Category: For Fun

Top Ten Tuesday – Bookish Worlds I Love

It’s Tuesday, so guess what guys… it’s another Top Ten Tuesday post I am sharing with you today!

This week’s theme for the post is Bookish Worlds I Love. I am a sucker for world-building so there are going to be some brilliant names on the list! Just because I love these worlds doesn’t mean I would necessarily want to visit them… but yeah!

 

Westeros (& Essos) – A Song of Ice and Fire series

For obvious reasons I love these… but I wouldn’t like to visit. Knowing my luck, I’d turn up and immediately get run over by a dung cart. That’s probably the best I could hope for. These worlds aren’t exactly known for their smothering kindness to its citizens.

 

Middle Earth – The Lord of the Rings series

Tolkien paints such a magical and vivid setting in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I would love to see the Ents and the power of nature in force. Hobbiton would be pretty quiet and quaint too. It’s just a shame I’ll be too tall to move in…

 

The Labyrinth – The Relic Guild series

Again, this wouldn’t be the most pleasant place to find myself in, but spectacular again for the magic. I wouldn’t really like the idea of being cut-off from society either.

 

Valengrad – Raven’s Mark series

Again, a dark world to want to visit, but the fabulous descriptions in the Raven’s Mark series mark this on my map! This is an unusual place on the list, as a wasteland known as the Misery in particular would be an amazing (and amazingly difficult) place to traverse. With a shifting landscape as a result of corrupt magic and few unmoving landmarks, it’s not your typical world.

 

Roshar – The Stormlight Archives

I’ve only read one of these books so far and already I have fallen in love with Roshar. It has such a depth of history and is so beautifully described. I cannot wait to see how the rest of the books live up to the first in this!

 

The Discworld – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series

The Discworld is the fictional setting of 41 novels; it is a flat, circular world, balanced on the back of four elephants who in turn stand upon the back of the Great A’Tuin – a turtle. Yep. That pretty much sums up how crazy this place is, but even still I love the real, everyday problems that are encountered here. The Discworld books are really entertaining!

 

The Sollan Empire (and beyond!) – Sun Eater series

This world is so expansive that I don’t even truly know how to quantify it! I feel this series has a lot more to offer too; I haven’t read Howling Dark yet so I’m sure my horizons will be broadened even further after this book. It has so many unique systems, worlds and civilisations.

 

Orisha – Legacy of Orïsha series

Children of Blood & Bone

My favourite element of the world of Orïsha is the cultural aspect. I feel it truly celebrates a unique culture and consequently has a completely new insight into the world and the beauty of it.

 

Weep – Strange the Dreamer series

The narrative of Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer makes Weep sound hauntingly beautiful in its desolation. All her descriptions are vivid and amazing, but the sense of mystery about the lost city makes it all-the-more appealing.

 

Temerant – The Kingkiller Chronicles

I need to re-read these books and appreciate them again. It has been a really long time. The sophistication of the world-building in this series is why it makes its way onto the list. These books are some of my favourites in the fantasy genre.

Which book is your favourite bookish world from? Do you share any of these?

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

My Holiday Reads

I haven’t exactly made a secret of the fact I am going on holiday this month. For today’s post, I want to share with you my intended reading whilst I am enjoying some fabulous company and (fingers crossed) some good weather.

I feel like there is an expectation for women to read chick-lit on holiday. I know it’s supposed to be nice, light reading, but that’s not me. Reading women’s fiction is an exception, rather than the rule when it comes to my reading tastes. Instead, I’ll be taking a variety of genres away with me.

If you want to read why these books appeal to me, check out my Reading List for October.

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

If I finish these, then I have plenty of books on my Kindle to choose from. I have already considered are The Book Thief by Mark Zusak and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I might also pick up When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen, but it’s set in an office. Going on holiday is my getting away from that!

I’m not going to set any more books than this in stone. If I finish all the books on the TBR then I can treat myself to reading whatever I would like dependent on my mood. From fantasy to non-fiction; historical fiction to futuristic thriller… I have something for the occasion.

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Shelf Contol #8 – 18/10/2019

Welcome to day 18 of Blogtober and today’s post, Shelf Control! Today I am “enjoying” my last day at work before a fantastic week off. I’ll be spending it with my sister and fingers crossed, enjoying some sunshine.

As a refresher, Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies – a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves! Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

 

I am using Shelf Control to look in further detail at the books I have added to the TBR and then listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. I talk about why I want to keep the featured book; it also acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I won’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them.

Let’s look at the next book on the TBR!

 

Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Steelheart

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

 

My Thoughts…

Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy novels are brilliant. There isn’t a book I haven’t rated highly yet. I have already read the first Mistborn trilogy, The Way of Kings from the Stormlight Archives and just recently, Elantris. I feel more than sure that I am going to be reading a lot more of his books, including this one! Steelheart has been on my TBR since January 2016. Not long…

On a serious note, I can see myself picking this up before too long. My enjoyment of Elantris is fresh in my mind. I’m also trying to avoid some of his other works for now, like the remainder of the Stormlight Archives books. Brandon Sanderson is only writing book 4 of 10 at the moment, and once I get into it, I don’t think I’ll be able to wait patiently for the next book as and when they come out.

 

Have you read many books by Brandon Sanderson? Have you read Steelheart or any other books in The Reckoners series?

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday – New Releases I Am Excited About

Hi guys! Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post is quite an exciting one, as I am sharing my Top Ten new book releases I cannot wait to read! This is probably going to be a disastrous post for my never-shrinking TBR, but it’s always good to have something to look forward to!

New books… shiny books…

 

The Institute – Stephen King

Goodreads – The Institute

 

I have fallen in love with Stephen King’s writing and I have seen so many good reviews of this book in the blogosphere. I have plenty of King books still to read, but I am looking forward to this one!

 

The Burning White – Brent Weeks

Goodreads – The Burning White

 

Thus far, I have only read The Black Prism, aka book one of this series. This is the fifth and final instalment to the series, but I’m still looking forward to it. Now that I know the conclusion is near I’ll be more inclined to pick the rest of these books up!

 

Cilka’s Journey – Heather Morris

Goodreads – Cilka’s Journey

 

I loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. It’s one of the best audiobooks I have listened to since subscribing to Audible. This was published only two weeks ago and I have already downloaded Cilka’s Journey to my library on Audible.

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

 

I was very lucky to have received a Netgalley download of the book, so I could be reading this in as little as two weeks time, my TBR permitting. The synopsis sounds so creepy and fantastic – I can’t wait to read it!

 

The Song of the Sycamore – Ed Cox

Goodreads – The Song of the Sycamore

After reading The Relic Guild series, I am really excited to read this latest novel by Edward Cox. I applied to sign up to the blog tour for the book, however, the tour was full. Gollancz was supposed to be sending me a copy to review anyway, but for one reason or another it didn’t turn up. Never mind I’ll just have to purchase a copy when the time comes to read it!

 

The Mothers – Sarah J. Naughton

Goodreads – The Mothers

I don’t know if this appeals to me for its sinister plot or because a couple of my friends have either recently had children or are expecting. Either way, this sounds like an exciting read! As I haven’t read any of her other books, this is a great way to try a new author.

 

An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Goodreads – An Anonymous Girl

Psychology, ethics and morality are topics that go hand-in-hand, although a lot of people might not be aware of it. I loved studying psychology at school so books on the subject are always greatly received. The synopsis makes this experiment sound so personal… so I can’t wait to find out why!

 

Recursion – Blake Crouch

Goodreads – Recursion

I haven’t even read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch yet, although it is on my TBR. I’ll be adding this one too as it has elements of psychology in it as well. The idea of waking up one day with false memories is scary… but the brain is that suggestible in the right circumstances.

 

Starsight – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Starsight

Starsight is the second book in the new Skyward series. Brandon Sanderson has become one of my auto-buy authors, so of course I am excited by any new book of his!

 

Howling Dark – Christopher Ruocchio

Goodreads – Howling Dark

I shouldn’t have to wait too long for this either, as the ARC is sat on my bookshelf in the spare room. It’s about time to read it too, having worked my way through previous ARCs. This might just end up on my TBR for next month. I haven’t decided yet.

Are you excited for any of these books or authors?

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Quintessential Quotes – Margaret Atwood

Good afternoon everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely day! In today’s post, I am going to be sharing some of my favourite quotes from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and her more recent book, The Testaments.

I think dystopian fiction can have some really poignant quotes that make us think about the stark differences in our lives compared to those that unfold on the pages. How can such truth come from something so twisted, so horrible and depraving of life the way it is?

But it does. Here are some quotes from each of the books that have stuck with me the most: –

 

The Handmaid’s Tale

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

Really true though, isn’t it?

 

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

 

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”

Someone always falls victim to change; it all depends on how loudly the oppressed can shout as to whether anything happens as a result.

 

“There is more than one kind of freedom,” said Aunt Lydia. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”

Yet the problem here, Aunt Lydia… is the distinct lack of freedom for these Handmaids to choose.

 

“That was when they suspended the Constitution. They said it would be temporary. There wasn’t even any rioting in the streets. People stayed home at night, watching television, looking for some direction. There wasn’t even an enemy you could put your finger on.”

… Sound familiar, my English friends?

 

The Testaments

 

“As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

True – history never pans out exactly the same for we delude ourselves that we learn from our past. That doesn’t mean we avoid making the same mistakes, however.

 

“But it can put a lot of pressure on a person to be told they need to be strong.”

Especially in times where you are out of control and vulnerable.

 

“The corrupt and blood-smeared fingerprints of the past must be wiped away to create a clean space for the morally pure generation that is surely about to arrive. Such is the theory.”

Raising children, particularly girls, to be treated as glorified brood mares in service to their husbands justifies this?

 

“Our time together is drawing short, my reader. Possibly you will view these pages of mine as a fragile treasure box, to be opened with the utmost care. Possibly you will tear them apart, or burn them: that often happens to words.”

I like this quote for the way it addresses the reader. It pulls the reader into the story.

 

“Such regrets are of no practical use. I made choices, and then, having made them, I had fewer choices. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one most travelled by. It was littered with corpses, as such roads are. But as you will have noticed, my own corpse is not among them.”

Sometimes blending in to bide your time is the only way to make a difference. Let them underestimate you.

Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale or The Testaments? Do you have a favourite quote you would like to share?

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Books I Wish I Had Never Read

It’s rare that I have such strong feelings against books, but sometimes, you do really wish you never read. Whether it’s because they are difficult to get into, have flat storylines or disappointing endings, no one wants to want to DNF a book. Mind you, with some of these… I wish I had!

Which books do I wish I had never read?

 

American Gods – Neil Gaiman

I enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s Stardust well enough, but American Gods fell short of expectation. At the time I was reading it there was a lot of hype about the Netflix series too, which didn’t make me feel any better about not loving it. I finished the book with mixed feelings, but it left more questions than answers. It was confusing and not at all what I expected. After I read it, I was told that re-reading it would be a benefit. I quickly changed my mind though – I’ve wasted several hours on it already. My copy went to charity and hopefully to a more appreciative reader than I.

 

Re-Wired – S. R. Johannes

I don’t like DNFing if I can avoid it, but I had to for this Netgalley download. The main character, in my opinion, is extremely unlikeable (to the point of intolerable) and unrelatable. I felt the pacing of the narrative was jumpy and inconsistent too, which made for difficult reading. I wasn’t enjoying it, so I stopped. Simple as. I wish I hadn’t downloaded it. I didn’t even bother to review it here on my blog. It got one on Goodreads and on Netgalley only.

 

Ekata: Fall of Darkness

… AND here is another Netgalley download that turned out to be a poor choice for me. Put it this way, this is how I summarised my review: –

If you like reading about moody, insecure and overly-hormonal teenagers, spending every free moment not training to save the world fawning over each other, then this book is definitely for you!

My God, I just wanted to bash these character’s heads together. Aside from the mushy relationship between them, they were pretty flat. The ending wasn’t great either – totally set up for a sequel but there is no decent conclusion to the events of the book. The only thing I liked about the book was the world-building.

 

Books of Pellinor – Alison Croggan

This series is about 2,000 pages all-in-all, so not a short one. I was actually really enjoying it, but the last book and the conclusion to the series totally ruined the rest of it for me. Rather, should I say what conclusion? The ending was rushed into the last few pages and consequently it’s anti-climactic. If you took the last 100 odd pages of The Singing and re-wrote it, it could be fantastic.

As it is, I feel like I wasted my time with the whole thing now.

 

The Darkness That Comes Before – R Scott Bakker

This is a clear winner for the top choice in books I wish I had never read. The worse thing is, I convinced myself to stick with it thinking it would get better. It didn’t. As an epic fantasy novel, it should have been right up my street. The world-building was confusing, the characters not that likeable or even interesting and there is a lot of focus on the religion and Holy War that I couldn’t invest into. Sorry to say, I wasn’t a fan of it… AT ALL!

I have enjoyed so many books like it before, but this was just something else. Never again will I attempt to read this book, or even this author. That’s how much I have been put off!

What books do you wish you had never read?

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

 

First Lines Friday – 11/10/2019

Happy Friday everyone! It’s nearly the end of another week and the weekend is well on the way! As ever, I’m back again with my (mostly) regular fortnightly feature post – First Lines Friday. If you want to sample something new without the bias of a front cover, then you have come to the right place!

Which book am I featuring today? Here are the first few lines from today’s featured book: –

 

Imagine we could see the damage inside ourselves. Imagine it showed through us like contraband on an airport scanner. What would it be like, to walk around the city with it all on view – all the hurts and the betrayals and the things that diminished us; all the crushed dreams and broken hearts? What would it be like to see the people our lives have made us? The people we are, under our skin.

I thought about that when I saw you on the news just now. I recognised you right away. ‘Such an ordinary person,’ those people said. ‘I can’t believe someone like that could do something so terrible.’

 

 

I was supposed to read this for last month’s Book Club at work, but… yeah. I didn’t get the chance. I still want to though, so if I get ahead of this month’s reading then I am going to try to read this on holiday. I’m not really all that enamoured with this month’s book choice, so if I have to pick one of the two to read, it’s this one!

Shall we find out what it is?

 

When She Was Bad – Tammy Cohen

You see the people you work with every day.

But what can’t you see?

Amira, Sarah, Paula, Ewan and Charlie have worked together for years – they know how each one likes their coffee, whose love life is a mess, whose children keep them up at night. But their comfortable routine life is suddenly shattered when an aggressive new boss walks in ….

Now, there’s something chilling in the air.

Who secretly hates everyone?

Who is tortured by their past?

Who is capable of murder?

 

So, what do you think? Will you add this to the TBR? Is it on already?

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Paid Advertising – Is it worth it?

I’ve often wondered whether forking out my hard-earned money to pay for advertising on Facebook/Instagram was worth it. I decided to run a little experiment at the end of September to see whether it made a difference to my regular traffic and if I would get the promised 86-240 odd viewers a day for my advert.

To try and maximise the potential, I tried to choose a very neutral post – one that would appeal to as many people as possible. I wanted to stay away from reviews to avoid genre bias. In the end, I opted for my recent Book Blogger Problems tag. I paid $5 for the advert to last five days, which reached viewers on both Facebook and Instagram. Shall we see how both did?

 

Facebook

Facebook indicated that I could expect between 80 and 240 odd viewers a day for this advert. I was grossly disappointed with it. At the end of the five days, these are the stats.

Yes, I got a measly 37 engagements. I didn’t even get the suggested minimum per day over the span of the advert! I dread to think how an advert performed if you picked more selective content. The more niche you go then in theory you’ll get less viewers. I barely got any as it is.

As of writing this post, I have had just over 4,550 views in the 900 days since beginning my blog. That averages at 5 views a day. In the five day advert period, my page views varied from 3 – 21.

Comparing this advert period with the first few days of October, I’ve had nearly as many page views and interactions organically compared with the advert period. Okay, Blogtober will be having a bit of an effect on the figures as I have fresh content every day, but still, not massive. Only 7 of 37 actually went on to look at my blog, and I have no new subscribers for the trouble.
Could do better, Facebook.

 

Instagram

The stats for Instagram don’t look any better either, I am sad to say. The post received 21 likes in the period.
I would say that normally isn’t to be sniffed at… but this is how my posts perform normally WITHOUT advertising. In fact, I have posts which have performed better, such as my post about winning a signed copy of The Testaments.
My promoted post didn’t refer anyone to my blog, either. I didn’t expect as many from Instagram as Facebook, but as it happens I got none at all.

 

So – Is it worth it?

In my experience and opinion, absolutely not! I won’t be bothering again. I know for a fact that if I put the effort into blog hopping and reading new blogs etc, I could get more viewers to my blog and my content myself.

Sure, I am sure advertising is great if you don’t have the time to do this. Maybe if I had spent more it would have had a bigger impact. As it stands, the traffic to my blog and the “boost” my content got was so paltry that it isn’t even worth it.

I’ll save my money to buy something else more exciting in future… like more books!

Have you or would you ever paid for advertising? Did it work for you?

 

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Top Ten Tuesday – My Blogging Achievements

It’s Tuesday and Day 8 of Blogtober… so that can only mean one thing – it’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday Post!
Today’s post is all about celebrating my top ten achievements since starting my blog. It’s good to give ourselves a pat on the back sometimes. It’s also a great opportunity to talk about my blogging journey so far!

 

Starting a blog… and then sticking with it!

I will be the first person to hold my hands up and admit that I am TERRIBLE for starting projects and never seeing them through. I like to try new things and before I found my feet blogging, I was always abandoning one project or another.

Blogging is the exception to the rule! It was a slow start in the first four months or so whilst I got to grips with it. Once I had established a routine though, the whole experience became a lot easier and I have never looked back! Having never really done it before, it was a huge leap of faith. I think it helped that back then I was only doing it for me. It was my outlet to talk about books. Now, I still do it for me, but I do enjoy getting a like now and again! I can’t lie…

 

Getting onto Social Media

I have always been terrible at using social media. On a personal level, I hardly use it at all except to look at silly cat videos on the internet and the like. My Facebook profile picture gets updated maybe once a year. Yeah, it’s like that.
I never liked Twitter for a personal account. I had nothing to post, nothing to say. My blog changed that. I’m not the kind of person to take photographs all that often either… unless it’s books. That is a blog influence as well though. My personal Instagram account never took off either.

I wouldn’t call myself an expert – far from it! I have a reason to make an effort with it now, and that is the difference!

 

Engaging with a fabulous community of book bloggers

I started my blog as a means to talk about the books I love; it was primarily for me. By starting it, a new world opened up to me. Other bloggers with the same interests as me suddenly came to my attention and I had an audience to write to. Through bloggers, I have been introduced to more books, genres and authors.
Two and a half years on I still enjoy getting a like or a comment on my blog. I don’t think that will ever change. It’s nice to know that somebody cares to take the time to read something you have put effort into.

 

Switching to Self Hosting

Probably one of the biggest things I did last year was move my blog and domain name to a self-hosted site. I have never done anything like it before, so it was a total learning curve. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources on the internet to make the process as straight-forward as possible!

It wasn’t hiccup-free, but I got there. Eventually. Those few days whilst my domain was being re-registered were the longest ever!

 

Going “public” to friends/family

I only did this a few months ago. For a long time, I kept my blog private from friends and family. I had no idea how they would react to my hobby (and having kept it quiet so long). In hindsight, I was daft to worry. I guess I was worried about how they would react to it, or that they wouldn’t and I’d be met with a wall of indifference. My family have been very supportive and I feel a lot better for being able to talk about what I am doing more openly. There were some happy moments but also some disappointments when it comes to friends. I had some great reactions from some friends I didn’t expect to back me at all. There are also friends that haven’t acknowledged it or supported me when I really thought they would. It was bound to happen I guess.

 

Getting onto Publisher Mailing lists

Receiving copies of books in exchange for a review is always an exciting time! Who doesn’t love book mail? When I first started my blog I struck up relationships with some smaller publishers. As I was relatively new to the scene, they were more willing to give me a chance. After about a year of blogging, I decided to chance my luck and contact Gollancz about a new release they were advertising having ARCs for. And I got one! I was expecting my request to go ignored, but no. I have received several other books since then and I am always looking forward to the next one that catches my eye.

 

Also… working with indie authors!

Working with indie authors is a completely different experience, but I would argue that it is a lot more rewarding. I have struck up some good relationships with indie authors for whom I have written reviews. Many have come back to me with new books to review as well. Indie authors offer a far more personal experience to the book reviewing process. Many of them don’t have the representation others benefit from, so anything you can do is so much more appreciated and ultimately, grants a greater sense of achievement in helping them.

 

Improved Writing

It may seem like a small thing, but I have noticed an improvement in my writing. Not only is it a lot easier to take those first steps and start a post, but they flow a lot better too. I have found my voice. It’s an invaluable skill and one I use a lot at work. Even my work colleagues have commented on how well I can draft an email.

 

Completing my Goodreads Reading Challenges

I don’t quite know how I have managed to complete every challenge I have set myself (so far)! Maybe it is because I can be stubborn when I want to be. In fact, for two years I have increased the number of books in my reading challenge, in 2017 and again this year. Equally, it could be that I am just getting quicker at reading or better at managing my time. I can’t pinpoint any one thing that decides how I manage, but it works, somehow.

 

Confidence

This has been saved for last because I think it is the most important achievement. It’s also been the longest journey as it starts in my childhood. I used to wear my heart on my sleeve; I couldn’t take criticism at all. Friend or stranger alike, I took people’s opinions to heart. In high school, I started Performing Arts lessons as a way of putting myself under scrutiny. It was a safe way of doing it and it taught me, gradually, to accept constructive criticism as advice, rather than someone being hurtful.

Look at me now; I couldn’t stand out any more on account of my green hair and how I pour my passion onto the internet, practically inviting people to disagree with me.

Confidence isn’t something you wake up with one day, but it builds with time. In its own way, starting my blog, sticking with it and sharing my love of reading has helped me discover a greater sense of self. I am happiest when talking about my blog, or what I am reading. I wouldn’t say I am reliant on it, but the acceptance and inclusion of many has helped. There has been the odd time when I have met with less favourable opinions (or a lack of opinion when I expected one) of my hobby. It doesn’t matter, in the grand scheme of things, because I am doing what I love to do.

I still wear my heart on my sleeve sometimes, proven by the fact that I have gotten a little emotional writing this section. I’m not invincible, as much as I try to be. So whilst I am feeling soppy, let me say thank you. Thank you to everyone who reads my posts and drops likes or comments. Thank you to the friends and family who listen to my rambling, whether you are interested or not. And lastly, thank you to those that reminded me that those who mind don’t matter and those who matter, don’t mind.

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Discussion Post: How to write book reviews… (and how I write mine!)

How do you write a review?

Everyone has their own way of approaching the task – there really is no right or wrong way to do it. Naturally, you are taking the opportunity to express your opinion, so it’s a completely personal experience.

I like reading other bloggers reviews. I love the variety of style and structure to other bloggers writing, compared to my own. There are the same underpinning conventions, but we all have creative licence to do things our own way.

In today’s post, I want to touch on some of the things I do (and don’t do!) when writing my book reviews. So, shall we get into it?

 

Make Notes Beforehand?

I don’t really make notes as I read. I have tried, but I never stick to it. It interrupts my reading flow and does more harm than good in the end.

If I don’t wait too long to write my reviews then usually my thoughts are fresh in my head and the review is easy to write. That’s also the case if a book makes a good impression on me. I do struggle occasionally. I’ll freely admit in that case that I’ll look at other people’s thoughts and reviews. I would never copy a review, but I’ll shamelessly admit that I’ll use it as a prompt to ask myself what I thought about the same subject. It works!

 

Describe the Plot

I am not a big fan of reading detailed, lengthy plot descriptions, hashing out 80% of the book before reading a person’s review. I do read posts by bloggers who do this, and to be honest I just skip this section. I’ll have already read the synopsis of the book. If I read a post that summarises the vast majority of a book (minus the spoiler /ending), do I want to read the book then? Honestly, no. You may not have given the ending away, but the plotline and enjoyment of the rest of the book has been taken away from me. Why waste several hours reading something I already know?

Sometimes review points need a little context and I don’t have a problem with that. There is a balance, however.

 

Expressing views

I always write my reviews as honestly as I can. That is the point, after all. Reviewsfeed is my place to express my views. As a reviewer, I couldn’t in good conscience lie about my experience of a book. How could readers ever trust me to be honest again? It’s probably one of the easiest ways for others to lose their respect for you… and yet, it’s so easy to feel pressured into not saying something that may not be popular.

I’m not saying all bloggers should be brutally honest about their opinions. Saying that a book that an author has poured hundreds of hours into to publish is **** is uncouth. That doesn’t mean you have to lie or even gloss over the fact in your review; there is a way to be tactful about it. If I thought a book was that bad and I had nothing good to say about it, truthfully, I just wouldn’t review it.

I once gifted a handmade jumper to a family member for Christmas. It is one of the very first big crochet projects I completed, and I am really proud of it! That jumper has remained in that person’s wardrobe to the present day, unworn. They’re being tactful; they won’t get rid of it but they haven’t worn it either. I know I love it more than they do because I know how much time and effort went into it, and that’s okay.

That said, I really wouldn’t mind if they got rid of it now. It is several years old.

 

Star Ratings

Some bloggers like to breakdown their ratings based on various aspects of a book and then average the ratings. From other bloggers, I actually quite like reading these. It’s not something I will ever do though. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite an organised and orderly person (mostly), but I find this approach a bit too regimented.

In a sense I do take this approach, but I am a lot more flexible with it. I would describe myself as more of a mood reviewer. In my mind, sometimes character development may be more important than world-building. Personally, narrative style is a make-or-break thing with me and books. The story could be fantastic, but if I don’t enjoy the way a story is written it will hamper my enjoyment of it. I like to rate the overall experience of the book in a less rigid manner.

Also, I rarely put star ratings on my blog. I have used them in my Throwback Review posts, but I try to avoid them. In my opinion, star ratings are well and good, but the more important bit is the explanation of why I have rated a book a certain way. So, that’s what I focus on in my reviews on my blog. My star ratings are for Goodreads.

How do you write a review? What do you do differently? Do you agree with me?

 

signature

Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads