Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Crazy Creatives Cheerleading Camp's Come As You Are Party + Ornery Musings: Why Book Reviews are Useful

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

As the late, great Shorty Medlocke used to say, howdy solks, I mean folks! If you don't know who Shorty Medlocke was, it's time for you to at the very least hit Wikipedia and brush up on your music history, and then go listen to some Blackfoot, where you can hear Shorty's grandson Rickey shred on some sadly underrated Southern rock masterpieces.

Sadly for you, this post is not about great blues musicians, twentieth-century radio hosts, or great guitarists. It's about book reviewers.

At the bottom of many posts, you will notice the image of a plump owl carrying a couple of books, one with a pentagram and one with an anarchist symbol. This owl is my alter-ego, my inner badass. Where I am infamous for apologizing for myself constantly and becoming defensive quickly, this owl never apologizes (unless she has actually done something wrong) and has no time for defensiveness. If she is under attack, she will fight back, but she doesn't harbor any of the insecurities that I do. Therefore, defensiveness is foreign to her. This owl is unapologetically, authentically herself.

Me, on the other hand, I tend to always wonder if I'm doing something (or anything) right. I am a horrible--I mean adorable--little (okay, large) bundle of insecurities. I have both physical and psychological disabilities, and I also have ADD and dyslexia. Dyslexia does not have only one manifestation, by the way. I read most things clearly, and I'm a relly gud spelur. My dyslexia tends to present itself with numbers more than words, and I have a great deal of trouble with tests involving pattern recognition, which led to me being labeled borderline retarded when I was in the sixth grade. That label was a thermonuclear hit to my already severely compromised self-esteem, particularly when one of my nastier classmates overheard my parents and the school psychologist discussing it in the hallway and proceeded to ask my father if I really was borderline retarded, to which he naively replied, "yes, I'm afraid so," rather than telling her to run along as he should have.

So, here I am in my fifties with a lifetime of abject failures behind me, disabled and living in poverty, and I review books for a living. Seriously, that is how I eke out a living, and sometimes I become rather cynical about it. Here I am, doing something completely useless yet again because being useless is my M.O. in life. I would do very poorly as something like a virtual administrative assistant or customer service agent. I have moderate anxiety about talking to people on the phone, and if I get bored, I get distracted. I would be fired from these jobs fairly quickly. However, I can read books. These days I prefer e-books because of my vision and because they don't take up space on my shelves. I also enjoy listening to audiobooks. 

Anyway, I possess the ability to read, opinions are like assholes, and I am an asshole with an opinion. So I sneaked in the back door at the Online Book Club and tried my hand at doing reviews for them. My first few reviews were unpaid, and then I started getting paid for my efforts. Doing reviews for paid review services like Online Book Club means that I can do reviews on request for independent authors without charging money. My costs for an independent review are as follows:

If the book is available on Amazon, you give me permission to have an affiliate link in my review post. You won't pay me a cent, but if someone buys the book through the link, Amazon will pay me a few cents.

If you like the review, you provide a link to it on social media.

You understand that providing me with a copy of your book does not guarantee a positive review. There may be reviewers who get their rocks off writing negative reviews and destroying authors' dreams. I am not one of them. I love giving positive reviews. With most of my less stellar reviews, I find that the problem with the book tends not to be the story itself, but the execution and lack of proper editing. By the way, I am also available as a beta reader.

Very rarely do I give scathing reviews. On the occasions that I have done so, it is because I find the author to be an odious jerk with awful opinions who targets vulnerable people for ridicule.

You may be saying (as I sometimes do), "well, that's all fine and good, Cie, but the world wouldn't stop turning if all the book reviewers were abducted by aliens. Book reviewers do not provide vital services such as emergency services personnel, medical personnel, construction workers, mechanics,  teachers, grocery clerks, customer service personnel, cleaning crews, or, pretty much anyone else provides. Reviewing books is fluffy stuff and isn't a real job. Like, you know, the kind of work that you claim you can't do anymore but probably could if you tried, and don't give me that 'but I can't walk very far or very fast, I can't stand up for long periods of time or my back will start hurting, or, but my diabetes fucks with me and starts making me weak and confused' bit!"

Well, you hopefully don't say that last part, but my inner voice is, not to put too fine a point on it, an absolute twat. Anyway, the overall gist is, most people find book reviewers to be non-essential members of society, and I sometimes feel angry at myself for doing a job that most people see as sprinkles on a cake, not even icing or pretty decorations, just sprinkles. The kind of sprinkles that come in a jar and you pay a couple bucks for them and you sprinkle them on your kid's birthday cake and it makes the kid happy. Except that I have the potential to make people's inner children unhappy with my words.

However, today I read a wonderful review from one of my fellow Online Book Club reviewers, and I would like to share that review and my thoughts on it with you. Please follow this link to read it.

Here is a copy of my comment for the reviewer:

Thank you for your lovely, descriptive review. I had tears in my eyes reading it. Although I grew up in a home with both parents present my family was inadvertently emotionally abusive and didn't understand someone like me at all as they were very perfectionistic and I had learning and psych issues (I have type 2 bipolar disorder that wasn't correctly diagnosed until I was almost 40.) I did a lot of the same things that Eva did, moving out with my now-ex-husband when I was 19, being divorced by 29, having a string of abusive relationships. I really appreciate reviews like yours which tell me everything I need to know about a book, even better than simply reading a sample. Have a good day.

Sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks. While being a book reviewer is not an essential occupation such as those mentioned in the previous paragraph, nor is it a meaningless occupation. Too many bullies calling themselves critics have given a bad name to critiquing. A professional critic should endeavor to be kind, discussing the best aspects of a work while, if necessary pointing out areas needing improvement.

~Cie the Ornery Old Lady~


Free use image from Pixabay
Cie reviews books and is no longer ashamed to claim it as her profession.
She is also available as a beta reader


I'll bet that some of you would like to know which book I was referring to when praising my fellow reviewer. Well, now you know and can get yourself a copy! 
Disclosure: If readers purchase a copy of this book through the preview link, I receive a small commission from Amazon.


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