Monday, June 4, 2018

SPOTLIGHT: Book Reviews By Tara

Meet Tara!
Our SPOTLIGHT segment is back! Today's focus is on African American mother and grandmother Tara.  Tara is a book reviewer just like me! Her brand, Book Reviews by Tara is dedicated to the promotion and honest commentary of books by black, indie authors. Outside of her work with Book Reviews by Tara, she is self-employed and the owner of a real estate transaction coordinating business.  Tara's story is real inspiring. Read what Tara had to say about books, reality tv, and  Essence Magazine when we caught up with her. 

MW: What do like to do in your free time?
BRBT: When I’m not reading, I enjoy pampering myself. That includes walking, going to the gym, going to the spa and reading.  I make a point of taking care of myself first so that I am better able to take care of my loved ones. My guilty pleasure is watching reality television.  

MW: You recently started your online brand, Book Reviews by Tara. Tell us more about that.
BRBT: I started Book Reviews by Tara on a whim at a bookstore in December of 2016. As an avid reader, I understand the importance of book reviews. I’ve been keeping a book journal which contains information from each of the books I’ve read since 2008. One day while sitting in the bookstore I decided to share the reviews I had written in my book journal with the world. I opened an Instagram account dedicated to the books I’ve read. It was that day Book reviews by Tara was born. Book Reviews by Tara is a social media platform that encourages reading in the black community and supports black authors. My mission is to inspire readers while supporting authors. My motto is  “Every book has a purpose.” It is my goal to help spread our stories one book review at a time.   

MW:   Why is it important that you focus on black indie authors?
BRBT: Black indie authors share a part of the black experience that is often overlooked. They give a voice to the voiceless. These authors are not waiting for someone to give them permission to tell their stories. They are not waiting for an okay to share their truths.  Instead, they are boldly and with great pride writing our experiences. And it is my mission to help spread these stories so that our voices and our stories can be heard. I support black indie authors as a way of supporting black business, black people, and black love. We are living in a time that has never been seen before. With self-publishing at an all-time high, black people are sharing their experiences in record-breaking numbers. And I love supporting this movement. 

MW: Have you always been into books?
BRBT: No. I did not read my first book until the age of twenty. I was one of those people who thought I hated reading. In school when teachers assigned book reports, I usually did one of two things, either I skimmed through the book that was required reading, or I simply did not complete the assignment at all. However, that all changed when my oldest sister Tracy, the only avid reader I had ever known, challenged me to read a book she knew I would love. The book was titled, My Family, The Jacksons by Katherine Jackson. Sadly, at the time my big sister was losing her ability to read due to complications from AIDS. The day she gave me that book, she passed me a torch that lit up my life in a way I could have never imagined. I read the book in one week and my life changed forever. From that moment on, I began to submerge myself in black literature. Before reading my first book I was a high school dropout with only a GED. After learning that I actually loved reading, I enrolled myself in college and graduated from Stockton University Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Social Work and a minor in Literature. 

MW: When reviewing a book, what are you looking for?
BRBT:  I am a lover of books before I am a reviewer of books. So, when I read a book for review I am simply looking for a great story. It doesn’t matter if it’s a novel or a memoir, I’m looking for a book with what I like to call personality. Something I don’t want to put down a story that transports me to another place and time. Some of the things that can get in the way of a great story are errors in grammar and punctuation. Errors will definitely affect my review. It pays to hire a good editor. Too many details or not enough details can also take away from a great story. I definitely pay attention to this as well.   

MW: What else do you enjoy doing outside of writing book reviews?
BRBT:  I am a huge lover of the arts. I am a big fan of watching movies and plays. I love listening to music (all genres) as well as going to music concerts. I never pass up the opportunity to experience artistic expression in any form. I also enjoy spending time alone. I am a thinker and analyzer. So quiet time is very important to me. It keeps me balanced. Fortunately, I live close to a few beaches and lakes so I get to spend a lot of time there reading and writing.  

MW: What is your favourite book and why? 
BRBT: This is a very hard question to answer. Very hard! Because there are just so many awesome books. When you read as much as I do, you come across A LOT of really great books. Therefore it’s hard to only pick one as my favourite. However, for the sake of this interview, I’ll have to say my favourite book is No Disrespect by Sister Souljah.  I love memoirs. I have a passion for reading about the black experience and black lives. No Disrespect captures the essence of being a young black girl growing up in the culture of hip-hop during the 80’s and early 90’s. When I read this book I saw myself. I read pieces of my own story. This is the first book I read that resonated with me. No Disrespect gave a powerful voice to a generation of young black girls when we seemed to be invisible. 

MW: What is the most important thing to always include in a book review?  
BRBT: It is very important that a book review provides commentary, not merely a summary of the book.  Potential readers not only want to know what a book is about, they also want to know your thoughts on the story. Providing that commentary is the foundation of a review.  Also, tactfully voicing agreement and disagreement, praise and criticism is very valuable. For me, providing positive feedback to the author is a must.  A book review should never be used as a bashing session. 

MW: What or who is your biggest motivation or role model? 
BRBT: My biggest role model is Susan L. Taylor former Editor and Chief of Essence Magazine. As a young woman I saved her monthly column In The Spirit every time Essence hit the news stand. The wisdom Susan Taylor shared in those columns helped shape me into the woman I am today. Her books gave me inspiration and her lessons on self-love and learning to put yourself first has stayed with me until this very day. Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at a book signing in Philadelphia. It’s a day I will always remember. Susan’s lessons in living helped me to gain confidence as a black woman.
MW: What advice do you have for any book reviewers out there? 
BRBT: I am often asked how does one get started as a book reviewer, and my answer is always the same, just start writing! There is no one way to write a review.  Every book reviewer has a unique style. Even my reviews vary depending on the book I’m reviewing. So, just write from your heart and be honest in your review. As for getting your reviews seen, post them on social media sites, as well as sites such as Goodreads and Amazon. Readers are always searching for reviews on these sites. Also, never accept a book for review if you are not genuinely interested in reading the book. 

MWWhat does the future hold for Book Reviews by Tara? 
BRBT: The future holds some very good things for Book Reviews by Tara. I will have my blog up and running very soon. Also, I plan to show more support to black indie authors by attending more book fairs and events and writing about these events in my blog. I am looking forward to not only providing reviews but also providing authors more exposure in the form of interviews and marketing. I’m also looking forward to doing some freelance writing.  
Impressed by what you've read? Well catch up with Tara on social media!
Facebook: @ReviewsbyTara
Twitter: @ReviewsbyTara
If you'd like for your brand to be featured on SPOTLIGHT then send us an email on



  1. Great interview questions and responses. I wonder if there is a digital writing of the Essence self care that she referenced.

    1. Book Reviews by TaraJune 7, 2018 at 3:19 AM

      Thank you so much Betty. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Susan L. Taylor has written a few books that are wonderful resources for developing self-love. The titles are, In The Spirit, Lessons In Living, and All About Love.

    2. Thank you Betty Boo! I'm sure you'll be reading some of Susan L. Taylor's material soon.

  2. I enjoyed this post. Tara is such a beautiful soul. Her beauty radiates through her words. Thanks for featuring her, Madeline.

    "every book has a purpose". True that!

    1. Book Reviews by TaraJune 7, 2018 at 3:24 AM

      I am truly touched! Thank you so much Nwamaka.

    2. Isn't she just, Nwamaka! Tara is awesome! Thank you for reading. X

  3. This is a great post - thanks for featuring Tara, I'm going to check out her blog! I definitely need to be reading more books by black authors. Certainly a mission for the rest of this year!

    1. Hi Sandra, you are most welcome. Tara really is a gem. I don't think she has a blog yet but you may want to follow her on Instagram and Goodreads!

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