Thursday, March 6, 2014

Featuring Mark Baker of Carstairs Considers

Today please welcome Mark Baker, 
who blogs at Carstairs Considers.


What's the meaning behind the name of your book blog?

Carstairs is my user name just about anywhere. It comes from a book. In the Mrs. Pollifax series of novels, Carstairs is her boss at the CIA.

Considers? Well, I've considered what I'm blogging about and giving you my thoughts.

And as much as I'd love to say I came up with the name for my blog, a friend actually suggested it. I'm bad at coming up with names.

How long have you been blogging?

Carstairs Considers started in early 2013, however, I have a personal blog I've been keeping up since 2002 so I'm not new to the blogging game. Additionally, when I started this blog, I posted a backlog of reviews from elsewhere on the web dating back almost that long. So while the blog is new, it represents many years of work.

Tell us a bit about your book blog. What makes it unique?

When I started writing reviews, it was at Amazon back in 2001. I started because I've always loved sharing what I was enjoying with others, and this was a natural outlet. That quickly turned to other things, including movies, TV on DVD, and music.

So my blog reflects that. Yes, I blog about books. But I also recap a few TV shows, review movies I've watched, and the latest Christian music I'm enjoying. When I started collecting Hallmark ornaments, I started reviewing those, too. Basically, anything that catches my interest enough to review might pop up on the blog.

What genres do you write about most, and why?

First and foremost, I read for fun. My blogging and reviewing comes from a passion for what I am reading. Mystery is my genre of choice, and you'll find mostly cozy mysteries on my blog. I'm also rediscovering my love of Middle Grade books of many genres. Whether it's books I read as a kid or new books today, I'll sneak some of those in.

I don't stick with those two genres exclusively, but they represent the majority of what I review.

What's your earliest memory of reading?

Being read to as a kid before I could even read. Then again being read to in school. Somehow, that turned into a reader who checked out way too many books from the library each week and had to return many of them unread. I still have the same problem except I buy the books now.

What was the first book you read over and over, or the book you've reread the most?

The first book I read over and over was Little Pilgrims Progress. I'd finish the book and immediately flip back to page one and start over again. That must have been second grade or early third grade because it stopped when I found Narnia in third grade.

I really should go back and reread Little Pilgrims Progress again.

Writing in books: Yes or hell to the no?

Deface a book? I'll pretend you didn't ask that.

What's your favorite place to read?

In my car. No, not while I'm driving. But I seem to do the majority of my reading on my lunch hour. I go out to my car and read until it's time to go back to work.

Do you have any reading accessories you can't do without?

I have a book mark that must be close to thirty years old. It's falling apart, but I can't bear to replace it. It's like an old friend, and reading without it just feels wrong.

Finish the sentence: My bookshelves are...

not nearly big enough.

My TBR pile is...

Pile? Pile? I have my own TBR mountain range.

What's a book that's changed your life?

The Trixie Belden Mystery series, but not in the way you'd expect. I'm part of a couple of on-line communities for this series (think Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew). We've spent so much time together virtually and occasionally in real life that these people are good friends. I can't imagine my life without them in it, which is neat since one thing that drew many of us to the series in the first place is the friendships between the characters.

To DNF or not to DNF?

I have to finish what I start. If I'm hating it, that just means I get to write a negative review, which I find helps me recharge my reviewing batteries every so often.

What's one book that intimidates you?

300 to 350 pages seems to be my sweet spot, so books much over that intimidate me.

If you could go to any literary destination, where would you go?

Narnia or Sleepyside on the Hudson, New York. And yes, they are both real places. I've spent too many happy hours reading about them for it to be otherwise.

How about non-book related hobbies? What do you do when you don't feel like reading?

I do watch too many movies and way too much TV. I also play ultimate Frisbee and do mud runs - an activity I discovered thanks to an author.

What's your favorite book to movie adaptation?

I was really impressed with the recent version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It did a perfect job of capturing the book while adding some things to make the story work as a movie.

What are 3 of your must-read blogs?

Lesa's Book Critiques 
Reading to Know 
Jungle Read Writers 


Thank you for joining us today, Mark! 
Remember to check out Mark's blog, Carstairs Considers
and leave a comment or question.


  1. Thank you so much for hosting me!

  2. I have to finish every book that I read too! I think there has only been 2 books that I never finished -- one had to do with the format and the other I simply could not read, the writing was really that horrible.

    1. I need to teach you both about my DNF philosophy. Life is too short to read books that you don't love!

  3. I have a TBR mountain range as well. lol Long books can intimidate me, too. They have to be written really, really well with a fast pace to get me to stay with it.


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