Monday Musings | What Makes a Good Book Review?

Karen One More Page Book Reviews

Happy Monday! And, if you’re in Canada like me, Happy Victoria Day! I hope you’re all enjoying the long weekend! My day has been quite a productive one: I spent my afternoon at my neighbourhood Starbucks with an Earl Grey Tea Latte in one hand and a pen and paper in the other. Today’s goal? Write as many reviews and posts as I can!

Before I actually got down to writing my reviews, this question came to mind: what makes a good review? (And, subsequently, how do I write them so my readers are getting what they want to read?)

For me, I like to read reviews that are a bit more personal. I like when the reviewer ties the book into an experience they’ve had, or a fascinating interest of theirs. I want to hear how a book connects and resonates. I want to find out whether I’d have the same emotional and/or intellectual response. I also like reading reviews that make me think: maybe it raises a moral question, or maybe it introduces a way of thinking that I hadn’t considered before. If a reviewer can persuade me that the book they enjoyed will teach me something new, my interest is almost always piqued. I try to write my reviews with those preferences in mind. (Whether I succeed is largely up to you to decide.)

But I want to know: What makes a good review for you? What gets you interested in one particular review or reviewer when there are so many available online? Does format, tone, etc matter?

Monday Musings | Phrases That Stay With You

Andie M Mitchell It Was Me All Along One More Page Blog

The other day, as I was convincing myself to go for a run, I thought of a phrase that I often go to when I need a nudge: “I’ve never regretted working out.” It’s something that I saw online once that really resonated with me. Normally, just thinking of that will motivate me enough to go outside, but this time I was having a bit of a rough day, and needed some extra encouragement. That’s when this popped into my head:

“Can you do it today?”

This was a question that I came across in food blogger Andie Mitchell’s memoir It Was Me All Along. Mitchell herself discovered this question in O, The Oprah Magazine, at a time in her life when she was having difficulty changing her ingrained eating and exercising habits. She started asking herself:

“Can you exercise today, Andie? Not tomorrow, not the next day, not even a month from now. Today? Eat the best you can, work your plus-sized heart out…today?” (p 119)

And found out that she could. So, with this in mind, she was able to take things one day at a time, and eventually get on track. Since reading Mitchell’s story, this phrase has stayed with me and has been pulled out whenever I need motivation. It reminds me that the answer is always “yes,” and the only reason why I don’t do certain things is because I choose not to, instead of being incapable. This has been so crucial.

Besides wanting to share this small anecdote with you, my thought processes led me to wonder: have there been phrases from your reading that has stayed with you long after you’ve finished the book? It doesn’t have to be non-fiction, necessarily. For a fiction example, I often think of the phrase “an impossible red flower” that Aislinn Hunter used in The World Before Us to describe blood spreading on a shirt. It’s so beautifully visual that I can’t quite shake it from my mind.

Now, on to you! Are there any phrases from your reading that you find yourself thinking about over and over again?

Monday Musings | Ghostwriting

One More Page Karen Ghostwriting

[I’ve always been fascinated with this topic, so much so that I was a “ghost writer” for Halloween last year…]

I’m not sure about you, but I spend quite a bit of my time thinking about ghostwriters and ghostwriting in general. I have always wondered which books have been penned behind the scenes, so to speak. Two weekends ago, when the news broke that Zoe Sugg (or Zoella, online) had received help in writing her debut novel, Girl Online, the discussion of ghostwriters and ghostwriting was brought to the forefront again.

I’m not here to pass judgement or even throw in my two cents about the Zoella news. But what I do want to ask you is whether knowing a book is ghostwritten affects your enjoyment or perception of the book at all. For me, I think that if the publisher/author is upfront about the project being a collaborative effort, then I wouldn’t mind it. As long as everyone in the partnership feels as though they’ve gained from the experience, I’m not in a place to judge. However, I think I would feel more cheated if I read (and enjoyed) a book only to find out that the words I connected with didn’t belong to the person I was attributing them to.

This brings up another question for me: What’s more important – a story’s ideas, or the words themselves? In Zoella’s case, she has affirmed that all of the characters and storylines are her own, so perhaps this assuages the anger (if there is any)? I’m on the fence about this, but I think it all comes down to transparency. I think that credit should go where credit is due. (I do want to briefly add that Zoella did thank Siobhan Curham, her alleged ghostwriter, in her acknowledgements.)

Ghostwriting is not a new practice, and I’m sure there will always be ghostwriters helping out behind the scenes. Like I mentioned before, I’m not for or against it as long as everyone in the partnership feels fulfilled, but it has been extremely interesting to read the internet’s response as this latest Zoella news broke. I would love to hear what you all think!

Do you care whether something is ghostwritten or not?

Monday Musings | Blog Origins

Karen from One More Page kmn04books

Whenever I tell people that I want to work in publishing one of the first questions that usually follows is “Are you a writer?” and my inclination is to always respond with “No.”

It’s true. I’ve tried multiple times and failed at fiction writing. I over-think things and over-analyze situations and don’t do a very good job at world building. No, I’ve always confidently answered that I’m not a writer. However, as I geared up to answer this question again this past week, something made me change my response. Instead of plain saying I wasn’t a writer, I modified it and admitted that I wasn’t a fiction writer. Because, when I think about it, I’ve been writing all my life.

I started my first ever blog in grade 6. Back in the day Xanga was a huge blogging platform (where I lived, at least). My blog consisted of silly things and personal updates. I posted almost every single day. It felt normal and natural because I’ve always felt compelled to diary and journal and the fact that almost all of my classmates were also writing personal blogs didn’t hurt. Those were the first days where I realized how the simple act of writing, for me, could form a community.

Since then I’ve written countless other (semi-private) blogs. I had a 365 day photography blog. I had a health blog (that lasted around 2 months…). I have had personal blogs on and off since my first one in grade 6. So, when I think about how I arrived at this blog here, I guess I should have seen it coming. When someone loves to jot down their opinions and feelings as much as I do and love to read as much as I do, it’s probably only natural that blogging or writing about it comes next. I think these are the real, deep-down reasons for why I have this blog and it’s something I really haven’t realized until now. I most definitely am not a fiction writer, but the need to write has constantly been with me and I can now confidently acknowledge and say “I’m a blogger because I’m a writer” (and thinker and dreamer and lover of words…).

Anyway, the reason for my long story is so I can ask YOU – Do you identify as a writer? Have you always been this way? What made you start your blog (whether it be about books or not)?