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!

What’s on your mind TWG? – Do you judge a book by its cover, literally?

Good afternoon you lovely lot! I am back again this week with another ‘What’s on your mind TWG?’, last weeks blog post seemed to go down a treat! Thank you to everyone that got involved in the discussion. If you missed the post, you can find it again here:  What’s on your mind TWG? – Spoilers in a review, yes or no?

So what IS on TWG’s mind this week? Let’s talk about judging books by their covers, literally. When I was younger, book covers didn’t seem as vibrant, fancy or eye-catching as they do these days. To me anyway. Although, I guess an 5-6 year old wouldn’t really stand at shelves stacked with books going ‘mother, this book cover isn’t catching my eye, I shan’t read this one today!’. I would be rather impressed if I did though! As I have grown into a late twenty something woman, as well as starting my blog, I pay attention to individual book covers more than anything. Maybe it’s because I am more aware of how much work goes into creating them, or maybe it’s because I appreciate them more now that I am older.

But there is a difference between appreciating a cover for its beauty and using a book cover to decide whether you will buy the book or not.

When you go to buy a book do you:
a) read the blurb first, then make your decision based on that – or –
b) judge a book by its cover and base your decision on what it LOOKS like – or –
c) will you only buy the book if you like BOTH the blurb and the cover.

I know, I know, it’s a well-known phrase that you should never ‘never judge a book by its cover’, but is that allowed for books?

Before I began blogging, I had a very thorough way of choosing whether I was going to read a book or not:
1. Look at the cover & title.
2. Read the blurb.
3. Read the first couple of lines on the first page.

Do I do that now? No, I don’t. When you work with publishers and authors, you can’t exactly say ‘hang on a second, I need to read the first page before I decide whether I’m going to review your book or not’, that is a tad rude. It is rare that I read the blurbs of books now too because I find that they seem to give more of the story away.
So TWG, how DO you choose a book to read? Well, I decide based on the cover and the title. If both of those catch my eye and make me intrigued, then I will read it. That said, my way isn’t set in stone. Sometimes I do delve further into the information of the book before choosing, but predominantly my decision is based on the cover.

When I get asked to review a book one of the first things that sit in the e-mail (apart from Hi Kaisha) is the book title and author. Yes, the information of the book is included, but I don’t read it. I probably sound like a book snob here, but using my logic, I find I accept more books to review because it broadens my genres and I have found many different and new authors because I chose their books based on the covers.

So yes, it does play a big part in my decision with books. But I am a complete book nerd and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into making a cover shout the story visually. It’s quite clever when you think of it that way.

My question to you is: do you judge a book by its cover? As always I want to hear your thoughts on this weeks topic. Please let me know how you choose a book to read using the choices above in your answers, or do you do something completely different? Authors: do you have a lot riding on your covers to help sell the book?

To join in this discussion pop your comments in reply to this blog post, or you can tweet me @kaishajayneh, or find me on The Writing Garnet on Facebook. I cannot wait to hear what you think! If you have any topic ideas please e-mail them to kaishajayneh@gmail.com!