I wrote a book review earlier; actually I wrote a couple, for I have (in the past 3 weeks) read 3 books. Not a big thing to many of you, but to me, that's something I am more than chuffed about. I used to read a couple of books each week, then life, work, and all manner of other things seemed to get in my way, and for over a year I didn't read anything. That didn't mean I wasn't still buying them though; in fact I ended up spending money on a kindle (something I said I would never do as I love the smell of bookshops, and the feel of the pages beneath my fingers) becuase I just don't have enough room to store any more (physical) books.
Whilst away last month I made a point of taking a book with me and I intended to read it; all of it, and I did just that. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy sitting down with a book. The escapism they offer (if reading a work of fiction), the chance to get to know someone, or something, better, if reading a biography/autobiography (not always a good thing; ended up not liking Patrick Swayze at all after reading his). I'd forgotten what it was like to just sit; to immerse myself in a world away from my 'norm'.
I'll read allsorts; fiction, historical, and (as said above) bio/autobiographical. Technical books not-so-much, because, let's be honest, they do not make an ounce of sense to me (it goes in, rattles around the emptiness, goes back out again). My favourite author is Stephen King, my all-time number one book is IT, by the said, Mr King. That does not mean I like everything he writes; whilst I will read all of them (occasionally not getting past the first 20 pages) he has written some real stinkers - The girl who loved Tom Gordon was shockingly bad. However, when he writes a good one, he writes it better than good. He's classed in the "horror" genre, yet I've never once read one of his books and felt as though I am reading 'horror' in the sense of the general word. I've heard people say IT terrified them. I found it fascinating. I guess some of that was down to being able to relate to the characters. I'd grown up in a similar area to the setting of the book, hung out with my friends in a similar fashion. I saw it more as a coming-of-age book, rather than horror. In fact, other than the murders (which were awful) I don't think there was anything remotely scary. If I was forced to read it every week for the rest of my life, I would do so quite happily. I have, in fact, read it 5 times in total, so far.
Another book I've read several times (3, to be exact) is Where White Men Fear to Tread. A friend bought it for me as she knows I love to read about, learn about, try to understand, Native Americans, their cultures and how they've been persecuted over the years (I am blessed to have several native friends in my life, one of whom is my go-to-guy for everything that is going on in my life; I'm not sure I would even be here without him). I'd heard "Russell Means" through a couple of my friends, so when she gave me his autobigraphy as a gift I couldn't wait to get it open and start reading. I found the man an absolute arrogant arse who (I believe) sold himself out to the very people he spent so long fighting against (some of my native friends have met him (he's passed away now, sadly) and said I was right to think that way - other's have told me he was like a messiah to them; each to their own) yet at the same time I loved reading the tale he had to tell. I loved his passion for what he was getting up to, he believed enough to go out in the world to try and make a difference. It was so contradictory, yet I couldn't put it down. Even if you don't know anything about Native history, go out and have a read. You will not be disappointed. It's eloquently written, and with a prose that is easy to follow. Half the time I felt as though I was there with him, standing by his side. He was an exceptional story teller.
These were good books; these were books which got awarded 5 stars. On the whole, I find I award around the 3 star mark, however, there have been a couple of times when I've given only 1 star (The Woman in Black was a bitter disappointment) The comments below the review made for a far more interesting read than the book itself; as you can see, one woman was not happy with me; part of that though, was also down to another book I only gave 1 star - the book this blog entry is all about. If I could have given is MINUS 10, believe me, I would have done. The other woman having a dig I think just wanted to jump onto the bandwagon; I considered letting her comment slide, then decided to have a nose at her reviews. Once I'd seen what she had to say about writers, I then returned a comment. I, personally, think she was probably another of the trolls who crawled out of the woodwork when the review I left (the one I haven't got to yet, which this post is about) was placed on the site. Good lord, there was a lot of 'trip-trapping' going on over those bridges for a while, that's for sure.
So, there I was, back in 2012, looking for a new book to add to the collection. Liking a good 'creepy' tale I found myself in the ghosty/ghoulie section, and one called "A true haunting", by a guy in the USA, jumped out at me. I had a look through the reviews, saw they all said it was a good book, so invested my hard-earned money in a copy. There are several reasons why I now wish I hadn't bothered.
1) The book was shit.
2) The abuse I recieved for weeks after leaving my view was unprecedented, and something I had never experienced before (and I spent my whole childhood, and half of my adult life being bullied, in one-way-or-another).
Turns out the author didn't like my review; neither did his family, friends, their family, their friends, their workmates and their family and friends..... I could go on and on. There were so many of them, and not one of them had anything nice to say to me. In fact, they were all quite foul. It got so bad that in the end I deleted my review; it just wasn't worth the hassle and abuse I was recieving. Some of them even told me they were going to visiting the UK in the not-too-distant-future and would enjoy tracking me down; yes, it really was that bad. In the end I decided the abuse I was getting really wasn't worth a few words I'd written on Amazon, so I removed it. Cowardly, or just easier? Once it had gone, the abuse stopped. I then deleted my account and any information realting to it. I changed my email address and closed down every single profile I had on the internet; some I deleted, some I set to "friends only" - not that that works on Facebook (even though I have my friends setting to me only, and my friends have theirs set the same, we still get offered up as "people you may know" on their friends; seems pointless having a privacy setting when they pull you out anyway, but that's a blog post for another day).
It wasn't until a week after I'd removed it, that it finally struck me, I had just bowed down to bullies, albeit ones who had threatened to do more to me than the kids at school had done. It was at that moment I realised why the book only had 5 stars. They were either written by one of the family/friends who enjoyed havnig a go at me, or those same people had hounded and harrassed every other person who (like me) had not given it the star rating they believed it should have. It was in that moment I realised that review (as it was originally - I keep copies of everything) needed to go back onto the site, or I was letting them win. How could I look the kids in my in the eye when telling them "stand up for yourselves; don't let those big kids bully you" when I was allowing the "big kids" to bully me. For christs sake it was just my thoughts on a book; it's not as if I signed his Grandmothers death warrant.
In a weird way though, they did me a favour, for not only did I not let them win, it also stirred something within me that had not been there before and I began to see things (and people) for who they really are. People I was allowing to bully me in my every day life. It took me a while to finally rid myself of those people, but I am sure it was finding the courage that day to repost my review, that helped me to finally stand up for myself, to the point I was able to say enough-is-enough when the time was right. I guess I owe each-and-everyone of those who sent me such venom via the interweb, a thank you. They helped to shape the person I am today.
Want to know what I said about the book? Click Here and have a nosey.