Posted in Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (October 21)


Hosted by Should Be Reading
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…• Describe one of your reading habits.

• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).

• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!

• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!

• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

This weeks musing is about book review sites and more pertinently why have a five star system if you can’t use the whole range?

Each of us rates in a slightly different way, after all by its very nature, a review is a personal opinion.

I write reviews on and have done for a number of years now. I struggle with the rating system, mainly because I believe in following the rules and being honest. I generally stick to:
5*’s I love it
4*’s I like it
3*’s It’s OK
2*’s I don’t like it
1* I hate it

but even this has problems as what is the difference between I hate it and I don’t like it? For me I give one star reviews to those books I haven’t finished. There are further caveats to this, if I have chosen a book that simply isn’t for me subject wise I wouldn’t leave a review as I believe that it is my fault, I have picked something I was never going to like.

A couple of times I have received less than complimentary feedback from the author when I have given a book one star (which I might add is very rare), one was quite abusive and left me wondering what sort of impression the author thought that would give of him to potential readers? After all mine is one amongst many reviews.

At the other end of the scale I sometimes find it hard to choose between four and five stars. Yes I know loving something should be easy to discern but I find myself questioning how much do I love it? This year has been an outstanding book year for me so I have given many more five star reviews. This has made me wonder am I getting better at picking good books, more easily pleased (I somehow doubt this) or more open to different types of books thereby enjoying fresh ideas ? Who knows? (can someone tell me whether rhetorical questions should have a question mark or not, I’ve been debating for ages and gone with the ?)

Anyway what prompted this post was an attack on Goodreads for giving a one star review for a book I didn’t finish.  I didn’t read to the end mainly due to the plot holes, and what I felt was less than perfect research. The commenter stated that I had been spiteful, lacked the concentration to finish the book(?) then accused me of being a rival author and/or knowing the author of the book. I admit my comments were a little throw-away but I hid them as spoiler alerts so that they weren’t visible unless someone really wanted to read them. This made me think about the whole rival author thing that everyone seems to get worked up about. If I were an author (which I am not) then how would giving another author a one star review help me? Surely this would only work if there were only a few books available and it was a simple choice between one or the other… this clearly isn’t the case so?? Comments on a postcard please (or at the bottom of this post if you prefer)

The commenter made another point that it is hard to write a book and therefore I shouldn’t be spiteful… I agree writing a book isn’t an easy task and I do have admiration for anyone who does this but it doesn’t mean that I am going to like it however much an author sweated over its birth, To me it seems a little like school sports days; everyone doesn’t deserve a prize for trying this is the real world! I didn’t go and criticise all those people who gave five star reviews and caused me to spend my hard-earned cash on this book! I accept that what I felt made the book unreadable wouldn’t matter to someone who didn’t necessarily know the subject. I have been told a book I like has an overlong sentence structure. Apart from a brief, oh dear I didn’t even notice the sentence structure I must seem so uneducated moment, I accepted that the other reader wanted something different from the book to what is important to me.

This isn’t a post about a particular site although from what I understand is Goodreads has caused some controversy lately with its deletion of accounts but more about how fans react when a book they love isn’t appreciated by others. What happened to live and let live?…. a book with loads of higher ratings will surely not really be damaged by my dislike of the book? Can’t it?



I Stopped Time Earns Gold Badge Endorsement

Number One Indie Book Endorsement Site Gives Jane Davis’s Latest Novel the Thumbs Up

Read more about this award which is in addition to that already received for These Fragile Things on the author’s website

Having blogged about this author yesterday – well more in relation to my very first blog interview – I am delighted for her and thoroughly endorse the judge’s decision!

For more about the award itself check out

I didn’t know about this award scheme but having read through the site it makes sense. I am always up for trying out new authors and I have really enjoyed some books that would not have made it through the traditional publishing route but it is disappointing when the quality is not there.

I am now looking to see what else they have given awards to that I can add to my metaphorical pile on my kindle!

Posted in Books I have read

Caitlin Davies, Hunter Davies and Margaret Forster – what a family of writers!

This morning I reviewed Family Likeness by Caitlin Davies; I was especially pleased to be chosen to read a copy in return for an honest review as in my opinion she is an excellent writer and daughter of two authors who I hold in high esteem.

Margaret Forster wrote what is probably my favourite book of all time – ‘Shadow Baby’ which shares the theme of abandoned children with ‘Family Likeness’

Shadow BabyShadow Baby by Margaret Forster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of my favourite books of all times and one of the few that I re-read for sheer pleasure from time to time

The story is about two girls adopted 100 years apart, the reasons why they were adopted and how they and their mothers reacted to adoption.

During the book we get to know the girls and their mothers through their own narratives. This is an emotional story and I often think of the real Evie’s that lived in the shadows because of the time and circumstance of their birth. I recommend reading Hidden Lives: A Family Memoir which includes the Margret Forster’s family history, including that of her Grandmother who wouldn’t speak of her early life at all. I am sure this wonderful book is the author’s way of revealing some of what may have led to those secrets.

You can’t do better than this for a dual time tale with a hefty dollop of social history included.

View all my reviews

While Hunter Davies was our family companion with his Flossie Teacake adventures which kept us amused during long car journeys when my children were small. These books were entertaining enough for this weary parent to stomach many a repeat on the old tape cassette player and dear old Flossie is remembered fondly in our house more than 15 years on.

Earlier this year Margaret Forster published another fantastic book

The Unknown Bridesmaid

and I would also recommend

Isa and MayIsa and May by Margaret Forster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I put off buying this as although [[ASIN:0140258361 Shadow Baby]] is my favourite book of all time, the last couple of Margaret Forster’s books didn’t hit the same mark as far as I’m concerned.

This book although really plays to the authors exceptional skill in writing about family relationships both those that work and those that don’t. The characters were all likeable, especially both Grandmother’s who though totally different had both contributed and been involved in Isamays life. I love the way the different relationships including the natural frustrations that occur in family life are described.

Isamays dissertation on other Grandmothers nicely interjects the main story and as it is a dissertation does so in a natural and readable way.

I will read this again I’m sure and have another excuse to remember my Grandmother who helped shape my life

View all my reviews

and the book that I believe lead to Shadow Baby which is a fascinating look at social history, particularly that of women

Hidden Lives: A Family MemoirHidden Lives: A Family Memoir by Margaret Forster

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This personal biography by Margaret Forster is a fascinating exploration of how lives of women have changed over a period of 100 plus years starting in the 1870’s.

Margaret Ann was the author’s grandmother, orphaned at the age of 2, her early life is a mystery. Margaret Ann simply doesn’t give any details away of her early life, all that her family knew was from 1893 onwards. Why was Margaret Ann so keen to conceal her early life? We also meet Lilian, Margaret’s mother a working class woman living in Carlisle, the author depicts a woman who yearns for the better things in life. There are moving scenes where the family try to locate a cafe on holiday which will meet Lilian’s expectations. The interaction of each of the characters is moving and honest. Lilian wonders at Margaret’s life as a wife and mother, the difference domestic appliances made to a housewife’s day etc.

This book clearly presents social history in an interesting and personal way but it also reminds us of the changes to woman’s role in society as a whole. It is a book that makes you think about women’s expectations, in many ways I found Lilian’s story the hardest to read as she clearly wanted more from her life was born just a little too early!

The research for this book clearly led into the novel Shadow Baby which is my favourite book of all time, I would recommend both these for anyone interested in the life of a working class woman.

View all my reviews