Wednesday, December 6, 2023

IWSG: Wednesday, December 6, 2023 ~ Writing Book Reviews


It's the first Wednesday of the month,
the day that members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG Founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are C. Lee McKenzieJQ RoseJennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!
I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.


Every month the IWSG announces a question that members can answer
with advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.

This month's featured question is: 
Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book review do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?

Wow!  December and the last IWSG post of the year!
Did 2023 race by in a flash for you?
It sure did for me!
I hope that you are enjoying this holiday season, wherever you are, however you celebrate!

We Made It!
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney, Australia
November 3, 2023
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Interesting IWSG question ~ I'm looking forward to seeing how everyone responds.

I struggle with writing reviews of books.  
It's that elementary teaching background of mine and my nice Canadian roots.
I don't want to be unkind to or discourage an author, but I want to be frank for the reader.
So I've worked out some guidelines for myself over the years.

I rarely will do a review of a book if I'm asked to write one.
I only review books I have read and enjoyed.
I don't have a set approach or formula.  
Because each book is unique, I'll usually focus on something in it that appeals to me.

Most of the reviews I've written have been for the IWSG
or Dancing Lemur Press which published the IWSG anthologies.
Writing is not easy, and I want to support IWSG members
and fellow authors as much as I can.
I've also participated in book launches for members, 
but that's not usually a review.
It's using material the author's provide.

Now and moving forward in time, I will only write a review if I have time.
Because I've been reading Oliver Burkeman's Four Thousand Weeks: 
Time Management for Mortals over the past week.

I have come to the stunning realization that I am never going to catch my tail.
No matter how hardworking, efficient, focused, and determined I am,
I can't do all I've been trying to do.
Terry has been waiting for me to realize this for forty years ~ lol.
That's about 2080 weeks or over 50% of my 4000 weeks, if I make it to 80.  
Just call me a slow learner, stubborn, driven, or even insane!

Ain't Ever Going to Happen!  😂

But that's okay.
As Burkeman says, "After all, once you become convinced
that something you've been attempting is impossible, 
it's a lot harder to keep berating yourself for failing."
(Burkeman (2021), page 28)
I'm not quite halfway through Burkeman's book, 
but I've found it fascinating and impactful from the beginning.
Basically he's saying that we are finite beings 
and doing anything requires that we sacrifice all the other things 
we could have chosen to do with that time.
So we have to choose very carefully, focus on several things that are important to us,
and let the rest go, even if it's painful or disconcerting to accept 
that we are limited instead of limitless.
I already feel less stressed and overwhelmed.  

Enjoy IWSG Day!  And a big thank you to the co-hosts!   
Stay happy, healthy, and safe.
I had wonderful adventures on our Transpacific cruise and in Australia,
and I look forward to sharing some of them in my Friday posts.

Flying Solo!
I thought I'd be terrified, but I was exhilarated!
Ovation of the Seas
Somewhere in the South Pacific
October 2023
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

My next post will be on Friday, December 15th.


  1. You look very happy in that iconic spot. Did you see kangaroos? I do hope so.
    I am very slack about reviews. And I apologise for it.

    1. Hi, Sue! I was thinking of you a lot when we were in Sydney! I was thrilled to see the Coathanger, even more than the Sydney Opera House. Yes I did see kangaroos and loved them. No need to apologize about not writing reviews. You have so much on your plate! "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!" I can't tell you how many times I heard that joyfully shouted on the Ovation of the Seas. The passengers were almost all Australians, and what fun people! Have a great day!

  2. I don't have time to write long reviews either. Like you, I've only reviewed books I enjoy. I do write two to three-sentence ones for some of those books. I hope you had a good trip in Australia. I'd love to go there someday.

    1. Hi, Natalie! You always amaze me with how productive you are and what you have accomplished! I loved Australia! And Australians ~ what great, fun people! I hope that you get to visit it. I would go back tomorrow, but realistically, the earliest is likely 2025. Enjoy IWSG Day!

  3. That's right, we'll never finish everything and once we die, who cares?

    1. You're so right, Alex! I can't fathom why these truths have escaped me for so long! I hope that you're having a fun IWSG Day! take care!

  4. Glad you're having fun in Australia! Love the look of pure joy on your face in the last photo! Sounds like a great book you're reading on time management. Yes, we must be ruthless in priorizing what gets our attention and just let go of the rest.

    1. Thanks, Debra! I haven't done well with ruthless, but I'm taking baby steps. I have reinvented myself many times, so I'll progress to bigger steps. I love "flying!" I wasn't sure I could actually do it when I was standing in the entrance of the tube. I had to trust that when I fell forward that the air would catch me. And when it did, it was awesome! I can't wait to do it again. Take care!

  5. I appreciate that you've reviewed so many DLP books.

    Indoor skydiving? It's so fun, isn't it? My husband surprised me with the experience one year for my birthday.

    1. Thanks, Diane! I'll do more reviews in the future, but I won't stress myself time wise so much. Terry and I did our skydiving outside almost at the end of the ship. Oh my goodness it was fun! Enjoy the day!

  6. Can't wait to see more pictures from your cruise. You look like it was a blast. Wouldn't it be great to travel in space! haha. Yeah, I prefer my feet on the ground. Happy IWSG Wednesday, Louise!

    1. Hi, Joylene! I hope that you are enjoying IWSG Day! I'm slowly making the rounds because I had things I had to do this morning. But I'll get there, and I certainly enjoy visiting everyone. Our cruise and visit in Sydney were wonderful. Both Terry and I thought that 18 nights on a ship might be too long, but we landed in Sydney wishing for more nights at sea. Everyone is so kind, and they take such of you! I even regressed to having my morning muffin and coffee in bed, something I haven't done in decades. I hope all is well with you! I'll be by. Love and hugs to you!

  7. Yeppers. That is the way to be. Realize you can't do it all and just let it go. Didn't take me quite as long to realize that as you lol late twenties I started to get it.

    Thanks for reviewing my books too, even though some of the earlier ones you needed that red marker a bit hahaha

    Was wondering if you survived the cruise as it has been a while. Good to know you're back. Hope you and Terry have a great Christmas and everyone stays healthy.

    1. I'm not as smart or self aware as you are, Pat! You so obviously are focussing on your family, writing, photography, and enjoying your natural environment ~ well except for ticks. I read that a moose can have up to 70,000 ticks on it and that if it's young or not well, it can weaken and even die from blood loss due to ticks! (National Wildlife Federation 2023).

      So a few nights ago, when I couldn't sleep and my brain was boiling, I decided to let go of a few goals. Don't laugh, but I decided that I'm not going to relearn and improve my French, learn to play the saxophone and ukulele, or go back and relearn how to do calculus. Hysterical, right? I've been frustrated because I haven't managed to squeeze those goals in. Although I did take one ukulele lesson in Hawaii two winters ago. I sucked, but I thought I'd just need a longer learning curve. So, we'll see how it goes.

      Yes, it has been a while since I was online. I'm going to explain what happened in my post next Friday (12/15). Things are definitely on the upswing. Take care, my friend!

    2. 70,000 ticks? Blah. Remind me to never get near a moose.

      Okay, I kinda laughed at calculus lol of all the things not wanting to let go. I don't remember it much either, but no want to relearn it.

    3. I'm like Charlie in "Flowers for Algernon." For one brief shiny month or so, I could calculate, using calculus, the cooling rate for a cadaver to determine the time of death. Normal ~ brilliant ~ crashing back to normal again ~ now subnormal ~ lol. I thought you'd appreciate having a good reason to avoid moose, Pat!

  8. Like you I don't review books I don't like. Life is too short. Sometimes I go on a bit but usually I'm pretty concise. I do them on Goodreads and it is more or less so I have a writing journal. I don't read other reviews because I don't usually like them! Looks like you had fun in Sydney! I think you took the wrong plane though? The Sydney I know doesn't have that big weird looking bridge but oh well. I guess it was the Sydney you could afford to go to. Next year come here!

    1. Haha, Jan! "Our" Sydney doesn't have that big bridge, but doesn't it have the world's biggest fiddle on the waterfront? Really, which is weirder? 😂 I'm an avid journalist, the old-fashioned kind with a pen writing on real paper. I review books in my entries, just my reactions good and bad, because no one will ever bother to read my journal. I find the practice calming and enjoyable. My brother is an avid journalist too. I don't think he's missed a day in over 50 years! I have a lot of time gaps. Enjoy the day! Hugs to you!

  9. I used to review books for several publishing houses. It was difficult, but the pay was great. I really enjoyed this post and your photos, most of all the new photo of you at the end of the post. Have a great day today.

    1. Thanks, Nicole! I was having a blast. Maybe I could tandem parachute out of a plane. I'd need someone strapped to me to shove me out ~ lol. President Bush did it at 90, and he couldn't use his legs. So there's still hope. Enjoy the rest of your day! Hugs!

  10. I used to write quite a few book reviews, mostly of library books that I would read on a bi-weekly basis. Stopped when Amazon changed their rules requiring an "X" amount of dollars spent per year using a specific payment system (i.e. credit/debit card).

    But when I did write them, I wrote them from a reader's perspective. Just about all my book reviews were no lower than 2 stars and no higher than 4.5, as I always tried to find something positive about a book that I didn't particularly care for.

    1. Hi, G. B.! I didn't know that about Amazon. I have done a few reviews on its site, also Goodreads. I won't go below a book I've rated 3. I've given one five, I think. That was for Dan Simmon's "Hyperion Cantos" which was a series. I hope you had a fun time on IWSG Day. I'm still making visits. Enjoy the holidays!

  11. Being human, I know perfection is impossible. That doesn't stop me from striving for perfection. I do my best and that's where my line is. Sometimes I do quite well, and then other times... Well, then I learn that something isn't for me.

    Life long learner here. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  12. i think one should write review only when he or she has read the book literally and thinks that he can justice with it while expressing his own opinion .
    it is really short life and i think we all come with unique agenda and if we are unknown to it Nature provide us signs through challenges and circumstances to pus us further . it is not necessary that we can do that to it's best but keep trying is in our hands to see to what extent we are capable . my point is never regret once you think you have given your hundred percent .
    what we must not forget is that each day is gift to open up and live to it's fullest .once we are able to do this magic can happen .but if we slip into depression nothing can help .it means Nature is pointing out that we are missing Most important thing here .
    It is truly a pleasure to see you back and looking happy my precious friend Louise .i beg you to try some meditation or breath control practice even little regular yoga steps add strength to our breathing system and our brain gets stronger which makes it stay alert to it's job that is sending right commands to our body and that make more than half diseases disappear believe me !
    Loved your image ,may you keep enjoying the life together always !amen!
    looks like amazing adventure at cruise ,looking forward to read and see :)
    hugs and best wishes for both of you my friend!Hugs

  13. I don't leave reviews like I used to but I will admit of trading reviews with another author

  14. I blinked and 2023 was over.
    Blinked, I say. Blinked.


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.