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We’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Arkansan and book reviewer Donna Feyen found that expression to be so true, so she founded her own website to review books for both great reads and clean content at More Than A Review.
Donna has been a lifelong reader. However, she grew frustrated when she continuously ran across books that made her uncomfortable with their content. “You couldn’t tell the type of content from the cover, the book description or the reviews,” Donna says. She mentioned to her sister, Carol, that she wished “there was a way to know what content is in the book.” Her sister convinced her other readers would also care and Donna walked away from that conversation with the idea for developing More Than A Review.
Originally, Donna had more than 10 categories in mind to rate the books she reviewed, but she whittled it down to four: violence, profanity/offensive language, drug/alcohol use and sexual content. Donna uses a scale of 0-5 to rate each category, with 0 containing none of that content. She also provides a thumbs-up or down for the book in general. On her website, books that are rated completely clean (with minimal content in any categories) are under a separate tab labeled Clean Books, so readers can easily find them. However, Donna and other reviewers post about a wide variety of books.
Donna has lived and worked in Northwest Arkansas for 30 years and still holds a full-time job. Creating her own book review website in her spare time has been no easy task. She credits her sister and also friend Jamie Smith with Jamie’s Notebook for helping her launch and sticking with her. More Than A Review went live in 2012 and has continued to grow its audience. Donna also joined a Mastermind group, which has helped her “grow, focus and be accountable. I highly recommend joining one,” Donna adds.
In 2018, Donna expanded into a new direction that has her associating with the rockstars in her life: the authors she’d discovered through book reviewing. Donna began traveling to conferences to interview authors on video. She posts these videos to More Than a Review as well as the website’s social media accounts to bring new authors to readers and vice versa.
“I love attending book conferences and meeting authors; they are my celebrities. Interviewing them was a great excuse to meet them,” Donna says. Through her videos, she also provides authors with a way to reach new readers through More Than A Review readership and its newsletter. Donna currently has over 180 author video interviews on her website, Facebook page and YouTube channel. The videos allow readers to connect with authors and learn about their lives and writing techniques. You’ll also get to know Donna and her enthusiasm for reading through these interviews.
Besides working full time and running More Than A Review, Donna also has a family, runs marathons and spends as much time as possible reading. However, with so much on her plate, she has to be selective. “I will review romance, romantic suspense, and mystery/suspense that is light on the violence. I will review some nonfiction if I feel I can be impacted by it and some children’s books and middle grade. If a book has a plot twist that surprises me, has a unique storyline or captures me in a way that I have a hard time putting it down, then I will recommend it to other readers.” Donna reads and reviews two to three books a week. In 2019, she read 120 books. Her top reviewer, Rebecca, reviewed 150 books for More Than A Review.
Donna has interviewed the following ten Arkansas authors for readers interested in seeing what writers in the Natural State are up to: Nancy Kay Grace, Jodi Vaughn, Karen Jordan, Jerusalem Jackson Greer, Meg Dendler, Daphne V Smith, K.S. Mitchell, Adam Bolander, Toni Rogers and Lela Davidson. She’s also always on the lookout for new reviewers, and those interested can reach out to her through the website or social media channels. Currently, More Than A Review has reviewed over 4, 400 books, all with ratings and a posted review to help you find a book and an author you love.
Donna Feyen and Arkansas Author Meg Dendler
You can visit morethanareview.com to find the thousands of reviews available, and follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest for the latest posts and author videos. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but with More Than A Review, you can be sure to find a book you’ll enjoy.
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