Behind the Blogger – Kristopher Zgorski from Bolo Books

Tell me about the person behind the blog?

My name is Kristopher Zgorski and I live in Columbia, Maryland – about halfway between Baltimore (home of The Wire) and Washington, DC (these days, the less said about that the better). My day job is in academic publishing with one of the leading and oldest University Presses in existence. Besides reading, I can be a bit obsessive about Broadway Theater, opera, and quality television. I regularly attend book conventions – from genre gatherings such as Bouchercon and Malice Domestic to industry-only events such as BookExpo America.

When did you start blogging and why?

BOLO Books launched in October of 2012. Hard to believe that this year I’ll be celebrating 5 years of blogging. Because of the amount I read, people have always asked me for book recommendations, so this seems like a natural evolution from that. Reviewing also allows me to hone my writing skills. Too many folks don’t take the art of crafting a good review seriously; it can be challenging to distill a book down to the basics, avoid spoilers, and remain cliché-free while also writing in a style that is pleasurable for the audience.

What are your proudest moments or achievements to date as a blogger?

Well, it would be hard to top getting to have lunch with J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst during the launch of their unique novel – S. There is a blog post about that moment here:  But a less celebrity-driven answer would be that I love how running the blog has allowed me to participate in Bouchercon as both a panelist and a panel moderator. I like nothing more than being able to allow authors to talk about their books in the hopes that new readers will discover them. In a few weeks, I have been asked by author Art Taylor to speak to his George Mason University class about my work as a book blogger and book advocate, so that it sure to be a future highlight.

If you had to breakdown the components of your ideal perfect book what would they be?

It all starts with character! Unlike many readers, I don’t necessarily have to like the main character, but I do have to understand them. Beyond that, in a traditional mystery, I like there to be a complex, but believable puzzle needing to be solved; in psychological suspense, nothing beats a good twist; and in a thriller, I want action that feels cinematic without being too over-the-top. All that said, if I also learn something new about a time period, a culture, or a location new to me while traveling through a book – that is just icing on the cake.

What is your favourite genre to read?

Without a doubt, that would be crime fiction. Drilling that down further, psychological and domestic suspense are probably my favorite sub-genres, but I have found that the blog has broadened my reading interests. I’ve read books for review that I probably wouldn’t have tried otherwise. Some of those books have gone on to be favorites when I compile my Top Reads list each December.

If you had to recommend (only) 3 books what would they be?

My three books would be: The Secret History by Donna Tartt, In the Blood by Lisa Unger, and A Rule Against Murder (The Murder Stone) by Louise Penny.

Finally, tell me more about your blog and why we should subscribe

BOLO Books features both reviews and interviews with the occasional guest post. The main focus is new releases – with reviews posting to coincide with the launch of the book. Since I think of myself more as a book advocate, I only post reviews of books that I enjoy and wish to promote (that tends to be about 50% of the crime fiction I read). Each week on Mondays, I post a selection of 4-5 books coming out that week which I think readers might want to check out – most of the time I have read them, but sometimes they are books with enough buzz that I mention them even if I have not read them yet. Since I am based in the US, these are also mainly related to the US release dates, but more and more UK (and other regional) authors are asking to be included. With the Internet, it is so easy to get books from other regions these days that some of those old “rules” about territory are somewhat antiquated.

As for subscribing, it’s certainly a great way to stay on top of new blog content, but a large number of my followers track me through Facebook and Twitter. On my Facebook timeline I also cover theater, television, and movies – so folks seem to enjoy that more well-rounded view into my mind – such that it is.

To read more from Kristopher and check out BOLO Books – click here

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