About Me

Who are you?
Hi.  My name is Meghan (spelled the right way) ... and I'm a book-aholic.  Yup, that's me in a nutshell.  I laughed as I wrote that, even though it sounds like an addiction I'm trying to give up, which is completely not true.  Reading is just something I love to do, and something I do every chance I get.
            But that's not all of me.  I'm a daughter, a sister, an aunt ... I'm a writer (note, I did not say author), a storyteller ... I'm a chef without a professional kitchen (my bi-lines usually say that in a much more eloquent way: a purveyor of delectable fare and pulchritudinous confections) ... I'm creative, artistic, and am always finding ways to share what's in my head, not necessarily with the written word ... and so much more.

5 things no one knows about you
  1. In high school I was voted "Most Likely to Stand on a Street Corner and Offer People Stickers."  (Okay, yeah, some people might know that.  I'm rather proud haha.)
  2. I am an outgoing introvert.  Sounds contradictory, doesn't it?  And probably something hard to understand for anyone who has known me.  In truth, when I'm talking a lot in a public situation, especially with someone I just met, I'm actually terrified and, unlike most people, when I'm scared, I talk.
  3. I have way more books than I will ever admit to owning, even to my mother.
  4. I am obsessed with TV shows from the 70s and 80s.  I've watched the full series of Murder, She Wrote, Hawaii Five-O and Columbo.
  5. I'm pretty much an open book, as long as you ask the right questions.  Unfortunately, most people don't ask the right questions when they are trying to get to know someone.
  6. I have a 6th one ... cause it's my blog, and like Cartman, "I do what I want."  When my nieces were younger, I used to pick them up from school.  One day, one of their teaches came out to the pick-up area (I would walk to the school to get them so we had time to talk about their day and play at the park) and asked me if I could come into the school and talk to her for a few minutes.  Instead of a Parent/Teacher Conference, we had an Aunt/Teacher Conference.  And I was "in trouble."  My nieces, a few days before this, had asked me how you poop and I used "visuals."  We had this large beanie baby-ish dinosaur and I made it look like it was eating a small doll, then made it look like it was pooping it, all while talking about how it goes through all these different parts of your body and breaks down.  I was really quite proud of myself.  Things were all well and good until they took said beanie baby-ish dinosaur to school ... and it ate someone's My Little Pony ... and then pooped it.  It was VERY hard not to laugh.
Why did you start your blog?
I have wanted to have a blog for a long time.  I would start it up, post a few things, then delete the whole thing - none of them ever lasted over a month, and I never actually told anyone I was doing it.  I think my main problem is that I just couldn't come up with a topic I could see myself talking about constantly.  
            When I joined Goodreads, I found out that there are actually a lot more people out there talking about books than I could have ever imagined.  And the book blogs were awesome - they could talk about the books they love, the books they hate, and anything else they wanted to.  
            The idea sat in the back of my head for months, but after trying to have yet another book conversation with the people in my life, and watching that person's eyes glaze over, I knew I needed a place of my own to talk about anything and everything I wanted to.  Thus THIS began. :)

What's the story behind the name?
My mother and I were having a conversation about how everyone wears masks to conceal things about themselves that either they don't want to share with others or they are afraid to share.  I said something about, if they were physical masks, mine would be blue (my favorite color).  I joked around about how it would be a great name for a blog, but the thought never left my mind.
            As I prepared for beginning this blog, I realized it was perfect for my book blog because characters are the biggest mask of them all.

What's your favorite place to read?
In theory, it would be outside on my front porch amongst my garden, lounging on my bench.  In reality, that bench is awkward and not very comfortable, my neighbors suck, and the weather lately has just been yucky.  I think I need to remedy this.
            I guess I'd have to say, right now, it's on my bed, up against my insane amount of pillows, snuggled under a blanket.  Made even better when there's a cat in my lap.

What genre is your favorite and why?
What genre is your least favorite and why?
I actually have two favorites: Mystery and Horror.  And I like both for completely different reasons.  
            Mysteries are great fun, whether they are cozy mysteries or really intense ones, because you spend the whole book trying to figure out who did it, whatever the "it" may be.  I love collecting the clues along with the person investigating, and trying to figure it out before they do.  I especially like British mysteries, like Agatha Christie and P.D. James, and ones that include a culinary aspect.
            Horror is completely different.  I like being scared - I mean REALLY scared - and there are a lot of horrors out there that have done the trick.  I'm always looking for the next best thing, the next horror novel (or short story) that will scare me worse than the previous one.

Erotica and Romance are the two genres I won't read.  I just don't care for the whole detailed sex thing, the love triangles, and the unrealistic love matches - you know, they've fallen in love at first sight, or the planet depends on the two of them being together, or they know at that first sight that they are "meant to be together."  *rolls eyes*
            I do not, however, mind a little bit of love mixed in to a story from another genre, as long as it doesn't take away from the story.

Do you prefer e-books, physical books or audio books?
All three of them are good for different reasons.
            E-books, to me, are the easiest.  I can take them with me everywhere, have a choice of what to read when I'm out and about, and I never have to worry about messing the book's pages up.
            Physical books are just plain awesome.  They look a lot better on shelves than a Kindle sitting there, don't you think? 
            Audio books are just not my thing - mainly because my mind wanders and I completely forget I'm listening to one in the first place.  I have found that they are great when I go walking in the mornings, though - I save them for just my walks and find that I walk further because I want to keep listening to the story that is being told.

What is your favorite audio book and why?
A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal by Anthony Bourdain.  
            I have read the physical books several times AND Bourdain is one of my most favorite chefs.  When I found the audio book a few years back at the library, I checked it out and started listening to it on the ride home.  The book itself is amazing, but hearing him tell the story - his voice, his story, his emotion - makes the whole thing 100% better. 

What do you typically look for 
when seeking new books to read?
A story idea that catches my attention - I'm always looking for something different, and fun - and that usually begins with the cover.  

Do you have any bookish quirks?
I very rarely read past the third sentence in a book description - and sometimes don't read them at all. Authors give away too much information in those and I like the element of surprise as I read.

I do judge books by their cover.  I know we're not "supposed" to, but isn't that the point of the cover, to entice you and encourage you to pick it up?  If this wasn't true, we would still have covers the way they did many years ago, with the simple leather cover that only had the title and author on the front and spine.
            There are times that I look at a cover and just want to read it, curious to see how the picture on the cover fits into the story.  There are times that I think it is so amazing that I have to see if the story inside is the same.
            But there are also times when I look at a cover and it just turns me off.  Either it's poorly done, has awkward coloring or art, or the picture that the author chose has been used before (and, in some cases, quite a lot).  

What was your favorite book or series as a child?
What is the first book you remember reading?
Anne of Green Gables and the Wizard of Oz.  

I read a lot when I was little, beginning with the Little Golden books, but the one that stands out the most in my head is Lord of the Rings when I was ten years old.  I would sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and read my dad's copy.  (I found out not too long ago that he would have been quite proud if he had known.)


What is one book 
that has changed your opinion on reading?
Bombay Ice by Leslie Forbes.  It's a book I found on my mother's bookshelf one day, several years ago, that looked interesting.  I tried reading it twice and just could not get into it, and I really can't explain why.  Several years ago, when I lived in Houston and we were preparing to evacuate from a hurricane, I asked one of my nieces to grab me a few books off my bookshelf.  One of the books she grabbed was this one.  During a road trip that should have taken around 4 hours, and ended up taking closer to 36 hours because of the insane traffic, I ended up opening the book and could not put it down.
            What did this teach me?  That I am a mood reader.  That sometimes, when I don't like a book or can't get into it, it has nothing to do with the actual book.  And because of this book, I don't DNF anything, instead deciding to just put it away until I can give it an honest try.

What are your bookish pet peeves?
Book descriptions that give away the whole story and, vice versa, book descriptions that tell you nothing about the story or are completely non-existent.

The hero that is physically strong and good looking, but emotionally weak or distant - the heroine (and sometimes the hero) that is beautiful and knows it and, worse, the one who is beautiful but doesn't know it - the character that sleeps with someone he/she shouldn't be, i.e. the detective that sleeps with a suspect - the infamous love triangle - the sex scenes added into the story, the ones that are really not necessary and quite often take away from the story, but for some reason the author adds them anyways.  Aren't these overdone yet?


If you could read one genre for the rest of your life,
what would it be?
Mysteries.  There are a lot of other genres that I really like, but mysteries are my go-to when I just want to sit down, relax and read.

What is your review style like?
When I read, I want to be drawn into the story and not be able to put it down.  I want to forget about all else.  Unfortunately, a lot of people that do reviews are out there looking specifically for typos and "bad writing."  But what could be bad writing for one person, could be absolutely amazing for another.  I have purchased books I've loved based on a 1-star review; I have purchased books I've hated based on a 5-star review.
            That there is why I write reviews the way I do.  I put what I liked about each book, and what I didn't like.  I point out characters that stood out for me, or quotes that stayed with me.  To me, it helps potential readers who are reading my review to make an informed decision.  We don't all like or hate the same things.  

Has blogging changed your reading habits?
I think so.  I challenge myself more, and I'm stepping further outside of my reading boundaries by trying new genres and new authors.  It also encourages me to read books I may not have chosen without receiving a request from an author - and I've found that some genres I thought I wouldn't like are actually ones that I like a lot.  Before I began The Gal, I would stick to one genre for months at a time, but I've noticed that now, mainly because of book tours, I genre hop.

How do you typically go about selecting titles
from the suggestions sent to you?
What's a good way to catch your eye
to ensure a review?
I pick books to review the same way I choose books to regularly read, but I am a little more open-minded about them.  I want a book that catches my attention and sounds interesting to me.  And I'm more willing to read a book I've been given to review.
            If you want me to review your book, look at my blog, read my review policy, and treat me with respect.  I have even reviewed romance books (a genre I'm not particularly fond of) because the author was personable and spoke to me as if I was more than just a way to get their book out there more.

What is the best and worst thing about blogging?
There are a lot of things that are great about blogging: all the books I get to read, all the authors and fellow readers (and bloggers) that I get to meet, talking to my readers, sharing books and authors with people, and the fact that people actually care about what I have to say and my opinions.
            There really is no "worst thing" about blogging.  There are a few frustrating things, but it's something that I love to do, and I don't plan on quitting anytime soon :)

Do you have any tips for people looking to start a blog?
Have fun!! - That's the most important piece of advice I can give you because, if you're not having fun, you're not going to want to do it, and if you're not wanting to do it, there's no point in blogging anymore.

Be patient - The creation of the blog is going to be the hardest part, especially if you're OCD like me.

Ask questions - We're all part of a blogging community/family and most of us are willing to help you out because we've been in your shoes.

Be honest, but be kind - This is your brand, and just like an author's behavior can affect their book and a CEO's behavior can affect their business, the same thing can happen to you.  Be honest - especially when you're giving your opinion on a book (or whatever) - but remember that you are not just writing for yourself, but for your readers, so be kind.  Once it's out in the world, it can't be taken back.

What is the biggest challenge you face as a blogger?
Remembering that I am a blogger and not just a reviewer.  Sometimes I get so busy with everything, that I forget to sit down and turn the blog post ideas that are in my head into an actual blog post.  That's something I'm definitely working on.

Who are some authors you think your readers should check out?
I suggest indie and self-published authors because those BIG authors already get enough hype. :)

Jonathan Janz, the Light Brothers (Adam and Evans), Edward Lorn, Stephen Kozeniewski ... these are the five people that, when asked about horror, I immediately start talking about.  Jonathan is just plain good, Adam and Evans have this psychological element in their stories that I really enjoy, Edward is just plain Edward and there are actually no words to explain him and what he does, and Stephen does zombies in a way that makes me want to read more about zombies.

If they're looking for something outside of horror, I let them know a few of the authors that I enjoy reading: Krista Walsh (fantasy), Mary Fan (science fiction and more), Cindy Brown (mystery), C. Michael Powers (dark fantasy), Eliza Knight (historical fiction), Elizabeth Corrigan (fantasy), Freda Hansburg (psychological thriller), Viola Carr (steampunk), Brenda Vicars (YA contemporary romance, that is so much more) and Mark B. Perry (historical fiction).  This list changes often, depending on what I just finished reading, but as of right now, these are the ones I'm screaming from the rafters about.

If they have a weight issue they're working on and need motivation, plus a little humor, I suggest they give April Elder a read.  And if they're a curmudgeon, then I definitely suggest Kelly Crigger's book.  

If there was something you'd want the readers
to take away from this blog, what would it be?
An openness to try all kinds of books and an absolute love for the written word.  And definitely a few more books to add to their TBR. :)

6 comments:

Jon Recluse said...

Pleased to meetcha, Meghan! :)

Meghan H said...

:)

Mary McHugh said...

Hi Meghan --

I wanted to thank you for your extremely helpful and thoughtful review of my book "Flamenco,Flan and Fatalities." I welcome your critical opinions because I'm new to mystery writing (19 non-fiction books before: www.marymchugh.org) and I love the comments you made. I look forward to your review of the next book in the series, Cancans, Croissants and Caskets, which takes place in Paris.
I read the interview with you and was even more intrigued. You are a really interesting person with unusual, non-trite opinions.
I have an excellent editor at Kensington Books who turned me into a cozy mystery writer, and I hope I improve with each book. Your comments will be invaluable to me.
Mary McHugh

Meghan H said...

You're welcome, Mary. I'm glad I could be of help. I'm always afraid that people are going to be upset with the way that I write reviews, but I think it's beneficial to both potential readers and the author. I'm glad that you are open to learning from my review.

I was serious when I said that I look forward to the next one, and I appreciate your comments here. Good luck with your writing career - for this being your first cozy mystery, you didn't do half bad. :)

robert eggleton said...

Thank you for the author interview about how Rarity from the Hollow helps prevent child abuse. Your concern for needful kids was demonstrated by your generosity in creating such a wonderful post. You are very skilled.

Robert

Meghan H said...

Thank you, Robert. I appreciate your kind words.