The Value of Stars

I read a great post recently on Peter Germany’s blog where he talked about the star system used to review books. I often do reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but I haven’t really analysed what the stars really mean to me, and I guess everyone’s interpretation is different. So here’s what I’m thinking when I give a book a star:

20130514-121728.jpg Courtesy of digitalart @ FreeDigitalPhotos

5 stars ***** I loved it…unputdownable.

4 stars **** Really enjoyed it, but….(I’m probably just being picky but there was at least one thing that annoyed me, I found a bit unbelievable or didn’t like etc).

3 stars *** It was ok but I’m disappointed. I had a major problem with a particular aspect, but for some unknown reason decided to read to the end lol

2 stars ** Hmmmm, not for me. It really didn’t work or was just plain boring.

1 star * Well, that’s a part of my life I’ll never get back! Hated it!

So how many stars would I give a book that I hadn’t been able to finish? And why would I want to spend my time reading a book that I didn’t like? I don’t think I’ve ever given a 1 or 2 star review on Amazon or Goodreads, because if it was that bad I would have chucked the book across the room by page 100 lol

Go check out Anne R Allens excellent guide to leaving a review on Amazon and also a brillant post from Lisa Jewell reviewing her reviews.

So my question to you dear reader is….. do you ever give 1 or 2 star reviews? And if so, how do you decide what constitutes a 1 star and why would you continue reading a book if you thought it was that bad?

My Love/Hate Relationship With 50 Shades

I finally finished 50 Shades of Grey *slumps exhausted into a heap* 😉 Actually, it’s the quickest I’ve read a book in a long while lol.

I’m not going to do a review, I read it as a “writer” because I was intrigued about this whole phenomenon. Why were some people dissing it? I like to make my own mind up 🙂

So, I’ve decided to do a Love list and a Hate list….perhaps then I can decide how many stars to give it on Goodreads 😉

What I Loved About 50 Shades
Christian Grey: Wow, what a great character! Yes, I bonded lol. I guess I’m just drawn to dark, mysterious men. Who is it that’s been cast in the film role? To me, when I picture him I’m thinking Christian Bale, sorry, can’t help it lol. I could see the connection to Edward (Twilight) but to me it wasn’t glaringly obvious.

I Liked Her Style: Yes, I did, it was easy reading. As I’ve said a lot of times on this blog, who cares about verbs, adverbs, show and tell (yes, I know the publishers do lol). If its a good story, engages the reader, then so what. I don’t consider my own writing to be “literary” and I don’t want it to be. If that really is crap writing then I may as well give up now! Lol. Seriously, i don’t believe my writing is any better. I don’t feel that I’m in a position to judge, people in glass houses en all that. It actually gave me hope that you don’t have to be the best writer in the world to be successful.

What I Hated About 50 Shades
The Repitition: Ok, I was warned about this before I started. The first thing that bugged me was the word “Equilibrium” which seems to crop up in every few chapters and IMO, stands out like the proverbial thumb. But the really annoying thing was the biting of the bottom lip. Towards the end I got to screaming point lol

The Sex: Ha ha ha, I’m sorry, but I got a bit bored. As a man, if you read this book, prepare to feel inferior lol. Hell, as a woman reading this book you could be convinced there’s something wrong with you! Lol.

Ana: Oh, what a wishey washey heroine, IMO. I just didn’t particularly like her. I had no sympathy for her to be honest. I know she was suppose to be a young naive girl, but I found that quite annoying. If she’s that naive and innocent, surely, she would have run a mile lol.


E L James is making a fortune (check out this article). So I for one would LOVE to be known as a crap writer if it meant I could buy a swanky London pad with an indoor swimming pool lol 😉

Also check out this article which seems to echo my view that this book has something And this one which I think gives the best argument I’ve seen to date 🙂

I’m getting a little bored with all the “it’s badly written” comments. The same was said of Stephanie Myers and JK Rowling, and look where they all are now. Is it time, as writers, we wake up and realise that these books are what the public want? Isn’t a book that gets people reading who don’t usually read a good thing?

Kate Walker said at Caerleon that, in her opinion, the reason 50 Shades is so successful is not because of the sex. It’s basically a love story, centred around the emotional conflict of the two main characters. The “will they won’t they” element is what people keep coming back for.

what do you think…..Have you read it? Will you be reading it? And how does it make you feel about your own work?


Philip Roth said that reading was a way to keep the circuits open and to think about the piece he’s working on while getting a little rest from the actual work in hand.

Sooooo, the question is….should I join a book club? I’ve been thinking about this for over a year now, but never actually done anything about it. “Mount Toobie” (sorry, slipping into BookCrosser mode there), my to be read pile is huge, verging on thousands, which is what has always put me off….but.

My writing style is very similar to my reading preferences. I tend to read what I call “real life stuff”. No fantasy or sci-fi. I’m not even keen on crime either. I like emotional character driven stories, about people, their lives, and how they overcome obstacles. Which, is kinda what I write about.

But does that allow me to grow as a writer? Am I missing out on the opportunity to “broaden my horizons” so to speak? Also, would joining a book club/reading group give me an insight to what readers want from their books?

Jack Heffron says “Don’t try to write a short story until you’ve read fifty of them, preferably a hundred. Don’t try to write a novel until you’ve read fifty of them, preferably a hundred. The same is true for scripts, essays, poems and so on.”

I do copy writing I like into my note book. I collect pieces that I think are powerful. I did at one stage start doing book reviews, but now I just use Goodreads.

Are you a member of a reading group/book club? Do you feel your writing benefits from it?

Whilst compiling this post an update email hit my inbox from Kitty Hietala’s blog which I found very interesting.

Here’s a pic of just one of my book shelves lol.


I wasn’t really inspired by today’s prompt, the emergency exit. I ended up writing a story about 2 young girls running out of the ice rink because the boy one of them fancies comes in. Today’s prompt is eating at a diner so I’m hoping I’ll be a bit more inspired today 😉

Archetypal Structure

I’m a huge believer that the best stories are the ones with an element of truth behind them. I get a lot of my inspiration from real life events.

Someone on my FB friends page posted a link to this very sad story a couple of days ago. It got me thinking. Is it fair to turn other people’s pain into fiction? How easy would it be to take this article and turn it into a short story, but I’d be riddled with guilt 😦

Perhaps there’s a line that has to be drawn…….

As part of my course, yesterday I was reading about Archetypal Structures ie:

The Quest
The Siege
Rags To Riches

Now I have to make a list of the last 10 books I’ve read and decide what Archetypal Structure they fit into. I have been very lapse on keeping a record of what I’ve read, so this is gunna be hard. I thought the easiest way would be to look at my GoodReads profile lol. You can’t really include short story anthologies or biographies can you lol

Into The Darkest Corner Now, this one is a combination IMO….. Journey, Quest, Rebirth, and there’s definitely a Monster. It’s also kind of Rags to Riches lol.

A Kind Of Vanishing I think this one is a Tragedy, but with an element of Quest.

Mr Chartwell Oh definitely Monster and Rebirth.

Bleed for Me A Journey, Quest, Monster and a Tragedy.

Quentins This is a difficult one as its a bunch of stories set in the same place, almost like reading a soap opera. Hmmmm, I think it’s absolutely every single type of structure lol.

Prophecy Is a Journey, Quest, Rebirth, Tragedy and Rags To Riches.

The Magic Of Fish Keeping (my current read) A Journey, Quest, Rebirth, Monster and Rags To Riches.

Sooo, isn’t that weird…every single book has more than one Archetypal Structure present, or am I being too analytical? 🙂

So my next task was to come up with a character, then choose a structure, then come up with ideas that would fit in with that structure. I decided to do it the other way round….I came up with the character, then brainstormed ideas that could happen to him, then looked at what structures would fit that. The results we’re pretty good, although, again, no happy endings for Mr Moorcroft….why am I so evil to my characters? *snigger* 😉

This has been a very interesting exercise as its made me realise I have a huge problem. I tend to start with a character and then want to knock them down. Surely, it should be the other way round…… Rags to Riches, not Riches to Rags lol

I’ve now finished all the exercises on my course, now all I have to do is the final assignment…..then what? I have to make some tough decisions on what I want to do next 🙂

Yesterday’s prompt about fruit picking Became the start of a story about a young girl picking strawberries for her mother *yawn yawn* lol. Today’s prompt is “Everything became shadow” after Arthur Rimbaud so a bit of investigation needed there I think 😉