Guest Book Blogger: Mark Baker

Ever wonder about the story behind some of your favorite book bloggers’ websites? Well, wonder no more because the new year brings a new addition to Chicks on the Case. Once a month we’ll feature an interview with a well-known blogger. Kicking it off today is Mark Baker of the always entertaining review blog, Carstairs Considers.

Profile Pic

Please tell us about your blog. Why did you decide to write it? What are some of the challenges and/or successes you’ve experienced along the way?
When I started my blog in 2013, I’d already been reviewing at Amazon since 2001 and a now defunct site called Epinions since 2005.  I was looking for a place that was mine I could post my reviews, especially since I suspected that Epinions would shut down soon, which it did almost exactly a year later.  The biggest challenge was my decision to post my backlog of reviews on my blog.  It took me six months to get everything copied.  However, gaining the readers of my blog over the last five years has been very rewarding.

Do you also post your reviews elsewhere (Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.)? Why or why not?
I do post my reviews elsewhere at the three sites you mentioned.  I don’t post anywhere else, however.  Amazon is a given since I’ve been reviewing there for so long, but I added the other sites over the years since I started reviewing originally to help other readers find authors I love.  My reasoning was the authors would then sell more books, so they would write more books, so I’d have more of their awesome books to read.  See, it was really selfish.  🙂  Anyway, I figure these three sites are the main sites readers would look at for reader reviews, so they are the best additional places to put mine.

What are some of the best or most surprising experiences you’ve had related to your blog?
Any time anyone recognizes me from my blog is a thrill.  Any time someone tells me in a comment or email or in person that they read a certain book because of my review and loved it, that is an even bigger thrill.  Having reviewed at Amazon for so long, I was used to getting review requests for things I wasn’t interested in, but not too long after I started my blog, I started getting review requests for books I already planned to buy.  That was a huge thrill as well.

What advice would you give to new bloggers and/or to authors who would like to connect with book bloggers?
For Bloggers: first and foremost remember to keep it fun.  This is a hobby, and one that will take up a lot of your time.  Don’t accept more review copies than you can realistically read.  Remember to save time in your reading schedule for books you’ve bought because you won’t cut down on those at all.  You got into this because you love reading; make sure that doesn’t change.

For Authors: please remember that this is a hobby for us.  Most of us have real jobs that pay the bills as well as other hobbies, and families and other commitments.  If we don’t take a copy of your book for review, it might be because we know we won’t get to it in a timely manner.  When looking for book bloggers, be sure to find ones that read the genre you write.

There’s a quirky side to your blog. Tell us what else you review. 😉
A quirky side to my blog?  I have no idea what you mean.  🙂

Because I’d been reviewing at those other sites before I started my blog, I started reviewing anything that caught my fancy.  In addition to books, the main things I review are movies, TV shows, music, and Hallmark Christmas ornaments.  Those are still reviews for just about anything you can think of on my blog.  Over the years I’ve reviewed candy, video games (including Atari 2600 games), and Disney rides.  I find the variety helps keep me interested and uses different skills, which I enjoy.  It’s also why I tend to refer to my blog as a review blog instead of a pure book blog.

How did you decide to use Carstairs as your internet name?
Back in the late 90’s when I first really started getting on the internet, my roommate at the time was telling me I needed to come up with a user name.  At the time, I was devouring the Mrs. Pollifax books.  For those who aren’t familiar with the series (and you should fix that ASAP if that is you), Mrs. Pollifax is a widow, grandmother, garden club member, and part time CIA agent.  Carstairs is her boss at the CIA.  I thought that would be a cool name to pick, and it has stuck.  It also helps when I got to sign up for sites since most variations of Mark Baker are already taken.

Thanks so much for hosting me today!

Thank YOU for letting us host you!

Mark’s Bio:  Even as a kid growing up in Northern California, I enjoyed sharing what I was reading or watching in great detail with my friends and family.  My friends today have no idea how lucky they are I have my blog as an outlet.  I moved to Southern California to go to college, and I never left.  Since I still haven’t found someone willing to pay me to read and watch what I want, I spend my days working as an accountant.  When not being a couch potato, (ie. reading or watching something or working on my blog), I play ultimate Frisbee and do mud runs.  As a life long DisNerd, I also love to sneak away to Disneyland as often as the budget allows.

Visit Mark at


32 thoughts on “Guest Book Blogger: Mark Baker

  1. Thank you, Mark. I’m hoping to more comfortable writing reviews and maintaining a blog. I’ve been a member of Goodreads for ten years~ I also post on Riffle, LibraryThing, and a few other book-related sites and of course Amazon. My goals this year is to get more comfortable writing reviews and posting comments online in general.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. These sounds like worthy goals to me. Practice is the best way to get more comfortable. If you went back and looked at some of my review from 2001 (if you can find them buried on Amazon at this point), you’d see how much my reviewing style has evolved. Read other reviews, see what you like they do and avoid what they don’t. But, ultimately, by writing more reviews, you’ll find something that is right for you and you enjoy.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t want to read/review dark books, psychological suspense, that kind of thing. They tend to give me nightmares and are no fun at all. And I am turned off by lots of violence, sex, and language on the page. It’s one reason I stick with cozies.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. My Disney disguise. I love it!

      Actually, this picture is over 5 years old at this point. I’d just run my first and only half marathon – the Disneyland Half.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m off to work, but I wanted to thank the Chicks again for having me on the blog today. I’m honor to be the first blogger featured.

    See you all after work.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Hi Mark: Thanks so much for visiting us. We’re so excited you’re here. Very interesting peek behind the scenes!

    I have a question (for after work): have you ever changed your mind about a review after you’ve posted it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m trying to think, but I don’t think I ever have. I actually find that writing a review helps clarify my thoughts for me if I’m on the fence at all. Having said that, I am glad I never got around to reviewing The Emperor’s New Groove until after I’d seen it a second time.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, Mark, starting with your Amazon and e-pinions reviews, you’ve been reviewing much longer than most of the Chicks have been writing novels (if we don’t count the ones in the file drawer) 🙂 You didn’t mention bowling in your hobbies, but I happen to know you post some very good scores!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Mark, it was fun to see you here on the Chicks. One thing caught my eye since I also love Disney – you reviewed Disney rides?! Tell us your honest opinion of the Teacup ride. (my least favorite – I get seasick on it but my kids loved it!)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Loved your post — and your blog! I can’t wait to come back later today and read the answers to all your followup questions. I vividly remember meeting you at Malice, and I think it was the cozy mystery / Christmas ornament combo that stuck in my mind the most. Thanks for being our first book blogger!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Mark, I’m with you on the Mrs. Polifax books…I have them all and they are a reread for me every 4-5 years or so. I love Emily!
    Thanks for you reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Well I am horribly late to the party (long story) but I wanted to add my thanks, Mark, for being our first guest blogger on Chicks! I loved reading more about you and how you named your blog–and I’m a teacup-ride fan also. (Most of all I loved the old Peter Pan ride over London–do they still have it? I went in FL as a kid and never forgot it).


  9. Mark forgot to mention his love of Trixie Belden!! Hope when you read this, Mark, that you are on the road to recovery from your surgery! Your answers were a valuable addition to blogging for fun, as many of us do. Those who read my own blog know I love children’s books, especially mysteries. Maybe you all will see my interview here sometime, as I love all the Chicks on the Case and will be delighted to hug you at Malice Domestic 30!


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