Why I love negative reviews

Negative reviews are absolutely for the reader and no one else. This is a hill most people would happily die on.

I have seen many arguments about negative reviews in my years of blogging and it usually ends up coming down to who reviews are for and if authors should know about them.

It’s quite easy to start reviewing books and thinking the author needs to know your thoughts or how will they improve their writing next time, right?

Wrong.

Some authors hate any sort of criticism even if the rest of the review is glowing, some authors think anything under five star is crap and most can agree they don’t like to be tagged as they can’t respond/do anything about the criticism being offered.

After all the book is published now, they can’t go back and edit it.

This entire argument is nuanced and there’s been bad behaviour by both authors and readers alike so my advice is simply this: Don’t stop writing negative reviews, just stop making authors aware of them.

So while I enjoy negative reviews immensely I have learned that my reviews are for me and you and no one else.

My reasons for loving negative reviews are:

They are very often hilarious

Most of the reviews I read that genuinely make me laugh out loud are negative reviews. Nothing gets people inspired like a book they hated. I’ve genuinely laughed at negative reviews for books I thought were amazing. Just because I love something doesn’t mean I can’t see it’s flaws. A perfect example of this is Readwithcindy’s reviews on ACOTAR, which had me crying actual tears despite the fact I really like that series.

What you hate I might love

A review that says everything is amazing is great for the author but doesn’t really help me discern if I will like that book. I usually know better what I won’t like than what I will like. So if someone writes an essay-like rant on a book series that they felt had too much fan service, that tells me that I probably won’t enjoy the book either. As I hate when a book series ends up playing up to the fans and loses itself.

Negative reviews can inspire new readers

Negative reviews can have the opposite effect and inspire people to pick up a book rather than put it down. I am very much a “I would rather see for myself kind of person” and I am not usually put off by negative reviews unless they mention specific tropes or themes I don’t like. EVEN THEN I might read it for the hell of it.

I think negative reviews in general appeal to a certain type of reader. I myself don’t generally read reviews until after I have already read the book. I am usually just looking to see if anyone else has the same opinion as me.

How to Bookstagram: Your questions answered.

To be honest I don’t get a lot of questions about my bookstagram. I have a reasonably well-grown account and I’ve been lucky enough to use my account to grow my own small business. I wouldn’t say I am well-known within the bookish world by any means but I wanted to do a Q+A to share how I got started. So I did ask you guys for questions and some of you did respond so here goes:

How did you grow your bookstagram? Did you start off slow or did it gain quicker than expected?

Growing my bookstagram definitely started off slow. I started in August 2017 and I had 900 followers by January 2018. After that my followers started to shoot up when I was invited into a Bookstagram pod group. They are quite popular on bookstagram as a way of beating the algorithm. My account definitely benefited from having 10 people comment on my posts daily and it also helped me as I was commenting on their posts everyday.

Now I know that interaction is key to growing an account and you definitely need people to be engaging with your content just as much as you need to be taking the time to comment on other people’s posts.

The bookstagram group I joined was actually how I met one of my bookstagram besties Sammy! and still exists today.

How did you find your theme? And what inspired you to have it as it is now?

So I’ve always used a vintage paper background from my scrapbooking days as a backdrop in my photos. I discovered I was better at flat lays than any other kind of photo and using potpourri as a prop happened when I saw other people using dried flowers and I got confused.

These three basic elements have inspired nearly every photo I have done since. I have gone through many different phases on my bookstagram but I would say my potpourri art pictures have been some of my most popular posts.

I love using bright colours and colour matching so I stuck with the rainbow of potpourri for a long while until I decided to change it a few months ago.

I’ve always admired to the out of focus, creamy, simple yet sometimes extravagant posts I see on some of my favourite accounts and so I decided to use less rainbow potpourri and more natural looking elements. My inspiration for this was out of a desire to make my photographs simpler to take. The potpourri artwork was lovely but the clean up was horrendous and time consuming.

What are some ways to gain a loyal following?

I think a loyal following can be quite hard and I am not even sure I’ve managed it myself. I can go months without really engaging with my followers at all despite posting everyday and this doesn’t help to build relationships. I do see some people taking the time to post and comment on my stuff, and I have my book friends who will DM me but I am not nearly as engaged as I would like to be.

So I guess being someone who takes the time to reply, takes the time to go onto other people’s profiles, like their pictures, replies to stories and responds to DMs. That is how you will get a loyal following.

What do you think attracts others to your profile?

Haha I honestly wish I knew as I would definitely focus on that. I am just myself. I can be ranty and opinionated, or be sharing personal stuff, sometimes I’m posting a new design or I’m shouting about an amazing event I went to.

I guess that just clicks with some people.

Spoiler Mini Review: The Sisters Grimm by Menna Van Praag

Disclaimer: As the title suggests this review is full of spoilers. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a dark and vague sort of read with lots of whimsical descriptions and flowery prose. In the beginning it took me a while to get the four POVs straight but after a while you get to know each character’s own voice.

This book follows four “sisters” who were all born on the exact same day and have the ability to enter a magical place called Everwhere.

Each sister has forgotten about Everwhere and the power they have, believing Everwhere to be a childish dream they had. It’s explained in the book why but the whole plot is a countdown to the day all four sisters will be allowed back into Everwhere – the night of their 18th birthday.

I really struggled to get through this book after a while particularly because the ending was obvious. I liked reading about each characters lives and struggles but I felt the ending kind of aborted their individual storylines in the real world.

For those that like it, there is a romance in the book but it’s the sort of romance that excuses the murdering of a parent by said lover. If that’s your thing you will love it until the ending.

I dropped a few stars for the predictable ending. I guessed which sister would die and that each sister had a soldier in their life that would try to kill them at the end of the book.

This book is perfect for fans of Dark Fairytales, The Hazel Wood, Alice in Wonderland, female heroines and forbidden romance.

Rating 3/5 stars

Spoiler Mini Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

SPOILER WARNING: As the title of this blog post suggests this is a mini review and it’s full of spoilers.

Full disclosure I was gifted this arc many moons ago in exchange for an honest review.

This book is packed full of your favourite ya fantasy romance tropes. Enemies to lovers, “slow-burn” romance, insta love, fast paced action, Oh no there’s just one bed, the chosen one, and characters that look suspiciously like other major characters in the book.

This book was far too many tropes with too much forced drama for my tastes. It’s by no means a bad book it’s just got lots of things I personally don’t like reading and I especially don’t like reading them all at once.

Enemies to lovers romance has always been my thing but when Lou (street rat and secret witch) is forced to marry Reid (god fearing soldier who loves burning heathens) because he chased her beaten ass through a theatre and they fell onto the stage in front of everybody I should have known this book wasn’t for me.

The romance develops from there really quickly with the obvious issue she’s a witch and married to someone who hunts witches for his job.

There’s a lot of blood magic witchy goodness in this book and I loved the idea of paying a price for magic. For example to break a lock you have to break a bone but unfortunately this stuff was lost in the melodrama of will he love me regardless like my mother couldn’t and this old man looks suspiciously like me and loves the same food I do.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Spoiler Mini Review: The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

SPOILER WARNING: As the title suggests this review is full of spoilers.

I have a like hate relationship with this book series. The ONLY reason I made it to the third book was because I love enemies to lovers relationships and I needed to know how Jude and Cardan ended.

So this mini review is going to be biased as I’m not really a fan.

But from a none fan’s perspective Cardan turning into a huge ass snake that death was the only escape from was…a very questionable choice for a finale.

I felt like the book fell into the trap of high drama but for me without properly engaging my emotions and building up to these moments it feels like I’m being flung from one dramatic moment to the next without any real meaning to them.

This has always been a pet peeve of mine so I’ll digress.

For those of you who need to know yes Cardan and Jude do end up together. He announces Jude is his wife when she falls from the ceiling after trying to save him from a suspected assassination attempt.

As far who is going to rule Faerie it looks like Jude still intends to give the throne to Oak but honestly it’s never really discussed or finalised.

Oh and the whole banishment thing was easily solved by how everyone suspected. Jude could pardon herself.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Book Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I’m in love with these sarcastic sociopaths and arseholes ♥️

I just finished Aurora Rising and I HATE to say it (but I will anyway) I enjoyed this a lot more than Illuminae. If (like me) you committed the most heinous of crimes and found Illuminae a bit slow…(SORRY SORRY OKAY). Maybe you thought it only really livened up when A.I.D.A.N was introduced (Everyone loves a bad boy). I PROMISE you will have no such issues with this book.

The mystery surrounding Auri will keep you reading till the very end and if somehow you find yourself losing focus the group dynamics are sure to keep you entertained.

My thoughts on each of the characters:

Tyler: Good guy, good looking likes to do the right thing. Supposed to be all about the rules but I think he only learned them all so he could break them.

Scarlett: Sassy bad bitch twin sister of Tyler. Not so good with the killing in cold blood but can offer you a sarcastic comment and empathy when you need it.

Cat: Another bad bitch whose hopelessly in love with Tyler. The voice of reason in the group for the most part.

Finian: Poor broken boy who is just wants to be loved but makes it really hard by being a massive d**k. He’s probably my fave.

Zila: The “sociopath” of the group. Likes to calculate the odds of dying whilst being shot at. She definitely has more to her than meets the eye and I can’t wait to find out more about her back story.

Kal: The space elf. Real good at the killing, needs to work on the romance.

Auri: Pulled out of cyro with a nasty habit of killing people and not remembering it. The entire story centres around her and where she comes from.

Aurora Rising is GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY X LOTR X MISTBORN and I HIGHLY recommend reading.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Controversial opinion: My thoughts on ARCs.

So Harper Voyager dropped a UK Arc of DarkDawn recently and it got me thinking about ARC’s. I wanted to come at this purely from a Book Blogger perspective as obviously I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes in publishing. I can only see what publishers, authors, booksellers etc openly tweet about so this is definitely more an opinion piece than a factual look at the situation.

Arcs are pretty coveted commodity within the book community and I think we all know this. ARC’s in theory have two purposes – marketing for the book through giveaways, photos, unboxings etc and increasing awareness through reviews and word of mouth recommendation.

ARC’s also act as payment. Bookbloggers get literally nothing for their time but the book they are being asked to market/review. Sometimes this is a finished copy and sometimes this is an ARC. An entire community of free marketers, publicists and consumers that exists around books and the only thing we get for the hours of reading, writing and photography is the book itself. It’s nice to get something tangible to keep for all those hours.

I think the black market that has sprung up around ARC’s changed the game. People didn’t just want ARC’s to read, but also to collect or trade and even sell. I don’t think it’s wrong for people to trade ARC’s (I’ve done it myself) but something that was already pretty sought after has become a hugely valuable commodity and now even more difficult to get.

I think now there is bad feeling and in-fighting within the book community over who gets ARC’s, why and what they end up doing with them. People hate people who request ARC’s to trade them later. People don’t like it when others use their status to get access to ARC’s to trade whilst people with less followers who would love the book are getting ignored. No one likes seeing bigger accounts getting thrown ARC’s everyday and when you know they can’t read them all.

I think something needs to change.

With the amount of ARC’s that end up for sale on ebay, it is pretty clear that more care needs to be taken when choosing who gets a copy. Huge bookstagram accounts and bloggers with massive followings shouldn’t be just getting thrown ARC’s of books they didn’t even know existed.

I can definitely understand some book bloggers frustration with the situation.

For example with the DarkDawn UK ARC, that is a hugely anticipated release and you know people will be dying to get their hands on it for whatever reason. TO BE CLEAR I love Harper Voyager. I’ve been dying to get on their blogger list for years, they pretty much publish all my favourite books. However I didn’t think it was fair to post a photo of a hugely sought after ARC and follow up immediately with “Proofs are rarer than Hen’s teeth. So don’t even try it”. If they aren’t publicly available then don’t publicly announce it? It also didn’t help seeing someone who works for Harper Voyager ask for one and immediately get told it’s on it’s way. I’m not saying this person shouldn’t get one but maybe do it in a less public way?

Situations like this can be a bit of a slap in the face. From a blogger’s perspective the ONE thing we get as some sort of payment/reward whatever for our work is the very book we talk about. No one likes to feel under valued and it feels like book bloggers are at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to getting ARC’s.

Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

P.S I obviously can’t speak for all bloggers and I don’t think I’m trying to, so if you’re opinion is different that’s totally cool. Arcs aren’t hugely important to me, I’ve requested a fair few and received a few and I don’t really collect them unless the cover is gorgeous. I read what I can when I can and I always make sure to take a photo for the gram.