Six In Six – A Look Back At Some Of My Top Books Of 2017 So Far…

6 I saw this over at Cleopatra Loves Books, and thought it was a great idea to look back at books read so far in 2017. Hosted by Jo’s Book Journey, the idea is sharing 6 books, in 6 categories from the first half of the year. So here’s my choices:

6 Books I Have Enjoyed The Most 

 

 

6 Psychological Thrillers I Have Read & Enjoyed 

 

 

6 New To Me Authors 

 

 

6 Covers I’ve Loved

 

 

6 Books Which Took Me To The Past 

 

 

Six Books I Own & Can’t Believe I Haven’t Managed To Read Yet 

 

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Thanks to the lovely Dee of Noveldeelights.com for tagging me in the rapid fire book tag! I’ve seen these about and thought they looked fun, so I’m pleased to have a go myself. So here we go …

Ebooks or physical books?
I still prefer physical, nothing beats the feel of a new book. But I read both and really appreciate Ebooks these days as there’s only a limit on how many real books I can actually house
Paperback or hardback?
Easy…Hardbacks. I LOVE Hardbacks and collect them.
Online or in-store book shopping?
Online. I just don’t go into town shopping all that often. 
Trilogies or series?
Trilogies. More and I get bored
Heroes or villains?
Heroes! I like a good guy 
A book you want everyone to read?
Recently-I’ve been shouting about This Love by Dani Atkins a lot. 
Recommend an underrated book.
The Drowning Girl by Margaret Leroy. This would be so much more popular if it were released now (I read it 8 or 9 years ago)
The last book you finished?
The Many Colours of Us by Rachel Burton
Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?
You know the price tags off clothes…those. Also, not bookmark, but those M&S plastic knicker pack bags with the pressy/clippy fastener make great kindle protectors on the beach (with the labels off of course!)
Used books, yes or no?
I don’t mind. As long as they’re good condition
Borrow or buy?
Buy.
Characters or plot?
I’m an emotional reader. I enjoy feeling connected – so character. 
Long or short book?
Under 500 pages. 
Long or short chapters?
Short! So much more gripping!
Name the first three books you think of?
The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger  
The Binding Song by Elodie Harper
Dead Woman Walking by Sarah Bolton
Books that make you laugh or cry?
Cry. I am an emotional soul. 
Our world or fictional worlds?
These days – Our world. I do like a touch of magic now and then though. 
Audiobooks : yes or no?
No…my mind just wanders. 
Do you ever judge a book by its cover?
Always – sorry!
Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?
Probably TV. 
A movie or TV adaptation you preferred over the book?
I can’t think of any. I don’t actually watch much TV or films
Series or standalone?
Standalone. I like closure.   
So I’m tagging the following as I don’t think they’ve done it? (or if you have or just don’t want to- ignore me!) 
and anyone else who wants to do it! 

Discussion: Reviews and Ratings – Why I’m Mainly Taking The Positive Approach

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, kind of a discussion/explanation of my approach to reviewing books and in particular less favorable or negative reviews. Then last night I noticed an email in my junk box from an author, whose book I’d reviewed on Amazon and had mainly liked, but had a couple of issues stopping me from really loving it. Now, I’m not looking for some sort of shit storm here or a blogger v author battle. The author was very polite, kind  and not at all aggressive – thanking me for my review (and I won’t be divulging who the author was). It did make me feel a bit uncomfortable though. I’ve been worrying since that I may have upset someone and that in turn makes me feel awful. However, that’s mixed with a conviction on my part that I also have to be honest and act with integrity. It’s what I respect and admire in others, but also what I expect from myself.

I’m a very emotional person, and that reflects in my opinions and feelings towards books. This is a personal thing, I cry at things that leaves others staring at me in disbelief (Kids singing is a big one – not even my own! Thank god mine are both out of primary now and neither myself or my child have to suffer the embarrassment of my uncontrollable sobby face in assemblies) or I feel ridiculously smiley and warm and exuberant where others may just raise a small smile. Ok, so my stability is probably a whole different post and I’m risking getting off track here, but my point is to say that how I react to a book emotionally is what drives my enjoyment of a book, whether it is sadness or joyfulness. I’m not a literary expert and I’m not critically analyzing every word when I read. I just want a story that captures me, that I can connect with, that takes me away for a while, that makes me feel something.

And this brings me onto negative reviews. If you regularly follow my reviews, here or goodreads or some other place, you may notice that I tend to only write positive reviews these days. I don’t rate books on the blog, because I kind of feel my opinion is enough to let people know if the book is for them or not and rating is so very, very subjective anyway. On sites where you have to leave a rating though, in 2017 and in 28 books read and rated I haven’t given less than three stars. And three stars is a GOOD rating in my eyes. It means I liked a book enough to read it and recommend it.

This hasn’t always been the case, and in the past I’ve written some fairly negative reviews. I’ve been blogging a long time on and off and in the early days I used to get a ridiculous amount of unsolicited book post, which I felt I HAD to read, even when I didn’t like a book or would never have chosen it myself. Yes, it meant I discovered some gems I wouldn’t have read otherwise, but often it meant I ploughed through books I didn’t really want to read or wasn’t enjoying. I don’t do that now. I’m pretty confident in choosing books I’m likely to enjoy – I know my tastes and stick to them. But I’m also not afraid to just say a book isn’t for me and not continue. So, yes, I’ve started books this year that I didn’t like, but I moved on and I won’t rate a book I didn’t finish – it’s unfair. I love reading, and to be honest, forcing my way through books I didn’t like was a big factor in my stopping both reading and reviewing for a while. This is what I do for fun and I intend to keep it that way. There’s not enough time to read all the books I will adore, let alone trudge through the ones I’m not.

So while I do tend to review books positively and mainly ones I’ve enjoyed nowadays, I also want to be honest. Not every single book can be amazing, faultless and a five star read, and there has to be some explanation and balance. I will point out anything I found problematic, but I will try my very best to do it as thoughtfully as possible. And it IS only my personal opinion. Something that mattered to me may not be an issue for others. I’ll justify why I felt that way, but ultimately leave a reader to decide if this is something they can live with or not. I think I achieve this, and I’ll continue to do so despite my slight discomfort when reading that email last night.  Oh, and if I were to come across a book I felt was offensive in anyway, I would absolutely call it out. I’m not afraid to say when something’s bad or even to say I didn’t particularly like something. I’m just more adept at recognising when a book isn’t for me and calling time on it pretty early on these days.

So what about you? How do you approach reading and reviewing? Do you go into it with a critical eye? How do you feel about writing negative reviews and also, about those of us who mainly write positive reviews? I do wonder if the fact I appear to “love” every book makes my opinion less valid, but at the end of the day I’m not here for personal acclaim or to discover the next literary award winner. I’m here because I love books and love talking about books to others.

Blogger Recognition Award

Last week I was thrilled to be awarded the Blogger Recognition Award by Katherine @ Blibliomaniac UK – thank you Katherine, I was both surprised and delighted to be included!  You can visit Katherines book review blog @ bibliomanicuk.blogspot.uk or follow her on twitter @Katherinesunde3

 
RULES OF THE AWARD:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide a link to the post you created. 
How my blog started 
Back in 2009 I was actively writing reviews on a consumer opinion site. I reviewed anything from shampoo to places I’d visited but my main passion was writing reviews of the many books I read. Anyway, I was googling an author who I’d recently reviewed and really enjoyed to find out when their next book was out and was stunned to see my review quoted (It was Margaret Leroy’s The Drowning Girl if you’re curious) and made me feel that maybe more people would be interested in what I thought about the books I was devouring. I’d been reading reviews from Chick Lit Chloe and loved her website, so decided to give book blogging a go. with my first post  in January 2010 
Two pieces of advice to new bloggers 

1. Get involved in the community. I love it when people comment on the blog and chat to me on twitter. People won’t find you – you have to put yourself out there. Join and make use of twitter and reach out. yes it’s scary, but most of us just want to chat about books too!

2. Keep it fun. Remember this is not your job. It won’t pay the bills or put dinner on the table. In the past, I’ve become overwhelmed with the amount of books I have to read, worrying about whether I’m posting enough, whether I have enough followers. It really doesn’t matter. It’s ok to take a break, post when you feel like it and always, always read what you want to-when you want to.  You’ll burn out otherwise. 
Fifteen Bloggers I’m Passing This Award On To  
A mix of some of my very favourites whose blogs I’ve followed over the last seven years and some new to me blogs I’ve been reading recently. I know a lot of these bloggers have already had this award…but hey, I think they deserve it again 🙂