Rhianna Walker talks fave authors, romance pet peeves, & gender bias #SubscriberSpotlight #BookBloggers #giveaway
I’m excited to launch two new monthly features on GraveTells!
The first is free birthday books and goodies to my active subscribers during their birthday month (scroll to the bottom of this Newsletter for details!).
The second, though, is SUPER exciting for me because I get to celebrate you guys! Being a blogger is a lonely, time-consuming, underpaid (read: unpaid), sometimes stressful endeavor that usually feels more like talking to myself than sharing the books I love so much. Those of you who open my emails every day—who actually click on them and visit me on GraveTells.com and interact with me on social media—make all the work worth it. As a thank you, each month—starting this month—I’m spotlighting one subscriber who consistently keeps me company. 😉
October’s Subscriber Spotlight is on the lovely and talented Rhianna Walker!
Rhianna Walker is a 30-something self-proclaimed misfit who lives for good books and great food. She has been a GT subscriber—and #1 fan!—since December of 2011. When she’s not reading or writing about books she can be found cursing at a video game or elbow deep in a DIY project. (Her current DIY obsession: Kombucha brewing!) Her home in central Montana is full of action figures, book shelves, and enough dog and cat hair to open a sweater factory. Visit her at www.rhireading.com, www.therhialist.com, @rhireading, @misfitrhi, or friend her on Goodreads.
Rhi! Thanks so much for joining me today! I’m dying to chat about some of the books and authors I bet we both love.
Thank you for having me and introducing me to the GT fans. I can never get enough book chatting and author fangirling.
Okay, let’s jump right into favorite things. Being a fellow blogger, I know you fangirl over some of the same authors as I do. Who are your ALL-TIME favorite authors? Are there any new-ish names you’re loving right now? What keeps you coming back to these names?
Oh hell, most loaded question ever! *chuckles* I have way too many favorites, this is evil.
It’s no secret that I mourn the “retirement” of Stacey Jay who was one of the faves I could always count on both in the adult and YA shelves. Some faves no one ever seems to have heard of are Brooke Moss, Linda Winstead Jones, Roxanne Snopek, Delilah S. Dawson/Lilah Bowen, and Jess Anastasi. I have fairly eclectic reading tastes so I read lots of urban fantasy, young adult scifi/fantasy, paranormal romance, and everything in between. Of course, I have plenty of well known favorites too, like Lisa Kessler, Kit Rocha, Kevin Hearne, Claudia Gray, Rachel Vincent, Katee Robert, and Laura Kaye.
I swear Entangled Publishing isn’t paying me to give their authors so much love y’all. After being a fan for years and working in their publicity department for a time, I just happen to love a lot of their authors.
Predicting who is going to be the next big name is tough. A few authors that I think everyone should be checking out are Colleen Halverson, Cole Gibsen, Meredith Russo, and on sheer gut instinct alone, Scarlet Kol.
Let’s talk pet peeves. Every reader has them, some more than others. Tell us about those annoying little things in a romance that just make you crazy!
In romance I really only have one big peeve. I don’t do alpha-holes. If the hero makes decisions for the heroine or says “mine” at any point I’m done. Romance is supposed to be about the fantasy and we all have our own kinks but “mine” fantasies are more about being worshiped, less about being possessed. *laughs* Okay, and tiny peeve… quivering body parts. *shudder*
Speaking of pet peeves, is this also a problem with your husband? (I shamelessly stole this from RhiReading.com, by the way. So thanks! =P)
Yes! He is a very fast reader and I am a very slow reader (thanks dyslexia) so he and I can’t share copies of books. Plus, as a reviewer I rarely get to read more than the first book in a series [DVK interject: ME TOO! I so feel you, girlfriend!] so he’s bad about spoiling books for me. Oh, and he makes fun of my audiobooks. Note to our readers: if you have a partner and want to start reading on audio, buy good headphones and use ‘em!
But really, Mr. Rhi has been one of my biggest supporters as a blogger and I love getting to introduce him to a good read. Before I became a blogger he wasn’t even a reader!!! Now he’s a huge fan of Kevin Hearne, Richelle Mead, and he even chooses books without me suggesting them.
You’ve been blogging for even longer than I have and are usually more prolific. I’m tempted to say this means we have no lives, but I know better. *wink* In all that time, there must have been a review you’ve written where you thought, “Damn, that was a slam dunk!” What review of yours are you most proud of and what makes it so special to you?
RhiReading launched on October 1st, 2008 so it’s actually my 8th blogiversary! But I’ve been reviewing books on Amazon for 15 years. You may just be right about us having no life. Ha!
My reviewing style has evolved a lot. When I started out I tried a lot of different styles before I found what worked for me. Back then though, there weren’t nearly as many bloggers and ebooks weren’t really a thing yet so it was a totally different ballgame. I’ve been thanked in acknowledgements, had my reviews quoted in many books, and there’s even a book with ME quoted on the cover. My all-time favorite review though, is the one I wrote for Jane Kindred’s The Fallen Queen. Sadly, the book is currently not in print, but even reading it now I think I may have been possessed.
“Kindred’s writing style is dance-like, a true ballet of fiction. Calculated steps done so passionately one could forget this is more likely to be shelved with popular fiction than literature.”
That just reads way more well thought and cool than I ever feel. If it ever comes back into print I highly suggest a read.
I know I’m only supposed to pick one review but I also have to mention that reading and then writing my review for Written on My Heart by Cole Gibsen was an emotional roller coaster because of how much it touched home.
With the rise of self-publishing, the marketplace for books has become virtually (literally) limitless. Even with the less expensive price of ebooks, readers often go into a purchase blind, not having any sense of security about their purchase. Do you have any tips for finding a new author that you just know you’re going to adore?
Not sure about buying a book? Reviews just not quite selling you? Look at the author’s social media. Does she (or he) seem like someone you’d enjoy having a meal with? Buy that book. Confession… there are several authors whose books I buy even though I haven’t had time to read them. Why? Because they’re someone I would love to know or share common interests with. As I say to my MIL (who is my book BFF) all the time, “we weirdos gotta support one another”.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gender bias and stories that really push the limits of how we perceive relationships—and people—who are different from the perceived norm. What are some romances that have stood out to you as really groundbreaking or foundational in moving forward more openmindedly as a society?
I come from a pretty conservative and religious background. Naturally, I threw two middle fingers in the air and got away from closed-minded, sexually repressed simpletons as fast as I could. I’m a feminist and romance reader. Those two are not exclusive of one another which surprises a lot of people. When I decide what to read from the romance shelves I don’t go in thinking about the sexual orientation/gender of the characters. I just want a couple (or more if the story works) that fall in love. For me there have been two books that have stood out as lifechanging for me.
Kit Rocha’s Beyond Shame might seem like a futuristic, dystopian erotic story and it is. What made it groundbreaking to me was that the society, the culture of the book was sex positive. Women weren’t treated like their sexual desires made them lesser. Even after years of reading romance that was still so new at the time it released. I loved it! Slut-shaming can stay in the 00’s where it belongs.
Earlier this year I read and reviewed If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo. It’s a young adult romance with a transgender girl as its heroine. I’ll go so far as to claim it may be my favorite YA book of the year. Why? Let me quote my review:
“So often we see trans characters used for humor, shown as freaks, and facing the horrific side of the world. While there are certainly moments of darkness that I believe are probably accurate for many, IIWYG is a much more positive and ultimately hopeful story. And though I certainly think stories that reflect the sad truths of what trans teens face are important too, having one where readers can see a trans teen overcome and find acceptance, love, and hope, is equally important.”
It makes me emotional just thinking about a trans teen being able to have this kind of book available to them.
Let’s chat about something less heavy. *wink* If you could live an alternate life in one of the story worlds you’ve read, and you could have any setup you wanted (who you are, who your significant others are, etc), what would it be and why?
*chin scratch* Is this where I get to sit on the Iron Throne and be in a polyamorous relationship with Brienne and Tyrion? Because I am so there. *wink*
Because I’m dying to know what keeps you coming back to GraveTells, I’m sneaking in a self-serving question here. =P What GraveTells feature or post do you enjoy most, and what would you like to see more of?
GraveTells has always been a site I knew I could go to and find a variety of great romance reads reviewed thoughtfully. I especially enjoy your recommendations for gay romances. I’m quite particular in choosing my same-sex couplings so I appreciate having a trusted reviewer to look to. I would love to see more featuring paranormal themes. *nudge, nudge* [DVK interject: I hear you! More PNR coming right up!! *wink*]
I want to close with your favorite quote from a book. Doesn’t have to be romance. I’d love to hear the words that an author (probably unknowingly) seared into your soul. Words have so much power, and passing them on is a special privilege and responsibility we all share.
I prescribe this one to all readers. Repeat this like a mantra:
“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Rhi, thank you so much for taking the time out of what I know must be a crazy hectic schedule to sit down with me for this chat. *huge hug* I’m so excited to share your insight with the GraveNation! Hopefully we can continue the discussion with other readers down in the comments! Is there anything you’d like to ask the GraveTells readers?
Thank you again for inviting me DVK! And she’s not kidding readers, my schedule has been bananas. Since I’m just starting a brand new job, juggling two blogs, two kids, three cats, a dog, and my fantastic partner I burn the candle at both ends quite a bit. GraveNation, I want to know…
- How do you make time to read?
- If you’re also a reviewer or blogger: what are your secrets to staying in the loop and being an active member of our community?
As a special thank you to Rhi for sharing her time, thoughts, and creativity with us today, I’m giving away a copy of one of the standout books she mentioned above to one reader on today’s post. Answer Rhi’s question(s) above then fill out the prize widget below to enter! The winner will get a choice of Amazon ebook from this list:
- Beyond Shame by Kit Rocha
- Written on my Heart by Cole Gibsen