#TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – To pay for a review or not to pay? Erm, seriously? #reviews

OnlineReviews(pic credit – Design Extensions)

It’s Wednesday, which means TWG is back with another ‘Wondering Wednesday’! Last week saw the first instalment of the brand new feature, where I was discussing honest reviews. In case you missed it, you can check it out here: #TWG’s Wondering Wednesday – How far is TOO FAR when reviewing ‘honestly’? #review

Decided on a topic for this weeks post wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. No, really! All I had to do was look on social media, and, thanks to one of the book groups I am in on Facebook, I was able to get some inspiration for today’s discussion. So, I am fully aware that this topic could be deemed a little controversial. My bad.

Today I am asking you:

Should authors pay for book reviews?
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Should bloggers ask for payment for writing a book review?

Without getting too personal, last week this topic was brought to light in a book group on Facebook. BOTH authors and bloggers said their piece, however, it’s one of those topics that will always be remembered as unfortunately, a lot of bloggers could be tarred with the same brush as the ‘culprit’. Let me just clarify one thing before I begin ranting; if you’re an author who wishes to pay for book reviews, that is your choice and I’m not going to stand in judgement of that at all. After all it’s your money, your book; your decision. Also, please remember that I am not talking about reviews written by people whose day job is to actually write reviews and publish them in magazines etc. That is completely different as it is their job and no doubt it would have been a marketing strategy decided by the authors publisher.

However, this post is aimed at Amazon reviews/Goodreads reviews/supermarket or bookshops reviews, written by bloggers. Not bloggers who get paid to blog; people who blog as their hobby which sidelines any existing external job. -breathes-.

As a blogger myself, I would never in a million years contact an author or a publisher and go; ‘Hi! I will review your books for you, but it’s going to cost you £££’. Don’t get me wrong, I am confident in my review writing abilities, but to ask someone to pay me for writing my opinion on Amazon? Where’s your conscience?! If any of my reviews prompted people to click the ‘to buy’ link at the end, and go and purchase the book in question; great! But asking for money for writing a book review, is pretty much guaranteeing the author sales. Yes? How can you guarantee an author sales? Well, unless you go cold calling and sit by strangers whilst they log onto their Amazon account, click on the book and purchase it right in front of your very eyes; I don’t see how sales can be guaranteed for paid reviews.

When I write reviews, as much as people seem to think that bloggers give glowing reviews ALL the time on blog tours, I write my honest opinion in a respectful manner. Of course there will be times where I dislike a book! If I loved every single book, I would be extremely poor. Therefore, my reviews aren’t always going to be 100% positive. They will be 100% constructive where necessary, but I cannot guarantee a fully glowing review. I also don’t charge authors for my reviews. If a blogger charges for their book reviews, how can they guarantee a certain type of review that is going to make someone buy the book? You might be sitting there thinking ‘but no-one said that they can guarantee sales’, which is true. They haven’t. BUT, if you’re paying someone for something, you are in theory paying for a service. You’re paying for results. You’re paying that person to write reviews for you, to generate a higher amount of sales as opposed to bloggers who don’t charge.

Here’s another question for you; what if a blogger who reviews due to their passion for books, creates more of a buzz about a book and generates more sales? Would you say that was luck? Or would you still prefer to pay your hard-earned money, for a book review, just because it’s ‘paid for’?

I just don’t get it. If you’re a blogger who writes reviews for payment and you’re reading this now; each to their own. But, why pay for something when there are tons of reputable bloggers out there, who review with their hearts and not their wallets? Personally, I would trust passion, heart and dedication over the size of someones wallet.

Up until recently, I had no idea that people were charging for their book reviews, nor did I have any idea that not all of those bloggers are upfront about the costs. Sneaky sneaky. What realllyyyyyyyy irks me about the whole situation is how the underhandedness of those types of people tars passionate bloggers with the same brush. Just because Joe Bloggs from BooksRUS* decides to be underhanded, charge for their reviews, not alert the author or make it clear on their blog about the costs, it doesn’t mean that ALL bloggers are like that. We aren’t. We are out there wanting to review your book because WE LOVE BOOKS, you just need to find us.
(*note: blog name was made up to serve a purpose and not to put a blogger in the firing line).

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Authors, what are YOUR reviews about paid book reviews? Have you ever paid for a book review? If you have and are willing to share, please do! If you have; how much did it cost? Did it generate a lot of sales? Positive/negative points. Plus, would you ever pay for a book review?

Bloggers, do YOU charge for your book reviews? What are your thoughts on the whole situation? Could you ever see yourself asking for money for the reviews you write?

I don’t think I will ever get my read around all of this. To me it just doesn’t make any sense, although this quote from Litreactor.com made me laugh: ‘One theory is the moral issue, that paying for reviews is like paying for sex. The perception being that, if you’re a good person with a good…product, you should be able to find sex/reviews without paying, and that this is the morally superior way of doing things.’

I dunno about you but if I’m not selling sex, I sure as hell won’t be selling my reviews!

Let me know your thoughts, I can’t wait to hear what your feelings are on this subject! If you have a topic that you would like me to wonder about next Wednesday, give me a shout!

A little heads up on why I ‘disappeared’ for a week, as well as special thanks to a few folk.

noteI have a lot to say in this blog post, but I will aim to condense and attempt to ramble much less than usual. However, if I fail miserably, please accept my apology now and know that I tried my hardest, but I’m a rambler!

Little over a week ago I decided to take a take a step back from social media whilst I went to visit a very good friend of mine, after 14 years. You’re probably thinking ‘ooo big deal’, BUT, there was a reason why I decided to coincide my social media break with my break away. Well, if I’m being honest, the decision was only half mine. You see, for the last four or so months I have been on the receiving end of cyber bullying and my tolerance level had been smashed to smithereens. Not only that, it brought back horrendous memories of the bullying I endured as a child. Memories that I already hold the scars for to this day and really didn’t want to have surfaced once again. But they did. After weeks of constant bad news from the doctors and issues with my house, a break away could not have come at a better time, it was just a shame about social media.

Before I went away I scheduled all of my book reviews to go live whilst I was away which probably made it look like I was still about. I need to say a MASSIVE thank you to every single one of you who shared, liked, commented, tweeted and so on, my blog posts whilst I was away. The response to each review posted was incredible and it means a lot that you were all willing to keep sharing them for me. I also want to say sorry to all of you as I haven’t done any blog post sharing, but rest assured I will be playing catch up so if you find your notifications creeping up, you know it’s me.

As I mentioned above, I have been on the receiving end of cyber bullying and it started to make me resent everything I had worked my butt off for. The belittling comments, snidey posts, immature posts from people who should know better and a lot more that only a selected few know. It hurt, and it still does hurt, I’m not going to lie. No-one should be bullied whether it’s in person or online, it really is diabolical.

Whilst I was MIA I had one, very special lady message me to ensure that I was okay as I hadn’t been active online. That gesture itself made me well up as nobody has ever really done that for me, and it meant a lot that my presence was missed. Lucie Wheeler, you are a truly wonderful, inspirational and kind-hearted lady, and from the bottom of my heart I thank you for being there for me this week and every time before. You were (and are) the person I knew I could trust to message when I was feeling concerned, knowing full well you wouldn’t judge and just be the friend and support network you obviously knew that I needed. You truly are worth your weight in gold and I love you lots, thank you <3.

So yes, I am back. I received over 1,500 e-mails in the last week so if you have sent me an e-mail and I haven’t replied yet, sit tight and I will get to you. Thank you all again for the shares and fingers crossed the bully leaves me alone. Much love to you all <3.

New year, New..? No! #TWGTalks

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Seeing as we are in a brand new year, I thought that I would revamp a feature from 2016 that seemed to be quite popular! If you’ve been following my blog since day one, you might remember ‘What’s on your mind TWG?’ where I took controversial book related subjects, and spoke about them. As you do. However, seeing as I am aiming to become a freelance writer (or thereabouts), I thought that it would be good to showcase my writing in the only way I know how: talking. I am called the WRITING Garnet after all!

So, the title of this post; ‘New Year, New..? No!’, it is pretty vague eh? We are now into a brand new year (well, 15 days into it, who’s counting?) and usually that comes with the ‘new year, new me’ and 134542473773 resolutions that are usually broken within 12 hours (I’m being generous). If you are one of the rare few that do actually keep their new years resolutions then that is excellent! However, do we really need to pile on the pressure every single year with the whole ‘new me’ fiasco? If you wanted to change part of your lifestyle or try something new, you could do that any day of the year and own it. Why is the nod from the New Year so important?

‘When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what would I be, will I be pretty, will I be rich, here’s what she said to me’……

Go and be yourself and don’t give a fudgewallop what anybody else thinks!

You thought I was going to break into a bit of ‘Que sera sera’-ing didn’t you? My mum has actually said that line above by the way! Maybe not with those EXACT words, cough fudgewallop cough, but I am sure you get the gist. Did I listen to her though? Let’s just say that some human beans that I had the displeasure of being acquainted with, had other ideas for my confidence and self-worth. So yes, I did give a fudgewallop what everyone else thought of me and if I’m honest, I still do (to an extent). Recently I got betrayed by a person that I thought was a really good friend. They took my vulnerability and shredded it whilst trying to mould me into the person that THEY could ‘cope’ with. My illnesses, my struggles, my down days, the way I organised things in my home, everything – they all became problematic to that person. ‘What did you do?’ I hear you ask, I took a step back, removed their toxic asshat from my bubble and reviewed my life. Well, after bonding with tissues and coming to terms with the bullying & betrayal that is.

You’re probably wondering what my little story has to do with the new year, right? Fear not, I will explain…eventually. It dawned on me that I had spent most of my life changing myself to fit in with those around me, or making myself out to be something that I am quite clearly not. I lost sight of me, Kaisha. I didn’t know who I was, all I knew was what everyone else wanted me to be. But you know what? Nah, no more.

If you know me, you probably know my story (if not, it’s on a previous blog post, somewhere). You’ll know that my whole life is controlled by my body and things that I cannot see and cannot do anything about. Why the monkeybum would I want to then mould myself around other folk? I never knew that I was Play Doh!

Personally, New Year isn’t about creating a brand new you. By all means, if you want to do daring things, lose weight or have different aims in life, then go for it! You don’t need to become a brand new you to do that though, do you? If we stood in front of a mirror, it wouldn’t take us long to pick out all of the things that we dislike about ourselves. We have all done it, and we most probably will continue to do it. As Izzy from ‘A Year Of Saying Yes’ (part 1&2 are out now) by Hannah Doyle says; we don’t take the time to appreciate our lines, our beauty.

Don’t change yourself because we have entered a new year. Don’t change yourself because someone has a chip on their shoulder and your addition of salty sass ruins their vinegar. Make aims. Say YES to things (only if you want to though). Aim to become a better you, not a brand new you.

If it turns out that people cannot handle you, handle yourself and OWN IT. If you are having a asshat of a day and can’t stop crying; DON’T! It’s your life.

It’s YOUR song so YOU choose the dance.
New Year, I’m still me, and you’re still you.

Influenced by a book, TWG lets loose with her thoughts.. #honestpost #awareness #bullying

I need to type. I need to try and free my mind from whatever seems to be constricting it right now. I have no idea what that may be. All I know is that my mind feels trapped..
I have just finished reading a book that reopened many of my wounds, although to be honest, I’m not too sure that they were even fully closed. Throughout this post, the book title, author and overall information of it will remain anonymous. No, it’s not because I thought the book was rubbish, or any other negative views at all. The book was brilliant yet incredibly harrowing; yet I need to keep my thoughts of the book in my head for now.

I have been through many, many things in my life already. Most of which I have pretty much glazed over, acted like things are ‘fine’ and believed that my feelings and experiences aren’t worthy of peoples time…because others believe them not to be. How do you ever come back from that though? Being stuck in a place you have been made to feel as though it is the right place to be, yet all along it is wrong, and you have now lost the chance of breaking free.

When I was a little girl I used to be so afraid of growing up, yet I would dream of wearing sparkly clothes, having long, flawless hair and walking with such swagger and confidence. From the time I was a little girl to the time I became an adult, a lot of things changed. Innocence was lost and my dream of wearing sparkly clothes and walked with swagger, became no more. Instead, I just saw…black. There was no sparkle and no swagger. Instead, there was fear and trying to find my own way of surviving through the black times. Some people may use that moment to try and shine or to fight back, yet others may decide to think of everything as….FINE.
‘Are you okay?’ Yeah, I’m FINE.
‘Nothing on your mind?’ No, I’m FINE.
‘You look grumpy…’ I’m not, i’m just…FINE.

Instantly, you’ve lured yourself into a sense of false security. You know deep down that you’re not fine, but seeing as ‘fine’ seems to be your most favourable word, you tend to believe it.

The book that has influenced my thoughts tonight, has given me a real kick up the booty. It has made me realise that I need to learn to talk. I need to learn to talk about MY deepest and darkest feelings without feeling guilty. I need to realise that my feelings are just as important as JimBob’s across the road, or Phoebe’s in Central Perk…

Whilst it is extremely easy to realise those things, it is even harder to put them into practice, especially when you’re surrounded by people that seem to think that is okay to downplay your feelings and take away YOUR moment to express what you feel is important. Nobody has the right to do that, EVER. It is NOT theirs to take. Jodi Picoult made an extremely valid point (one of many) at her event recently. She was talking about what you should and shouldn’t say to a person of colour, and I also believe that those things should be taken into consideration with multiple other situations too. Jodi said that when you’re in a conversation with another person who is talking about their concerns, what you do NOT say is ‘ah I know someone with X Y & Z too’, or ‘that happened to me too’. Why? Because you then downplay their moment and cast it aside like it is of no importance, all because Clementine over the road is the same.

Whilst typing this waffle, it has made me realise even more so that I need to say F………….YOU to a lot of things and a lot of people, and say HIYAAAAAAAA to myself and my daughter. I can do it for her, I just don’t know how to do it for myself.

Maybe one day I will find the confidence to talk about situations that haunt me to this day, one that is even more important after reading that book. I will never rid myself of that situation completely, well, hardly a situation as such. All I know is, my experience of it may help others. If I can’t do it for myself, I will do it for them….whoever they are…it may even be you.

Over and out.
TWG.

How @Lesley_Allen_ & Biddy Weir gave me courage to tell my own story – #BullyingAwarenessWeek

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It isn’t often that you can come across a book which you feel was written about you, for you. A book that is written with such poignancy and devotion to the storyline and its true meaning; one that you can relate to in more ways than one. Unfortunately, when the book in question contains a storyline which in an ideal world, nobody SHOULD EVER relate to, you start to feel ashamed for feeling relieved that you DO relate to it.

Not long ago, author Lesley Allen released a novel titled; ‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’, which has just been released in paperback to coincide with National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month.
(#Review! The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir – (@Lesley_Allen_) @BonnierZaffre #antibullyingmonth)
Thank you to Lesley Allen and Biddy Weir, I was able to muster up enough courage to finally tell my own personal story about being a victim of bullying.

This is my story….

Imagine this; you’re five years old, in Year 1 of Primary School and incredibly shy. You keep yourself to yourself and never get in anyone’s way, pretty much getting on with daily life at age five. Still imagining? Good. Keep going…
Now imagine being the five-year old that got picked on for sitting on the playground floor reading Noddy magazine on their own. Imagine being the five year old that got shoved, pushed and laughed at for being a quiet child (or in their world, a loner). Now, imagine being a five year old that has just been pushed into a brick wall and was called ‘fat’. I’m sure a few of you are probably shaking your heads in disbelief thinking it’s not possible at age five. It is. It was. Want to know why? Because I was that five year old that you have just been imagining for the last paragraph.

Back in 1995 if you were getting picked on, people used to come out and say ‘it’s only a bit of name calling, you’ll get over it’. No. Just NO. We wouldn’t stand for people calling us names now, as adults, why should we stick up with it as children?
From the very first moment of being called fat, my life turned upside down. ‘Fat’ didn’t just appear once, or twice, it used to be a daily occurrence. A FIVE years old. In school I was never considered popular and to be honest, given the nature of the ‘popular gang’, I didn’t even want to be. I was very happy sitting reading my Noddy magazine, waiting for the school bell to ring for home time so that I could see my mum. My protector.

As I got older, I felt like I was constantly looking over my shoulder, trying not to act in a way that people would bully me for. But no matter how hard I tried NOT to get bullied by trying to be someone else, I was still their target. Their meat if you will. Those fat comments did a little more to me than just upset me as no matter what I did, I couldn’t shift the comments from my mind and believed them. I believed them so much, I started attacking myself; I began to play up with my food. I hid it, I dropped it, I threw it away. You name it, I did it, as long as I didn’t have to eat it. At such a young age, I saw food as a poison instead of a necessity. Due to that, my weight plummeted and anorexia & bulimia took over. It was an extremely unhappy time for my family, especially my mum as she couldn’t understand it the way that I understood it as she wasn’t in my head. I mean, if you’re not going through it, how CAN you understand it? Outsiders assume that anorexia is a choice. It really isn’t, it’s an illness, a mental illness.

When I went to Middle School at age 10, I naively thought that the bullying may stop due to everyone being split into different classes with a lot of new students. Don’t get me wrong, it did stop…for a couple of months whilst everyone adjusted. I should have felt elated that I wasn’t getting bullied for a little while, but I wasn’t. Why? Because up until that point, I had already been badly affected by bullies and I wasn’t going to magically feel better and happier overnight. It doesn’t work like that. It cannot work like that. My eating habits were steady, I ate the bare minimum, but at least I ate.

As soon as the bullying started up again I felt more frightened as the bullies were now older and much scarier. I was only a small child, short and very slim build so if anyone towered above me it scared the living scherzy out of me. Getting pinched seemed to be the daily occurrence, as did getting chairs pulled from under me when I’m sitting down. Teachers didn’t believe me, instead, they blamed it on me by saying that I must have done something to antagonise them. I started to dread having to stay in a lunch times due to the bad weather as too many of the nasties were stuck in one room with me. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. I remember one day I tried to stick up for myself and ended up getting a huge sellotape holder bashed onto my hand. Ouch.

I absolutely dreaded going to school and it made me ill. The worry about what would be facing you when you walked through the school gates. Feeling unsure as to whether you’ll go home at the end of the day with all of your possessions. Oh sorry, I didn’t mention that did I? My possessions got stolen at school. Sometimes I was lucky enough to find them still there at the end of the day, even if they were outside in a puddle or covered in mud. Looking back on my school years, it is absolutely ridiculous thinking about what I was bullied for! Horrible names for having hair on my arms, my surname, my weight, my hair colour, my freckles, my dimples; you name it, I was bullied for it.

When I left school, the bullying stopped. I felt free! I could be ME, or could I? Sounds simple doesn’t it? The thing is by that age, I had no idea who I was. I had spent so many years trying to make people like me, blaming myself for what the bullies did, or wondering what was wrong with me that I lost sight of who I truly was. All I was certain of by the age of 17 was that I was a very timid, unconfident teenager with a big heart. Regardless of how broken I was, I gave my heart and soul to other people. Why love myself when for over 8 years, I was attacked for who I was. Does that make sense?

I got my very first job when I was 17; made my wish come true by becoming a checkout girl so I could sit down all day. Ahem. I seemed to follow the family by working in Tesco, and I worked really hard. I wasn’t work shy at all, I did what I had to do and more, without complaining. For a while I was loving it but then overnight, that got robbed of me and I had no idea what I had done. Walking into the canteen or past a group of people you had grown to really like, only to overhear nasty comments about yourself felt like a kick in the stomach. I was the new girl in town and soon enough, those nasty comments seemed to go everywhere and the friends I thought I had, bar one, became no more. Thankfully, that friend has been stuck with me for ten years!

This is harder than I thought, wow. I am tearing up writing this because it is extremely hard to see just a small part of what you went through in black and white in front of you. I feel ashamed. I feel as though there is something wrong with me for people to constantly find fault with me in such nasty ways. I don’t understand it, and to be honest, I don’t think that I ever will.

Bullying is a subject that gets spoken about a lot, but barely anything gets down about it. Not only do people get bullied face to face, people can get bullied online too. Cyber bullying. It’s horrendous and unfortunately I have been on the receiving end of that too. It is quite known that there is a huge stigma attached to bullying because assumptions are often made about the severity. ANY form of bullying is severe and should not be tolerated. Constant name calling etc can leave scars on your emotional well-being and even affect you for many, many years after the event. Physical bullying is often seen as worse because people can physically see it rather than take the victims word for it. Physical bullying can leave scars in the same way as name calling etc can, unfortunately, both types of bullying can result in such devastating endings. Suicide.

It can take an awful lot of courage to be able to speak to a person that you trust, about any forms of bullying that you are going through. It’s far too easy for an outsider to go ‘you need to tell someone’, whereas the victim is probably sitting in fear wondering what would happen if they told anyone. I know I did, I was petrified that the bullying would escalate even more. I couldn’t handle it at the level that it was at, how would I be able to handle it any worse? Luckily for me, my mum believed me. She also was one of the two people to believe me when I was getting bullied at work when I was pregnant.

It’s probably sad to say that my story isn’t much different to millions of others out there. The scars are still evident deep within, I’m not a confident girl and I struggle to trust people due to what the bullies did, and everything else that has happened in my life. I don’t feel worthy of people’s love or attention, and every time I’m being treated rubbishly by people these days, it brings me back to moments I wish to forget. But I can’t. I’m trying to, don’t get me wrong. I will never be like anyone else, never. I am truly thankful to the people who have stood by me and have had my back over the years. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

Over the years I have told my stop in dribs and drabs, never have I ever told it like this. What you have read is only a summary of what I went through, there is far more to it than that as I am sure you understand. Reading Lesley Allen’s book shook me to the core, but, without Lesley writing such a safe haven of a storyline, I don’t think that I would have found the courage to speak out properly. Thank you Lesley and Biddy Weir.

Bullying needs to stop. We need to stop feeling ashamed for being bullied, but we need to have the safety net to do so.

This was my story, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading it.
If you have been affected by anything in my post, or are getting bullied yourself and have no idea where to go from here, you can find contact numbers and support details right here:
Bullying UK

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Day 4 of TWG’s tour for Lucy Scala (@LucreziaScala)’Someone To Love’ (@Aria_Fiction)TWG&Love?

twgtol(Picture credit to WallpaperCave)

-sniffs- It’s the fourth and final day of TWG’s solo blog tour for ‘Someone To Love’ by Lucy Scala. So far on the tour we have had Lucy Scala tell us what love means to her, TWG’s review of the book AND an interview with the lady herself. I’m sure you’re probably thinking what else can I bring you on this tour? Well my little gems, I will be rounding off this tour with TWG’s take on love!

TWG’s take on love…interesting concept. Think I’ve thrown myself into the deep end with this one! For those who know me well, you’re probably wondering how I am going to write this post. Afterall, I’ve been single for 3 years and I don’t exactly have guys standing outside my house like paparazzi , trying to catch a glimpse. -looks outside- No, I actually don’t. My idea of love is sitting on the sofa with a good book, cuppa, chocolate and watching my favourite programs (outside of being a mum). I know my daughter loves me, she is three, but that is a different love.

People’s own take on love can get a bit cloudy due to the Prince/Princess charming scenarios that we come across in films, or even books. Is that even realistic? If you’re a bit of a love cynic then you’ll probably be saying no to that question. But, if you’re a hopeless romantic, of course you’ll think it is. Where do I fit in with those? Honestly? I have no idea. I used to think that love was cringy, slushy and just not for me. Granted, I was at the age where I didn’t know true love if it came and bit me on my bottom, but, relationships I entered didn’t do much to change my personal views.

I see people completely loved up, being loved for who they are and what they do and of course I would love that. I would love to be loved for who I am. The thing is, I have too much against me as a person to have someone love me like that. Due to my past, I can’t let my guard down. That said, I haven’t found the right person that I feel comfortable to do that with….yet. For a long time I told myself that it would never happen and try to get used to that fact, force of habit. However, as I have gotten older and opened my eyes and heart to the possibility of love, I would like to think that maybe one day that will change.

Will I actively go seeking for love? No, I won’t, not from another person. I need to actively seek love from myself. I need to learn to love myself before anyone else can fall in love with me. I have opened my heart to the possibility of finding true love or ‘the one’, but I am in no rush to. If it happens, it happens. Maybe one day I will find the guy that I click with, or maybe I will be sitting on the sofa in my Minnie mouse pj’s, watching other people fall in love. Who knows what the future will bring. Even if I don’t find my someone to be IN love with, I know that I will always have my someone to love in a different sense, with my daughter. Unconditional.

Thank you for all of the support, shares and RT’s over the last four days. It truly means a lot as I was really nervous about doing this solo tour. I hope you have enjoyed it, thank you for staying with me and tuning in! I hope you all find your someone to love!

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What’s on your mind #TWG? Can storylines ever be ‘too real’? #Discussion.

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I know, I know, I’m sorry! There has been plenty on TWG’s mind since we last took a trip there, but I haven’t been able to extract my thoughts just for you, until now! Honoured? Should be!

I have a feeling that this weeks topic might cause a large discussion as I believe that a lot of you will have an opinion about it. Please don’t shy away, get involved in this discussion, as well as any others, by commenting on this post! Let me know what YOU think!

TWG is talking about storylines this week. Can a storyline ever be TOO real? I know that people often read for amusement or to escape their personal struggles and reading a book mirroring those struggles, might be distressing. Do those types of books put you off? Do you prefer reading books that have storylines that are completely different from your own life and what you have been through or are going through? Or, do you find those storylines refreshing?

Tough one really, isn’t it? Personally, I read for amusement and I aim for books that are hilariously different. For example; Kitty French – Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency or Carol Wyer – Life Swap. There are many, many more that take me away from my struggles for the time it takes to read that particular book. However, I find it extremely refreshing to read a book that has a character with an illness the same, or similar to one of mine, or a storyline based on something that I have been through. Whilst reading about those topics can be quite emotional and often gut wrenching, I think that tough situations need to get highlighted within books. Sometimes, if an illness or event gets brought up in the media, there is a higher chance of a negative spin on it because people are uneducated about it. But, put that into a book where the reader is absorbing the information in their own way, the topic is seen in a completely different light. It’s as though the fictional book is educating the reader.

Several months ago I read a book that highlighted an illness that a lot of people know OF, but they don’t know IT; The Years Of Loving You by Ella Harper. For me, seeing my symptoms in black  and white, but really being the characters symptoms, was emotionally refreshing. It gave me hope that maybe just ONE person will read it and be able to approach the situation completely differently to help a loved one. I do think that books that are close to the reader’s life, often take away the ‘taboo’ heading for that particular topic. Even though they are fictional characters, it as though you have an ally, someone who knows what you’re going through. Either that makes me sound extremely odd now, or it’s widely agreed with. Someone please say yes…

Don’t get me wrong, I can see that reading a book that reminds you of a time you’d rather forget, isn’t good and that’s where the ‘too real’ factor might come in.

It really is a tough one to gauge, especially when every reader has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to books, as well as having their own troubles to contend with. I am really intrigued to hear your thoughts on this one so please do comment on the post, or tweet me @kaishajayneh and let me know if there is such a thing as being too real, where books are concerned!

#Discussion – What’s on your mind TWG? Do readers expect too much from books, or are we easily pleased?

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TWG is back for another ‘What’s on your mind TWG?’! Fellow blogger Rachel Gilbey inspired this weeks discussion after one of her posts in a blogger group.

This week I am asking you; as readers, do we expect too much from books? Does reading a lot of books make you harder to please? OR are we as readers easily pleased? Do we go for the books that other people LOVE and make ourselves LOVE them to fit in?

I must say, I am incredibly curious as to what your replies to this discussion will be! It’s a topic that is incredibly in-depth and will take more than TWG to understand it, but a girl can try…right?

Have you ever read multiple books from one genre and found that you were harder to please, the more you read? Years ago I used to think that if you’ve read one chick flick book, then you’ve read them all. Complete ignorance on my part. Whilst a lot of people associate chick flicks with ‘boy meets girl, get married, happily ever after’, that is definitely not the case. Don’t get me wrong, chick flicks/romantic comedies have a higher rate of happily ever afters, but to judge the books by that concept is like judging a crime novel for having too many murders!

I have read a lot of romantic comedies, and I will continue to do so because different authors have different approaches to the genre. After all, different people lead different lives and interpret situations in multiple ways. Back in the day, I was quite hard to please in terms of books as I had gotten far too comfortable with the same author, the same style of books. Ultimately you’re setting yourself up to be picky doing that. There are thousands of books out there these days, books that will suit every type of reader, but do we STILL expect too much?

It’s a hard question to answer, very hard. Some readers may expect a lot from the books that they read and put certain authors on a pedestal, and then get miffed if their next books don’t live up to their expectations. Writing that last sentence made me feel so bad for authors. I’m aware that they need to be prepared for their work to be critiqued, that’s the hardship of putting something out in the big wide world as everyone has got an opinion. But, are we being too fussy?

When you pick up a book to read based on other people’s opinions, there is a chance that you will have their thoughts in your mind as you read the book. When you pick up a book based on your own wants from a book, you’re probably choosing the book based on what you’ve read before, or what you know.

I know what books I like to read, but as I get older, I enjoy finding the books that are out of my comfort zone, trying something new or finding a new author. It’s exciting to find a book that you can sink your teeth into, or cry at. That type of involvement from a book can be priceless and sometimes our own expectations can hinder it. When I read books, I don’t sit with a checklist and compare it against other books because that isn’t fair to the author. Every author writes their own books based on their own research, simple. A new book is a fresh start, and in my opinion, reading a lot of books doesn’t make you expect too much, it just makes you more aware of what you like and what you don’t.

That being said, I would never insult an author personally if their book was not my type of book, I chose the book to read, they didn’t force it upon me. I also wouldn’t be nasty about a book that I didn’t enjoy and whilst I always find the positives, some authors do need to know that every book isn’t going to be a 4 star rating from every reader.

What are your thoughts? Do you have high expectations? As always, please do let me know, get involved! Thank you to Rachel Gilbey for being my inspiration behind this weeks post!

Discussion: What’s on your mind TWG? Star ratings – are they really needed, or are they just there for a bit of razzle dazzle?

Welcome to this week’s ‘What’s on your mind TWG?’! I didn’t write one last week, as many of you are aware as to why, but I’m back! The topic up for discussion this week is one that will no doubt create a big discussion (hopefully) – Star Ratings! Love them, or hate them? How do YOU rate the books that you’ve read?

Goodreads star ratings are as follows:

1* = Did not like it
2* = It was okay
3* = Liked it
4* = Really liked it
5* = It was amazing.

HOWEVER, just to make it even more confusing, Amazon has a completely different star rating definition:

1* = I hated it
2* = I don’t like it
3* = It’s okay
4* = I like it
5* = I love it.

At first glance of both sites and their star ratings, which one do you go by? Personally, I find it to be a royal pain in the tooshmanush. Why? Because, under no circumstances would I rate a book online at 1 or 2 stars. I find those two ratings to be horrible and unless the book is filled with spelling errors, unbelievably bad storyline/characters and a plot that has no depth or feeling, does it really deserve a low rating? Thing is, not everyone is going to like the same books. I might find a book amazing, and then someone else could come along and find the book to be what I just said above.

It’s a tricky one for sure. Authors rely on reviews and feedback from their readers as it helps their books stand out. But sometimes, reviews may be written yet the star rating doesn’t match the content of a review. For example ‘oh my word, this book was amazing, loved the detail, characters. Only flaw is that it wasn’t long enough’ = 3 stars. Seriously?

I am definitely one of the type of reviewers that starts off with a clear 5* at the start of the book and I ‘deduct’ star(s) as I go along. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit there and create a chart (sorry Nath! *brother*) with my criteria for each book. I’m not that pompous. It does change for each book that I read though, because I read a lot of different genres. How can you rate each genre the same? I personally can’t because a chick lit book will give me a completely different feeling whilst reading than a psychological thriller would.

Can you imagine it though if a one star rating was given to a psychological thriller for being ‘too scary’? Unless you’re wanting the baddie in the book to come and tuck you in at night, it’s not exactly going to be a fluffy type book! At the other end of the scale, what if a one star rating was given to a romantic comedy style book because it was ‘too slushy’? Romance comes with feeling, albeit not a complete slush puppy type feeling, but a low star rating for that is completely ignorant.

When it comes to reviewing and rating, there is always one word that needs to be remembered – CONSTRUCTIVE. By all means, rate a book honestly, but if your review doesn’t explain your thoughts in a constructive(and polite) manner, then it becomes irrelevant.

When I rate books, I think of how it made me feel, did I get bored, were the characters/storyline believable, just to name a few. I back up my star rating with my review. Sometimes I do find it difficult when faced with a book that didn’t quite hit the mark (for me) in terms of storyline/characters because obviously I don’t want to hurt the authors feelings, especially if you’ve worked with them before. However, I don’t and won’t, lie about my opinion. Even if books don’t hit the mark for me content wise, it’s still highly likely that I may enjoy the author’s style of writing generally in terms of descriptions and so forth. Everyone seems to rate books differently, which can get confusing, but everyone has different ways of doing things and different opinions!

So I’m asking you. How do YOU rate books? What do you think of star ratings on Amazon/Goodreads? Please do let me know what you think!

#Discussion – What’s on your mind TWG? – Can a book really speak to you, or is that just wishful thinking?

It’s that time of the week again! Well, kind of. I am actually a day late in posting this feature this week, I do apologise! I haven’t had any readers kick me up my toosh toosh to remind me, so I’m hoping you still enjoy the feature!
I wrote on the facebook page (feel free to ‘like’ the FB page here) for this blog that this weeks feature will have a more personal element added. Although, I don’t know how much more personal it can get, after all, it is about my mind ;).

So, the topic that has been on my mind is: ‘can a book really speak to you, or is that just wishful thinking?’

I’m sure many of you have read books that you could relate to for multiple reasons, whether it’s because of a character’s personality or even certain events within the story. It’s crazy how something based on ‘made up’ events, can make you feel as though you are reading about your own life.

If you have felt as though a book has spoken to you, which one was it? In what way did it speak to you? As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts and personal feelings on this topic. If something I too personal for you to share, please don’t feel that you have to share if you don’t want to.

I have been a bookworm for many years but when you’re reading books as a teenager, it’s less likely that you would sit there dissecting a book like you would as an adult. Don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of relatable books out there for young adults which cover some unfortunately ‘popular’ subjects. For example, suicide, teen pregnancy, self harm, cyber bullying, sexual assault, just to name a few. Those subjects in particular are usually seen as ‘taboo’ subjects because nobody really knows what to say. It could be possible that anyone going through those issues in their life, may not feel comfortable talking to anyone close to them about it. So when an author is willing to write about situations that crop up in everyday life, those books could become a lifeline for readers in terms of feeling less alone. That is when books will shout from the rooftops.

I read a book at the start of the year that didn’t just speak to me, it shouted at me. Have any of you read The years of loving you – Review by Ella Harper? The book has such a relatable storyline for me, and millions of other people I’m sure. Life changing illnesses, also known to be chronic illnesses; parkinsons, depression, fibromyalgia, arthritis, crohns disease, hypothyroidism, again just to name a few.
**Please note that I have only selected a few, I do know that there are a lot of other illnesses at different levels, but as the book contains one of the illnesses that I stated above, I named the branches of that illness.
‘The years of loving you’ takes you on THE journey. The journey of oblivion to destruction in just one afternoon. The journey of grief. The journey of multiple masks and trying to find one that fits. To read such an emotional journey, having just had my path re-routed on THE journey for the sixth time in nine years, caught me off guard. The feelings that I felt, moments when I felt as though I was crazy for feeling like I do, someone in the book had the same thoughts and feelings and they were struggling with it too.

Can you see why the book didn’t just speak to me? When you find characters to be incredibly real, it can make you feel as though you have someone who knows exactly what you’re going through, or went through. Has anyone else ever felt like that?

There are a lot of books where I find the characters speak to me within a book. To be honest, sometimes I do find a character or two that I wish I could have a stern word with haha. One of the lovely ladies in a book by Darcie Boleyn spoke to me because of her wisdom…and the fact that I wanted a best friend like her!

In my opinion, yes, I believe that books can speak volumes. Not just in emotional ways due to certain events, but in eye-opening ways that can make you start thinking about your own life. It’s books like that, that I believe to be little gems. Small in size but the volume is immense. I thank each and every author out there for taking the time to write such moving and soul capturing books. As a reader that relies on books as an escape from a daily struggle of continuous pain and illnesses, when you find a good book that triggers your emotions and thoughts as well as relatable factor, it’s like having a pocket-sized friend. Only YOU know what it holds. Beauty is within, just like the contents of a book.

My question to you, can a book really speak to YOU?