.
My hubby is usually making graphics for our website, or setting up posts for cover reveals and such, while I am reading. He designs websites on the side with his stay at home payroll administrator full time job. He loves creating and maintaining websites, and we have a few others that he works on as well.
I can read just about anywhere I go. I take my kindle when I am waiting for the kids to be released from school, and doctor’s appointments. I do have a bit of a problem when people are talking around me, because I don’t want to be rude and tune them out. I feel that people are still more important than books… gasp!
What makes a bad review?
I am not an expert by far but I think when a review tells the whole story line of the book, that is not fair to the reader. The reader should be able to have the element of surprise.
Another thing that I don’t like about reviews are the ones that tear books apart. You can be honest yet still be kind. I try to put myself in the author’s shoes and look at all the hard work that they put into their stories.
How many visitors and subscribers does your lovely site have?
We get well over a 100 views a day. The best day was 276 views. We have 89 author subscribers, and 62 readers who are subscribed.
What book bloggers do you follow and admire?
Lilian Flesher, Deb & Jen from Xtreme Delusions, Give Me Books, 2kasmom, Myla, and Hockeymakeup. I don’t know a whole lot of book bloggers. Some consider us to be in competition, but I love to be surrounded by people who love books as much as I do.
I love the beautiful graphics you post on twitter – are these designed by your husband? If so, tell me how you both go about selecting the words and images.
The Rochelle’s Recommended Read graphics were designed by him and they were totally his idea. We are thinking about having some printed out to give out as blog swag. I pick out all the quotes and the teasers for the website. Unless they are sent as part of a cover reveal, release day blitz, or blog tour. Those are given to us to post.
I have always loved quotes ever since I was a little girl. I try to pick quotes that show the romance, steam, and explain something about the character and one of their traits.
What music do you listen to when you read?
We are eclectic in our music taste. I believe that we should respect and love all music. My least favorite is country or instrumental, I prefer vocals. I love R&B and pop and we also listen to alternative.
What are your favourite romantic movies?
Pretty Woman because it is like a rags to riches story. Love and Basketball because I love the music and I am a tomboy at heart. 10 Things I Hate About You… Heath Ledger & Julia Styles… sigh. Save the Last Dance – anything that combines dance and romance I am there. Pretty In Pink because I loved the 80’s, and it is rags to riches story.
Some Kind of Wonderful because it is 80’s & once again I am a tomboy at heart. Grease 2 because Michelle Pfeiffer rocks, and I love anything with singing and romance as well. How to Lose A Guy In Ten Days because I love Kate Hudson. My Best Friends Girl once again because of Kate Hudson & Dane Cook is hot and funny. The Ugly Truth because I love Katherine Heigle and Gerard Butler, and the crude humor gets me everytime.
What are your favourite TV shows?
Gilmore Girls because I want to have the mom/daughter relationship with my own daughters, in fact we have watched them together many times… my mom, me and my two girls. We also love to watch Dawson’s Creek.
My thirteen year old daughter is hooked on NCIS, so we watch that together. Vampire Diaries, Nashville, Mom, The Goldbergs, Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Sons of Anarchy without my daughters. We have eclectic taste in shows as well.
Who are your favourite actors?
Favorite males are Edward Norton, once I saw him play a person with multiple personality disorder – I was impressed and watch anything he is in. Channing Tatum, not so much for his looks although he is hot, but his dancing skills are highly impressive! Ian Somerhalder because he made me fall in love with a debonair, sarcastic vampire, and outside of acting he runs an organization that helps the environment. Some of my favorite female actors are Kate Hudson, Katherine Heigle, Sandra Bullock, Annie Potts, Julia Roberts… the list could go and on.
Can you tell me about your new site?
I am a stay at home mom who has homeschooled for the last 5.5 years, and as we all know the kids get older and need us less and less. Reading has been my anchor during these years when they were growing and finding their own way and finding friends. Now they are back in public school… sniffle, sniffle, I still want to be home for them and my family, but this gives me the creative outlet that I need.
I originally started to share my positive thoughts about books, products, websites and services, but it quickly became apparent that my true passion is in talking about romance books. I personally like New Adult, erotic romance, contemporary, and erotica, and want to share my thoughts on those books, but me and my husband were being contacted by authors of Sci Fi, Paranormal, and Fantasy romance, so now we are expanding, and making a sister site with excerpts, teasers, book covers and book blurbs from authors of those genres, to help connect them with readers. There might be a few reviews on this site, but it will mainly focus on showcasing promo materials of the books.
We will be up and running on that site on February 1st. We are so excited to be able to help out even more authors!
Thanks so much Catherine! I visit her book blog every day to tweet her latest post, and her lovely Amazon Book Directory pages, to help her guide the readers on twitter to their latest hot read. Be sure to visit her website, her twitter, and her facebook !