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Category Archives: My Writings

Logrolling

Do you ever read the cover of a book and see all those great quotes; then after reading, wonder what those people saw in the book that you didn’t?

Now I am not saying either of the above comments are engaging in logrolling (the art of individuals agreeing to promote each others work) but they certainly read a different book to that which I did.

My source for the below examples of blatant (and of course, it must be said alleged) logrolling is the proper journalism and satire magazine Private Eye (issue number 1460, the last issue I got my sticky mitts on before leaving home shores).  It does go a long way to explaining how so many glowing reviews for average – or bad – novels come about.

  • David Krynaston selected Joining the Dots by Juliet Gardiner in The Guardian. The two share an agent in Georgia Garrett of Rogers, Coleridge & White.
  • Debut novelist Sally Rooney ‘loved’ The Idiot by fellow first-timer Elif Batuman, with whom she bonded when they were paired in a Foyles reading.  A fortnight after the plug, Batuman was one of the judges who chose Rooney as Sunday Times/PDF young writer of the year.
  • Hollie McNish picked a book edited by Sabrina Mahfouz – not only are they pals on the spoken word circuit, but McNish and Mahfouz also write a play together.
  • Craig Raine, both a Faber poet and a former Faber poetry editor, chose Simon Armitage’s The Unaccompanied from Faber, and ‘another terrific Faber poet’ Matthew Francis as his sole TLS picks.
  • Little known Bojangles Books seems to have only published two titles, both by the investigative journalist Bob Woffinden.  Both were picked out (and nothing else) in a Spectator contribution by Richard Ingrams.  Ingrams’ book about another righter of judicial wrongs Ludovic Kennedy, (Ludovic and the Power of the Book) was by coincidence praised as ‘an important book’ in the Catholic Herald by…Bob Woffinden.

When you have to research the links between book  and critic to get a clear picture of their affiliations, it doesn’t seem worth the effort, which is where we bloggers come in.  Giving honest feedback with no agenda makes such reviewers much more compelling to read.  I only read reviews on WordPress from my fellow bloggers these days, whose opinion I hold in high regard, and appreciate the fairness with which the subject matter is treated.  Not only are the reviews thorough and engaging but when a book does catch my eye it remains in my mind due to the hard work and no compensation that being a reviewer brings.  Keep up the good work of sharing the love of books and informing potential readers of what’s about. With Amazon’s new review restrictions squeezing the field for honest reviews even more, it would seem we could have a potentially bigger role to play with authors (and maybe publishers) in the future.

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30 Comments

Posted by on 07/05/2018 in Blogging, Journalism, My Writings

 

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Paid Book Reviews on Amazon? Yes, If You do the Paying

Once again, digressing from my original blogging plans and adding more and more to my nearly 200 drafts, this one needed to be spoken about.  Thanks to Michelle’s post, a reblog of the original post from Barb for bringing this to my attention.

Battle of Greeks and Amazons. Marble sarcophagus. Pio Clementino Museum; Octagonal Court. Vatican Museums.

Rarely do I bother with Amazon, only going there to add the odd book review but now it appears that that won’t be happening; unless I want to fork out £40 a calendar year for the .co.uk, or $50 minimum for the .com sites.  That’s what it takes to be eligible to give your opinion on books (or anything else you wish to review). It will go some way to stopping fake or biased reviews but will put off the honest reviewers but you can still post biased or fake reviews if you like but now you have to pay Amazon for it.  It renders the drive for honesty a bit pointless. Here’s the fine print from the .co.uk site in full:

Eligibility

To contribute to Community Features (for example, Customer Reviews, Customer Answers), you must have spent at least £40 on Amazon.co.uk using a valid payment card in the past 12 months. Promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the £40 minimum. You do not need to meet this requirement to post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries, or to read content posted by other customers.

We’re all familiar with the mix of reviews on the site, from the one star one, one word review, or the one blaming the supplier. The badly written rant that just attacks the author or makes clear to the reader they haven’t read or understood the book; and then at the other end of the scale the blatantly biased and/or overly gushing writes ups.  Rare is the well written, thoughtful review, with which to base your buying on and now it will be as rare as a coelacanth in Slough bus station.
Read the rest of this entry »

 
14 Comments

Posted by on 17/04/2018 in Blogging, My Writings

 

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Cadent Displacement

Taken at the beach of Costa de Oro

Shaded within the trees, nature’s noises, a tranquil soundtrack
A moment’s reflection on a short time, relaxing in an idyllic locale
Sea lapping at the shore, rhythmically punctuates the stillness
Aimless thoughts – no rush – peace; and a cool fruit drink

High above the industrious city, a cacophony of blaring gradually filters up
Life, here thick in smog and noise, a seething mass of kinetic energy
The full force of being in all its verve, the ebb and flow of traffic and people
The purpose in mind means everything, focus, dry throat

 

Finally found the football stadium, hidden behind some tall residential buildings. Photo taken from Century Park Hotel, Manila

 
25 Comments

Posted by on 26/03/2018 in My Writings, Poetry, The Philippines, Travel

 

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Tuning Out

After my last post based, based on a song I heard, which created some fanciful writing of my own, I decided to add some more musical pieces that make my mind whimsical. On a side note, I won’t be around from the 26th for a while, as I shall be getting married and catching up with my parents and best man Tom who are coming over for the occasion.  If I don’t get around to moderating and replying to your comments in the in the next week, that is the reason why.

Both these pieces I came across whilst playing the atmospheric flash game 6 Differences.

Who could say no to a bit of Sigur Ros!

 
32 Comments

Posted by on 26/01/2018 in Music, My Writings

 

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Motorway Melancholy

Sometimes a song makes you recall something, sadly neglected from the past. The song in question wasn’t heard until years later but conjures up a feeling of something mostly forgotten and brings it back to the surface in a surprising amount of clarity.  unsurprisingly the dreamy feel of this song matched well with Twin Peaks in which it was featured last year.

The dark, mysterious qualities of the night and accompanying drowsiness of a passenger make for a fertile playground. Sat, staring at a frequently empty motorway, the gentle motion of your transport flowing smoothly like liquid between lanes, lulling you into flights of fancy.  The near silence, the faint sound of tyres rolling over road or background ambient music, all lead one to their own introspections.

Other solitary cars travelling to destinations important to them, sometimes appear, demanding stories are created for their occupants. Then as fleeting as this brush with another is, it becomes just another soul forgotten instantly, unconscious background layering to your musings. Then that one thing that holds the attention of your mind appears.

It’s that turning with all the implied adventure of the unknown or the almost totally hidden building secreted in darkness and lying tantalisingly back behind the tree line. The mystery is overwhelmingly intoxicating because of that single light left on in a warehouse or office.  The signs too poorly lit to be properly legible, yearn to be read. This singular beacon in its lonely magnificence begs as much speculation,as the tiny lanterns of light in the black sky. Read the rest of this entry »

 
23 Comments

Posted by on 24/01/2018 in My Writings, Travel

 

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Observations

~Walking in the Rain; Observations

Walking through that closed, temporarily satiated city
light bleeds through the syrupy air before pooling together, mixing colours in the shimmering liquid display of luminescence
multi storey car parks and cheap neon signs become things of beauty in the rain, the strange distortion of air making things clear to the watcher
yet pleasingly fuzzy around the edges, reminiscent of daguerreotype photos and just as timeless.

The tram lines are silent as the scent of autumn whispers through the trees bordering the graveyard
It greets me unmolested by traffic fumes
the calm of the pristine air for the untried day yet to be experienced in this magical way
for most it will not be.

It’s my own world, the rhythmic lull of the rain, cleansing the ground is my soundtrack home
those wrapped up in bed, lulled to sleep by its romantic nature without knowing this experience unique and enigmatically illusory
my Aloneness in this world only magnified by the possibility of another spectral traveller in the distance, at once both real and imagined
perhaps I am that ghost, suddenly the nature existence is something less tangible.

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29 Comments

Posted by on 04/09/2017 in My Writings, Poetry

 

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Pulag Night Sky

I left out one of my favourite experiences of the Mt. Pulag trip from the last post and that was because I didn’t have the photos, and my words can only describe so much.  Many thanks then, to Aaron Palabyab who has kindly allowed me to use a selection of his impressive photos so you can see some of what I saw that night.  For more of Aaron’s fantastic work you can check his site here.

Having spent a good two and a half hours in the woods, dodging between puddles and uneven stones, we finally came out to an open area and our long line stopped, giving us chance to look around and have a breather.  The atmosphere changed once we were out into the open, there was a sense of anticipation building, partly because we knew we into the final third of our journey and partly because of our surroundings.

At eye level, there was a vast expanse of blackness in front of me – which I later found out was a huge grass field – and bordering this was an L-shape queue of the many of my other fellow hikers, the tiny lights from their headlamps flickering back and forth but mainly upwards to the glorious canopy above our heads. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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