Going international this week and visiting Malta to meet Joseph who blogs at Relax and Read Book Reviews. Joseph is a great supporter of other bloggers and always generously re-tweets and shares blogposts. His own reviews are great too! You can visit his blog here: http://relaxandreadreviews.weebly.com
Thanks for agreeing to be part of my Blogger in the Spotlight feature. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
Hi Joanne, and thank you for taking the time, work and initiative to set up this interview. My name is Joseph Calleja and I’m 40 years old. I am from Malta, living in a town called Siggiewi, just a stone’s throw away from beautiful countryside. I’m married to Carmen and we have two kids, Nicholas Joseph is 10 years old and Kelly Anne is 7 years old. I work at the Finance department of Malta’s largest telecommunications company – GO, in a large open plan office. Apart from books I also love animals and commercial aviation. I’m utterly terrified of spiders and cockroaches (even dead ones!). I have just completed a course and obtained a Diploma in Proofreading and Copy editing. I’ve already been trusted by and have proofread books written by authors including Mel Comley and John Nicholl.
What books/authors did you enjoy as a child?
I remember reading Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton’s books among others. A Maltese writer by the name of Trevor Zahra has written (and still writes) fabulous books in Maltese for children of all ages and adults. I have always loved and still love his books. I remember that as a young boy I used to read a lot more books in Maltese than in English. The Maltese language can be rather tricky to write, even to us Maltese! And so reading books in Maltese is very important for our youngsters.
What made you want to start blogging?
I’ve been reading back to back books for quite a number of years now. My trigger to start reading seriously was my wife who’s always been a big bookworm. At some point I realised that I needed to keep a record of the books I read. My memory is not that of an elephant and with the passing of time I feared that I would forget what books I read and their plots. I also began to feel the need to share my thoughts on the books I read with other people. So about 3 years ago, I opened an account on Amazon and discovered Goodreads and began to paste my reviews on these sites. When I had accumulated a substantial number of reviews I felt the need to bring all my reviews together on my own platform in an organised system. So, I decided to take the plunge and began reading online articles that teach how to start a website and on blogging. When I felt confident enough I built my own website and from there I started populating it with my reviews, author interviews and book covers.
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
I’m very new to blogging, having started only last February, so my blogging experience is still in its early stages and I have so much more to learn from the experienced bloggers out there. I mainly use my blog to post and share my reviews and I’m very excited each time I post a new review, imagining what other readers would say about my reviews. Another big plus of blogging is that it enables me to make so many new fabulous friends from different countries through social media. It’s as though we’re a big family now, sharing each other’s reviews and news. I feel as if I have known these lovely people all my life. I also love meeting and interacting online with authors. As a newbie blogger, it’s always a great thrill for me when I’m approved to read a new book through NetGalley or when I’m approached directly by an author asking me to read and review their books.
Tell me about your blog – sell yourself!
My blog is ‘Relax and Read Book Reviews’, (links further down). As I said it’s more of a book review library where I regularly add to my book reviews. I don’t actually use my blog to post every tiny bit of literary news I hear as I do not have much time for that sort of blogging. For that I prefer to use my Facebook page. I find it far easier to share news on offers and promotions there. I mostly read and review crime fiction, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers and historical fiction. I do not restrict my reading to just new books. I love to read books that have been published years ago as well. Why not? I encourage anyone wishing to contact me, to do so via the contact form on my blog. If you’re an author or a fellow reader or blogger, I would love to hear from you.
What’s your favourite book you’ve reviewed in the past year? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose.
Oh gosh that’s very difficult because I tend to choose well what I read due to my reading time constrictions, and so I only read what really intrigues me. To name three of the books for the sake of answering the question, as there are a lot which I really enjoyed I would name: For Reasons Unknown by Michael Wood, The Secrets of the Tower by Debbie Rix and A Sister’s Promise by Renita D’Silva. These three will certainly stay with me for a very long time. But as I already said, there are many others that I’ve equally enjoyed.
What are you reading just now?
I’m currently reading ‘The secret life of Winnie Cox’ by Sharon Maas. It’s a historical fiction novel, as I love this genre. It’s also my first book written by this author. Though I’m just through the first 20%, I’m already hooked to the story.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Due to huge traffic congestions in our tiny island, I leave home for work very early in the morning, arriving at my destination about half an hour before clocking in to work. I spend that time reading in my car. But I mostly read on my kindle, (or tablet in case of Kobo books), at home, in bed. I mostly read in the evenings when the kids are settled for the night. During weekends I read as much as possible throughout the day as we usually go out in the evenings. I also read on my smartphone, especially when I’m out, or during breaks at work. I never read in the bath as I usually take quick showers. Reading in a moving vehicle tends to make me feel sick, so I avoid doing that.
How can people follow your blog or connect with you on social media?
Well, my blog ‘Relax and Read Book Reviews’ can be found at http://relaxandreadreviews.weebly.com
I also have a Facebook page dedicated to Book reviews, promotions, offers and others and it’s at http://facebook.com/relaxandreadreviews and this currently has over 740 likes.
My twitter account is @callejajos and I currently have over 600 followers.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I think I would have liked to be Robert Hunter, the character created by one of the best crime authors out there – Chris Carter. Because Hunter is simply phenomenal. He’s not only a brilliant, handsome and fearless detective who can stomach extremely gruesome murder scenes, he’s also a damn good psychologist, who understands how the cogs in the brains of the brutal killers he chases work.