Tag: discussion post

Netgalley: Yay or Nay?

I signed up to Netgalley not long after I started my blog, however, I am still unsure really as to how I feel about it two years on.

Back in May 2018 I published a post called Five Reasons I don’t Rate Netgalley. Every point in that post still stands. I am only a very occasional user of the service. It comes in handy for some blog tours I take part in, but it’s rare that I go on and have a browse to find something of my own accord.

A lot of bloggers love the site and frequently brag about downloading too many books; I just don’t understand it. I can’t say I have ever found many books I want to download on there at any one time. At best, I’ll make the odd request here and there. I have one currently for The Mothers by Sarah Naughton, but that’s all.

My profile is too small to successfully request the newest and most popular books, but equally, I would feel that in order to get to a point where I would be accepted, I would have to read a lot of books I’m not that interested in to get there. I’m not doing it. I am not going to force myself to read books that don’t appeal to me.

If I’m honest, I think it is over-rated. I keep my account because it does come in handy. Sometimes it makes for a change to see what else is out there, or to try a debut author. I’ll never be one of these bloggers that live off Netgalley and I am okay with that. There are so many amazing books elsewhere that I don’t feel I am missing out.

Do you use Netgalley? What are your thoughts on the site?

 

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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?

 

 

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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?

 

 

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Manx LitFest – Re-telling of Frankenstein by Ben Haggarty and Sianed Jones

A couple of weeks ago now I attended a fantastic event – a re-telling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Ben Haggarty and Sianed Jones.

 

About the Book

We all know the story. Frankenstein, in his fascination for creating “perfect life” through his love of science, accidentally creates a monster. Horrified, he shuns the monster which flees and goes into hiding.

Frankenstein’s monster gradually evolves from a base-instinct creature to something more human by learning from them secretly. But humans don’t accept him; they reject him for his horrifying appearance. Therefore, his loneliness and rage for the contempt shown make him a bitter, twisted creature. Frankenstein comes to rue the day of the monster’s creation.

 

 

Organisers

The event was held as part of the Manx LitFest in September. The first Manx LitFest took place in September 2012. So, this year was the seventh such festival.

In addition, as this year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, organisers approached Ben Haggarty for the event. Ben is the leader of the Crick Crack Club, a successful performance storytelling group in the UK. He has performed at the Manx LitFest in previous years and they appealed to him (not for the first time) to perform Frankenstein. This year, he agreed.

 

Location

The Gaiety Theatre was the ideal location. Constructed at the end of the Victorian era and opened to the public in July 1900, it is an old theatre. Historically, it has undergone extensive restoration work to preserve the building as close to the original design as possible. As a result, the ornate Victorian architecture of the building itself truly set the tone before the performance even began.

Fun fact: The Gaiety Theatre is one of the few remaining theatres in the world to have a functioning Corsican Trap.

I also had the benefit of a central seat in the third row… and I confess I turned up quite early. So, I spent a while admiring the place whilst I waited. It’s not that I have never been before; I have never been on my own before. You notice quite a lot of things when there aren’t distractions to keep you from them!

 

My Thoughts…

Ben Haggarty (as the primary storyteller) and Sianed Jones (multi-instrumental and vocal accompaniment) performed Frankenstein very well. The musical pieces performed by Sianed are the perfect counterpart to Ben’s narration. At times the music helps to build the atmosphere and tension. In others, it serves to break up the narration and keeps the performance flowing. As a result, it added the right atmosphere to an already haunting tale.

The storytelling itself was excellent. Ben has a real talent for conducting himself on stage and consequently keeping the audience engaged. No word was left unpolished and no gesture unplanned. Consequently, he portrayed each of the characters clearly and perfectly. Naturally, Ben has to embody a number of roles at any given time and he switches between them effortlessly! The dialogue in which Frankenstein and the monster confront each other is intense and very well executed.

The fact that I rushed home and picked up the book straightaway is a testament to how much I enjoyed this performance. This was the first time that I attended an event like this… and I am glad I did!

I sincerely hope it isn’t the last.

 

Do we encourage children to read as much as we could?

It only takes one look at my blog to establish that I am a voracious reader. I haven’t always been so fanatical about it though. I’ve always enjoyed reading, even as a child, but it was only since the beginning of last year that I truly caught the book bug.

My mum and dad had been reading to me long before I could l talk. Granted, I probably spent a lot of the time either staring vacantly at the pictures or trying to snatch the book from them at first. All beginnings are humble ones. Whether conscious or not, children learn from the example set by adults – and who are they around more than their parents? Be it by direct interaction or just observing others;

 

babies are like sponges.

 

I am sure there are many parents out there that discovered this very quickly. My mum did too. I took my time in learning to crawl, which eventually progressed to walking. What I lacked in motivation to move, however, I made up for elsewhere. In particular, I was very good at picking up words – rude ones especially. I was caught muttering phrases like “oh for fuck’s sake” to myself many a time. Even when you think kids aren’t paying attention, they are – aren’t they mum?

Kids have amazing skill sets and they’re completely underestimated. They will unashamedly declare that they “SNIFFED BACK THEIR SNOT”, or that the person in front of you at the checkout smells, much to the amusement of any adult (quietly tittering to themselves) too polite/honest to say so. If they can pick upon such obvious things, it makes you wonder what else fails to escape their notice.

A child’s mind really starts to mature once they go to school (or alternative education). They are introduced to a world of small people, just like them. They are no longer the centre of attention. They have to share and make friends and find their place in the world. Most importantly of all though, they start to learn. In order to do that, they have to learn to read – and this is expected to be encouraged at home.  

 

But do we really do enough to encourage our children to read?

 

We have already established that reading is an integral part of learning, but are we setting the right example? Statistics would suggest, not exactly.

A YouGov study conducted in 2014 gave some interesting results when British adults were asked about their reading habits. The study includes quite a lot of information, including age demographic, gender and location. If you want to take a look at the results yourself, you can find them here:-

 

One of the most interesting points, in my opinion, was how nearly 50% of adults described themselves as either avid or regular readers. Note that this is entirely subjective, so we cannot really comment on or assess this piece of information. What I found most shocking though (as an avid reader I admit I am biased), was how many books most of those questioned reported to read. The most common answer was between 3 and 5 books.

 

What this means…

 

To get an idea of how this works out on a practical scale, I did some searching on Google. A rough estimate for average words per novel has been suggested at about 90,000 and the average reading speed at 300 words per minute. Let’s take those numbers and apply it to an adult who says they read the maximum number of books in that bracket (5). Do you know how many minutes a day an adult would have to read to hit this target over the course of a year?

Five. Only five minutes a day. 

Another, broader study also came to similar conclusions, reporting four books as the most common response given by a similar sample size of readers. This study, in contrast to the one quoted above, is American rather than British. You can find the link to the article here.

So, if the vast majority of parents are reading the equivalent of fewer than five minutes a day, is that really sending our children the right message? We all have our own families, commitments, and schedules. I am not trying to pass judgment here… only to make you ask yourself the following question:  

Could we do more to show children that reading is fun? Could we all read a little more to show that it is more than just a chore, or learning exercise?