Friday, January 16, 2009

Special Friends Moments: Meet Rel of Relz Reviewz!

Every once in awhile, you meet a kindred soul on the internet that you only wish lived next door to you. I've been blessed by meeting a TON of people like that--oh, the neighborhood we'd create!!

So, I'm going to take some time out on my blog to introduce you to some special literary people in my life: some are bloggers, some are publicity agents, and some a book tour organizers.

A few are even from publishing houses (if I can convince them you want to meet them!) and are wonderful people.

For my first Special Friends Moment, I'd like you to meet Rel Mollet, my bloggy buddy from Down Under and avid reviewer at Relz Reviewz:

1) Tell me a little about you and your family.

I live in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia with my tall, dark and handsome husband and three vibrant daughters, our eldest is almost 11 (she was born the week before Christmas….what were we thinking?!) then we have an 8 and 5 year old. Steve and I have dark hair and brown eyes yet our first two are fair with blue eyes! Our youngest has her daddy’s chocolate brown eyes and darker hair. They are a blessing to us in so many ways and each one loves books so I’m happy!

I am a fulltime wife and mum and part time lawyer. . We are involved in our local Baptist church – my hubby leading a men’s Bible Study group and worship ( he plays guitar and has a great voice) and I am the Women’s Ministry Coordinator and lead a Book Club.

I obviously love reading but also walks along the beach, laughing with our girls and watching Bones, 24 and an Aussie police drama called City Homicide, set in Melbourne. We are partial to movies especially A Few Good Men, Good Will Hunting, The Princess Bride, The Bourne movies, Elf and the BBC productions of North & South, Pride & Prejudice and Robin Hood.

Our folks both live nearby which is great for babysitting and getting mum and dad hugs and our mums’ cooking! I have a sister who shares my passion for reading and lived in England for seven years but is now only fifteen minutes away  My Grandma who gave me my first Christian fiction book Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly when I was a young girl (and therefore is responsible for me talking to you, Deena!) is now 92 and still loves to read! She is always asking me for books to read.

2) How did you get started in blogging?

My Christian bookstore chain released a fiction enewsletter almost three years ago to which I subscribed. I noted that all the content was American (not that there is anything wrong with that!) so I provided feedback asking whether they were going to use some local input. The editor contacted me and asked if I would like to review a book for them, which they would send to me, I agreed but had no idea I could keep the book, even asking when they wanted me to send it back – LOL! They really liked my review so I continued doing that and started my blog RelzReviewz simply as a place to “store” my reviews. I never anticipated that people from the other side of the globe would ever be reading my reviews or that publishers would be willing to send books to me for review.

3) Remember the first book you reviewed? If so, what was it?

Not exactly sure, but the first review I posted on my blog was Siri Mitchell’s Chateau of Echoes - great book!

4) How many books do you read and review on average per week?

Not enough! It really varies! With three young girls and the busyness of life some weeks it might only be one and others three. I also do author interviews and character spotlights which take a lot of time to prepare so that has slowed down the reading/reviewing time. I read faster than I review so I often have a few books waiting to be reviewed at a time.

5) Favorite snack when reading?

I don’t really snack while reading! When I’m not reading, I love Violet Crumble, pistachios and Camembert or smoked cheese on dry biscuits (crackers) with dried peaches – yum! Not all at once, in case you were wondering 

6) Share a tidbit that reveals your book addiction level?

I have shared this elsewhere but I believe my commitment to reading was evident early in my life when my parents found me reading a book while I was in the shower! I had one arm out the door with the book. Can’t quite remember how I was getting the cleaning done at the same time – LOL!

7) What's your favorite genre?

Everything except Sci-Fi but if you really want to pin me down, romantic suspense. High on the suspense, light on the romance.

8) Most memorable moment as a blogger/reviewer?

Mmm….actually being asked to review a manuscript by a fair dinkum author wanting my advice! Who, me?! I still am amazed when that happens and I have been blessed with that privilege on a number of occasions now.

Oh, and having my endorsement on books, and acknowledgements by authors in their books, has been a blessing, delight and great encouragement.

Oh, oh, and being contacted by the fabulous CJ Darlington of TItleTrakk and becoming one of their writers.

Ok, I'll stop now!

9) Share a hidden talent with my readers.

Mmmmm…you are making me think. My hubby and eldest can recite the alphabet backwards but you’re not asking about them! I have a good throwing arm (for a girl - LOL!) and a pretty good bowling average on our Wii

10) You're an Aussie gal. What's the blogging/reviewing world like on your side of the globe?

In the Christian Fiction area (which is the only one I know), very new. There are a number of lovely Aussie girls who are turning their hand to reviewing now and doing a great job. So look out….we might take over the world – LOL!

11) If you weren't reviewing books, what would you be doing?

Sleeping more, spending even more money buying books and still reading, reading, reading……..

12) Any other careers/interests in your life besides books?

Of course, my family! They are a very funny bunch and it is exciting to watch our girls grow, ask questions and become less dependant on us. Painful yet good! Our youngest starts school in the New Year (the start of the school year in Australia is the end of January) so it will be a new stage for us all.

I am also a lawyer working two days a week with a fantastic boss who lets me do that. I recently changed my area of practice from personal injury litigation to Elder Law (wills and probate) and am loving it

I have a three friends who share my love of books and Jesus and we catch up regularly to encourage each other, talk all things books, watch a movie and generally support each other as we face the joys and struggles of life especially as we strive to be good wives, mums, daughters, sisters and friends. I had never really valued other women’s friendship until my thirties (and yes, I’m still in them….just!) and these girls are an amazing blessing to me.

I knitted a scarf last year but that is the extent of my craft abilities – my sister is the sewing, quilting, stitching one in the family

13) Favorite place in the world to be?

Australia – no question! It really is the best place to live and raise kids. We have safe cities, wonderful wildlife, every scenery imaginable (oceans, rainforest, desert, mountains, etc) and laid back people. Paris, Prague and the English countryside are amazing and I would love to visit those places and more again but I wouldn’t trade my place of birth for anything 

14) If money was no object, what would you ultimately want to do?

Love God and my family in a simple home on a couple of acres with a vegetable garden, multiple fruit trees including a peach, nectarine, cherry, apple and mango tree and a massive passion fruit vine, all manner of roses, two Border Collies, a black Labrador and one enormous room with bookshelves to keep all my books and one of those ladders to climb up to the highest shelves – LOL! Oh, and a study with huge windows that overlook the bush. And a annual trip to the States to meet you and all the lovely authors, bloggers and publicists I’ve “met” on this blogging/reviewing journey!

15) What's one piece of advice you'd like to share with other reviewers/bloggers?

Review with integrity and compassion and review books within their genre – if it is a light hearted chick lit book review it as against other great chick lit, not a rip out your heart and stick it back in thriller.

Sorry that might be two bits of advice – maths was never my strong point!

16) Chocolate preference: milk, dark, or white?

Milk. To be specific, Lindt Lindor Balls or Aussie Cadbury chocolate – can’t be beat!

17) Coffee, tea, milk, or juice? And how do you like your preference?

Juice, straight up, freshly squeezed. No coffee or tea for me, thanks.

18) Which review are you most proud of?

Haven’t really thought about that! I have had a few authors tell me my reviews have brought them to tears…in a good way! That is pretty special.

19) You've started a new blogging feature. Tell us about it.

Character Spotlights! I love them – they give insights in to the amazing characters we read about from their creators, those fabulous authors we love. It is funny how these things start. Rachel Hauck (wonderful woman and amazing writer) and I were brainstorming via email about how I could promote her latest book, Love Starts With Elle. We did an interview and a giveaway and then I thought about an inside look into her all female leads, Elle, Aubrey, Caroline, Robin, etc. It was a way to promote each of her books, not just one of them. Rach was all for it so I sent her a few questions regarding Elle and her response was great. Amongst other things, I asked how she envisaged her character’s appearance, their quirks, strengths and weaknesses. Finding pictures to fit the answers was a lot of fun.

Doesn’t really say much for my brilliant mind that it wasn’t until some time after that I thought it could be something I could use with other writers to help highlight their books – duh! The response from readers and authors alike has been fabulous. The demand has been so high that I now post them twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. Click here and check out the first one I did with Rachel.

I think readers have really connected with the spotlights. We fall in love with so many of the characters we read about and the spotlights offer a chance to learn about how they came to be and what makes them tick! It is wonderful to get comments on my spotlight posts as they really encourage the authors who put so much of themselves into their stories in what is a solitary career. Never underestimate the power of your comments to encourage especially when an author has taken the time to give more of themselves in a spotlight or interview.

20) Where can my readers find your reviews/interviews/features?

Drop by and click on the links in my sidebar. There are link lists of all my reviews, author interviews and character spotlights. If you have time, do leave a comment and say hi

And I must say to the wonderful Deena - thank you so much for your tireless work to promote the fabulous combination of faith and fiction. Without a doubt, one of the great perks of reviewing has been getting to “meet” you! Hugs

Happy Reading!



conarnold said...

Thanks for sharing the great interview, Deena! It was enjoyable reading and learning a bit about Relz. I'd love to go to Australia if it wasn't so far to travel!

C.J. Darlington said...

Gasp! No coffee or tea? Rel, how could you? :) Ah, if only I could break my habit...

This was a wonderful little getting to know you post. I was surprised to see my name in there! It's been a pure joy to work with you, Rel. Our pleasure indeed.

Your advice for reviewers is spot on--something I try to keep in mind, too, when I review but didn't know how to put into words.

Thanks so much, Deena, for featuring Rel. And thank you Rel for taking the time to let us into your slice of the world!

Marg said...

As a fellow Melburnian book reviewer I wanted to just say HI!

Rel said...

Hey D - thank you for this! Hugs :)

Conarnold - it really isn't that far! Well, it is worth distance - maybe that is a better way to put it!

CJ - nup, despite a coffee loving family, it just isn't for me! Love working with you - you must make the trip Down Under sometime!

Marg - Hi back! Good to know there are more of us Aussie girls reviewing away ;-)

Rachel Hauck said...

Rel, great interview. You are such a blessing. Next time I'm in Melbourne - Australia, not Florida - I'm hugging your neck!

Blessings friend,

Anonymous said...

Rel- Great interview! Thanks. =]

Dawn said...

Great review -- Rel operates a fantastic blogsite. She is one of my favorite book bloggers.

Cathy Bryant said...

What a great interview! (And a good idea to interview other bloggers--I may have to try that myself!)

Just wanted to let you know I follow your blog and enjoy your postings. I've given you a blog award. If you're interested, you can pick it up at (1-17-09 post).

Thanks again!

Tracy said...

Great interview brain has gone into summer camping mush, or I'd say something really profound about the wonderful blessing Rel is to others.

Suffice it to say, your interview is fantastic ~ great questions with candid answers :)

Jennifer @ Quiverfull Family said...

Thanks for sharing Rel, I agree, no coffee??!! :)

Deena - I'd love to read more interviews with other book bloggers, publicists and those from the pub. houses themselves :). Great idea!

Rel said...

Rach, Jen, Dawn, Cathy, Tracy and Jennifer ~ thank you all for your kind words! I appreciate them and you :)

Jenny said...

Thanks for the lovely interview with one of my favorite online people, Deena - I really enjoyed it. Sounds like you have one busy but fulfilling life, Rel. *Hugs* to you and yours.

Rel said...

Thanks Jenny - you are a sweetheart :)