Long Time, No See….


The search parties can be called off. I’m back. ūüôā ¬†I’ve missed my friends, fans and all the amazing authors who trust me to read their books and to give my honest opinions on them without bias and all of you who read my reviews and trust in what I say as well.

It would be easy to say I’m back and leave it at that, but I feel I should give some kind of explanation. As many of you know, I found out in 2014 I had Polycystic Kidney Disease, which has no cure or treatment. Only the side effect symptoms can be managed, such as High Blood Pressure. It eventually leads to Kidney failure, but in the meantime it’s very painful. ¬†Normally the disease runs in families, it’s a genetic disease. I’m of the 10% that mutated it without any family history.(Leave it to me to want to be special! lol) ¬†That being said, in January and February 2015 I had 2 surgeries to remove over 200 cysts off each Kidney. It took me a LONG time to heal from it and I never could get fully back into my job at the time. So I went through a lot of changes in a short amount of time. Finding out I had a disease that I, nor anyone I knew, had ever heard of, finding out it was incurable, back to back surgeries and realizing I was gonna have to give up a job I dearly loved. So it knocked me on my butt, physically and especially mentally.

But I’m choosing to focus on the positive and it’s taken me awhile to get to this point. I have a new job that I love so very much. I’m working with special needs people and helping them live a better life, is helping me to live a better one. I’m using¬†my story to spread awareness of a disease that affects so many, but not well known. I’ve also promised myself I won’t put pressure on myself to put out one review a day(sometimes more). ¬†I had it in my head to be a good reviewer I had to post every single day, which is pretty much impossible when you’re trying to run a review site on your own 95%¬†of the time, with a family, job, life. ¬†When Tamera, my amazing guest reviewer and friend, is doing reviews, it helps, but it’s still not realistic. So instead of being fun and a hobby, reading/reviewing became another thing that I had on my plate that was getting out of control. So instead of just cutting back, I chose to cut it out. I knew there was a good chance I was going to lose all my “fan” base, and I braced myself for it. ¬†Instead I seen people staying around on my social media platforms. You didn’t give up on me, so I knew I couldn’t give up on myself. ¬†I love reading and I love putting my thoughts and opinions out there. I can’t guarantee I’ll post all the time, but I can guarantee when I do, it will be worth the read. ūüôā

Thank you for waiting for me to come back, it means more than you know.¬†💕

~‚ô•Robin

I send my apologies and an update…


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Hello Everyone,

As I posted in the past, I had surgeries on both of my kidneys to remove cysts caused by Polycystic Kidney Disease. ¬†There were over 200 cysts removed from each one. ¬†My first surgery was in January and almost a month later, I had my second surgery. ¬†The second surgery didn’t go as well as the first. ¬†I imagine a lot had to do with the fact I hadn’t completely recovered from the 1st one and the Dr says my fibromyalgia increases the pain. ¬†Needless to say, I was knocked on my ass, physically, mentally and emotionally. ¬†I’ve been battling pain and depression since then. ¬†I also have some test results that aren’t good. ¬†This could likely be due to my surgeries, and I’m praying to God it does. ¬†Otherwise they indicate my kidney function is declining rapidly.

On top of all that, I’m trying to get healthy enough to do my job on my own. ¬†It is a very physical job. ¬†I’m a bundle hauler for a nearby town’s newspaper. ¬†I load all the papers for my town and the surrounding rural areas. ¬†I then bring them to my town and unload them for the carriers to pick them up and deliver. ¬†So my job requires continuous throwing/loading/unloading of bundles. Thankfully I’m considered self employed, so my husband did my job(AND HIS) from January to March 25th. ¬†My daughter then took over and does my job(AND HERS). ¬†She’s still doing this because I can’t yet. My son helps as well why working his own job.

It’s so hard for me to lose my independence. ¬†They say it’s not a burden, but I know it is. ¬†How could it not be? My job is from 12:30am until 4am. ¬†Then they get a couple hours of sleep before they head off to their jobs.

I’m slowly starting to take over some of the tasks of my job and chores and home, such as laundry. ¬†But I have many days I can’t even ride in a vehicle without crying. ¬†It’s those moments I have no choice but to take a pain pill and stay home. ¬†But I AM improving and that’s the important thing.

I’ve also been trying to come to terms with the fact I have an incurable disease that normally runs in families, but my body mutated it. ¬†So I was completely blindsided by an illness I hadn’t heard of before I was diagnosed. ¬†Most don’t even know how much I’m struggling with this. ¬†Needless to say, with everything going on, I had a slight meltdown and my book reviewing was something I couldn’t handle. ¬†Just know that I am anxious to get back to normal and I truly AM sorry for my lack of interest, lack of posts, reviews, etc. ¬†I might be absent but I have no intention of disappearing for good. ¬†I love books, I love reading, meeting authors and sharing my thoughts with you. ¬†I WILL be back.(Geesh…I just channeled Arnold Schwarzenegger!! Aaaah!!!!)

I ESPECIALLY want to apologize to authors & Publicists that I’ve promised to read and review their books and have failed to accomplish this. ¬†I hope you will forgive me. ¬†My intentions are not to lead you on. When I say I can/will do it, I truly want to do it, think I can do it and plan on doing it! ¬†Then something happens that drags me down into this dark pit. ¬†I have all these amazing books that sit on my messy desk waiting to be opened and read. ¬†But I know the true disservice to you would be if I read/reviewed without my heart in the review. ¬†I really hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me and don’t lose faith in me permanently. ¬†But I know I will have to earn your trust back and I have full intentions of doing so! ¬†All I ask is you give me a chance….WHEN I’m back to myself.

I also want to thank those who have been so supportive of me and who’ve been there to pick me up when I just want to stay on the ground and weep. You give me faith that everything will be ok. So thank you…you all know who you are. ‚ô•

Sending lots of love to each and every one of you. ¬†I hope you can hang around for me a bit longer. ¬†I’m trying to make my way back as soon as possible.

Love,

Robin

Thoughts Of A Reviewer: With 2015 comes changes!


I’m not sure how many have noticed my absence, but for those who have, I feel I owe an explanation. ¬†First off, I need you to understand, I LOVE Book Reads and Reviews. ¬†I love helping new authors succeed and experienced authors to continue to. ¬†I enjoy reading your books and I enjoy sharing my reviews. ¬†My goal is and always has been, to help the author AND readers alike. ¬†I accomplish this through my honesty and love for reading.

That all being said, Book Reads and Reviews has been the lowest of my priorities for the past year. ¬†To recap, on January 23, 2014, I had an emergency surgery to remove my appendix. ¬†It took me a VERY long time to heal. ¬†I was still having issues in July, so a CT Scan was performed. ¬†The Surgeon’s Secretary, called to tell me that no hernia was found and to follow up with my primary physician if I had any other problems.¬†

I have Fibromyalgia, so in a desperate attempt to find some pain relief, I went to my Fibromyalgia specialist who thought my scar pain was being caused by my illness.  So my medication was adjusted.  This actually DID help for a couple months. Then I began to have pain that I assumed was from kidney stones.  The time between them became shorter and shorter, until the pain was constant and in BOTH kidneys at the same time.  I went to my primary doctor, assuming I had a kidney infection.  During my appointment, I happen to mention my CT Scan in July.  She read the notes and seen where the Radiologist had noted that my kidneys had an abnormal amount of cysts that were consistent with Polycystic Kidney Disease.

After seeing a specialist, I was officially diagnosed with it.  Not only do I have the disease, but my kidneys are both filled with cysts, inside and out AND they are enlarged and my kidney function is already declining.  Needless to say, my entire world stopped.  I went through(and continue to go through) various stages of grief.  My life, as I knew it, was no longer.  I have a disease that is incurable, painful and in many cases will require a kidney transplant once kidney function is in the lower percentage.(Luckily my kidneys are still functioning at 90%)  

I am in constant pain daily. Some days, it becomes excruciating. ¬†It will come on suddenly without warning. ¬†It can last anywhere from 1 day, to one week. ¬†Then it will let up and be the constant, but bearable pain. Even my job is hard to do. Thankfully what I do allows flexibility and my husband/kids can help me when I can’t do it alone. On the severe days, I can’t do it at all.

After consulting with my Urologist, he recommended I have surgery on both of my kidneys to “pop” the larger and most painful cysts. One of them on my right kidney is the size of a baseball. ¬†He figures when all is said and done, he will cut hundreds of cysts on EACH kidney. ¬†This will relieve me of my pain. ¬†It’s only temporary, since there is NO stopping the cysts from growing and the disease progressing. ¬†However there ARE some things I can do to help slow the growth and progression down. ¬†These changes will be a lifestyle choice, that I will begin in 2015. ¬†It consists of eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables. ¬†It also consists of drinking a LOT of water. I finally feel I have an ounce of control over this disease.

My first surgery will be on January 21, 2015. ¬†I am looking forward to it. ¬†I am SO ready to get my life back and this will be the day that starts me on the road to recovery. ¬†The second operation will be 6 weeks later. ¬†I will do my best to try and post more, but with this constant pain from my PKD and also from my Fibromyalgia, it is very hard to do, physically AND mentally. ¬†I hope you will all keep being loyal followers of Book Reads and Reviews. ¬†I look for it to be late March before I am well enough to pick back up where I left off. ¬†But when I’m able, I will come back with a vengeance! ‚ô•

Until then, I will not be taking any review requests unless it is from an author I’ve reviewed for in the past. If in the meantime I can teach my amazing Co-blogger, Tamera, the ropes on how to create posts, then it might be sooner.

Thank you for taking the time to read this long post. It means so much to me.  I hope 2015 brings each and every one of you, peace, love, happiness, health and prosperity. 2015 is a new year.  A chance for changes and new beginnings.  I love and appreciate you all!

‚ô•~Robin

Thoughts of a Reviewer: Justified or Certified?


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For the sake of fairness, I want to start this post out with three definitions. This is so you can see them and keep them visible as you read the articles, my thoughts and the facts as I know them about the following scenario.

Many of you in the literary community have probably heard about the following article, written by an author named Kathleen Hale.

‚ÄúAm I Being Catfished? An Author Confronts Her Number One Online Critic‚ÄĚ

In this article she writes about how a blogger named “Blythe” caught her eye and she proceeded to skim “Blythe”‘s blog and Goodreads profile, to see if she’d reviewed her book. ¬†When Hale discovered Blythe had indeed read and reviewed it…giving it a one star and a very blunt review/opinion of it, she became extremely upset and¬†then proceeded to pay for a background check on “Blythe”, call her at work,¬†“planned my car rental for a few months down the line.” to visit “Blythe”‘s home, DID visit “Blythe”‘s home, left her a “white flag” gift on her doorstep when “Blythe”¬†wouldn’t answer the door, messaged her repeatedly on Twitter and Facebook until she made both private, but hey it helped Hale!!

“In some ways I‚Äôm grateful to *Name withheld out of respect*, or whoever is posing as Blythe, for making her Twitter and Instagram private, because it has helped me drop that obsessive part of my daily routine. Although, like anyone with a tendency for low-grade insanity, I occasionally grow nostalgic for the thing that makes me nuts.

Unlike iPhone messages or Facebook, Twitter doesn‚Äôt confirm receipt of direct messages. Even so, I return now and then to our one-way conversation, wanting so badly for the time stamp at the bottom of my message to read ‚ÄúSeen‚ÄĚ.

Not only did Hale use the background check to find out personal information on “Blythe”, she also enlisted¬†advice¬†from Nev Schulman, from MTV’s Catfish and has personal contacts through Harper Publishing, who also happens to be her book’s publisher via Harper Teen. She also has public support from Anne Rice and many other people.

While I’ve watched this unfold, I’ve also discovered a link to an article Hale wrote about her previous stalking experience when her mother was accused of molesting a young girl. ¬†Hale proceeded to stalk the young girl and pour peroxide on her head in the middle of a theater.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/kathleen-hale/2013/02/169836/

The scary part is…she¬†finishes both articles with current information on these two women. Interpretation….she’s stalked them yet again to gain this information.

MY OFFICIAL THOUGHTS:

First off…I don’t know either Kathleen Hale or “Blythe”. ¬†I’d never heard of them before this article came out. ¬†I’m not stating my opinion out of loyalty to someone, I’m stating it because I am a Book Reviewer and a real person. I read books and I give my PERSONAL opinion on them. My motto from the beginning has been to be 100% Honest, Fair and Kind. That being said I will and HAVE posted 1-2 Star Reviews. I’m not doing this to hurt an author or their sales. I’m doing it to stay true to myself(Honesty) and my followers. I will however give my reasons behind my rating. I will admit when it’s a pet peeve, but I will still take that in consideration when I rate. Remember, this is MY opinion. I also try to be kind with my wording. However I’m sure no amount of softening the blow will take away the sting of my rejection.

That being said…even if I put in every single review, “This is a piece of shit, do NOT read it! I repeat DO NOT READ IT!” Then tweeted it 24/7, 365 days a year, this does not make it okay to STALK me…and yes, by definition Kathleen Hale is a STALKER! ¬†She should be getting fined at the very least, not putting “Blythe”‘s real name out there for the world to see. ¬†FYI, “Blythe”¬†has disappeared since this article came out. Deleting her accounts and went into hiding. ¬†She must be terrified wondering who will show up at her door next.

It is because of people¬†like Kathleen Hale that “Blythe”¬†and other bloggers(AND Authors) use pseudonyms and those who don’t, might just start. ¬†Well guess what, I use my real name…hear that? I..use..my..real..name. I live in Iowa. I’m not going to hide, even though part of me is afraid. Bring your sorry ass to my town and see what happens.

~Robin Malone

*SPECIAL NOTE: ¬†If you are a reader, blogger or author who supports Kathleen Hale and her stalking behavior, SHAME ON YOU!!! This woman doesn’t need encouragement, she needs help!!! ¬†If this was a man who wrote the article and who performed these actions, he’d be in jail and if you truly don’t get that, then there is something seriously wrong with your conscience, heart, what ever.

Thoughts of a Reviewer: Hi Everyone!!!


I just want to let you all know I haven’t forgotten you, nor have I abandoned Book Reads and Reviews. I’m so sorry I haven’t sent this post out sooner!!

I’ve just been spending time with my Daughter and Son. My daughter will be 21 soon and my son just turned 16. It dawned on me how little time I’ve spent with them since starting the blog last August. I wasn’t connected to them anymore, ESPECIALLY my son. This summer he has been helping me recover from my Appendectomy. Normally people bounce back from that surgery pretty quick. I however have had numerous issues with the incisions. After a CT Scan revealed incisions were perfect and no hernia, we concluded the intense pain in the area was because of my Fibromyalgia. So we’ve been working on dosages to help with the nerve endings. It seems to be helping a bit. I can now wear jeans on occasion, unlike before! ūüôā

My job requires heavy lifting, so my son has been helping me with anything that’s too much for me.(I’m self employed) During this time, we have grown close again. I’ve learned so much about him and his life outside of home. It’s been wonderful. I can’t express how much it has meant to me for him to allow me into his teenage world.

As for my daughter, we’ve always been close, but it’s been nice to catch up with her as well since she’s been so busy with college(She’s going to college to be a Nurse and will also earn her AA in a couple weeks!!! SO proud of her!!

I love my followers, my blog, my author friends and reading so very much! But I can’t say I regret my decision to take some time off for my kids.

I hope you will all continue to follow me, even though it is inactive at the moment. School will be back in session soon and my son and daughter will go back to their worlds, while I go back to mine.

I miss you all and look forward to posting freebies, teasers, tours, giveaways and all the other things you love about my site! Just please hang in there a bit longer for me.

Love you!! ~‚ô•Robin

PS If you’ve sent emails or review requests, I haven’t read them yet, but will as soon as I can!!! Sorry!! ‚ô•

Thoughts of a Reviewer: Q&A about Book Reads and Reviews’ Rating System


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Recently, as I was writing my reviews, I realized I’ve had more 5 star reviews than any other rating. It made me wonder if some readers might question why that is, or how I come up with these ratings. Although I have the rating system on the site so people can see, I’ve never really addressed it personally. So I’m taking this moment to do so and to answer some questions that might be going through your head if I were in your place. Continue reading

Thoughts of a Reviewer: Making Some Changes


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After careful consideration, I have decided to cut back on my cover reveal/promotional/tour posts and focus more on the reviews.

Reading and Reviewing is why I started Book Reads and Reviews to begin with, and although it has helped me meet and discover MANY new people/authors/books, it has also taken a huge chunk of my time. ¬†I’ve fallen behind on reviews and have had to close Review Requests.

Although all the Tour Hosts I have worked with have been freaking AMAZING and most have provided HTML codes for posts, the sad fact of it is, I always spend about an hour at least, for each one, tweaking it so things aren’t smooshed together, font isn’t huge or itty bitty, etc. ¬†I’m not sure what it is with this site(I use wordpress) but it does NOT like the standard HTML code that everyone provides. <div> is not my friend and I have honestly come to hate seeing it! &nbsp; is the only thing that will work for my site.

Many times I’ll think I have it and make the mistake of switching from visual to text or text to visual and it resets the spacing, so I start again. Tweak, preview, tweak, preview, etc. etc. ¬†Yes, I could just simply copy/paste and let things fall as they will, but I owe it to my readers as well as the author and tour hosts, to make these posts look their best and represent the best I know how.

That being said, I absolutely¬†plan on fulfilling my current sign ups throughout the month of May and the couple I’ve signed up for in June. ¬†I also will always have my doors open to any of the authors I’ve worked with in the past, my favorite authors or if one of my regular Tour Hosts feels I might really be interested in a tour or is scrambling for last minute sign ups. ¬†It never hurts to ask and I’m always glad to help when I can. ¬†Plus it DOES help keep my site a little more active. ¬†I don’t think I could ever go completely cold turkey. lol

I just really want to get back to doing what I truly love, which is reading and reviewing, because in the end, THAT is what the followers are following for.

Thank you for the opportunities and honor of working with you all. ¬†I don’t regret it. ¬†It’s also not anyone’s fault my site doesn’t like the standard HTML. lol

~Robin

PS If any authors or bloggers are¬†looking for some great Tour Hosts to work with, One More Chapter, I ‚ô• Bookie Nookie Reviews¬†and¬†Island Lovelies Book Club¬†are the 3 that have been the absolute BEST to work with. No disrespect meant to others I’ve worked with, but these lovely blogs/hosts have went above and beyond for me, not only as a fellow blogger but as a person on their tour. ¬†I have witnessed their willingness to not only promote the author, but also the blogs as well. ¬†I don’t just mean promoting the blog on the day they post, but promoting them on almost a daily basis throughout the entire tour! They’re understanding when something comes up and you’re not able to post, are helpful and just all around great people! Love them! *MWAH* ‚ô•

Thoughts of a Reviewer: I am so sorry and I miss you!


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As many of you know, I have been recovering from an Appendectomy. I had the emergency surgery on January 23rd and with one of the cuts being in my belly button, this has been quite painful and a long healing process. Stitches may be out, but I’m still healing and the incision areas still hurt, so I’ve had a tough time sitting in anything but my recliner. ¬†Add in the fact I’ve been pushing myself and my doctor got mad at me, I need to behave. lol

Continue reading

Thoughts of a Reviewer: I’m not Superwoman


Yes, I know…I’m disappointed too. lol ¬†In all seriousness, it has taken me awhile to get it through my stubborn pride that I can’t continue taking on Review Requests, Tours, etc and not have help.

I actually stopped taking requests and I still have books I can’t get to!! ¬†People who have been waiting for months. But to keep things active, I can’t just do reviews…I can’t just do tours and sweet deals either. I have to have a variety.

I love doing this, so much! But the feeling of constantly treading water and disappointing those who were waiting on their book’s review was getting to me. ¬†Therefore, I’ve brought in some Guest/Independent Reviewers. ¬†They’re reviewers who I trust and who will follow the same review guidelines that you’ve become accustomed to and expect from Book Reads and Reviews.

Please welcome:

Jessica W., Tamera M. and “Crimson”(Name withheld for privacy reasons).

These amazing ladies have been kind enough to help me get caught up on reviews so I can start taking requests again! Thank you so much ladies!!! ‚ô•

~Robin