Since I started this blog in January 2013 it has moved in a number of different directions. I started out writing about my life and family, sharing my opinions on a variety of subjects: hen keeping; politics; my inability to cook; religion; social anxiety; parenting. If I was thinking about it then chances were I would write it down.
In 2014 I started to post more reviews of the books I was reading and within a few months realised I had morphed into what is known as a Book Blogger. I had joined a vibrant and friendly community of writers who share their literary love on social media.
Until the COVID 19 lockdown, I posted each of my book reviews: here, on Amazon (where I was a Top 500 Reviewer), and on Goodreads (where I was a Top 1% Reviewer). The stress of deciding on a star rating, including author reaction, became too much to deal with alongside everything else. I now post reviews only here.
My aim is to inform readers and support those who provide us with books. What I write will always be my honest opinion so not necessarily positive. No book will be enjoyed by everyone and nobody will enjoy every book they read.
I have conducted a series of author interviews, thereby enabling me to learn more about the writers behind some of the books I review. I have also published a series of interviews with independent publishers. I have a particular fondness for books published by the small presses and was delighted to be named a Literary Hero by Influx in 2016.
When I was able to attend literary events (I do not zoom, facetime or watch online on any platform) I would write the events up from notes taken on the night to give a flavour of the talks, discussions and questions asked of the various authors and other participants. A book is not its author but I was always interested to learn more about writers I admire. Although in person events have restarted, I have not yet managed to find the energy to return unless I know the event will be run as before the pandemic.
My writing adventure thus far has also taken me beyond this blog. I have written articles for sites such as Writers & Artists, Visit Bath and The Vixen magazine (September 22). My reviews have been published by on line ‘zines, including Structo, Berfois, and in the Sheffield Telegraph. One of my reviews was translated for inclusion in a work of criticism to be published in Mexico. Another has been quoted in an academic textbook (Judge for Yourself: Reading Hyper-Contemporary Literature and Book Prize Shortlists).
I was on the judging panels for the 2017 Not the Booker prize and the 2017 Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses. In 2018 I was invited to join the judging panel for the Link Age Southwark 25th Birthday Writing Competition.
I made a brief appearance in an episode of YYY: The Books Podcast talking about why I recommended their featured book (We That Are Young by Preti Taneja). In August 2018, I was interviewed live each week by BBC Wiltshire for their Summer Reading Recommendations slot.
As well as reviewing books on this blog, I am a regular contributor to Bookmunch.
Occasionally I write short stories, mainly micro and flash fiction. This pursuit has given me an insight into the skill and hard work required to create the books that give readers so much pleasure. I post my creations on my sister blog, Dreams and Demons. I have no plans to take my fiction writing any further – you may thank me for that.
The esteemed Irish Times book reviewer, Declan O’Driscoll, stated on Twitter:
Any reviewer who is scathing in their criticism of an author’s writing should – with their review as evidence – be able to demonstrate how much better their own writing is. If they are unable to do so, their assertion has failed.
— 𝔻𝕖𝕔𝕝𝕒𝕟 𝕆’𝔻𝕣𝕚𝕤𝕔𝕠𝕝𝕝 (@JacqBetula) October 19, 2020
I, respectfully, disagree. I am in awe of writers who can produce a book worth reading. I review to spread the word of a book’s existence and to share what I think of the work – my personal opinion as a reader. I make no claims about the quality of my writing – that is for others to decide.
If you would like me to review a book then please be aware that I do not read ebooks. There are also certain genres that I do my best to avoid as I am unlikely to enjoy them. You may check out my review policy by clicking here.
In June 2020 I took on an additional reviewer. Her reading preferences differ to mine, plus she will accept ebooks. Her bio – Robyn – may be found on the menu above.
Never Imitate remains my personal blog and I will not limit the topics I choose to write about. I hope that followers will accept this and enjoy the eclectic nature of some of my posts.
If you would like to know more about me, I may be found on the following:
- Twitter Follow @followthehens
- Facebook: Never Imitate Blog
- Instagram: Jackie Law (@neverimitate)
New followers on whichever site you choose give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Thank you for that.
So glad I came upon your website (through Twitter). As a new follower I am looking forward to reading your reviews. So far I am impressed by your dedicated pursuit of sharing your reflections on such a wonderful variety of books with honesty and care. Your space/home on cyberspace feels very welcoming and I thank you for it.
I am pretty shocked what Declan O’Driscoll said. Perhaps, it was a joke? Like other people on twitter said, we review and criticise films with little to no knowledge how they were put together or skills to produce the same. The same with paintings. The ability of a reviewer to judge the writing of someone has no connection to how that reviewer can actually write. A life-long appreciation of fine literature will do nicely.