I’ve already lived in Hell(ish)

Let me tell you how much fun it is to review books….

Whether or not I like a book doesn’t take away from the fact that someone took time to contribute to a society that sorely needs more focus on the arts especially when literacy rates are lower than Trump’s approval score. Come on that’s funny, just let yourself laugh a minute and get away from the politics.

At the same time there is SO MUCH anger and hatred in this world already around politics, culture, religion, and so forth do we really need to add to it by being angry at someone because they don’t share our viewpoint on a book?

I am biased because I love reading. There have been many times in my life that things were really rough and books were what kept my mental health just on this side of the depression no return line and I do NOT mean that in jest. I have struggled greatly with depression at different point in my life and getting to escape what was hurting my mental health gave me a chance to regroup and get strong again to face whatever was causing the problems.

Most of the time I like doing this, reviewing books for authors and publishers, because I get to discover all kinds of books and the people behind them. Admittedly I’m a little more biased towards those from the UK since my family is Irish but I make a real effort to read books from around the world because one of my favorite things is how different a mystery book, for example, can be when it’s written by an American author versus British or Australian and so forth.

One of the HARDEST genres for me to read though is anything considered ‘historical fiction’ because although I understand, thanks to my college education and world travels what ‘fiction’ means, I still believe when writing about a real person or event the context of who/what was real must be maintained.

Recently when talking to someone about this, and again online, when describing my frustration with this concept I used the example that if I wrote a fictional novel with Trump as a character but had my version of him pro-immigration and he traveled around the world giving away millions of dollars to bring people to America to create a better society, that MIGHT not be the best way to create a story that will draw the reader in.

If I’m writing satire that’s one thing but if I’m writing a book, even a fictional one, that uses reality then I feel it takes away from the credibility of the story when you bend or break reality just to use the “celebrity” of a person or event to sell a story. I may be alone in that view and that’s okay.

Case in point, I recently reviewed 2 books with a Christian bent so I was curious to see how the characters of Jesus in one and Saint Patrick in the other would be treated. Honestly I couldn’t stand either one by the end because in both they took who these men were and had them both doing things their reality based counterparts would never do which took me completely out of the story.

In both cases after I posted my reviews publicly on various sites, the same thing I do with every review I create, I was lambasted by authors, fans, etc for not giving a glowing review. I was accused of leaving vicious reviews because I’m a devout Catholic even though I’m not or having a weak faith otherwise I would’ve been strong enough to handle anyone using “alternative facts” of real religious characters.

Now I’m really confused because I’m too religious but also not religious enough. This is why people give up and become Atheists because at least they practice tolerance in deed and word.

According to most, it seems, it doesn’t matter if authors take extreme liberties with historical figures, especially religious ones, and it’s okay to attack those who would disagree with that opinion.

Sometimes the attacks get bad enough I’d rather stick to secular books because weirdly if I don’t like a book in that genre – no attacks. I’ve even had those authors with the purely secular works contact me to say they appreciated my points because it helped them fix the holes or imperfections for future work.

But for Christian based books my one way ticket to Hell has already been purchased many times over by the general public but don’t worry, my opinion can’t be bought for less than first class AND a limo ride to and from the airport.

I get it, when it comes to something you feel personally invested in it’s hard when someone says anything negative because you feel like it’s an attack upon you. I’ve been there.  The thing is, we can all learn from the good and bad things people have to say, even me.

I’ve learned from the negative reactions to my reviews to alter more how I say things so it comes off less like I’m attacking the author and more like I’m focusing on the work. I thought that was what I was doing but rereading my work from their point of view I could see how certain words or phrases would be viewed the way they did so I changed how I write.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I receive and for those that choose to write when they could do something else. I’m even grateful for the negatives because it’s helped me improve every time I write.

You can stop trying to send me to hell though, I lived in Arizona in the summer, nothing is worse than that I promise! No offense to Arizonians 🙂


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