Monday, January 18, 2010

Sheila DeChantal - Book Reviewer

I’ve often wondered how book reviewers select what they review, if they’re bombarded with requests, and how they deal with books that don't satisfy.

Sheila DeChantal is a book reviewer from Brainerd, MN, and hosts
One Persons Journey Through A World Of Books. The blog site not only features reviews, it offers an author chat, giveaways, awards, guests, kids books and more.

Join Sheila as she tells us about her journey:

I started reviewing for my own enjoyment as an online journal. In June 2009, I discovered blogging for publishers and authors and my blog took off from five visits a day to its current 460+ unique visitors a day. I love to read and I love to talk books and I’ve met so many wonderful people talking about what I love. Book reviewing really feeds my love to write and read. I never dreamed how much I would enjoy doing this.

Ups and downs of reviewing:
I love to talk books and when I love a book it shows in my review. I think a good book review consists of letting you know how a book made the reviewer feel. When the book is described well, and sounds enjoyable, others join in this enthusiasm and want to read it too. I love it when a book I review becomes a "must have" for my readers. The flip side of this is books that really don’t hit home for me. I know the author has put their heart into the book and just because I didn't like it, doesn’t mean others will agree. Yet, as a blogger, my integrity toward my readers is very important and I have to be honest. When a book wasn’t a good fit for me, this is the hard part of reviewing. I want to write an honest review and at the same time be respectful.

Selecting books to review:
I try to be careful on the books I accept for review. When I first started, it was exciting to be offered a book to review, but I learned quickly that I need to be selective. I have turned many books down due to content I know I would not enjoy or time constraints. My review policy on my blog helps to deter some of the requests that would not be a fit for me or my blog. It’s not an exact science, but I rarely receive a book that I do not enjoy. In the rare case I can’t get through a book, I email them to let them know why and that I will not be posting a review.

Quantity of review requests:
Review requests are an amazing thing. Currently I receive about 6 a week from authors and occasionally a publisher. This week was a little busier. When it comes to turning books down, I need to be selective, and yes, it’s hard to decline when it’s a new author and they are excited about their book. If it’s a book I don't think I will have time to read, or isn't a good fit, I try to connect them with other appropriate reviewers. I also have several publishing groups I work with and I let them know which books I want to review.

A truly memorable read:
Ahhhh...great characters! In fiction, if the character is someone I wish I could hang out with or have coffee, that is a great character. There are books that stick with me for years because of the characters. In non-fiction, it is the people. I read a lot of books on homeless children or countries that are extremely poor. When I read Jantsen's Gift in 2009, author Pam Cope spoke of a young boy who was a slave on the river. When they were taking children for a chance for a better life, he was not chosen. She described his eyes as their boat disappeared around the corner, and to this day, I can picture that boy’s eyes, that look of utter despair.

I read so many books it’s hard to have favorites. I can tell you that in 2009 discovering Michelle Moran's books, Cleopatra's Daughter, Nerfetti, and The Heretic Queen, was wonderful. I recently reviewed Michelle at One Persons Journey Through A World Of Books. The Help by Kathryn Stockett was also incredible, as was Dragon House by John Shors... but that is just one year! Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins blew me away. An all time favorite series comes from 2001, The Three Sisters Trilogy by Nora Roberts. Normally I am not a Roberts fan, but these books are different. I read that set about every three years. I love books with strong, independent, women characters. I also have fun conversing with my readers. Because I respond to most comments on my posts, my readers know me well and it’s like chatting with a friend. There are times when comments are so funny I have actually spit coffee on my keyboard.

I am a forty-two year old Minnesotan born and raised. I have two sons, a nineteen-year old in college and a twenty-two year old in the Navy. I enjoy riding bike and participate in six bike tours a year. Last year I did my first 150 mile bike ride, two days from Blaine, Minnesota to Duluth. It was a blast! I love adventures, exploring, rollerblading, and working out.

I’ve been to Honduras eight times, my last time was in November of 2009. I go with a group of friends and we work with children who live on the streets or who live in the dump.

My husband and I own our own company, DeChantal Excavating, and I help with paper work. I also work twenty hours a week as the Office Manager for The Journey North Community Church.

I volunteer locally for the Homeless Program in our area (IHN), and am a member of the Mid Minnesota Builders Association. Prior to that, I worked as a manager for Wal-Mart for fourteen years before I left to help with our business. I like to stay busy. My husband and I enjoy breaks of spending time at our cabin in Finland, Minnesota.


  1. I'm a regular reader of Sheila's site, and she does a great job. I'm a new blogger and frequently look to her for ideas and inspiration. What a blessing she is!

    Laura Hartness
    The Calico Critic

  2. I'm also a frequent visitor of Sheila's site and agree that it is difficult to decline book reviews...but it is needed at times.

  3. So glad that you are highlighting Sheila and her blog! I'm another regular reader, and love her daily Morning Meanderings post. It's a great way to start the day, and is like sharing a cup of coffee with a friend! Highly recommend that everyone take a look, as Sheila is definitely an inspiration to us all!

  4. Sheila's blog is one I visit daily. Her site is one of the best I've seen. She always has something interesting to say and I value her opinion of the books she reviews. Sheila has a heart of gold and is a Blessing to the blogging world.

  5. I always check out Shelia's blog--it's a wonderful site.

  6. Sheila! I didn't know you had a cabin at Finland! I love that area!

  7. Wow you guys - you are so sweet! Thank you, and thank you to Beth for writing this article. It is great to be a part of Minnesota reading!

  8. I've been blessed to know Sheila since I started working at Walmart almost 8 years ago. She started a book club around that time. We are called The Bookies and we meet on the second Tuesday of every month to critique our current book and then vote on another one for the next month. When Sheila said she likes to keep busy, she's not KIDDING ! Love you Sheila :) Have a great day !

  9. I am another frequent visitor and have to say Sheila is an incredible person and a great inspiration.
    I enjoyed reading about her! :0)

  10. Sheila is one of my blogging role models and has shown me nothing but kindness since I started blogging.

  11. Thanks to Sheila for her willingness to share her journey. I look forward to more from this talented book reviewer.