Reigning in the Criticism – Reasons I Don’t Review Every Book

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Today I’m doing a different post to the one I’d planned, because I had written (and was preparing to schedule) a review… which I’ve now pulled back. And there was a reason for that. It was a review I did research for and worked hard on- yet looking into the author also told me he was coming from a good place. Right now, I’m seeing how easy it is to tear things down and attack others online. That’s just not what I’m about. Sometimes, we’ve got to look at ourselves and wonder is it worth it? I don’t want to speak for everyone and I’m certainly not telling anyone else how/what/when to review, I just want to talk about why I might not review something:

shameIf the author might get unfair backlash- in the last month, watching the internet explode, I feel a bit more cautious about putting criticism out there. I’ve talked about this before and hope to do so again (when I get the headspace), but the last thing I want is to be involved in is cancel culture. Now, even if I trust my readers not to turn into some angry mob online, I still sometimes think it’s better to hold back. This is not to say I’m veering away from all negativity- only that I want to be a little careful at the moment. A lot of the time, I can review a book integrating my criticism- however if all I’ve written is a barrage of criticism on one issue, then I may not want to put that out there.

who meIf I’m just not the right person to talk about the issue– because (surprising as this may be to some of you) I’m not an expert on everything- I know, shocker, right?! 😉 And I just don’t want to make things worse by trying to make things better. My intentions may be good, but much like the last point, it could easily backfire. Again, if I can integrate my opinion into the entire review, great. If not, it may be better to leave it to someone more suited to the topic.

I'm offendedIf my criticism is too strongly tied to personal experience– on the flipside, sometimes a topic may be too close to the bone and I don’t feel comfortable bringing it up. Sometimes I could give insight on an issue- I just don’t want to “out” myself in the process. I may also struggle to express myself in this situation, so chances are, I may just abandon the review, cos it ain’t worth it! Don’t get me wrong, I respect people who do, but it’s not my style. (Jeez- I don’t even feel all that comfortable tangentially talking about it lol!)

If the author’s an unknown– this is quite a straightforward (and far less controversial) point: I just don’t like to review obscure indie books super negatively. Though I’m sure I could find an exception, I mostly read pretty mainstream books anyway.

If I don’t have enough to say– I mean, that’s what my mini reviews are for, BUT some books are just so forgettable I can’t even come up with a few sentences.

And that’s where I stand! Do you review every book? What are your reasons? Let me know in the comments!

Existential Crises and Evolving as a Blogger After Five Years of Blogging

AHHH IT’S 13th MAY 2020- AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?!?! IT’S MY FIFTH BLOGGING ANNIVERSARY!

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Everyone take a banana- you get a banana, and you get a banana, and you get a banana!

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I’d also like to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to my bloggiversary buddy Katie @ Never Not Reading! I’ve always loved her ideas and reviews and original content- so I highly recommend checking her out!

Now, I’m usually feeling pretty celebratory for making it another year (and obviously I’m feeling that quite a bit!) but maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the current state of the world which we won’t talk about, or maybe it’s cos my brain is in lockdown… I’m also feeling a little more contemplative this year.

Over the years, I’ve had plenty of blogging crises and panics and worries… and usually my response is to just bottle up all those emotions and toss them in the sea (very mature haha!) Behind the scenes, I admit, I’m not that nice to myself. Basically, apart from occasionally saying to myself and others hey, I may need some time off, I’m not all that great at admitting that the course of true love blogging never does run smooth 😉

Part of this, I’ve realised, comes from trying to figure out my blogging purpose. When I started out, my mission was clear: tell people what I really think about books and have fun doing it. And that’s something I’ve tried to return to as much possible. Yet, as much as going back to basics helps, I have noticed that there are other reasons to blog. The most noticeable for me was when people started to interact and it dawned on me that you could actually make real connections online! (A novel concept to me!) I found I wasn’t just trying to be entertaining, but being entertained- and that was amazing!

As Booker Talk pointed out in her post on blogging purpose, blogging goals wax and wane. And with that in mind, I’ve tried to accommodate my deepest darkest desires blogging moods. At the moment, I’ve reduced the amount I post, so that I can (try) to do better quality posts when I do write one. I don’t do as many tags if I’m not feeling it; I try to be excited about every post I put out… even if it’s not totally ground-breaking (see, there’s that inner critic again 😉).

So, all of this is to say that, even if I’m less active at blogging these days, I’m much happier where I’m at with the blog before I went into a slump at the end of the year. And I want to take the opportunity to say a ***MASSIVE THANK YOU*** once again for sticking with me! Whether you’ve been here five minutes or five years, I’m always grateful to have you around ❤

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Hope you are all staying safe and well

Yes, it’s Okay to Take a Break!

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And yes, I’m writing this for myself as much as for everybody else 😉 Because this is something I struggle with all the time! No matter how long I’ve been doing this, no matter how many of my fellow bloggers point it out, I still can’t seem to get it in my head. Which is why- *deep breaths*- I’m going to be reiterating what so many have said before me: IT’S OKAY TO TAKE A BREAK!

*Phew*- that’s hard to write! Far easier to just pack in all the excuses and beg for forgiveness! I know that when I’ve got to take time off, I end up grovelling and apologising and feeling tremendously guilty. And for what? For having other things going on, for having various stresses, for experiencing exhaustion… none of which are crimes punishable by death- I’ve checked 😉 Point is, we all have legitimate reasons for taking breaks- and that’s OKAY!

Recently, I saw Drew talking about just not feeling like reading, and it was such a relief to hear someone else say it! Because *of course* there are days when I don’t feel like reading- everyone has those! Not only when you’re feeling slumpy- sometimes my brain feels fried and I can’t keep my eyes open. And you know what? That’s OKAY!

Even more importantly, Eustea reminded me that this is a hobby and how there’s no need to be so hard on ourselves. We should be giving ourselves a pat on the back- not beating ourselves up for not “staying on top of things” (which, ha, if you’ve been doing this long enough, you know how impossible that is to do, since there’s always more to be done!) If we’re tired out or burnt out or just out-out, then we made need a little time off. And that’s OKAY!

Instead of feeling bad, let’s give ourselves a *round of applause* and *take a bow* (in that order 😉). We’re all great apes and we’re all in this together like a bunch of bananas… which sounded better in my head, but you get the idea 😉 I won’t tell people not to make excuses- goodness knows I wouldn’t be able to promise that myself! And I won’t be sorry for being sorry- I’m British, I’ve apologised to chairs for bumping into them 😉 YET I will say for the umpteenth time that we can give ourselves the night off whenever we need to and for whatever reason. The world won’t end. It’s OKAY.

 Cheers to that and to all of you!

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