Saturday, 18 August 2018

Why I Won't Be Reading Lethal White

You think as a huge Potterhead/JK Rowling fan, that I would be excited as heck over the next that the fourth Coroman Strike book, Lethal White, is coming out in exactly one month's time. You would think that I would have preordered it and be trying to find clues and titbits over what this book is about and how it continues after the events of Career of Evil

You would think that, right? 

Expect… well… I have no plans to preorder or read Lethal White. And you know what? I’m actually at peace with my decision. 

Ok, let’s backtrack and explain why. I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I grew up reading this series, finding my voice and shaping my opinion with this series. I reread the books, watched the films, discover podcasts that talk about this series in cool and unique ways, I read Casual Vacancy and enjoyed it hugely (I really should reread it one day). I read then watched Cursed Child (even though I had reservations on this - I still have reservations and gripes with it). 

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Book Review - Little Eve

Like I said a few weeks back (before I decided to go on my Blog Holiday due to real life stuff/House move!), I went to #OrionBloggerBrunch and when I was there, I somehow got my hands on a copy of Little Eve by Catriona Ward. You can blame/thank Sarah from Feeling Ficitional for that as this wouldn’t be my typical Pick Up and Read. Yes, I like creepy thriller/crime, but I’m like more modern setting whereas this is set past First World War and tackles cults and other themes that I usually avoid. 

But because Sarah gave me her copy, I feel the need to read it. I think, due to the stress of real life/house move and me reading a lot of YA recently, I felt the need to read something more grown-up (don’t worry, I will juggle much better between reading adult and teen in future) and having this book made me go “Let’s try this out!” 

On a cold January morning in 1921, a young man goes to the island of Altnaharra with an order of beef. The family who live on the island are strange, and that’s putting it lightly. But when he gets there, he discovers a horrible sight. The family all dead, their eyes plucked out, bar one young woman who is alive and only has one eye. Dinah claims that it was her sister, Eve, who killed her family, driven by her religious freneticism. 

But as the story moves forward, we hear accounts from Eve’s point of view, years before the event happen, and from Dinah who is remembering that terrible night and the events that follow. But the two accounts intertwine and contradict. One woman is telling the truth, the other is not. Who can be trusted and what really on the island?

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Do Star Ratings Work?

Question: how many times have you looked at a book - or anything for that matter - on Amazon/Goodreads/Waterstones/etc and simply glance at the star ratings of something before deciding if it’s worth your time or not?

Answer: probably a lot. I do this all the time, even though I know that I should know better. 

The problem with doing this is that it’s simple things. And there’s no explantation on why people have given the star rating. Plus, the star rating changes depending on where you look and who you chat to. 

For example, I looked stuff up on Goodreads. The one that prompted this discussion was a book I was going to preorder and yet, when I added it on my To Be Read list, it had a ton of 5 star reviews. I know with Goodreads, users can put star ratings on books that aren’t out yet, but when the book comes out, won’t these star ratings mess the rating up a bit? 

I’ve seen the same thing on Amazon when people write reviews on how they got the book delivered to them. I’m glad/sad that you got the book is wonderful/horrid condition, but do you need to write a starred review to tell us that? What is your thoughts on the story itself? 

Friday, 10 August 2018

eBook Review - Hard Truths

  • Title And Author: Hard Truth by Alex Whitehall
  • Publisher: Riptide Publishing
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: eBook 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Gifted by publisher via NetGalley
  • Length: 212 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository

Like I said in my write-up of Mysterious Mr Quin, I went through a bit of a spell with the blog, real life and reading in general. So, I decided that I wanted to read something fast, fluffy and something that didn’t involve much thinking. 

Sometimes, we all need a candy-floss, beach read. 

It was going to be one of two NetGalley eProofs: either this or Tight Quarters by Annabeth Albert. I  leaned this way more as I believe this is shorter out of the two stories. 

Isaac didn’t expect to fancy his sister’s date at the Christmas dinner at his parents. But when her date hits on him, Isaac decides to tell her what happened at once - only to find out that her date is a fake date. They aren’t dating and that Logan is gay as well, and wants to see him again. 

As the two begin to date, Isaac has to find a way to come out to his “unworldly” parents. Coming out to them could mean losing his family. Unfortunately, he can’t see his real family who are right beside him and, if Isaac isn’t carefully, he could lose everyone around him… 

Ok, where do I start with this adult gay romance? 

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Should Book Bloggers Get Paid?

I know this is something that keep getting discussed every now and again within the Book Blogging Community aka the Blogsphere, and normally, I stay away from this as my opinions are very mixed depending when you ask me and what mood I’m in. Or if I’ve just looked at my bank account and panicking about money, which is something I do often! 

But recently, I’ve started listening to a bunch of new podcasts and watching book vloggers and they ask for listeners and viewers to support them via Patreon. They are open about the fact that they put a lot of time and work into these projects and I 100% understand. 

But it’s interesting reading book bloggers thoughts on this throughout the past few years and I started to wonder about it as a whole. 

Now, before I go any further, this is going to be rambling. I’m not going to give an out-an-out answer on this. This is me, trying to understand and figure out where I stand in this. 

My thoughts are very mixed, like I said. I feel hugely uncomfortable about the idea of being paid to write a review or being involved in a blog tour. If I read a review on a blog I trust, I would question if the reviewer was being genuine over their review or was saying that the publisher/author/PR company/whoever is paying wanted them to say, if I find out that it was a paid review. 
We’ve seen backlash when several well-known vloggers in the US reviewed a book positively, only to discovered that they were paid. 

And what about adverts, I hear you ask? Hm… If I put adverts on my blog, I would want to be super careful on what goes up. I don’t want an advert that goes against my beliefs and the values I hold dear (for example, I won’t have anything anti-LGBTQ as am a gay man. Nor would I want anything racist, sexist among other things). Plus, if I did have adverts, I would only get revenue from them if someone clicks on it. And how often do we click on an ad? Or a clickbait ad? We’re more savvy now on this. 

“But, what about affiliates,” you ask? “You can put them in your reviews and put them to companies you use and trust”. Ok, this does seem the most logical step, but what company? Amazon? Waterstones? WHSmiths? Foyles? Audible? Book Depository? Hive? See… there are so many book sellers in the UK and there are so many forms of books - physical, ebook, audiobook - that instead of doing one, I would have to have several. And again, I would only get revenue from them if someone clicks that link to get a 30 day cookie and buys something. And even though, how much would I get if someone did that? Not very much - it’s between 5% to 10% on some of the sites I’ve looked into. 

What about Patreon and Ko-Fi? I mean, listening to podcasts and watching book vloggers saying they use Patreon and Ko-Fi and I get why. How pricy is a microphone, a camera, editing software? But for a book blogger such as myself? All I need is my laptop, wifi (which I can get free in most coffeeshops), a book or my eReader and not much else. Wouldn’t that feel a bit cap-in-hand?

Plus, would it be even worth it? I am not a huge blog. Hell, I am tiny! Really under the radar.  Would it be truly worth it for me to have an affiliate or a patreon/ko-fi? And do this while getting copies of books from publishers for free? 

See, that’s where I get stuck. Publishers, authors and publicity people are sending me books and ebooks (and making them aren’t cheap) and then, I would making money on the back of it. 

“But, hang on,”I hear you counter-argue. “They use your blog for free advertising and they make profit from that when the book sells. Doesn’t it seem unfair for you to do this for free while they make profit?”

This is something I have been questioning for at least a year or so. Me wondering if I should have something so, if you click it, I get some money. Money that I can put into the blog - buying my domain name, paying someone to create business cards for the blog or create a really cool banner, using the money for train fare when I got to events. But then I would question if it’s wise/sensible to ask for money from the blog’s reader, which then makes me question my worth and the blog’s as I have spent how much time/money/energy into this blog - a hobby I enjoy - which then makes me feel guilty because this is a hobby, plus I’m asking for money. This, in turns, makes me worried about money, my and the blog’s self-worth, which makes me think about using affiliate and thus, the cycle continues, though I do leave it a month or two before I go back into this rabbit hole. 

While I was on Twitter a few days/weeks ago, when I was thinking about writing this (or halfway through), I asked if other bloggers I know use affiliates and feel guilty about using them, and though only a tiny handful of people replied, most said the same thing: “I barely make any revenue from it so why feel guilty over it?”

I could go on about this. About me trying to figure out this as it does feel very much a mortal and it varies from person to person. For some people, this is a no brainer while to others, this is a bad idea and won’t go near it. 

For me, I think that, while I am totally against being paid for a review, I do feel less against using an affiliate and the forms of revenues, as long as they are sensible and for the blog. This would be my thread of thought, and if/when I finally feel comfortable about using affiliates/adverts/patreon/ko-fo/whatever, I would use what I feel is the best and most comfortable for myself and for the blog. 

But like I said before, this is a moral decision and it’s up to each blogger, vlogger, podcaster, creator to decide what is comfortable for them. 

EDIT: Ok, am writing this at a later date compared to the rest of the post as, when I wrote the above, I was wondering about affiliate and the morals and ethics of it, whereas now, you might have seen that I have an “Affiliate” tab and links on the side of the blog. After writing this post and having a long think about it, I did decide to get an affiliate or two. 

This wasn’t a decision I made lightly. 

But I thought of two, maybe three, things: if you read a write-up of a book or audiobook and you went “Oh, wow! I want to buy this or read more write-ups about this”, you can click on the seller of your choice, I would see what you guys like to read and go “Ok, you guys like this” and I can decide if I want to try reading more by that genre. Plus you guys can just click on a icon and you go straight to the seller of your choosing without leaving the blog. Ace. 

And now, the money. From the people I spoke to, you get little/nothing from affiliate so I thought “I have nothing to loe”. But, if I did get a tiny commission from you clicking/buying something, I could use that towards the blog - buying my domain name, train tickets to go to events, buy a book you guys have been screaming at me to buy/read. It would always go to the blog. 

So yes. I have affiliates. But I am not going to pressure you into using them. I’m having them on the side of the Pewter Wolf and on its own page/tab. Also, for a few months (maybe up till Christmas… Am still trying to figure this out), I will be doing a trail and putting links in the reviews at the very start. This will be a trail as I don’t want you guys to feel pressured. Like I said earlier in this post, I don’t want to pressure and I want to feel comfortable with them on the Pewter Wolf - if I feel comfortable with in them in the write-ups or discussion posts, I will keep doing them. If not, then I will remove them. I want the Pewter Wolf to remain friendly and safe space - like two friends chatting about books - so am going to figure this out and find what works best for me and you. 

*groans* seeing as I’m chatting about this, I suppose I better give you the links below so you can use, if you so wish. God, I suck at self-promotion…  

Free Delivery on all Books at Book Depository


Monday, 6 August 2018

Book Review - The Mysterious Mr Quin

  • Title And Author: The Mysterious Mr Quin by Agatha Christie
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Physical, eBook or Audiobook: Physical 
  • Bought, Borrowed or Gifted: Borrowed from Library
  • Length: 336 Pages
  • Buy From: Book Depository - Foyles - Audible

Well… that was unexpected. 

Ok, in the words of Craig David, re-e-wind

Sorry, no idea why I wrote that but anyway, back story. As you might remember from a blog post from months back when I chatted about Agatha Christie, this was one of the titles I’ve wanted to read for a while. Ever since I heard of the general bases of this, I wanted to read this. I mean, a mysterious man (who appears as if by magic. A bit like the shop keeper from Mr Benn! Anyone remember that?) who solves crimes. Sold! But I didn’t know when I was going to read this. Plus, I wasn’t sure if this was best place to start with reading Agatha Christie. 

Then I went “Sod it!”, requested it at my library (this was at the height of my last reading slump and real life drama of buying a house, trying to get a handle on work and general “Am I good enough to continue book blogging? Or should I quit?” - you know, the good stuff in life) and, before I had time to get myself ready, my library said “We got it and the other two books you requested for you!” (the other two books were Fatal Voyage by Kathy Reichs and Want to Play? by PJ Tracy [and why I haven’t read them will be made clear in the coming paragraphs]) so I decided to read this. 

The Mysterious Mr Quin is a collection of twelve short stories that follow Mr Satterthwaite as he gets himself involved in mysteries - some from the past, some present - and his mysterious acquaintance, Mr Quin, who seems to be the catalyst for the truth to come to light… 

Sunday, 5 August 2018

I'm Back (Again)

Well… that blog break throughout most/all of July kinda came out of nowhere, didn’t it? 

What happened? What called this blog break, I hear none of you ask. 

It was a mix of things, truth be told. 

As you lovely readers know if you follow me on Twitter for the past few months, I seem to be having a lot of reading slumps recently and I’m not 100% sure why. I’m reading pretty much what I always read, but it feels like recently these types of reads are are feeling a bit predictable. Not the stories fault, but because am reading some much of the same thing in a short space of time, am hitting a wall. Because of this, I had to take a step back from reading these types of books in the timeframe I usually give myself to read (another reason why I keep having reading slumps recently - am putting too much pressure on self to read books within a certain timeframe and that’s not gonna work, Andrew. You should know better). 

Monday, 9 July 2018

#OrionBloggerBrunch 2018

So, Saturday was fun. Not only was the England game against Sweden of the World Cup 2018 gripping the nation nor that London Pride was happening (one year, I will go to this!) nor did the UK seemed to be gripped by the fiery thing in the sky (I loathe Summer. Heat, hayfever, lack of sleep, do you really want me to go on? but I was invited to a book blogger event! 

It’s feels like years since I’ve been to a book blogger event (was it the the beginning of this year my last? I miss being with my people!) 

Anyway, after since I had moved house the previous week and managed to get a Saturday off work (sadly meaning I have to do a six-day week the following week…), I decided to go. And wow, I forgot what London was like in summer. Plus, with Pride happening, I kept seeing sickeningly attractive people around… 

I wasn’t staring! 

Anyway, onto the books. Once at the event, there was drink, Pride cupcakes, pizza at the halfway point and books! Delicious and wonderful books. And after Orion chatted some titles (I am going to talk about a handful that sound delicious [to me and I wanna read] and I totally want to read! Stay with me, folks!), two lovely authors chatted about that it was like to write the dreaded Second Novel - Catriona Ward and Ed McDonald (just so you know as I didn’t till they talked about to Catriona wrote Rawblood and her second novel is Little Eve while Ed wrote Blackwing and its sequel, Ravencry. Now I need to go forth and read them as these 4 books sound dark, twisted and I love dark ’n’ twisted! I will touch on both their novels in a tick). After that, quick pizza break (aka snoop into the free books - we bloggers are vultures. But I had to go to the bathroom so I didn’t get my hands on any, till the lovely Sarah from FeelingFictional gave me her copy of Little Eve by Catriona Ward, saying that this sounds more up my street than hers - “It’s more crime and dark and much more twisted than what I’m used to”, and the author very kindly signed for me. Thanks Sarah! After that, Orion talked about two titles that won’t be published till early 2019, both of which sound good. 

Ok, enough of this. We know why we’re here: the pretty books that caught my eye. So, where should we begin…?