I’m honored to feature Rel Mollet of Relz Reviewz. I’ve followed her blog for several years and been impressed by the number of books she reads, the quality of her reviews, and the tremendous support she shows for authors of Christian fiction.
Rel was born and raised in Australia and lives in Melbourne, which she refers to as the sporting and shopping capital of Oz. She’s married to “Mr. Tall Dark & Handsome” and is mum to three beautiful daughters. She’s a lawyer by day and book reviewer by night–and weekend and any time she can squeeze in a chapter or two. When she’s not devouring books, she loves to snap photographs and spend time at the beach. She recently changed churches and is eager to get involved in women’s ministry again. After leading a book club at her former church for over 10 years, she is starting a new one from her home in March.
I asked Rel three questions about her reading and review process. After that, you’re in for a treat, because you get to learn three fun things about the woman behind the reviews.
Reading and Reviewing
When you began blogging in 2006, what was your vision? How has the site changed over time, and what can readers expect in the future?
Vision?! That is too big a word for what I imagined, Keli! I had been printing off hard copies of reviews I had written for my local Christian bookstore’s e-magazine to keep a record of them when a friend suggested I start a blog. My thought was that maybe my mum might look at it from time to time. LOL! How things have changed!
From a physical perspective, my blog has had three transformations, and I’m saving money now as I would LOVE to give it a professional facelift sometime soon. As far as content goes, I’ve grown from just writing reviews to adding author interviews, previews of upcoming releases, giveaways, character spotlights and even character interviews from time to time.
Going forward, I anticipate many of those features will continue, as they are proving to be what my readers enjoy. Whatever I do on my blog, it is my goal to continue to highlight fantastic fiction (written from a Biblical worldview) and those who write it, while providing what I hope are reviews written with integrity (for my readers) and sensitivity towards the authors who have penned them.
If there’s an aspect of a story you don’t care for, you address it, but do so in a loving way. How do you balance a reader’s desire for an honest review with your heart for the author of the work?
That’s a good question, Keli, one often hotly debated by those critical (both constructively and otherwise) of Christian reviewers. When I review a book I believe my obligation is clearly to my readers, who are trusting me to write an honest opinion of the book. As I write a review, I do so with my readers uppermost in my mind, rather than the author. This contrasts with an endorsement, which is written with the express purpose of portraying a book and its writer in a positive light. I always note when I am writing an endorsement as opposed to a review.
That said, I still write both honestly, the difference being if I have been asked to endorse a book I end up not liking. In that case, I would let the author know and not provide an endorsement. A review of such a book would still be written unless I had absolutely nothing good to say about it!
When I write a less-than-stellar review of a book, I hope I do so with sensitivity and that I provide intelligent reasoning for my criticism. The great majority of authors put their hearts and souls into their stories, often spending months and even years of research and writing. For me to read their books in a couple of hours and then slam them, or only list the negatives I perceive without careful consideration, is unacceptable for me.
There are, on occasion, glaring errors, poor research or cheesy dialogue that I bring to my readers’ attention, but after all, it is only my opinion, one opinion in a sea of many! Readers enjoy different aspects of books and even read for different reasons, and that often means that if I don’t like it, there are plenty who will, and vice versa!
When and where do you do most of your reading?
Goodness, anywhere and everywhere! As a child, I even read a book while I was taking a shower, with my hand and book outside the shower door–it was awkward but possible! I haven’t resorted to that for a long time, so I mostly read in bed at night, late at night as Mr. TD&H is not a reader and we might watch some TV together first. I always have a book on hand, and more recently a Kindle, which some kind and generous friends bought for me. It has been wonderful. I even have my Kindle read to me while I drive to work 🙂
Three Fun Facts About Rel
If you had unlimited time and money, what are three places you’d most like to go to snap photos?
Mmm…….Kakadu in the Northern Territory, Australia (the beauty of my country knows no bounds), Prague in the Czech Republic (it’s such a beautiful city) and Ireland (those pubs are so photogenic!)
You enjoy the beach. I’m sure that if we spotted you there, you’d be toting a bag with a book inside, but what would you be wearing? Are you a bikini, tankini, or one-piece gal?
A bikini and I haven’t shared space since my teen years. LOL! The Australian sun is ferocious, so covering up is a must at the beach these days, with skin cancer a huge issue in Oz. So, you’ll find me in boardies (board shorts) and a rashie (rash vest), wearing a hat, with sun screen on any exposed skin! Not glamourous, but essential down under.
[From Keli: For those, like me, who have no idea what a rash vest or rashie is, I looked it up. It’s a type of water wear: an athletic shirt made of spandex and nylon or polyester. These long- or short-sleeved shirts can be worn by themselves or under a wetsuit and help protect the wearer against rashes caused by abrasion. Think of sliding across a surfboard. According to Wikipedia, rashies are thought to have originated in Australia for use by those engaged in water sports.]
Suppose you won a shopping spree at your favorite mall. You have two minutes to spend in the store of your choice. Everything you can cram into a large freezer box is yours. Which store would you choose, and what items would fill that container?
This comes with the proviso that I’m not a shopper – I’m in and out as quickly as possible, so two minutes suits me just fine! Now, I do need a slight translation, as I’m thinking your freezer box would be what we would call an esky. Hope I’m right in my understanding.
[From Keli: Amazing how the meaning of words can differ between English-speaking countries, isn’t it? I meant a box that a deep freezer the size of a refrigerator would come in. Rel is referring to a portable insulated cooler, such as one would take on a camping trip or to the beach. We’ll go with Rel’s definition, since it’s her interview. :-)]
Gosh, this is hard for me! Maybe, Ted’s Camera Store – I could fit a number of fabulous Canon lenses and other photographic equipment in an esky that I can only dream of otherwise. 😉
Rel’s Question for You
If you ever get a chance to visit Australia, what are three things/places/people you would hope to see?
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