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    ARC, book reviews, books, discussion, feature

    FEATURE | Is ARC reading a chore?

    is arc reading becoming a chore.jpgI’m sure every book blogger reading this post right now will be able to relate when I say getting an ARC of a really interesting book sent to you is one of the best perks of the job.

    Free books, you say? Yes please.

    When I first started my blog just before the summer, the idea of getting FREE books was incredible. Don’t get me wrong, it still is. I couldn’t wait for the first offer, waiting for it to just fall into my lap. Then, I got an email from a very obscure writer offering me a weird children’s fantasy book that made me physically cringe when I read the description and I thought I maybe had it all wrong.

    Fast forward a few months and I am now on a couple of different blogger/PR lists and regularly get sent emails that actually do fit with what I like to read, and I am receiving opportunities to receive free books left, right and centre. If I wanted to, as I am sure is the case with most book bloggers, I could probably manage to not actually buy any books again and still be kept going well into next year.

    And that right there is my issue. I often find myself getting a little bit overexcited and agreeing to all different blog tours and reviews and you name it, only to find that, actually, I don’t really have time to read all these books. As an English Literature student in their final year, I already have plenty to read without doubling the number of pages every week. The books I have been sent to review are piling up and are going to take me the rest of the year to catch up on, never mind all the ones I most likely agree to in the meantime. We forget that these free books are all fine and dandy, but we have to actually then find the time to read them.

    I am definitely what you call a ‘mood reader’, preferring to choose my next book to read purely by what I fancy picking up at the time. I already struggle to read my books for classes for this reason, absolutely hating having to read for a deadline, and reading because I have to instead of because I want to. Sticking to a strict date for book reviews is incredibly difficult when you have a busy life going on outside your blog, which is like a part time job in itself. I am in my fourth year of my degree and have two (paid) part-time jobs, as well as being the Arts editor of the student newspaper on campus, and also quite like to have a bit of downtime and occasionally – heaven forbid – a social life.

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    discussion, feature, life, lifestyle, personal, student

    Learning Basic British Sign Language



    A little bit of a different kind of post today. For the last couple of weeks, I have been attending a Beginners British Sign Language course run by my university. The course is 20 lessons in length, with two-hour classes one night per week. BSL is something which I have wanted to learn for some time now, probably ever since I watched Switched at Birth and was fascinated by this language told completely in hand gestures and facial expressions.

    And then, during the summer when I was working in a local café before going back to uni, I served a deaf couple. They were very understanding, and didn’t expect us to know anything in the way of sign language at all. They wrote down what they wanted to ask us, and were able to make very simple signs and point at things to order. But, this encounter has really stuck with me ever since. All I could actually say to them that they could fully understand was ‘thanks’. That’s it. An entire language, and I can say thanks.

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    books, discussion, feature

    FEATURE | What Makes a ‘Good’ Book?

    Hi! I’m back! Did you miss me? Did you notice I was even gone? I had some much needed R&R while my sister, her husband and three kids came for a flying visit (literally) from where they live in America. I was still at work while they were here, but I spent my days off doing fun activities like going to beach, the arcade, a local farm park where you can feed animals, as well as the youngest two getting christened. It was good to hear “Auntie Holly” coming out of their little mouths again. It’s like music to my ears.

    Now, though, I am back to business and have some exciting posts coming up on my blog in August that I am so excited for you to read! I have a couple of RC book posts, some more discussion-style pieces like this one, and some uni-related things in preparation for my final year starting in September.

    This post is something which has been a long time in the works because it has been in my mind a lot recently. Thanks to the other bloggers who contributed with their thoughts too!

    So, what exactly do we mean when we say, “I read a really good book this week”?

    What is a good book?

    Is it one that makes us feel good about ourselves? One that makes us cry? One that gets us thinking? One that is written well? One that has a well-thought out plot line?

    What exactly is it that makes us rate a book as 5 stars on Goodreads, or 1 star, or mark as DNF?

    Is there one answer? 

    What I may call a ‘good’ book, the next person might deem it one of their least favourites. That poses the question of what we actually mean when we call it this. I think we are all often so quick to say that we liked a book, but we often don’t stop to think what it was about that particular book that we actually liked so much.

    This is something I often see in book reviews too. People rave about a recent read that they absolutely love, and they recommend it to all of their readers because it is relatable and they had a good time reading it without getting bored. But does this mean that it is ‘good’?

    If I was sitting in my creative writing class at university, a good story would be one which is well planned out, each sentence has proper syntax, there are different techniques employed throughout, and lets not forget the oh-so-important consistent use of the senses, to name but a few things. But, as readers, is this really what we are noticing when we are reading for fun?

    Sure, it is engrained in me as a literature and writing student to pick out little details in any sort of text. I’m a stickler for punctuation and spelling, and will 100% stop reading a book if the writing is sloppy and full of errors. That is just bad editing and lazy writing. But maybe this shouldn’t be the all-or-nothing idea behind a good book. The story might still be really great itself, and deserves its reader to persevere and read it to the end.

    I asked a few other bloggers what their thoughts on a ‘good’ book were:

    @Hannah_Dadd from Books, Life and Other Oddities said, “Humour! I always prefer funny books.” And she is right – I love when a book makes me actually laugh out loud, which doesn’t happen very often. My most recent experience with this was Save the Date by Morgan Matson.

    Jamsu Dreams thought it was “a good plot and romance. Also characters that don’t make me hate them.” It is so important for writers to make their readers actual feel something about their characters, although this necessarily doesn’t always have to be good feelings. It takes a good writer to get you to care about their characters, and it takes a great writer to make you detest them.

    Kirsty (@purplekizz) really had her idea of a ‘good’ book down. She said: “A depth to the characters, whether good or bad – I want to know what motivates them. A good pace to the book. I read a lot of fantasy so I love an author who can world build and make me think I am actually in the world they have imagined.” When we spoke about Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher, she said, “There are two characters that have no redeeming features and you never find out why or what motivates them – it really bugged me!”

    I think this description is one which resonates to me the most, and could probably help me as a writer myself when I am working on my next piece of writing. Each character should have a purpose, be it major or minor.

    I’m aware this post is not really saying very much (lol love a good ramble). But that is probably something to do with the fact that there is really not one answer as to what a good book actually is. All I am asking is that we think about what we are really saying when we are writing our book reviews as bloggers. Why is it good?

    (God, I sound like my university tutors. “But WHY do you think that?” Someone stop me.)

    Ramble complete. Over and out.

    Tell me your thoughts! If you can figure out what I am actually trying to say here because I sure as hell can’t.


    Make sure to follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with other random thoughts in my head and for opportunities to be quoted/linked in future features/discussions.