Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Morningstar's Musings: Reviews and How They Helped This Reader #Giveaway

Reviews and How They Helped This Reader

One of things many things I inherited from my mother, besides my good looks, was the love of learning. Throughout my years growing up I saw my mother constantly trying to learn a new skill or career, never stopping, always learning. She went to trade school after trade school, college course after college course; she was even an MP in the military. Sometimes she took classes just to have the knowledge to get her daily life things done, sometimes to be self-sufficient as a single mom with two kids, and always to be strong so that her daughters knew they could grow up to be smart and strong as well. My mother today is 63 years old and just last year had finally stopped going to school.

Well that love of learning that drove my mother rubbed off on me. I went to college right after high school and then never stopped learning through the years following by watching documentaries, reading articles and researching facts and history so I could better understand what I was reading. 

And reading was always my love from an early age reading for school and fun, to a teenager reading my grandmothers Harlequin Romance books, to an adult where finding that mystery novels were a thrill to live in, then to romance stories that made me love again, and of course back to college taking classes that fueled that drive to know more. But throughout, romance novels have stuck with me since I was 16 years old and given me a means to escape into a world so unlike my own. Finding the authors of those books on social media was like a whole world opened up. I could tell them how their stories impacted my life or my thoughts? Oh yes please! 

And along with the authors came this whole community of people whether they be fellow readers who can gab with the best them about book boyfriends or which author to read if you want to end up with ugly cry face or which author can make you laugh every time, was here for me, everyday all day. Then I found book blogs and book recommendation groups and like so many others, my to-be-read list exploded! That thing will live longer than I will for sure! And as we browse our Facebook newsfeed on the daily we’ve all seen the message from authors or bloggers or just a random reader that says:

So as crappy as I was at writing...I wrote reviews as often as I could, probably not as much as I should’ve with all the work authors put into their stories and publishing but I did it cringing the whole. Never more than one or two sentences but every one of them counts right? Then about two years after stumbling head first into the community I wade through every day, the one by the way that found me some of the best friends I’ve ever known even though we’ve never met, I “met” this awesome lady who posted daily coffee memes and a little note of Good Morning or funny to get us all going on our daily lives. With a little interaction here and there came an offer I had NEVER thought I would see, “One, do you review for any blogs? If no, have you ever wanted to?”

Now I had written some reviews for authors who asked for volunteers to get an ARC to read for an honest review but only about 6 of those so to actually review for a blog…I was terrified! People are going to see my words!!! Not exactly a good feeling to have when you are trying to write a review LOL.

My first review for that wonderful ladies’ blog took me ALL day to write. I mean that literally. I sat at my computer staring at the screen thinking “What the hell did I get myself into?” Because let me tell you not only is writing reviews for a blog a LOT more work than writing one to give those thanks and hugs to our awesome authors, reading for review is different. Your mind set isn’t just on the pleasure of reading it’s on every nuance of the story, pacing, fleshed out characters, plot holes, and the dreaded what didn’t you like part that is never fun to answer especially when you are trying to be constructive and honest all in one. 

I LOVED it! Once I got going it was…dare I say fun? I think in some ways it made me a better reader and it most definitely made me a better writer for reviews because having to write about short stories the same way you would write about a full length novel is not easy! It was educating and I learned! I love learning.  

And even more surprising is its impact on other parts of my daily life. It got faster and easier to write the reviews so I wanted to write more and more of them. But I also started a history class about a month after I started to review and THAT is where the impact to my personal life started. 

The year before I took an online history class (I love history!) and literally worked with a content tutor, the writing center, and my professor almost every day on my writing for discussion posts and my thesis paper from start to finish. Never feeling confident that I even knew what I was talking about let alone the flow and if it made any lick of sense. But this year and another history class loomed so big in front of me because I was still scared of all the writing I had to do. But to my surprise I did it with no problem! I actually improved so much in my everyday writing that none of the issues with my paper had anything to do with my actually grammar or prose at all. I even felt more confident as each post was posted each step of my paper completed, never using a tutor or professor or writing center at all…I passed with an A! 

It even made me want to write for more than just reviews or school even if its just blog posts like this one where I share my ideas or opinions or even maybe someday a story, who knows.


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  1. Thanks for the great post! I try hard to write reviews for most books I read, but I have limited time and don't always get back to it. I, like you, have gotten books in exchange for an honest review. Those I always get written, but I second guess myself when I read other reviews and think, why didn't I think to say that? I hope someday it'll get easier to write them, so I can do more of them in the time I have.

  2. Thanks for the post -- you know, being an ESL sometimes I become very conscious with my review, mainly because I have limited vocabularies and not so good with grammar (those past/present tense always confuse me since my own language don't have that!!). I also sometimes prefer to call it opinion rather than review because when I read those 'reviews' on newspapers they seem to be constructive.

    I try to be as honest and clear about what I think of a book. Because reviews are helping me to choose what I read and I enjoy learning about what works or don't work for others (in comparison to me) so I want mine to also help other readers.

  3. Thank you for the interesting post. When I review, I try to find good things about the book. I try to analyse the plot, writing style, characters, and try to find something which brings positive feedback. From my experience as a teacher, positive feedback works better than a destructive critic...

  4. I enjoyed your post Morningstar it was very interesting, I do read reviews and I envy people who make their reviews sound so interesting. I don't often write reviews because I'm not very articulate and it has takes me ages to just compose an e-mail!

  5. I rarely don't write a review for a book I've read. I don't usually like saying bad things about a book unless I'm having a bad day or the book itself just fell very flat and I couldn't find anything nice to say.