Tag: Book Reviews

Catfishing, Negative Reviews and Fear of Blogging

Posted November 6, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 29 Comments

There have been a few news stories about authors behaving badly; that is not to say that some bloggers are probably doing the same. What I am referring to is the article about catfishing and dog poo in the mailbox. This has lead to some bloggers being involved in a review blackout and others too scared to blog at all. It is a sad day when a small group of people ruin it for the rest of us. I am not standing on the side of the bloggers or the author; these articles are one sided and until I have both sides I cannot justify picking a side.

I am a book blogger and therefore I am more likely to side with the bloggers. We do not owe an author anything; we are first and foremost readers and we are allowed to love or hate a book. As bloggers we are just passionate readers that love books so much that we wish to share it. For the most part we review books, some of will offer literary criticism but for the mostly it is just a personal opinion.

My biggest concern is that people are scared to blog and share their passion because of fear. Writing is a passion and I get that authors can get overly protective of their work but by doing this they are trying to squash someone else’s passion. If I was to ever to write a book, I don’t think I would ever want to read the reviews; book tastes vary and not everyone is going to like it.

I have even wondered if my reviews are going to set an author off. I have had some negative reviews (see The Steadfast Reader’s great post on The Necessary Evil of Negative Reviews) and I am not afraid to express my opinion but I am not going to censor myself. For one thing, my opinion is not the typical norm, I’m a small fish in the blogging world and finally my average rating on Goodreads is 3.5. So that means I love most of the books I read and it isn’t too often that I have to write a negative review.

What it all comes down to acceptance of others people’s opinions. I am a big believer of negative reviews, it allows our readers to know what we like and don’t like. As a blogger we don’t owe anything to authors; our readers expect honesty. However I want to remind book bloggers to be respectful and constructive. I would love to know what others think about the current articles going around.

What I Hate about Book Blogging

Posted April 26, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 12 Comments

As much as I love book blogging and have no desire to slow down anytime soon, there is one thing that annoys me. It is not exactly a huge problem and I think this falls under the category ‘First World Problems’ but it has been coming an increasing annoyance for me. I’m not talking about the lack of commenting (I know I’m guilty of this) or the struggle to be part of the crowd of first readers, who boost about all the wonderful ARC’s they read. I’m even not complaining about the lack of male book bloggers or the excess of blogs talking about the exact same thing, this is something completely different.

I started book blogging in April 2012 as a way to track my reading journal. I have an autodidactic blog where I previously discussed literature, but I found myself losing focus on what that blog was all about. I transferred most of my literary posts onto this blog and started blogging passionately about the books I’ve read, loved and hated. I love the way this blog documents my reading journey but the problem is the fact that it only covers my journey from 2012 onwards.

I started reading in 2009 when the reading bug hit me hard; in that time I read some fantastic books but they don’t show up on my blog. I’m at a point in blogging were I want to make reference to books I read before I started blogging but I have no post to link it to. This isn’t a huge problem but it is something that has become increasingly annoying.

I’m now at a stage in my book blogging where I want to go back and re-read a lot of those great or interesting books just so I can blog about them. This also means if I ever want to write a blog post on every book that is on the ‘1001 Books you must Read Before you Die’ list (a life goal of mine) then I will have to re-read over 50 of the books on the list. I was just wondering if I’m the only one who feels this way or if anyone has gone to the extreme of re-reading most of the books from their past just to blog about them?

Book Buzz or Manipulation?

Posted November 16, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 8 Comments

Recently I found myself reading, and discussing on twitter, a particular piece found on the NetGalley tumblr page. This article is a typical puff piece about how great NetGalley is and what they can do to create book buzz and make a book popular. It was transcript of a speech Lindsey Rudnickas (NetGalley’s Digital Marketing Manager) gave on ‘“Book Buzz & Discoverability in the Future of Storytelling’. Basically she was saying, give NetGalley your business and we can make your upcoming book a hit.

Sure, this was a typical marketing pitch but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt more like a tool (the literal meaning of tool) rather than a book blogger. I use NetGalley and have enjoyed the benefits of getting to read a book before it’s released from publishers as well. I just wondered are we just tools used to manipulate people into buying the books they want to promote.

This is a little cynical but it was worth taking the time to think about. I have the opportunity to be in direct contact with some people who work marketing for a publisher. Most of them are friendly and supportive of book bloggers. We just have to remember this whole thing is a win-win situation for both the blogger and the publisher.

I know most people know this but this article made me feel more manipulated that I wanted. Should I feel manipulated? Out of the 272 reviews post so far (as of the 4th of November) 64% of the books are book I own, 19% are provided by a publisher, NetGalley or a similar service and 17% are library books. This is nothing to be ashamed of; I think if I read what I want to read then I shouldn’t feel this way.

It was just something to think about; I’ve often said these publicists could save money by being selective with what books they send to the bloggers. I know some of them will be more selective or communicate with the blogger before sending out books. This whole strategy of sending every blogger the same book may seem weird but reading this article I can see what they want to achieve. If there are a heap of reviews on the one book (positive or negative) the book will be recognised, talked about and there we have buzz.

So how do you feel about ARCs or Galleys? Do they over take your life? As a blogger do you think you have a healthy balance between what you want to read and what has been sent to you? Do you feel manipulated? Let me know in the comments; maybe I’m one of the few but at least it was something to think about.

Recommendations on Book Likes

Posted September 2, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Random / 0 Comments

book likesI was recently approached by Book Likes to recommend some books for the end of the Summer (Winter here in Australia). For those interested Book Likes is a blog platform designed for book lovers (think Tumblr for books), I use the site to cross post my book reviews (and sometimes some of my other posts. So if you are interested in seeing what I recommend and the other books that made this list check it out here.

Why I’m Quitting Ratings

Posted June 8, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

fiction-genre-cloud-600x312Rating books is too hard, how can I give five stars to a book like Frankenstein, which is my all-time favourite novel and give five star ratings to other books like The Sense of an Ending, Super Sad True Love Story and The Marriage Plot. Sure I love those books and will reread them when I get a chance but really they are not on the same level as Frankenstein. Five Star ratings are the easiest ratings too, imagine comparing books with a 3, 3 and a half or 4 star rating. There are books there that really are not worthy to be sharing the same rating as others. Ratings are personal, often changing and are never really a true reflection of what I think about the book.

When I starting book blogging I thought a star rating is a good TL:DR way for people to see what I thought of a book but I’ve come to the realisation that maybe they do too much harm than good. So after weeks of wondering what to do about ratings I’ve decided to quit them for my blog. I probably will still rate books on Goodreads, but that is because that community is based more around ratings than reviews. It’s not an accurate representation and who knows I might quit rating there as well but I think it’s time to say goodbye to ratings on this blog.

In all honesty I would love to quit genres as well but as a literary explorer I think they need to stay, just so I knew which genres need to be focused on. My problem with genres is most books don’t fit neatly into a single genre and sometimes categorising books become too damaging. For now the genres have a place, unfortunately, but I don’t think ratings anymore. I’ve looked around the book blogger community and see a lot of blogs that don’t rate books and I think they have the right idea; trying to pick a rating for a book is hard and often it changes from day to day. I feel like I’m passionate about books and like to try and pick at books and write what I like and don’t like about a book then you see the stars and think the review doesn’t match that rating.

So let’s see how the blog goes without rating the books, if you want to know what I think of the book read my reviews or if you are lazy, check my Goodreads page. I feel like this is the right decision and I even think it is a liberating step as well. I don’t want to be constricted to telling people what star value a book is worth, read the book and find out for yourself. I rather talk about what I liked or didn’t like about each and every book.

ArmchairBEA 2013: Ethics & Non-Fiction

Posted May 31, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 26 Comments

armchairBEANow this is a hard topic, firstly I’m not sure if I know enough about the book blogger code of ethics (there should be one set in stone or in hardback at least) and I often struggle with reading and reviewing non-fiction. First of all, ethics; I don’t think I’ve experienced much to do with plagiarism but I think it is important to always give credit where credit is due. I like to tag my posts make it clear if I’m reviewing an ARC, just so people know that the book has been given to me for free. I think it is important to be transparent with our blogging so we can be viewed as an honest and trustworthy blog. I have had some positive and negative experiences with authors and my reviews; I think it is important to have bad reviews so people know what we like and what we hate. Now I try to be critical and constructive in my reviews but authors still take offence. There is nothing against the author, you don’t have to unfollow me on twitter and most of the time I’m willing to try another of your books. But if it doesn’t work for me, I want to write why, I never want it to feel like a personal attack; authors just have to accept that not everyone is going to like their books. I hope I didn’t get too sidetracked but I think we have an obligation to write negative reviews as well as positive.  I want to start being more vicious with my reading and abandoning books so I don’t waste to much time on the books I’m not enjoying but I also want to document my reading journey here as well so I’m looking for ways to implement abandoned books into this blog so people get a full picture of what is happening in my reading.

Ok, when it comes to Non-Fiction, I struggle to get into most books and I’m really trying. I want to learn more and I’ve been reading some books about the Romantics lately, but how do you review them? With fiction it’s easy to breakdown a book and say what you like and dislike but when it comes to non-fiction how do you give an overview of the book without sounding like Wikipedia? I’m sure you can talk about what works and doesn’t work in that non-fiction book but only to a limited extent, these are real events you can’t really say “here is why the holocaust didn’t work for me”. I want to open up this post to both ethics but more importantly to Non-Fiction.

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Banner by Nina of Nina Reads and button by Sarah of Puss Reboots

Talulla Rising by Glen Duncan

Posted May 9, 2012 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Horror / 0 Comments

Talulla Rising by Glen DuncanTitle: Talulla Rising (Goodreads)
Author: Glen Duncan
Series: Bloodlines #2
Published: Knopf Doubleday, 2012
Pages: 368
Genres: Horror
My Copy: ARC from Edelweiss

Buy: Amazon (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Glen Duncan’s back with the follow up to the brilliant 2011 novel The Last Werewolf. I’ve been looking forward to see how the story continues as I personally felt the last novel left off with a bit of a cliff-hanger. Talulla Rising continues the story, now from the point of view of Talulla Demetriou; an exciting strong female protagonist, whom I loved simply because she is both kick-ass and full of inner torment. The novel kicks off with a brief look back at Talulla’s life before being turned, a slightly too small of a glimpse but enough to give you an idea of the type of woman she was before becoming a werewolf.

Like the last novel, Talulla Rising continues the memoir style; not only is there a focus on the inner struggle between the human and wolf side but now Talulla has her mother’s side thrown into the mix. WOCOP (World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena) have taken Talulla’s newly born son and she is racing to save him before he is used in a horrible blood-drinking ritual. While she is trying to get her son back she is still getting hunted by WOCOP (as Glen Duncan puts it in the book, think CIA meets Keystone Kops meets Spanish Inquisition) as well. As the story progresses you get a sense of just how twisted this organisation.

Talulla Rising is a fast paced, exciting novel; dark, gritty and over sexed. I really love how Glen Dunan takes a popular genre that has been selling well and makes it literary and enjoyable to read again. If the constant excitement of this novel doesn’t keep you going then the dark humour throughout this book will. From the slight pokes of other authors in literature to Talualla remembering that her first human tasted like onions and whiskey; the humour in this book was pleasing. But when it comes done to it, in the end, the thing I loved the most about this book and the one that come before this, is the internal struggle; there is something about that that always pleases me. I’m looking forward to seeing how Glen Duncan wraps up this trilogy when he releases By Blood We Live; hopefully next year.