Reviewer’s dilemma

So, I had an interesting conversation today with a fellow humble reviewer who told me she went to a public talk about reviewing (books in particular) where the reasonably well-known names on the panel declared that they would never write a negative review.

The book I’m reading at the moment is so far not a great read which got me thinking about the “truthness¹” in my reviews. I guess my starting point in reviewing is always presenting my authentic voice. And, I like to think, my authentic voice isn’t mean or nasty – that’s not really my schtick, though I appreciate it works for some.

What this does mean is I’m not going to pretend I like something, either by straight out lie or by omission. If a book has flaws, in my opinion, then I’m going to point them out.

The truth is some books are just awful. Despite this they get published for a variety of reasons, whether because they’re self-published, going to make a large amount of money, or the publisher didn’t want to say no. Yes, I know authors work hard on their creations. Unfortunately that’s just not a good reason to pretend all their work is good. Readers still pay to enjoy that work. If I went to a restaurant and paid for a meal that wasn’t cooked right then I wouldn’t expect anyone to tell me to just shut up and take it, no matter how hard working the chef or the waiter. I might shut up and take it but it’s still up to me.

There is an argument to be made for just not reviewing the books I don’t like, and I accept this. I wouldn’t feel right reviewing a book I simply couldn’t continue reading without making it really clear that I couldn’t finish it. But if I just don’t review a book and assume by that my readers will know I don’t recommend it then that’s a pretty bad assumption on my part.

At the end of the day I think readers want honesty in reviews. It might be enjoyable on one level to read hatchet jobs but only up to a point. When you’re actually looking for recommendations or reasons to spend or not spend hard-earned money on a tome, then a bit of substance goes a long way.

What say you, lovely readers?

¹Not a word. Meta irony?

The Liebster Award goes to…. BookieMonster!

Liebster Award logo

The lovely kind folks at The UBS Review of Books have awarded me the Liebster Award! Now, I want you all to know I worked hard for this award. Alternatively, there’s this explanation:

“The Liebster Award is bestowed to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. There are no judges and each person nominated is a winner! It is an award that fellow bloggers nominate to each other to offer recognition and support. According to Google translate, Liebster means ‘dearest’ in German. This means that the Liebster blog award is acknowledging the dearest bloggers out there who may not have millions and trillions of followers, but still deserve recognition for all of their hard work.”

Here are the Liebster Award Rules:

List 11 random or interesting facts about yourself.
Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
Ask 11 new questions to the bloggers you have nominated.
Notify the bloggers you have nominated that they have been awarded the Liebster Award.
Thank the blogger who nominated you

Good lord, what work. On with the answers then.

11 random or interesting facts about moi.

1. I love The Muppets.Stadler and Waldorf picture
2. I am the proud owner of a cat, a guinea pig and a rat.
3. My very first copies of Terry Pratchett books were “borrowed” from an ex-boyfriend.
4. I still feel a bit guilty about no. 3.
5. I really love shoes.
6. I am a fan of really, REALLY bad television.
7. When I was little I wanted to be an archaeologist.
8. When I was ten I read The Neverending Story over and over again continuously for about 2 months.
Han Solo meme image9. When I was young I liked Luke Skywalker, now that I’m older I’m definitely Team Han Solo.
10. I love mountains.
11. I can’t eat pavlova. No sir, I don’t like it.

My questions to answer

What do you like best/least about blogging?
Best – it’s all me! I don’t have to be answerable to anyone except myself. Least – I don’t have to be answerable to anyone except myself which means I don’t pay me and I have to tell myself what to do.

Which book do you remember as important in seducing you into reading & bookish things, and how old were you?
Oh tricky. It’s hard to remember a time I didn’t read. I really loved Nancy Drew books when I was little, and often felt like I could just read and read them. I also remember being really affected by A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – it combined maths and books and weird spirituality.

What was the last thing you read, watched, and listened too?
In the Memorial Room by Janet Frame, Home and Away (see, bad television), The Bugle podcast.

What is something you would never do again?
Sadly, sell books on Trade Me. The market has changed and we couldn’t change with it. :(

Is there a book that everyone seems to love but it just didn’t work for you?
Where do I start? Harry Potter. Lord of the Rings. The Art of Racing in the Rain. Almost all Charles Dickens. Victorian literature.

Do you grow any of your own vegetables?
Yes, lots! Tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, cucumbers, pumpkin, peppers, beans, raspberries, mandarins, lemons, figs, blueberries. Not all in huge amounts though. I’d happily live that way if I could.

Are you a yellow person or a purple person?
Purple, absolutely.

What book(s) would you recommend be on a “Before You Die…” list?
All of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. Under the Skin by Michel Faber. Ghostwritten by David Mitchell. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. The Remains of the Day by Kazui Ishiguro. Vanity Fair by Thackeray. For starters…

Do you prefer spring or winter?
Winter as long as it’s cold and not rainy.

Ebooks or hard copies?
Oh hard copies. But I have recently acquired a cheap secondhand tablet with Kindle app so I can read ebooks and I am really enjoying the new medium.

What is one thing your author blurb/bio would say (that it doesn’t already, for those who have them)?
She doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up.

Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

Hmmm…. here’s a go. They may or may not be interested and I have no idea whether they have less than 200 followers – and let’s be real, this isn’t an actual award it’s just a way to connect a few bloggers, so please don’t take offense that I’ve listed you here!

The Well Read Kitty
Tararua District Library Blog 
Kings High School Library Blog
Bridget’s Readings, Ramblings, Recipes and Randoms
Rosa Mira Books
The Intertidal Zone - Penelope Todd
Schroedinger’s Tabby
Let Me Be Frank

Ask 11 new questions to the bloggers you have nominated.

What’s your desert island book?
Favourite fruit?
Ebooks or hard copies?
What was the last thing you read, watched, and listened too?
What do you like best/least about blogging?
What is one thing your author blurb/bio would say (that it doesn’t already, for those who have them)?
What’s the most recent new thing you learned?
When and why did you stop believing in Santa Claus?
Han Solo or Luke Skywalker? Or Princess Leia?
Top five authors?
Do you have one well-known author you’ve never read?

Notify the bloggers you have nominated that they have been awarded the Liebster Award.


Thank the blogger who nominated you.

Thanks The UBS Review of Books!

BookieMonster writes: The Importance of Being Online: Ten top tips for having an online presence.

This week I was excited to be asked to write a feature article for the Booksellers NZ’s email newsletter. I thought I’d let booksellers know some of my tips for creating an online presence (I know, I should use “brand” but I just can’t, ok?) – have a read and let me know if I got it right!  The Importance of Being Online: Ten top tips for having an online presence | Booksellers NZ.

HarperCollins Titles Now Available on the iBookstore in New Zealand

Just through from HarperCollins NZ…

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — 24 October 2012 — HarperCollins today announced that thousands of its local and international catalogue of titles are now available on the iBookstore. This includes New Zealand classics such as Tamar by Deborah Challinor, He’ll be Okay by Celia Lashlie, Before Your Kids Drive You Crazy, Read This by Nigel Latta and The Winner’s Bible by Kerry Spackman.

“Having HarperCollins’ books available on the iBookstore offers a great opportunity for New Zealand readers to get further access to a fantastic array of books,” said Graham Mitchell, General Manager, HarperCollins New Zealand. “The popularity of the iPad and the iBookstore in Australia, the US and the UK indicates that the market available to New Zealand authors through this platform will be significant and will also contribute to the accessibility of our authors in international markets.”

Download HarperCollins titles today from the iBookstore on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch or at