Discussion post: Bad Reviews.

This is a sensitive topic amongst the book blogging community, but it’s something most bloggers have to go through when writing a bad review. UNLESS they are lucky enough to never read a book they dislike!

At some point in time we come across a book we didn’t enjoy, I feel like it’s easier to review it when you paid for the book yourself rather than received it for review! Writing these reviews are never enjoyable, but at the same time I feel like as a book blogger it is my duty to inform readers of my opinion. Sometimes people read my reviews, go on to read the book and find they have a completely different experience, which is absolutely normal! We all have different preferences, something I enjoy is not going to necessarily mean the next person would have enjoyed it just as much.

However I do take extra care when writing bad reviews, and I’ve noticed that when I approach it from an objective viewpoint, as someone just critiquing the story it’s much easier. I think it’s because it makes it less personal and a little more technical.

I’ve been on Goodreads and come across a few reviews that look something like this:

OH WOW this book was a disaster, it made me want to RIP MY EYES out!

Here’s the thing, I enjoy reading entertaining reviews just as much as anyone else, but sometimes I feel like people do toooooo much. Of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I’m not saying my way is the right way to review. But I particularly find reviews like this unhelpful and frankly a little rude. The worst thing about it is some people won’t even say what particular aspect or what it was about the book they didn’t really enjoy. Someone slaved away for months, even years to produce something they were genuinely proud of. The least I can as a reviewer, is point out perhaps what concepts/characters I thought weren’t written well. Or provide constructive criticism, so that the author can perhaps pick up on this and might even agree!

Let me know what you guys think down in the comments! What is your approach to writing reviews for books you didn’t like? By the way I wanted to make some posts that are not book related, e.g. study tips or favourite movies would y’all still be interested in reading these kind of posts?

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REVIEW: The Crystal Crux by A.M. Werner

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Title: The Crystal Crux

Author: A.M Werner

Published: January 11th 2016

Length: 352

Source: I got this copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I haven’t read a high fantasy in a fairly long time so I was really excited to accept this for review! Here’s the synopsis: (taken from Goodreads)

‘Once you get past the Greek warrior Bellerophon and his esoteric-laced crystals, past the menacing black dragon Ophis, past the sinister giant Sinibaldus, past the black-heart Castellan, Rugerius, past the enchanted creatures haunting Eagles Pass and the treacherous Fabbro family ruling Parthenope, you’ll discover that “The Crystal Crux – Betrayal” is a love story, a tale of light and faith in a land of darkness, war and hopelessness.
Pero de Alava has sinned against the powers-that-be. His elevated paranoia has made him indecisive and given life to frequent hallucinations and troubling visions. The supernatural is colliding with reality and the caballero fears he is losing his mind. His plans to wed Anthea Manikos unravel quickly. His best friend, Francis Whitehall, the Griffin, can’t reach him. He accepts no advice from anyone. He curses God because he has seen the prosperity of the wicked and envied them. Will his quest into hell help him right his mind again or will his jealousy drive him to be as unjust as those he despises?
Emperor Henry VI has died. He can no longer protect his pawns. Brother betrays brother, friend betrays friend. As Zor always says, “Bravest blood flows first.” The heart has been struck. It is only DAY ONE and the leaves are falling, snapping off at the stems, missed opportunities drifting away, swirling in the breeze towards the coldness of the grave. So many regrets.
“Every malevolent act you henceforth commit in the name of justice, will only disconnect you from the greater good you are swearing to perform. You will be broken and become the evil thing you loathe.”‘

I think I should preface this review by saying this. If you’re someone who enjoys heavy-world building and historical fiction you will love this book! The majority of it is world building, which was absolutely amazing, because it made me think about how much research went into actually writing about this time so accurately!

This story had characters from a wide range of backgrounds, all battling their own demons and all developing through this story. But it also had some interesting relationships and in my opinion had the perfect amount of romance for a fantasy/historical fiction. I prefer having a relationship that feels more realistic, rather than having love triangles and clichèd romantic scenarios. The relationship between Anthea and Pero De Alva is one I loved reading about and I think it gives this story a sort of relief from all the darkness surrounding these characters.

This was a great fantasy/historical fiction but in all honesty it took me a while to get through, simply because of the intense world building! However the way A.M. Werner developed this complex world and made it feel familiar to the reader is one of the reasons I had to keep reading!

My Bullet Journal!

So this year I decided to start bullet journaling! I’ve always liked the idea, but it looked too high maintenance to be sustainable! But a friend showed me a more simplistic approach and so I decided to give it a try too.

Why?

Why would I bullet journal in the first place? Towards the beginning it felt a little like a waste of time, I’m someone who doesn’t struggle finding ways to procrastinate, so I knew there was a chance I would spent so much time trying to make it look pretty ( emphasis on TRYING)! But for someone like me, actually writing down what I plan to do that day, kind of motivates me, and I know that if I don’t do it I can’t tick it off. I know that is sounds quite ridiculous, the one thing motivating me to complete a task is the fact that I can tick a box when I’m done! But sometimes when I lack motivation, that is literally the only thing that keeps me going, I know if I don’t tick it it’ll have to be passed on to the next day’s list, and I’ll regret it later on!

What I used to do before is literally just grab a random sheet of paper, write down a checklist and just throw it away when I’m done. But that way I couldn’t keep track of my progress/productivity. There are some days where you feel like you’ve achieved so much, but when you look back you realised you actually wasted a lot of time! This journal kind of helped me look back and confront the days where I just felt productive but didn’t actually do anything!

Sample:

I am by no means artistic or creative in any way! But I thought I might show you just what some of the pages look like. WARNING: these pages are really simple, like literally some of them just have titles, lower your expectations for what’s to come!

The pages I’ve included in mine were based on watching 100 million different Youtube videos, finding what suits me, and adding pages that I might find useful. Of course this is not some guideline, so if you choose to make one, it could be personalised to your daily needs!

What is your method of staying organised? Comment down below!

 

 

Beta-Reading: My Experience

To be completely honest I don’t know if people are interested in this post, but I would’ve like to find a post like this when considering beta-reading so maybe it’ll be helpful to some?

I had expressed interested in monetising my blog and one of the methods I’d listed had been beta-reading! This was one that felt like I would actually enjoy doing, and wouldn’t have affected my blog or readers in any way! If you want to know a little more about beta-reading I’ve previously made a post about this so check it out!

When I did my free trial and accepted manuscripts (MS) I honestly felt excited, overwhelmed but at the same time intimidated. Authors provide you their MS in the hopes that your feedback will be useful to them and help them during their revisions. I’m not the most confident person you’ll find, so my first worry was what if my feedback is absolutely useless? These authors might have high expectations about my feedback and I really didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

It took me about 2-3 weeks to actually pluck up the courage and start on the MS. Partially because of my uni workload, but frankly I was just nervous to get into it and make a mistake! Having said that, once I actually took that step and got on with it, as lame as it sounds, it was actually fun… When reading books I’ve always been a little critical, not particularly looking for aspects I didn’t like/enjoy as the reader, but just noticing them. So I kind of naturally progressed through the MS.

HOWEVER don’t interpret this as beta reading is easy! My approach to beta reading is providing comments after each chapter, whilst annotating the chapters themselves, and finally writing up a full feedback report when I’m done. Now it might just be that I’ve assigned myself more work load, but beta reading is TIME CONSUMING. It’s definitely not something that you can just whizz through, accepting dozens of MS each month. Usually I’d go through chapters perhaps three times, if it’s a little dense. My point here is, I underestimated the amount of time it would take to read through a MS. I thought, well it would take me around 15 hours of straight reading to finish a book, so it would be the same for beta reading. Yeahhh, that wasn’t really the case…

Another difficulty I came across was actually finding authors! Understandably when I was holding the free trial, I received quite a few MS. However once I started charging, *tumble weed*. From this I decided to offer a trial of 1000 words for free, just so that the author got a sense of what to expect for the full MS.

All in all, I’ve had a great experience so far, and definitely will continue to provide this service as long as I have the time for it! I’ve rambled on in this post (AGAIN), but if you have any questions about this service, or beta reading in general leave a comment below!