Meet the Reviewers: Renee Chaw

I’m honored to feature Renee Chaw, aka Steeler Girl. She posts reviews at her fun site, Black ’n Gold Girl’s Book Spot. Last week she celebrated her blog’s third anniversary.

Renee loves to read. No surprise there, right? She says she’ll take a good book over TV any day. She has a B.A. in history, a degree she chose based on her love of the Victorian era and historical romance. She has a fondness for vintage jewelry and antiques and is quite passionate about watching football games, especially if “her” Steelers are playing. She’s a car aficionado and has been since fourth grade, when she started a scrapbook devoted to Barbies and classic cars. She would prefer going to a car show over visiting the mall any day of the week. In her own words Renee says, “I’m not your average girl.” I’d agree. Renee is one cool gal, and I’m happy to have her visiting today.

I asked Renee 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 three years ago, what was your vision? How has the site changed over time, and what can readers expect in the future?

When I started blogging I really had no idea what it was going to be like. I have always loved to read, but I really didn’t have anyone to discuss books with other than one or two friends over Facebook or through G-mail chat. The fact that I have almost 300 blog followers who love books as much as I do is crazy (in a good way, of course), and I live for the great comments and encouragement I get from other readers and bloggers. Who woulda thunk it that there are so many people in this world who have almost the same taste in books as I do?

When I first started blogging I had no idea about post format, blog backgrounds, review criteria etc., but I had a few great friends who helped me out. I really think the looks and content of my blog have evolved nicely, and I hope to continue improving it as time goes by. I definitely can say to readers, expect more book reviews and more giveaways! I have received so many review requests for great looking books that I just can’t pass up! It’s really tough for me to say no to a book LOL!

My goal is to host more authors on my blog this year. I think it is critical to get the word out about authors whose books I love and to spread the word about new authors. I know how hard an author works to get their book published, and I want to help in anyway I can.

If there’s an aspect of a story you don’t care for, you address it, but you do so with kindness and respect. How do you balance a reader’s desire for an honest review with your heart for the author of the work?

Wow great question. When I don’t care for a book it is so difficult to write a review for it, and sometimes I don’t want to do it. I hold authors in the highest regard, and like I said in the previous comment, I know how hard they work on a book–they pour their heart and soul in it, so to me if I have to write a negative it kills me. It’s like telling someone you don’t like their kid! I almost always can find something that I like in a book, and I will say so in hopes that I can balance the review out and not step on too many toes while at the same time staying true to myself and my readers.

When and where do you do most of your reading?

Hahaha I read ALL the time! I’m unemployed right now, so I can read pretty much whenever I want. Of course the housework and pets call my name so usually, IMO, the best time to read is at night when everyone else is in bed and there is some peace and quiet! Now that I have a Kindle Fire, nighttime reading is even better…gotta love that LCD backlit screen! The only place I don’t read is in the car. Me + book in car = disaster of the yuckiest proportions. LOL

Three Fun Facts About Renee

I know you love the Steelers, but I don’t know how long you’ve been a fan or how far you’ll go to support your team. When did you fall for the guys in black and gold? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done to cheer your team to victory?

Okay Keli, you are not from this area if you asked that question LOL! I grew up in the Pittsburgh area, so I pretty much came out of the womb cheering the Steelers. Seriously, my newborn cries sounded like “Here we go Steelers, here we go!” Hahahaha.

I’d say the craziest thing I’ve ever done to cheer on my guys is to make posters to decorate the house for the Super Bowl. I remember when the Steelers played the Seahawks and I made a poster of a busload of Steeler players running over a bird…gruesome I know but they did win so maybe the poster was good luck.

I’m married to a guy who’s owned his classic MGB roadster since 1970, so I’ve seen how into cars a car person can be. I also know that classic car people have dream cars. What are yours? (I figure there’s more than one. 🙂 )

Keli I’m hiring you the next time I host an interview on my blog. You ask THE best questions. I’m a Mustang girl through and through, so get me any classic ‘Stang or even one of the awesome new Cobras or 5.0s, and I’ll be a happy camper. For those who’d like to see some of my faves, I have a board on Pinterest devoted to cars.

You describe yourself as being somewhat of a tomboy, but I noticed you like vintage jewelry and antiques. How often are you able to add new items to your collection? What are some of your favorite finds?

I do really love the watch pins that the ladies wore in the early 19th century through the early 20th and would LOVE to have one someday, but for now I collect old postcards and schoolbooks since they’re less expensive for a girl whose on a tight budget like me. The best thing in my collection right now is an old schoolbook that belonged to a local girl. I posted pictures of it on my blog a few years ago of some of the things that were written in the book that make it sooo neat! If you’re interested in the pics go here.

Renee’s Question for You

The question that Keli asked me about things that I like to collect has me thinking about books. I would like to know if money was no object what first edition book would you buy? Since I’m a Pride and Prejudice fan I’d definitely spring for a first edition of that book which I believe came in 3 volumes. Can you imagine having THAT in your library? *sigh*

• • •

Connect with Renee on Twitter and Goodreads.

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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52 Responses to Meet the Reviewers: Renee Chaw

  1. I love how much research Keli does before an interview to make the questions personal and applicable. So much fun getting to read about your hopes and your vision and to get to know about you on a personal level.

    Fun interview, Keli!

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hi Katie! Don’t you just love Keli? She is such a good interviewer. God really blessed her in the talent department. 🙂

  2. Lindsay Harrel says:

    Great interview, Keli! Awesome questions. 🙂

    And I’d have to agree with you, Renee. Pride & Prejudice all the way!

  3. As always, Keli, a fantastic interview full of fun! My mom collects vintage pins and jewelry. I still try them on when I go home!

    Do you adore your Kindle fire? 🙂

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hahaha adore probably isn’t the right word for it, it’s probably more like love, can’t live without, doesn’t leave my side ever….nah I guess that’s a bit much but yes, I do really like my Kindle Fire! 🙂

      I still have some of my grandma’s costume jewelry that I love and will wear on special occasions. She had some really great brooches so I can definitely understand trying on your mom’s jewelry. It’s fun isn’t it?

  4. Melissa Tagg says:

    This was fun!! Now I want to be a book reviewer… 🙂

    Oh goodness…first edition…P&P would be awesome, like you mentioned, Rel. One of my all-time favorite books growing up was Christy, and someone gave me a first ed. of that. Little Women would be pretty neat, too.

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hahaha Melissa! If you decide to get into reviewing just let me know, I’m always willing to help. 🙂

      I loved Christy and Little Women, they were some of the first books with a touch of romance that I ever read. Those classics never go out of style do they?

  5. Thank you so much for introducing us to Renee, Keli. This was a great interview and a fun read. I might date myself … but … I am a NYC gal and a Giant fan … which sorry to say makes me an arch enemy of the Black and Gold. Hope you don’t hold that against me, Renee. Born and raised in Brooklyn (old Brooklyn Dodgers in my blood) my dad was a crazy football fan. The greatest thrill for me was to be in the old Yankee Stadium and see Frank Gifford … Old Number 16 … in the flesh before the accident that ended his career. Different teams, same football passion.

    Although I was raised on the classics, as a teen I became a lover of modern European and American classics and if I had the bucks I would love to own a first edition of Nine Short Stories AND Franny and Zoe by JD Salinger. I am always disappointed that everyone concentrated on Holden more than his terrific Glass family characters. The book which took my heart and the only living author I would love to meet … The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I have a beat up copy of that book a wonderful grandmother gave me in college and I’ve saved it (sans cover now) in the hopes that some day we would meet and she could autograph that beat up book. Sorry for the length of my comment, but books and stuff make me so happy and I loved that you also have this connection to the same stuff … by the way … my older brother collects all sorts of car stuff and took me drag racing once in a classic MG … how’s that for for six degrees of connection ?

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Even though you’re a Giants fan I definitely won’t hold that against you, I love talking/debating football with anyone LOL! It’s always nice to see another lady with passion for the sport I love so much. I’m just glad you didn’t say you’re a Browns fan because then it would have been very baaaad. 😛 Just kidding.

      I have never read any of those books that you mentioned but I’m always up for reading new stuff so I will definitely look into those! Books make me happy too so no need to apologize for a long comment. 🙂

  6. Lovely interview and fun getting to know you, Renee! If I could have any first edition it would probably be Moby Dick so I could give it to my dad. He’s as much of a book nerd as me and it would thrill him.

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Now Moby Dick is one classic that I haven’t read! Have you seen the tv version that they made last year? I’m not sure what it’s like since it is an HBO or Starz movie but it certainly looks very interesting!

  7. steelergirl83 says:

    Thank you so much for having me Keli! I have loved getting to know a bit about you through your blog and through other Internet social media and I’m so happy now to have met some of your readers too. 🙂 You all rock!

    XOXO~ Renee

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Renee, I’m delighted to have you as my guest. It’s neat to learn more about you as a reviewer but also as the woman behind the reviews. You’re even more cool than I thought, if that’s possible. 🙂

  8. Oh fun interview, I love it! Renee helped me get started on my blogging and hers was one of the first blogs I ever found. Love Renee! 🙂

    First edition?? I’m not sure, since I’m not a *huge* classic reader. But I would probably say Anne of Green Gables. THAT would be a great one to have a first edition of. 🙂

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Casey! I just mentioned you in an email to Katie G. as a good reader friend who has great taste in books LOL! I’m so glad that we’ve become friends through blogging and our mutual love of books. I love love love Anne of Green Gables and remember laughing so hard when everybody had a little bit too much cordial I believe it was. My favorite book in that series was Rilla of Ingleside…sooo romantic. *sigh*

  9. Christy says:

    Keli, you hit the jackpot on Renee’s interview! She is one of my closest blogging friends, and even I managed to learn a thing or two that I didn’t know! 🙂

    Hmmm, like Casey, I’m not really into the classics, but if I had to choose a first edition that I’d love to have, it would either be Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery (loved it even more than Anne of GG) or Crimson Roses by Grace Livingston Hill (not really a “classic,” but still, a really old book).

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hi Christy! It’s so nice to see another blogger buddy here today! You guys are all making me blush saying all these nice things about me. ❤ I really liked Kilmeny, it's probably my second favorite LM Montgomery novel.

  10. duhpaynes says:

    Great interview with such fascinating questions! I don’t read while in the car either 😦 Wouldn’t be pretty. If I could have a first edition…hmmmm…I’d have to say Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South. Actually, I’d take any copy at all 🙂 I read the book from the library then saw the BBC mini series. One day, I will buy a copy!

  11. steelergirl83 says:

    Oooo I LOVED the North and South BBC film so I’m sure I would love the book. That’s one story that I MUST make time to read. So glad to meet you here today. 🙂

  12. laura frantz says:

    Wonderful to see Renee here with Keli! 2 of my very favorite people! This has probably been said here but I’d love a 1st edition, autographed copy of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North&South. In fact, I’m giving away a copy as of today:) The story is like no other. I prefer the film over the book but both are keepers. Bless you, Renee, in all you do – Keli, too.

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hmmm could Richard Armitage be a reason why your prefer the movie to the books? 😉 I really love that movie and highly recommend Wives and Daughters, Cranford, and Return to Cranford if you love Elizabeth Gaskell and romantic movies with great actors!

  13. Darlene says:

    Great review Keli! Renee and I would have to have a bidding war over Pride and Prejudice I am afraid. if she won, then I would settle for Emma (and be happy)

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Tehehe thank you for being so generous but I’m afraid I’d be out of the bidding war pretty quickly since you can pretty much buy a house for the cost of one of those rare first editions! I love Emma too. Have you seen the movie? There are a few different versions that I really love including the most recent BBC adaptation with Romola Garai (spelling?).

  14. Sherrinda says:

    I love Steelergirl!!!! 🙂

    I would have say that P&P would definitely get my vote and also North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Mmmmm, love it!

    Renee, thanks so much for giving readers an honest look into new worlds between the pages!

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hi Sherrinda! I love you too and you can tell since I’m leaving this comment while Castle is on the tube! I’m so glad to know that so many of you guys love the classics as much as I do. 🙂
      xoxo

      • Sherrinda says:

        My Castle Friend! My husband laughs at me because I pull out the computer at the beginning of Castle to “chat” with all my Castle-loving friends on twitter and fb! lol It’s like a Castle Party. 😉

        • steelergirl83 says:

          LOL I missed the latter half of the show chatting with everyone on here so I have to go back and watch the rest tonight! I’m sooo excited for next week’s show especially since Rick is apparently going to learn that Kate remembers everything that happened after the shooting.

  15. Loree Huebner says:

    Wow! Fun interview, Keli! Great to meet you, Renee!

    Pride and Prejudice would be at the top.
    I love the Civil War era, and collect period Bibles. I own a few soldier’s Bibles from that era too.

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Wow wow wow! I love the Civil War era and I’m slightly jealous that you own soldier’s Bibles! That is so amazing and such a great piece of history.

  16. Beth K. Vogt says:

    I enjoyed meeting Renee. Since Manning is now with the Broncos and it looks like they’re trading Tebow, I’m on the lookout for a team … who knows? Maybe I’ll become a Steelers fan.
    As far as books good, I would buy a first edition of Little Women. This was the first book I read and re-read and re-read. It would be fun to have an original copy all my own.

    • Wait…Manning is with the Broncos?! I’ve gotta turn on ESPN… 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Beth, Little Women would be the book I’d choose if I could have a first edition. I bought an unabridged edition when I was about 13. It was $10. At 50¢ a week allowance, that was a lot of money. I still have that edition. In fact, it’s the only book I have from my childhood.

      • Some day I will have to show you my collection of Louisa May Alcott books that belonged to my great grandmother. Loved those stories.

      • steelergirl83 says:

        Little Women is such a great choice. Like you, before I started blogging and getting a lot of my books through publishers to review I scraped and saved most of my money for books! Man I read a lot LOLOLOL!

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hahaha Steeler’s Nation welcomes you with open arms!!! I agree, Little Women would be an amazing first edition to own…yet another book to add to the ol’ dream list! 🙂

    • Sherrinda says:

      Wait….Tebow is getting traded????

  17. Renee, So nice to meet you! You have such a fascinating mix of interests, I love it. 🙂 As for your question, I would love the first edition of Anne of Green Gables. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

    Great interview, Keli! Thanks for letting us get to know Renee.

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Nice to meet you Sarah! Thanks for taking the time to visit today! It looks as if I have to get copies of North and South, P&P, Little Women and Anne of Green Gables to pass around to everyone if I win a bajillion dollars 😀

  18. Loved meeting you today, Renee. I have to agree with you, Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorites. I have learned a lot watching the DVD and picking out the different styles she uses to get her story across.

    Keli and I belong to the same local chapter and almost live in the same town. I’ve been writing 22 years and have just landed a five book publishing contract so am very excited to see it out in ebook fashion in August. Keli helped me celebrate with balloons and lunch. Isn’t it a great feeling to finally succeed?! Keli knows I always smile when hubby and I drive through El Dorado and I can picture her cover and can hardly wait to read her story.

    • steelergirl83 says:

      AWESOME! Congrats on the five book contract, that’s soooo cool! Hopefully that means we’ll all get to read them soon. 🙂

  19. Bluerose says:

    Great interview questions! 🙂

    Renee,
    You’ll always be one of my favorites! 😉 So glad to see you interviewed!

    I’m pretty new to the “Classics” world, but I’d have to go with Christy for a 1st edition. Anne of Green Gables would be a very close second.

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Bluerose, you’re too sweet, you’re one of my faves too. 🙂 I loved Christy both the book and the tv movie. I can never get enough of those period films, can you? I’m so happy to have had the chance to talk books, movies and other fun stuff with you all today!

      XOXOXOXO

  20. Rel Mollet says:

    Love Renee! Thanks for sharing with us, Keli and Renee 🙂 We have a lot in common, Renee – books, cars (my dream car is a Monaro, though you call it something else in the States), tomboy tendencies and more 🙂 It’s been great learning more about one of my fav fellow blogger/reviewers.

    Hugs to you both, girls xo

    • Rel Mollet says:

      Oh, how about a first edition of one of the Gospels?!? Aiming high, aren’t I?!

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hi Rel! I knew there was some reason why I liked you…hahaha. I actually haven’t heard of a Monaro but I looked it up and from what I can tell it’s the Pontiac GTO here in the States which they stopped making a few years ago. That was a sweet car though. 🙂

  21. Jane Squires says:

    I already own a first edition of Jane Eyre and Chalotte Bronette’s Wuthering Heights.
    I am trying to learn more about this author you interviewed as I never heard of her. If she needs some more reviews, I am available and post on several sites.
    jrs362 at hotmail dot com

    • steelergirl83 says:

      Hi Jane! I’m not an author of books but I do write a blog if you want to stop by. 🙂 It’s so cool that you own a first editions of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, you’re so lucky!

  22. Brianna Soloski says:

    Hi Renee! I’m so excited to read your review of Keli’s book. As for a first edition, definitely The Great Gatsby. That has been my favorite book since I first read it my freshman year of high school.

  23. Julie Nilson says:

    I’d want a first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s the first book that I remember reading and re-reading and re-reading again. I recently listened to the audio book with my kids, and Eric Idle is the narrator, and he’s genius! Now my 8-year-old is reading Charlie, so I’d have to work to keep my precious first edition out of her grubby hands. 😉

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