The Backlash Some Negative Reviews Get (M Hashmi @ Chronicles of a Fantasy Writer)

Colourful On Pastel is a series of guest posts from fellow bookbloggers. The meaning behind the series name, is because my blog is made up of pastel colours whereas most other blogs are made up of strong vibrant colours. That’s how the name was born. Stick around for discussions from bookbloggers all over the blogosphere.

Today we have a guest post from M Hashmi, all about negative reviews and the backlash they often receive.

Also just a super quick life update: my netbook charger died last saturday, the replacement finally came yesterday. Then my netbook rudely showed me the blue screen of death. Meanwhile I’m running about trying to sort out graphics, Bookend Event things. It’s been hectic guys. I’ll be doing a proper post updating you all soon on what’s been happening. Until then – enjoy this wonderful guest post!

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So I know this is something a lot of book bloggers and booktubers have already spoken about at length. But I wanted to talk about it myself since I have previously discussed my review method on my blog, and a few people pointed out how my method was problematic.

Now before we get into it, believe me, I appreciate criticism. In fact, they helped me along the way as I reviewed more books. I whole-heartedly agreed with some of the criticism, and used the advice to better myself.

But I disagreed with a few, and I think it was only right I got a chance to discuss WHY I disagreed.

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For those who are unfamiliar, for my in-depth analyses, I split my thoughts into ten points, ranging from my thoughts on the opening, pacing, world and character building, the concept, all the way to the ending. Every point is an aspect of story-telling I personally look at quite carefully while reading a book, and they are usually what make or break a book for me, and possibly for a whole lot of others. For every one of the boxes a book checks, I give it one point, and then bring the final rating to a five point scale.

In the end, I write a separate review, not only summarizing the dissection, but also discussing my reading experience in general for readers who are there simply for the juicy review. This final “reading experience” or Review Section also adds or subtracts from the rating.

Again, every point I mark a book on is one of my personal criteria for liking a book. Yes, I do put every book I read under intense scrutiny as a writer. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them as a reader simultaneously.

And yes, it hardly happens that a book checks all the boxes. Which is fine. There is no such thing as a perfect book for anyone.  

I believe that reviewers should be allowed to discuss a book as openly as they want. That is basically what authors mean when they talk about an honest review. And if I’m being honest, I’m gonna talk about things I dislike in a book, whether the author likes it or not.

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Being a writer myself, I hate receiving criticism. Believe me, it is the worst feeling ever. I am currently running every chapter of my Work In Progress by my critique partners, and, considering it is my first ever novel, it is receiving a tonne of bashing. But by being a writer, one needs to basically sign an unwritten contract to suck it up and use the criticism to better themselves.

So it is only natural that a book WILL receive criticism. It doesn’t have to be harsh, but if I find a flaw, I will talk about it. If I dislike certain parts about a book, but ONLY talk about the story in a flowery way, I will be doing my readers a disservice, because if anyone ends up getting influenced by my blog, actually reading the book and finding out I glossed over all the messy parts, I might lose my credibility as a reviewer.

As will any reviewer, if they JUST talk about the good things in the book. When we review a book, we talk about our personal reading experience, and believe me, it’s NEVER perfect, and to paint it that way is to be dishonest.

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For those who say we should offer our criticism to authors in private instead of publishing it for the whole world to see, well, the book is published for the whole world to see too. Sooner or later, people will start talking about any flaws a book might have, so if I am participating in that discussion, or even initiating it, it is not a crime.

It doesn’t matter how good a book is, part of it may simply not click with every reader, and if we happen to express that, well, that’s an honest review for you. The book blogging network exists to discuss books, not just praise them.

Some people also believe that if we don’t like a book, we should simply DNF it instead of publishing a scathing review.

I must admit, I kind of agree with this one.

When it comes to reviewing books, especially those written by indie authors or lesser-known authors, I think we should be as gentle and constructive in our criticism as possible. As I mentioned earlier, it sucks for them to have us talk negatively about their work, and if it’s happening anyway, we might wanna be nice about it. After all, we want to bring authors up, not pull them down.

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However, so far, I have not DNFed a single book that has been sent to me for review. Why? Well, I think that if I have promised a review, I should deliver one. Maybe it’s just me, but I read every single book, even if it takes a lot of time. I highlight the good parts in my review as much as possible, but I also mention the parts I didn’t enjoy. So even if a lot of things in a book don’t work for me, I believe the least I can do is get the name out there and inform people about the pros and cons.

For all we know, in the process, the book might just find the right audience, which it never will if I simply DNF it. But again, this is just my method, and who knows, I might end up DNFing books in the future.

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But yeah, it is important for bloggers to be honest in their reviews without fear of backlash. Because let’s face it, every opinion and reading experience may be different, but equally valuable. And if authors have a problem with negative reviews, perhaps they really aren’t ready to be published yet, since this little thing right here called criticism is a HUGE part of the process. The reading community should be open to all sorts of debate as long as they don’t turn nasty, and the discussion of a book’s cons is a topic that cannot be ignored or swept under a rug.

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10 Things I Wish I Had Found Out Sooner About Blogging (Guest Post Elgee @ Elgee Writes)

Colourful On Pastel is a series of guest posts from fellow bookbloggers. The meaning behind the series name, is because my blog is made up of pastel colours whereas most other blogs are made up of strong vibrant colours. That’s how the name was born. Stick around for discussions from bookbloggers all over the blogosphere.
Eeek so today we have the wonderful Elgee here, sharing some wisdom with us. Things she wished she’d known sooner about blogging, so sit back, relax and enjoy this post; full of wise words and pointers! 

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I have been blogging for quite a while now, first at Musings Over Nothing and now at Elgee Writes. I have no doubt there is a lot more for me to understand, to implement and to make my blog better. But I also understand why it took so long for me to reach where I am. 
Sure, I wish I had learnt a lot of things faster, and much earlier. I wish I had given a thought about several things that I did out on whim, some of which turned out fine and others not so much. But I am here to spill my wisdom to others, so that you will figure things out faster than me. Let us get on with it.
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  1. Figure out what you want
I had been blogging for about 5 years before I made it view-able by the public and I didn’t know if I wanted to do that for a long time. But when I did decide what I wanted with my blog, I realized a free blogger account won’t suffice and had to move to a self hosted WordPress.
The point is the older blog I had was strictly personal, for me and my friends. But Elgee Writes is not about that, so everything I do in and for this one is different, and the things I learnt and did for my personal blog do not hold good. All I am saying is figure out what you want from your blog and work accordingly.
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  1. Learn new things
Any blog would look a lot better with custom design, some personal photos and graphics. Of course you can use a default theme stock photos and book covers as well.
But learning the basics of photography, coding and even a bit of designing might help somewhere in the future. There are so many resources just a click away on Google. Utilize them wisely.
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  1. Ask the readers
The main goal for most bloggers is to boost the blog engagement. But they fail to let the readers know what is expected of them.
Ask them to follow your blog. To share the post. Link up to your other posts. Keep them interested. Always end the post with a question and tell them to reply as a comment on your blog. And lastly respond to all the comments in your blog.
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  1. Blog engagement – Quality over quantity.
Another tip to improve your engagement is by leaving comments on other blogs and open a conversation. Ask a question or make a comment that is valuable to the blogger or the other readers.
When you leave comments like ‘great post’ ‘lovely review’, it doesn’t create a rapport nor adds value. Think about it.
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  1. Being civil and polite never hurt anyone
Of course you want people to remember you, but for the right reasons not the wrong one. If you disagree with anyone else’s post, be polite and remember it is their opinion in their own space. If you wanna talk about it, do so politely and state your reasons in a civilized manner and WALK AWAY.
Don’t be a keyword warrior or a grouch. There is enough space for everyone in the world wide web.
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  1. YOU decide on on the level of your privacy
Some of us consider our blogs as a place to discuss only books, or whatever is your niche, while others take it as a personal space to talk about their lives and more.
It is your blog and you get to decide what and how much you want to share about yourself. The same holds good for your social media profiles as well. Take charge of them, as you will.
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4. Clean and minimal blog design
We shouldn’t judge the book by its cover. Sure. But it is a fact that we all love a clean blog and we can’t deny it.
Make things easier for your reader’s eyes, especially the menus and side bars. We understand the need of ads, blog rolls and buttons, but keep only what is essential.
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  1. YOU be YOU
Try to stay as original as possible. Avoid trying to be everywhere and joining every link up and meme possible. Do not let your blog be driven by the hype and read only the books that everyone is reading.
Or read just the ones that is new and popular. Do just what you want with your blog and read what you want. Do not let your blog change that, at least not too much.
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  1. Do not be hard on yourself
Most of all do not be too hard on yourself. Blogging takes a lot of time and it is not always easy to be the fun cheerful persona you may have taken in front of leaders. But that is okay.
Life happens and everyone understands that. Take a break when you need it and your readers may miss you, but they are gonna be there when you come back.
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  1. There is no one way to measure success. 
You will  never find the right way to blog, because it doesn’t exist. There is no instant success formula. Every one does what they think is right and they drive to the success they perceive it as.
For some it might be the number of followers or visitors while a few others blog for the free ARCs they receive from the publishers as a recognition. Strive for what you want for your blog. 
I hope these pointers may be useful to you all. And many many thanks to Clo for letting me have this opportunity to post on her blog. 

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My Reading Habits Exposed (Nox @ Nox Reads)

Colourful On Pastel is a series of guest posts from fellow bookbloggers. The meaning behind the series name, is because my blog is made up of pastel colours whereas most other blogs are made up of strong vibrant colours. That’s how the name was born. Stick around for discussions from bookbloggers all over the blogosphere.

Eeeek this is kinda going up late, mainly due to me taking part in a readathon but it’s here now guys! We have Nox discussing her reading habits, so sit back and enjoy!

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Hi everyone! I’m super excited to write a post on Clo’s blog! I chose to write “My Reading Habits Exposed” because honestly, I think that some of them are weird, or at the very least inconvenient.

I don’t know if this counts as a “habit” per see, but I wanted to start with this – I usually don’t buy my books.

It was a little discouraging at first, logging onto bookstagram and watching BookTube videos where everyone showed these large, beautiful bookcases that fill practically an entire wall. Buying books is really expensive, and as much as I adore looking at other book lover’s shelves, I just know that my bookcase isn’t going to look like that for a long time.

So Nox, where do you get your books?

I’ve gotten extremely lucky that my friends and family feed my book addiction. For my birthday, two friends gave me gift cards for Barnes and Noble (which I haven’t used yet because I’m very choosy about what books I spend money on) and my parents agreed to buy one book a month for me. I also subscribed to a book box (because let’s face it my need for merch is insatiable) so there’s another book a month.

But you just said you don’t buy books. Usually. Luckily, I live in an area surrounded by libraries, and my grandparents are more than willing to drive me five minutes so that I can check out a stack of books to read for the next month. And I can renew or check books out online. The majority of the books I read are library books. That’s where I got to read the Grisha trilogy, the Raven Cycle, and where I’m reading the Red Queen series. So if you don’t want to buy books, libraries are very much alive and kicking.

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That being said, I do have a….controversial…reading habit that I must expose *braces self for angry mob of bookdragons*. Look, I try to use anything and everything as a bookmark! I’ve read a book while at a baseball game and used the ticket stub to save my place! I’ve used report cards, bank statements, receipts, and of course, actual bookmarks. But alas, there are times where a bookmark is not available, and in those times…I dog ear the page. I’M SORRY!

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Also, along with the baseball game, I have taken books to birthday parties, the movie theater, shopping, paying the bills, hanging out with friends, and the IRS. I will pretty much read anytime, anywhere. I read 104 pages of Furyborn the other day while my mom and I were waiting in line to pay out bills (104 pages in a little over an hour). I finished the Raven King while my mom and I were waiting in line at the IRS. I read and wait in line a lot, apparently. The thing is, I’m kind of a busy person. I have school and volunteering and errands. So I have to read when I can. I take the bus for about 3 or 4 hours every school day. I get a lot of reading done on those rides (I actually missed my stop one time because I was so into A Darker Shade of Magic that I didn’t realize my stop was coming up…that one was fun explaining to my grandma). My friends and family know and (begrudgingly) accept this. If I am out with them, I have a book in my bag..or two.

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Does anybody else carry around more than one book with them? I can’t read more than one at a time of course, I get too invested in one story to even think of focusing on another (which is difficult when you’re taking two different literature courses at once so you need to read two books at the same time…send help), but if I think I’m going to finish a book, I bring an extra.

And some of these books aren’t small. Baseball game- brought two books. IRS- brought two books. Movies and pizza with friends- brought two books. My friends actually took one of my books because I was reading while they were eating and I just pulled out another. Always carry a spare.

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I’m a music person. I need noise to concentrate, so I usually read books while listening to music. It’s interesting because sometimes certain songs play and they fit incredibly well with one of the characters or scene, so certain songs are associated with certain characters/scenes/books. Kavinsky and Ronan’s interactions in The Dream Thieves reminds me of The Pitiful Children from Be More Chill, Major Tom (Coming Home) makes me think of Illuminae, etc., etc.

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Well everyone, I hope this gave you found my reading habits interesting! Personally, I think they’re a little quirky, but is there anywhere better to admit them than to the bookish community? Except the dogearing part…I probably shouldn’t have said that one. Oh well!

Am I alone in these? Do you carry around multiple books to avoid social interaction? Do you read at sporting events? Have you ever been in the middle of a book that is so amazing that you forget where you live and to get off the bus? …no? That’s okay.

I’m really interested to hear what your reading habits are though! Where do you like to read? Can you focus on multiple books at once, and will you teach me so I can pass my classes?

Thank you everyone for reading, and thank you so much for having me guest post on your blog Clo! I really enjoyed it.

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Privileges ~ What Are Yours? (Monica @ Torn Pages and Roses)

Colourful On Pastel is a series of guest posts from fellow bookbloggers. The meaning behind the series name, is because my blog is made up of pastel colours whereas most other blogs are made up of strong vibrant colours. That’s how the name was born. Stick around for discussions from bookbloggers all over the blogosphere.

Welcome, welcome for another guest post! This time we have the lovely Monica here, discussing the interesting topic of Privileges ~ What Are Yours? This is such a great topic and I enjoyed reading through this one, particularly as I’m from and live in the Uk. So similarly to Monica, I have certain privileges but again, not as many as those in the US do.

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Hey everyone! This post will start a little bit boringly but Clo gave me such an interesting topic to write about, so stay tuned!

What is privilege?

According to the googles, privilege is defined as this: a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people. Here in the world of book blogging and readers, we have our own version and I am here to talk about it!

If you’ve been in any way active, in the book blogging community, the past few months. You will have seen all the wonderful efforts of some people, into spreading awareness about how hard it is, to keep sharing the love for books when you live in a different part of the world.

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So, what are some privileges that I have been enjoying?

I am fortunate enough to live in Canada, where I have extremely easy access to books, in all forms, new or used, either back list titles or ARCs. I get it that not everyone is lucky enough to have the same opportunities.

A little bit of a back story. I first lived in the Philippines, before my family migrated here, in the North America. I succinctly remember becoming extremely envious, when I watch movies like High School Musical or even the animated Beauty and the Beast because they showed libraries. Personal ones or school or public libraries that carried all kinds of books, more than you can read in a lifetime.

Living in the Philippines, unfortunately didn’t give me that same access. One can buy new or used books from bookstores but the issues of not having enough finances, or living a bit far from used book stores, were definitely some factors that caused some distress. To cope with that, I read a ton of Wattpad stories, a sound alternative if you ask me.

Back to present day, where I now live in a country and city where there’s a booming library system, lots of commercial and indie bookstores, charity book shops and even just the amazing addition of amazon and book depository. I also am super fortunate to have started my book blog and to be able to get access to ARCs from independent authors and publishing houses alike. I am for sure not complaining.

All of these, I was only dreaming of when I was younger. Given all that though, if I am to be nit picky, I can still whine about not having as much ARC access and book events as people from the US. As they have all the publishing houses over there and not as much here, but it’s just something that happens sometimes and we get to live with it.

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So, how does it look like for everybody else that aren’t from here?

Not too good. I have read quite a few people’s points of views about this issue and here are some of the obstacles they’re having:

  1. Lack of public libraries.
  2. Expensive book costs.
  3. Limited book stores.
  4. Limited book selections if they find a bookstore.
  5. Lack of english books that are sold or available to them.
  6. New releases might not be readily available as soon as they get published.
  7. Not being able to use services like Netgalley or Edelweiss to request or be approved for ARCs.
  8. Not a lot of author requests to review books.
  9. Expensive shipping costs.
  10. Maybe they don’t even get shipped to by any company.
  11. If they do get approved to receive ARC copies, it’ll most likely be digital and not a physical book because #8.
  12. Not very much or no book events happening at all.

Those are some of the privileges, that us book bloggers experience here, in North America that a lot of readers around the world don’t have. We are extremely lucky, to have all these available to us. So to everyone who keeps on reiterating how much of a consumerist everyone is (that’s a different topic altogether), and to use public libraries, keep in mind that to a lot of people, that’s the only way they can continue with the same hobby that we all have.

At the end of the day, we all love stories and reading, let’s all get along shall we?

How about you, what are your reading privileges? Did I miss something? Comment down below, let’s chat!

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My Top 5 Book Series (Tanmay @ Bookinton)

Colourful On Pastel is a series of guest posts from fellow bookbloggers. The meaning behind the series name, is because my blog is made up of pastel colours whereas most other blogs are made up of strong vibrant colours. That’s how the name was born. Stick around for discussions from bookbloggers all over the blogosphere.

Another guest post guys! This time from Tanmay Jain. He started his first blog in 2016 and since that, after many unsuccessful attempts at managing a successful blog, he landed on his current and most successful blog, Scion of Society. He’s sharing his top 5 favourite book series, do you have any in common with him?

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5. Private

One of the best book series by James Patterson. The series takes place in different locations all over the world, where the detective agency Private, takes on different cases. Jack Morgan is a retired marine, and the head of Private. In each book, the main characters (the detectives of the company) change with minor appearances from Jack Morgan. My favourite thing about this book is how it adapts totally with each part, which takes place in different countries and has different characters. The writing is quite simple, fast-paced and immersive. The series usually consist of multiple story lines, which in the end converge to a grand conclusion. A must read if you love the crime-drama genre like me.

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4.The Mortality Doctrine

James Dashner is known for The Maze Runner, which while being a behemoth of a book on it’s own cannot compare to The Mortality Doctrine, the genius’s less known yet overall better series. The series takes us on an  journey with Michael, the protagonist who basically lives in a global virtual simulation, the VirtNet. The series deal with his existential path to destroy his nemesis, with fake alliances, fake friends and unexpected help. You won’t know what happens until it has finished happening.

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3. The Robert Langdon Series

There is no doubt that Dan Brown is one of the most talented writers of our time. His books in the Robert Langdon series takes us on a journey that started centuries ago, learning about our past and so many mysteries that he so intricately adjusts into the fictional story. The favourite part of the series for me has always been the villain who has such an awesome character arc, very thought-provoking. The story is always turning around, the enemies are always in the places you never think to look, ( even after reading a bunch of the books in the series ). A book lover needs theses books to become a true book-lover.

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2.The Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings is the best high-fantasy series out there and everyone knows it. A classic fight between good and evil, this book has an enormous effect on the reader. It has created such a fantastical world with so many fascinating species and fascinating history, it makes me wonder, how does someone create an entire universe? From the very beginning to the very details. A genius product to be sure.

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1.A Song of Ice and Fire

This series – god! This series recreates the complexity of the medieval era with a touch of fantasy in it. The enormous assemble of characters is overwhelming, yet after a while, hard to forget. The writer makes us connect to the characters on a personal level, while killing somebody off in what seems like every page. This vast storyline with battles and plots and witty characters and mystical gods and monstrous creatures. This thing has everything.

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Have you guys read any of these series? Would you want to read any of them? I tried reading the first book in A Game of Thrones several years ago but I couldn’t get into it, too much was happening and I felt lost within the first page. 

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