Xeranthemum – Meet Our Reviewers and Win Prizes

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Merry Christmas and welcome to a chance to meet our reviewers! Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a grand prize of a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift card, with runnerup prizes of a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card, or one of four book/swag prize packs (US only).

Why did you become a reviewer?

After an initial hesitation, I decided to give it a whirl because I had no friends or relatives that read the genres or the volumes of books that I did. No one to talk to, share the excitement with or share a fan-girl moment when a new book in a series came out.

Reviewing for LASR provided me with book camaraderie – people who understood what it means to have a compulsion to share the awesomeness found within a book’s pages. Reviewing for LASR has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, short of marrying my husband.

What are your favorites genres to read in and why?

I actually prefer cross-genre books. It’s like a great salad – throw in a bit of contemporary splash so I can relate, add a dash of paranormal for the excitement of the unknown, toss in a suspenseful- full-of-action-challenge to overcome, and sprinkle some spicy heat or even some erotic habanero to make me sweat – the combination works well for me.

Recently, I’ve added historical romances and I’ve found that they can be as entertaining as Contemporaries. A lot depends on the voice of the author and whether or not they use a lot of archaic language and notions. I’m not keen on the helpless virginal maiden that is a victim of circumstance throughout the whole book. Today’s historicals seem to find a way for the heroine to show some spunk and feistiness within the constraints of the era. I like reading about a woman with brains and ingenuity.

I’ve pretty much have stayed within the romance genre and have not deviated much beyond that. There have been a couple of YA books that have surprised me, but as a rule, I don’t seek them out.

I’m a glutton for a solid happy ever after.

What book in your youth made a big impression on you and why?

That’s going back decades – it’s all fuzzy. I remember something about kids living in a boxcar but the one I really remember was A Wrinkle in Time. Mrs. Hannigan read that book aloud in class in 5th grade. She had the ability to keep me enthralled and reading time was my favorite part of the day because of it. Before her, no one had ever read a story book out loud. I wasn’t a very good reader back then but she showed me that a book could be exciting, could take me to places, and the world was a much bigger place than I knew.

How I got from A Wrinkle in Time to Romance is a mystery. LOL

Do you have any “bad book habits”? Dog Ear? Reading in the tub or while eating? Breaking the spine?

Bad habit? Probably staying up way too late and suffering for it the next day.

I try to stay away from series books if I’ve not started with the first one, unless I can figure out if a book is truly a standalone – then I might give it a shot. No, wait! I broke my own rule once! I started the Anita Blake series at book # 5 Bloody Bones. I was on a werewolf kick and it popped up in a word search. I didn’t know it was a series – but I was so wowed at the time due to its originality, that I went back and read the whole series – and have been reading it ever since. Bad me.

What do you mean eating and reading at the same time is a bad habit? I do that all the time!

It’s a compulsion – I’ll read the cereal box, a cook book, ingredients list, newspaper, a BOOK, anything while I’m eating. When I don’t, I feel so weird.

I can’t read in the tub, nor dog ear my book because I read mostly on a Nook. Water + Nook = Fried ereader. I’m good to my Nook. However, if I get a paperback at a library sale – I’ve been known to dog-ear it and the spine is usually compromised anyway so no one will EVER know if I do or don’t.

What is one thing we would be most surprised to learn about you?

Some know this, some don’t. I write a blog that gives tips and instruction on writing reviews for reviewers – The Chrysanthemum Connection. After six years, I’ve experienced most of the learning curves but when I was starting out, there was absolutely nothing out there to guide me. Granted, I used LASR as my guide so the advice may not be applicable to every review site out there, but the basics of reminding reviewers about no spoilers, no profanity and always respect the author and their works, and that a review is about the reviewer’s opinions of the book and not the synopsis of the story – I think those are pretty universal. The blog has not been as active as it was when I first started because, wow, was there a lot of ground to cover. Nowadays, I write a post if someone suggests a topic or I come across a new learning curve that I need to share with the reviewers to help them in their own journey.

So that is the one thing I’ve done that not a lot of people know about and I feel very good for having done it.

What is something that makes you stop reading a book?

What, besides a TSTL heroine or hero?

If it is an erotic book, the one thing that is a complete turnoff for me is a book without a story. I won’t read about sex with ornamental book ends. I need the right brain working most of the time in the novel or novelette.

For all other book types, the one thing that makes me stop reading is extreme darkness or depravity; too much drama and tension to the point that the book is no longer fun and ends up nothing but a chore to slog through. Some book series have become so mired in pushing the envelope down further and further into darkness and meanness, making the villain almost omniscient and powerful, I end up feeling helpless and stressed. At that point, I don’t care if the hero or heroine ultimately save the day; the journey wasn’t worth the ending. So I stop. I’ve stopped reading three series because of that. Their popularity continues, but without me as a reader or reviewer.

What books have most influenced your life? Why?

The most important is what I mentioned earlier, A Wrinkle in Time. It instilled in me a desire to read. That’s about as influential as it gets.

What book do you think should be made into a movie? Why?

That question is EASY! Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan. Oh, wait, she just came out with the end of the series, Maybe This Christmas. I choose both books for the very same reasons. They both encompass the heart of romance and touch upon the sentiments that make the holiday season so welcome. Her descriptions of winter in Vermont are the very things Hallmark is known for – the beauty of the location, the love of family and friends, of forgiveness and new beginnings, gentle humor and a passion between the hero and heroine that touches the romantic at heart. There’s laughter and tears, challenges to overcome and a proposal to sigh over in weepy contentment.

They’re on my keeper shelf for those reasons. They are books I wanted to hug. Although, reading on a Nook kind of makes that a bit problematic to accomplish.

What would you choose as a superpower? why?

The ability to speak, write and understand other languages. Much of the strife in this world comes from the inability to communicate. It’s not suffice to say, I want to speak all languages – it’s more. It’s understanding the nuances and subtle doublespeak that makes naughty humor, innuendos, puns and even relationships so interesting. People just don’t speak with their mouths – they use body language, eye contact, sounds and the fluttering of hands to convey more than the words they say. I would love to understand all languages in all their complexity.

Why? Well why not? Bet 007 would appreciate my superpower. *grin* Make it Sean Connery when he was younger.

Describe your perfect reading space.

My perfect reading space would be situated where I could see nature or a garden through the window, have great light, a comfy, cushy chair, a side bar for water and/or ice when needed, tissues for those sad parts, and NO INTERRUPTIONS!

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, dead or alive, who would it be, and what would you do? What would you ask them?

This is where that language super power would kick in. I’d love to spend a day with Cleopatra. I mean, she was one of the most powerful women in the world – a queen – she was pampered and waited on and yet governed a kingdom usually run by men.She waged war to reclaim the throne. I’d love to have a pampering session with her while getting insights as to what it was like for her back then. What did she love about her position in life? What did she find hard? What made her laugh? What was it like dating Caesar? Who romanced her better, Caesar or Mark Anthony? What were her favorite foods? Did she like to dance? Forget walking like an Egyptian, I’d love to dance like one.

Even to this day, Cleopatra is considered an amazing woman because of all that she accomplished. I bet I could learn a thing or two from her.

What were your top ten books you reviewed for LASR in 2014?

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan
Spell Bound by Emma Weylin
Night Unbound by Dianne Duvall
How the Scoundrel Seduces by Sabrina Jeffries
How to Handle a Heartbreaker by Marie Harte
Ghost Seer by Robin D. Owens
River Road by Jayne Ann Krentz
Heartbreakers by Lori Foster
Spirited: A Tidewater Novel by Mary Behre
Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister

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  1. Salisa Waheed says:

    Our Teacher also conducted reading time in class. She would give one of us the responsibility to choose one book and she would read it! It was the one time in class that i loved not only because i get to hear her read but there was pin drop silence in class! Never happens!

    • Xeranthemum says:

      Hi, Salisa!
      Sorry I wasn’t here earlier to answer. I was spending time with my family.

      Anyway – yes! It was the same in my class stoo – no one spoke or interrupted her as she read. The story was so unusual for the time, everyone was fascinated. It’s rare for kids in an entire class to be all on the same page. 😉

      I’m glad you had a great similar experience!

  2. Enjoyed reading your interview today. I’ve been wondering as this giveaway has progressed, where or how the reviewers have picked up their ‘handles’. We know they don’t use their real names, but what was the deciding factor for your name choice Xeranthemum?

    • Xeranthemum says:

      Hi, Karen!

      Ooooh, no one has EVER asked me that before. I’m thrilled with your question!

      Xeranthemum has a few definitions that appealed to me.
      One was : Cheerful under adversity
      Then, since I was a big paranormal fan, the fact that it also means Immortality was a hoot because I love me some sexy vampires.
      But my absolute favorite came from this link:
      www. aunty flo.com/ Superstition-dictionary/ xeranthemum
      (I had to put spaces in the link name – I have tried to post this comment 3 times but I don’t think it likes links included in the message, lol)

      Anyway, once I saw the meanings and superstitions, as a romance reader I KNEW I had to make that flower name my own. 🙂

      Thanks for asking, Karen!!!

  3. Rita Wray says:

    Great interview, I enjoyed learning more about you. I know what you mean about reading and eating. I’ll read anything.

    • Xeranthemum says:

      Thank you, Rita.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one. Many people eat and watch T.V. – not me – reading is my vice. 🙂

      And, there’s no commercials. 😉

  4. amy bowens says:

    Such a great interview! I too love to eat when I’m reading although this is such a bad habit. I wish when I first started writing reviews that I knew about your blog because as a reader I find it sometimes its hard to write one especially trying not to give any spoilers about the book!

    • Xeranthemum says:

      Hi, Amy!
      And, right there – that is why I wrote that blog. Because there ISN’T anything! There is nothing that gives a reviewer guidance as to how to hint and tease about a scene or great part in a book without Telling anything and risking spoilers.

      I couldn’t find anything that told me how to write a review of a 14 page short story that didn’t begin and end in one paragraph. I tried to give tips on how to do that – to ask questions that a reader might want answers to – I did all that because you are absolutely right, Amy, it IS hard! But it’s so rewarding to – especially if an author writes a happy reply. That’s my ultimate high. 🙂

      I hope you pop in sometime and check any of the older posts on the CC blog – if there are ever any questions you think I could help with, I’d be thrilled to try. Who knows? You might inspire a post! 🙂

      Happy reading!

  5. What interesting definitions for your name. The power/ability of language is one that I would want too, along with telekinesis (could protect myself).

  6. Nice you provide tips on your blog

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