Book and a Beverage [53] – Pamela from Reading Is Fun Again

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Pamela from Reading Is Fun Again!

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Name & Blog Name: Hello! My name is Pamela D, and I blog at Reading Is Fun Again.
Tell us a little about your blog! I started my blog, because grad school was getting me down, and I wanted to do something fun. I decided to start reading for pleasure again. I started reading so much that I started a blog to keep track of what I had read. My book blogging addiction quickly took root. Also, the reason that my blog button has a kitty, and I rate books with kitties is because I have an adorable tuxedo kitty named Lunabelle. She would be quite upset, if she was not the star of the show. On my blog, I mainly review science fiction and fantasy books, but I do branch out to other genres too. In addition to reviewing books, I write a discussion post every Thursday. 
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? (Link us up!) I love my Thoughtful Thursday posts, because it gives me the opportunity to think more critically about my bookish thoughts, and I get to hear what other people think too. One of my favorite Thoughtful Thursday posts was on what people count as a completed series. Do they need to read all of the short stories and novellas?
Got anything special coming up we should know about? I am thinking about adding a reader/blogger tips post once per month, but I haven’t gotten too far with it just yet.

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Whatcha reading? I am reading A Dance with Dragons right now.
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc) I bought it, when it was on sale.
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? I finished all of the other books I was reading today, so it is the only one that I am currently reading. :)  
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? This book is interesting, but it is not grabbing me like the previous A Song of Ice and Fire books. I need to push through though, because I know the second half of this book is going to be very interesting. If you are considering reading A Song of Ice and Fire, I really recommend the audiobooks. Roy Dotrice does an amazing job with all of the voices.

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20140423_182712Whatcha drinking? I am drinking Diet Root Beer right now, because I already had my one Coke Zero today. I am very sensitive to caffeine, so I only get one caffeinated beverage per day; anymore and I will be up all night!
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? I love drinking soda when I read, because it is easy to hold/balance the can and drink from it. When I am drinking from a glass and reading, I tend to dump the contents everywhere.
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! Diet Coke. There are lots of other drinks that I enjoy like hot chocolate and sparkling apple cider; however, if I could only drink one non-water beverage, I would have to pick Diet Coke.

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What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? This is such a hard question! I recommend Soulless (and the entire Parasol Protectorate series) by Gail Carriger for those looking for a fun, steampunk-y, romance, adventure, fantasy series. A lot of people tease me that I recommend this series at least once per week on my blog. I also recommend Leviathan Wakes (and the entire Expanse series) by James SA Corey to all of my friends who want their science fiction novels to have spaceships in them. Almost every single chapter ends with an OMG moment. Leviathan Wakes looks long (~500 pages), but you will zip through it. Finally, I recommend Doomsday Book by Connie Willis to my friends who prefer historical fiction but want to try something within the realm of science fiction. In this book, one of the characters travels back in time to the Middle Ages. I am so impressed with how this book comes together in the end. It is a very thoughtful book. Doomsday Book is a standalone novel, but it is in the Oxford Time Travel universe.
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? I am proud of so many blogging moments. I am proud of the moment that I decided to start up my blog and the moment that I got my first comment. I am also proud that I have stuck with writing a weekly discussion post. Coming up with discussion post ideas is hard, so I am really happy that I have continued to keep up with it for the last several months.
Anything else you’d like to share? I am reading Jane Austen’s six complete novels this year. Everyone is more than welcome to read along with me with the 2014 Jane Austen Challenge. Next week (April 30th), I am going to post my review for Pride & Prejudice and people can link up their reviews. The next book will be Mansfield Park.

Thanks, Pamela! YAY, A Dance With Dragons!!! I just finished it back in December and actually read both print copy & audio and I agree — the audiobooks are pretty great! Thanks so much for being a part of Book and a Beverage!! (And I love your cat!!)

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Pamela! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog || Twitter || Pinterest || Goodreads || Google+ || BookBlogging

Are you interested in being featured on BOOK AND A BEVERAGE? Head on over to this feature’s page for the sign-up form!
** Book and a Beverage sign-ups are temporarily closed due to the large number of wonderful people who have signed up! Check back for sign-ups to re-open in May/June! If you’re anxious to participate, you can always Tweet/Instagram your current #bookandabeverage with the hashtag and I’ll be sure to retweet you! **

And don’t forget! You can participate in Book and a Beverage at any time! Got a book? Got a beverage? Just tweet or post your photo on Instagram using the hashtag #bookandabeverage and I’ll retweet or repost your photo!

#bookandabeverage

Killer Instinct – S.E. Green

Killer InstinctCompleted: March 20, 2014
Publishing Info: May 6th 2014 by Simon Pulse
Source: eGalley approved by the publisher via Edelweiss
Genre: Thriller (YA)
POV: First Person (Lane)
Find It Online:  Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

   “She’s not evil, but she has certain… urges.
    Lane is a typical teenager. Loving family. Good grades. Afterschool job at the local animal hospital. Martial arts enthusiast. But her secret obsession is studying serial killers. She understands them, knows what makes them tick. Why? Because she might be one herself.
    Lane channels her dark impulses by hunting criminals—delivering justice when the law fails. The vigilantism stops shy of murder. But with each visceral rush the line of self-control blurs.
    And then a young preschool teacher goes missing. Only to return… in parts.
When Lane excitedly gets involved in the hunt for “the Decapitator,” the vicious serial murderer that has come to her hometown, she gets dangerously caught up in a web of lies about her birth dad and her own dark past. And once the Decapitator contacts Lane directly, Lane knows she is no longer invisible or safe. Now she needs to use her unique talents to find the true killer’s identity before she—or someone she loves—becomes the next victim…” — From Goodreads

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Sometimes I have a craving for a dark story. I admit that I actually never finished watching Dexter due to lack of premium channels and time (you know, reading takes priority!) and I actually only read the first book in the actual Dexter series on which the show was based because I had seen the show already and it was spot on with the events of the first book. That left things to be a bit anticlimactic and repetitive. Anyway, Dexter confessions aside, of course I was excited to hear about this new book called KILLER INSTINCT which was being described as a YA Dexter-type. Exciting, right? Well, I was very anxious to dive in to a dark, creepy, and possibly horrifying book but what I read was all together disappointing.

I’ve come off worse with disappointing books but the weird thing was that it wasn’t lack misleading advertisement that lead me to be let down by KILLER INSTINCT — it was the fact that it lived up to be exactly what it was advertised as. YA Dexter. A little too closely. Yes, yes, I understand that there are only so many ways you can really write a story from a serial killer(or in this case, an individual considering becoming a serial killer)’s point of view. My issue was that there seemed to be entirely too many direct parallels that I spotted to DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER (book one in the series) and season 1 of the TV show. If you’ve seen the show (which is probably more liking than having read the book, so it seems), you can probably spot the parallels pretty easily as well. I counted no less than four things that happened EXACTLY and there were several smaller things that lined up as well. I won’t mention them in the review in case you haven’t seen the TV show and want to read the book because they will come as a surprise — I would actually imagine this book would go much better for people who aren’t fans of the show because things may be much more surprising and entertaining. It just felt entirely unoriginal and I felt like the author could have done a better job coming up with some more dynamic scenes that didn’t follow so closely to the Dexter story line.

I’ve seen several reviews that complain about lack of connection to Lane’s character (she would be our wannabe serial killer in question) but really, that didn’t bother me. I took Lane for who she was — a girl with a darkness inside of her which often goes hand-in-hand with a lack of emotional presence in her day-to-day life. Yes, sometimes she was very awkward, but I took that social ineptitude as part of her personality as well as her different mental state. There were some very weird moments (one in particular that I can’t believe I’ve read in two different YA books, but okay), but Lane doesn’t always really think the same way that other people do and I think her lack of emotional connection to most people creates a general sense of apathy both in her personal feelings as well as how her narration would genuinely come across.

I hate to compare to other reviews and I know this will be the second time I’m doing it, but it’s a point that didn’t bother me for the same reason and I feel the need to bring it up — slut shaming. I really don’t even like the term “slut shaming”, personally, but obviously I understand people’s averse reaction to it and I noticed complaints of slut shaming in this book. Lane’s younger sister (I think she’s fifteen?) is very promiscuous and Lane actually calls her a slut in the book. This didn’t really bother me since I was in Lane’s mindset and already felt a sort of closed-off mentality towards the emotions of others and how thoughts and statements like that really affect people. I’m not making excuses for it, but merely looking at it feeling like, “Yeah, okay, I can get why if she’s thinking about killing people and making a habit of it, she probably doesn’t care about calling her sister who she doesn’t even get along with a slut.” Take that as you will, but I was not as offended by it seeing as I felt it was true to her character. Although I will say that I don’t know why her sister’s promiscuity even needed to be a part of the book. It was a bit explicit and that along with a couple other sexually explicit scenes seemed unnecessary to include. Granted, a book about a serial killer will already be geared toward and older teenage audience versus the younger groups, but even still, seemed to take things up a notch into more adult elements than young adult.

All that being said… Well, I don’t have any clearer of an opinion about this book. I’m still very torn between having finished the book in a day and racing to see how it ended and feeling of overall disappointment in how everything progressed and how it all wrapped up in the end. I feel like it was entertaining but I’m finding it extremely hard to say I would recommend it because I sincerely felt that the Dexter parallels were all too frequent, there were a few bizarre moments that didn’t sit right with me, and the ending felt downright weird. Usually after writing my reviews, I get a clearer picture of my overall feelings but this one still feels like a jumbled mess of thoughts.

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

 *crickets* Well, this is awkward. I accidentally had two different versions of this book and deleted the one on which I had been updating as I was reading. *headdesk* I CAN tell you that there were many, many cries of outrage though. (Good story, Brittany…) 

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Lane || Character Obsessions: Killing, justice, satisfaction.
Lane is a tough cookie to crack. It’s obvious she has some mental instabilities from the sheer fact that she carries a darkness that supplies urges to hurt and kill. She has a fascination with her mother’s work as an FBI agent, specifically working on serial killer cases. Did I really get to know her through this book? Am I missing something? Or is that really all there is?
Zach || Character Obsessions: Dating, girls, avoiding exes, Lane.
Zach was the “love interest” here (love in quotes because of Lane’s lack of emotional connection) and seems to cause way more problems that necessary. I really could have done without the whole jealous ex-girlfriend plot and the fact that it even happened for some reason made me blame Zach. Something about him just didn’t sit right with me and I got a bad feeling more from him than Lane, actually.

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Kept Me Hooked On: The darker side. I love light and fluffy contemps… But I also really love reading about the darker side every once in a while! I was hoping for a bit more from this book though…
Left Me Wanting More: Originality. Maybe I knew that first book/season of Dexter too well but the book just didn’t feel like it stood on its own two legs, so to speak. It was one of the things that really bothered me and I just couldn’t shake it because it kept coming back.

Addiction Rating
Borrow it from the library

I would recommend this as a library read, I think. I feel like some can enjoy it and others will probably feel as disappointed as I was or worse. It’s really a toss up, so the library might be the best way to go!

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

        How to Lead a Life of Crime       No One Else Can Have You

Top Ten Tuesday: April 22, 2014 – Top Ten Characters Who I Totally Relate To

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It’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful blog at The Broke and the Bookish! This week’s topic: 
Top Ten Characters Who X and we get to fill in the blank so I’m picking characters I related to as I was reading!

soulsisters

ANNA: Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins
JULIA: Meant To Be – Lauren Morrill
MALLORY: Going Vintage – Lindsey Leavitt
STEPHANIE: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13) – Janet Evanovich

relationships

ALLYSON: Just One Day (Just One Day #1) – Gayle Forman [re-read: Just One Day]
MACALLAN: Better Off Friends – Elizabeth Eulberg
LEXI: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality – Elizabeth Eulberg

hobbies

JUDE: The Book of Broken Hearts – Sarah Ockler
DEVAN: The Reece Malcolm List – Amy Spalding

personality

CAYMAN: The Distance Between Us - Kasie West
HERMIONE: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) – J.K. Rowling
MAGGIE: Also Known As (Also Known As #1) – Robin Benway

Okay, okay, so that’s twelve. But these are for sure the girls I relate to most in the books that I’ve read! Each for different reasons, but clearly the characters I relate to the most help ease a book into being one of my favorites!

Results from the Survey on BOOK REVIEWS!

Something that I feel has been coming up a lot lately is discussion about reviews. We as book bloggers initially put a lot of focus on reviews for our blogs, but I think as our reading, writing, and blogging habits develop, our opinions on reviews tend to change. Obviously there is no right or wrong way to blog — including how to write a review, how long a review is, or if you even DO include reviews in your blog — but I wanted to get inside the heads of the masses and see what the general consensus is on reading and writing reviews. I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of people questioning how they write reviews, ways to shake things up, and guilt for not reading other people’s reviews. What’s the best way to find out? Ask!

The results were incredibly interesting! I had a serious number of people respond (thank you for taking part if you did!) and I got to see all of your responses on how reviews affect your blogging habits, both in writing them and reading reviews from other people. I know you’re curious, so without further ado… The results!

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SURVEY REACTIONS

I asked if there was annoying you didn’t like about SHORTER REVIEWS. You replied:

  • I feel like the reviewer isn’t sharing enough about the book to help me (35%)
  • I feel like short reviews show a lack of connection to a book (10%)
  • They don’t help me decide whether a book is worth buying (21%)
  • Write-in options: “They say what they like or don’t like but don’t elaborate why.” // “It really depends.”

I asked if there was annoying you didn’t like about LONGER REVIEWS. You replied:

  • I have limited time to read and/or comment so I tend to skim (45%)
  • I feel like longer reviews tend to get overly ranty/fangirly (18%)
  • I feel like longer reviews tend to get too cluttered and start to lose focus (28%)
  • Write-in options: “Chunky paragraphs are hard to read on screen.” // “Long reviews need humor.” // “I’ve found that longer reviews tend to contain spoilers.”

Thoughts on rating systems: 

  • Most people review star systems or number scales (also including a “grading” scale). At 70%, it was the popular vote. It’s the quick and easy way to tell how a reviewer felt about a book. Only 13% chose a system that uses words/a written out rating, frequently because their star ratings don’t match up with the Goodreads star ratings. 7% said that ratings systems aren’t helpful at all. A few added extra comments to say that they liked a star/number system WITH addition information as to why they rated it that way.
  • Extra thoughts! One reviewer (who approved to be quoted anonymously) said: “I rarely use a rating system. [... ] Rating systems are very subjective. Some bloggers are very specific about their rating systems and list it clearly on their blogs, but sometimes I have to dig around to actually find it. Ultimately, I read reviews of bloggers who are consistent, respectful. I have learned to trust their opinions and follow their blogs. Their reviews weigh much more than their ratings.
    I also believe that a star system can prevent excellent reviews from being read by authors and other reviewers. For example: I have been quoted and RT by authors for reviews that were thoughtfully written, but if I had put stars on the review, they never would have read it.”

“Extras” In Reviews: 

  • The most popular options for “extra”s in book reviews? An image of the cover, a book synopsis, a rating, and links to Goodreads. After that, a few more people selected that they like to see a quotes section, gifs, and specific sections like a character breakdown or specific world building section followed.
  • GIFS were a hot topic in this survey! Despite the fact that so many people selected that they like to see gifs in reviews, the people who don’t like them were very outspoken!
  • Quote it! “GIFS! I feel they’re a bit overused in place of actual feelings. A good gif, well placed, I’m all for ;)” // “GIFS. They make me crazy. Please use words in your review!” // “I find gifs to be really obnoxious when used too much. I can’t explain how annoying it is to go through Goodreads and see gif after gif. I find it to be juvenile and distracting.” // “A limit to how many gifs are used per a review. Sometimes it feels reviewers use gifs when they don’t really have anything to say about the book. I don’t mind seeing one to two gifs per a review, but when the post is mainly images and not nearly enough writing, I tend to skip checking it out.” // “I only like reviews that include gifs if they are on Tumblr. Gifs are for Tumblr, people. You want to use gifs, get on Tumblr.”

I asked how many books you write reviews for and you said: 

  • I review every book I read, including DNFs (15%)
  • Every book except for books I marked as DNF (11%)
  • Almost all of them (36%)
  • I review almost all of them but I don’t write negative reviews (8%)
  • About half (3%)
  • I pick and choose (23%)
  • I rarely write reviews (0%)
  • Other: Providing they were not books I had to read for school // I review everything on Goodreads but only some on my blog

Do you take notes while reading? 

  • YES : Handwritten notes (23%) // Keep notes in draft as I’m reading (2%) // I use tabs (18%) // Update Goodreads (15%)
  • NO : Takes me out of the book & ruins my experience (23%) // I have no interest in taking notes (17%)

So how important are reviews to your own blogs?: 

  • Most people said VERY important. Reviews are THE main focus.  (34%)
  • Shortly after that the response was that they’re pretty important and should be prominent, but doesn’t have to be THE focus of the blog.  (31%)
  • Shortly after that, responses leaned toward just kind of. This group felt like reviews make up their blogs, but they have other features that round out their book blog besides just reviews. (28%)
  • Only a couple people replied that reviews weren’t very important to their blogs. (3%)

SOUND BITES FROM THE BLOGGERS

“I generally write long reviews but recently I have decided to shorten my reviews to just a few paragraphs with one focusing on “summing up” my experience. I find that though I like writing longer, analytical reviews, I do not like reading them and just want to see the overall feelings someone had upon finishing the novel.” – Anonymous

“Writing reviews is often the hardest part of my blogging experience. I have not once been able to write a review in less than a half an hour, so I need time that I don’t always have. And I often find that I would rather keep reading than write the kind of review that I want to post (I write longer reviews), so I struggle to keep on top of them. Also, I forget things if I wait too long, so I struggle sometimes to piece things together. But I do think that reviews are important to blogging, especially when I’m reading a book I got from a publisher before it’s release. I do feel more of an obligation to post something in those cases even though I recognize that I will never be able to do it for all of them.”  – Anonymous 

“I think reviews help log our reading experiences. I like writing reviews to track my own enjoyment of books. My reviews are more for me. I read most reviews on goodreads to either validate my feelings of how I’m feeling about a book or help me decide when to read a book. I don’t typically allow reviews to decide which books end up on my tbr. I don’t read many reviews on blogs because it would take me forever to read them all and I won’t remember the review. I find it better to read reviews when I’m looking for thoughts on a specific book.”  – Michelle from Playing Jokers

“There’s been a lot of debate about the validity of negative reviews. I ALWAYS read both the positive and negative reviews, and often the negative reviews make me want to read the book! If someone says, “this was depressing,” or “these characters weren’t nice people” I might run right out to read the book because I like dark, complex characters.” – S.W. Hubbard

“I feel like the book blogging world is becoming an increasingly competitive arena. There’s a constant comparing of number: how many posts, comments, followers, ARCs, mailing lists, infographics, memes. Even though I’ve been at this for a while, my blog is tiny and will probably remain that way. I started reviewing the books I read because it was supposed to be fun and a way to share my thoughts with others. In the last few months, I do post less than I used to because I’ve accepted that my schedule doesn’t allow me to read as quickly. Also, since I don’t write negative reviews, that means I don’t review every book I read. The internet is so supersaturated with book blogs (especially those focused on YA), and while I’m glad to be a part of this community, I also recognize that not everyone can be the most popular so I’ve just got to stick with doing what works for me. :)”   – Monica from The Fuma Files

“I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to review. Everyone has their own style and it’s that diversity that makes the book blogging community so worthwhile.” – Nicole from The Quiet Concert

“I think reviews are something that initially made the book blogging community what it is, but it’s also pretty difficult to write reviews that are entertaining and keep your readers focus. If a blog is simply one review after another and there are no other sorts of posts, I’m 99% sure won’t follow it because I feel like something’s holding me back from connecting with the blogger and because that would just make for an incredibly boring blog.” – Ashley from Ok, Let’s Read

“In general, I think we’re under the impression that writing book reviews need to be professional and critical. That it’s supposed to be objective. People lately have felt the need to set themselves apart by saying they’re doing “book talk” and not reviews. But I feel like, for me, these are the same thing.
Every review that I write is personal. I always mention how books made me feel or react or the like. While I don’t know if that’s always helpful for other readers, I feel like, for me, that’s usually what I try to find in other people’s reviews too. That way I know if there’s a chance I’ll be able to connect or like a book as much as they did!
I do think it’s interesting that reviews are getting so much flack. Personally, whether or not my reviews are read by other people, I find joy in sharing my thoughts — even if it’s just for me! Sure, I post it so that other people can see it an hopefully benefit, but I also don’t mind if it doesn’t get any attention at all. I’m very grateful for my readers and friends, but they’re not the main reason I write my reviews. I write them for ME.” – Anonymous

“I blog for myself, and I can’t say that I am very strategic about attempting to reach readers.
I feel like people say that their reviews get less traffic/comments, but I feel like if you write quality reviews, and make an effort to interact with followers, they can lead to good discussion. I blog for discussion, not for page views.
If I look at my stats for the past 30 days, reviews aren’t my most viewed posts, but I think that’s because my library program posts, booklists/readers’ advisory graphics, etc, get way more traffic overall.
But still, several got plenty of traffic and comments. When I look at “all time” I was surprised how many reviews did well over a long period. Reviews of adult books and nonfiction do really well, I think because there are less adult/nonfiction book review blogs out there. Reviews of books that I think no one will be interested in sometimes get a lot of search traffic because there just aren’t that many reviews of them out there.” — Molly from Wrapped Up In Books

“If bloggers feel their reviews are not getting great hits, I think it goes a little deeper than people don’t want to read reviews. Have you been posting infrequently? Are you reviews too long? Are you reviewing the same books as every other blogger in the universe? (Diversity is so important!) Is your SEO not working for you? I think instead of making a broad generalization that readers don’t want to read them throughout the community… a little exploration needs to be done.” — Anonymous

“I feel like WAY too much is given out about a book, especially in the “special sections” part. I don’t want to know why you love this character (except maybe a few general reasons), because I want to meet them on my own. I don’t want to know in great detail all the slow-burning phases of a romance. I want to be surprised. I want to anticipate. Please, no character analysis. You only see those in spark/cliffs notes that kids read if they don’t want to read the book for class.
Tell me how [a book] made you FEEL, but not all the reasons why it made you feel that way. I want your opinion, not a play-by-play. Really, I’m looking for whether or not I want to buy the book and read it. I have had books spoiled so many times that I don’t read reviews anymore unless I REALLY need to, or I have already read the book and want to see what someone else thought about it.
I think people just need to remember that they are writing a review, which is a short little blurb on their thoughts and if they recommend it or not. It’s not supposed to be a book report, where you analyze everything to death. The professional reviews on Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly are around 300-500 characters for the most part. And I think they are MUCH more useful than some of these reviews that go on forever.” – Anonymous

“Pet peeve–and I’m guilty of this too–is obviously bad grammar. There are going to be slips. Typos, etc. But I’ve read reviews before–from tremendously popular bloggers–that are short and have glaring errors. GLARING. It always makes me think that they are only throwing something together to have better stats from posting every day and that they don’t care about their content. Drives me NUTSSSS.
I think finding a way to vary the structure of a review would help pique people’s interest. This is something that I work on as well, so I don’t just mean that I find other reviews lacking because they are traditional. It is sometimes difficult to read a review fully–just because of the time it takes to take it all in–so finding a way to communicate the same points and thoughts in a more easily digestible manner would be awesome!
Writing reviews is often the hardest part of my blogging experience. I have not once been able to write a review in less than a half an hour, so I need time that I don’t always have. And I often find that I would rather keep reading than write the kind of review that I want to post (I write longer reviews), so I struggle to keep on top of them. Also, I forget things if I wait too long, so I struggle sometimes to piece things together. But I do think that reviews are important to blogging, especially when I’m reading a book I got from a publisher before it’s release. I do feel more of an obligation to post something in those cases even though I recognize that I will never be able to do it for all of them.” — Anonymous

“I’ve always felt that summaries of the book should be in the blogger’s own words and not copied from the back of the book or Amazon, GoodReads, etc.
I would like to see more reflection on the cultural significance of thematic considerations within the text. The relationship between what authors write/what readers get out the book and reality fascinates me.
I would also like to see more reviews which discuss both the positives and the negatives of the book. So many reviews are either gushy/fangirly or hate-filled; however, in my experience, readers aren’t so one-sided in reading.” -- Trisha from Eclectic/Eccentric

“I personally love reading book reviews, because it allows me to get to know the blogger behind the review a bit more. Sometimes I will avoid reviews for books I’m particularly anticipating, since I don’t want to be spoiled in any way, but for the most part I use them to judge whether or not I’ll like something. Reviews have been very helpful in terms of keeping me on budget! A lot of anticipated reads have become library loans instead of purchases based solely on other bloggers’ thoughts.” – Anonymous

“In general, I think we’re under the impression that writing book reviews need to be professional and critical. That it’s supposed to be objective. People lately have felt the need to set themselves apart by saying they’re doing “book talk” and not reviews. But I feel like, for me, these are the same thing.
Every review that I write is personal. I always mention how books made me feel or react or the like. While I don’t know if that’s always helpful for other readers, I feel like, for me, that’s usually what I try to find in other people’s reviews too. That way I know if there’s a chance I’ll be able to connect or like a book as much as they did!
I do think it’s interesting that reviews are getting so much flack. Personally, whether or not my reviews are read by other people, I find joy in sharing my thoughts — even if it’s just for me! Sure, I post it so that other people can see it an hopefully benefit, but I also don’t mind if it doesn’t get any attention at all. I’m very grateful for my readers and friends, but they’re not the main reason I write my reviews. I write them for ME.” – Anonymous

 So what do you think? Do you agree with the general consensus? Is there any thing in or about reviews that you’d like to see more or less of? How important do you think reviews are to your blog? To the book blogging community? To the industry itself?

We keep saying that there is no right or wrong way to write a review… But is that only to a certain extent? I’ve heard people say that and then still are upset with the length (either short OR long) of other people’s reviews. Or is that just a matter of personal taste and not what we “should” or “shouldn’t” do? Sound off below! I’d love to hear further discussion!

Novella Mini-Review: Gilded Ashes (Cruel Beauty Universe)

Title: Gilded Ashes
Author: Rosamund Hodge
Completed: April 7, 2014
Source: Purchased via GooglePlay
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Related Posts: Cruel Beauty

   “Orphan Maia doesn’t see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia’s father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother’s approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they’ll all be struck dead by the curse.
    Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn’t believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What’s the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she’ll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.
    As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn’t believe in love. Anax can’t help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can’t help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother’s deadly bargain?” — From Goodreads

WHAT I LIKED

  • It was an interesting and really creative take on Cinderella! I liked how it tied into the Cruel Beauty world. It definitely felt like it really fit with CRUEL BEAUTY and how things overlapped.
  • I was never quite sure exactly how the story would wrap up! It really kept me guessing.
  • I loved Anax. And you know what, I really liked Maia too. I enjoyed their time together as well as how it all ended up happening.
  • Ignifex! So interesting to see him again. Loved how it came back into play.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  • The ending…? It was kind of a toss-up for me. I liked it but at the same time, I don’t know if I did. Everything tied up but it wasn’t the ending I expected.
  • Guys……. I just don’t think I’m a fan of the Cruel Beauty world. This novella definitely had the same feel to it but that helped me realize that it wasn’t necessarily the characters that I didn’t connect with. I think it might have been the world. I guess that will really make me reconsider whether I want to read the rest of this series when it comes out.

Have you read Gilded Ashes? How did you feel about the Cinderella retelling take on the story? Did you feel like it fit in well with the Cruel Beauty universe?

Open Road Summer – Emery Lord

Open Road SummerCompleted: April 11, 2014
Publishing Info: April 15th 2014 by Walker Childrens
Source: eGalley approved by publisher via Netgalley
Genre: Contemporary (YA)
POV: First Person (Reagan)
Find It Online:  Goodreads || Amazon || B&N

   “After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own. Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence. This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.” — From Goodreads

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I don’t even like country music but somehow I end up falling in love with books about them. I was in the middle of a few super heavy books and wanted to start something light to combat the book hangover I was about to have… OPEN ROAD SUMMER was the perfect feel-good book but… well, it also gave me a book hangover because it was just SO good!! I had heard SO many good things about this book from my fellow lovely blogger friends before I had started so as I usually am, I was a tiiiny but scared that the hype of it so far would make me not love it as much. Thank GOODNESS that wasn’t an issue. Really from start to finish, I enjoyed every aspect of OPEN ROAD SUMMER. From the characters to the plot to the places the book could have gone but thankfully didn’t… And every scene just felt so incredible and magical. I was pretty much swooning the whole time — and that was even before I got to read about Matt Finch!

OPEN ROAD SUMMER follows Reagan as she spends the summer with her best friend Dee. And oh yeah, Dee just happens to be country superstar Lilah Montgomery and spending the summer together entails a 24 city concert tour. But this summer is exactly what Reagan needs to step away from her life and the decisions she needs to reconsider and try to start the next year with a clean slate. I really liked Reagan and I appreciated that she was really trying to turn her life around. She’s had some hard times in her life with her mother leaving their family when she was young and as much as she loves her dad, she isn’t a huge fan of her stepmom and they really just don’t get along.
I absolutely loved the celebrity and music super star aspect of this story which is not something I really would have ever expected. I really felt like I got an insight into the “normal” side of the celebrity life. I feel like celebrities are so built up in our minds that we often forget that they’re just normal people and it was really interesting to see the other side of that. Dee (to her friends, Lilah to her fans) loves what she does but that doesn’t mean she leads an easy life. She works hard to maintain a good, clean image to appeal to children and adults alike, so when a misleading scandal hits the news, Dee’s publicist decides to invite long-time friend and all-around good guy Matt Finch to open for Dee on tour.

Oh, Matt Finch. Count me in the Matt Finch fanclub for sure. I was nervous when we first met him, hearing that he had such a clean reputation and he didn’t even like lying even when helping out a friend — I was worried he would turn out to be a little too good for my tastes but don’t worry! There are many, many facets to Matt Finch and he easily had me swooning. Major swoons, guys. Major swoons. He and Reagan had such fantastic chemistry and don’t EVEN get me started on the forbidden romance aspect. It just KILLS me. See, part of the deal with Matt coming on tour is that he is supposed to be leading the press into thinking that he and Dee/Lilah are dating to help combat the bad press and rumors going around. Matt and Reagan have amazing chemistry but they can’t allow themselves to date because, well, Matt is supposed to come off as Lilah’s new love interest. AHHH. The tension. I died.

Okay, I don’t want to give away the whole story, but it’s so hard to write all the things about this book and not just GUSH. I absolutely loved it with very, very minor issues involving Reagan’s former path of rebelling and self-destruction. Overall, I really loved the characters, loved the romance, and loved the entire feel of the book. Each scene just really felt so genuine and I really felt like I was experiencing it as well. It’s everything I could possibly imagine that the perfect summer would be like! Great friendships, great romances, great adventures. I could honestly gush about this book so much more, but I’ll leave you to go pick it up yourself… (Which I hope you’re doing as soon as you finish reading this. GO! It’s okay. I’ll wait.)

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters! ors

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Reagan O’Neill || Character Obsessions: Shoes, boys, making a clean start.
I loved Reagan. She has so much going on in her life and got this new opportunity to turn her life around and it says so much that she took it. She didn’t have the easiest life but she also didn’t make it easy for herself and it was so awesome to watch her figure everything out and take control over her life again. Not to mention she made a GREAT choice to end up liking Matt <3
Delilah Montgomery || Character Obsessions: Music, her guitar, Jimmy, a good image.
I also loved Dee! She is SUCH a great friend to Reagan and she’s sort of like that friend who’s kind of like a mom. She’s always looking out for Reagan and tries to steer her to make good decisions but supports her even when she makes the wrong ones. They rarely fight and have such a wonderful friendship. The fame never goes to her head and she’s just a really good person.
Matt Finch || Character Obsessions: Music, his mom, his friends, Reagan.
I thought about just writing “SWOOOOOON” but I guess I should put some real words in here. Matt Finch is the good guy that girls hope exist but deep down think will they will never meet. Of course he has some flaws (what guy doesn’t) but please, they’re minor because Matt Finch is a ball of amazing. (Yeah, I can’t do it. SWOOOOOOON.)

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Kept Me Hooked On: Music-themed books. I don’t even like country music and somehow books involving country music JUST GET ME. I just really loved the tour aspect, the song-writing aspect — just so many parts involving the music and how it played such a big role in the book in so many ways.
Left Me Wanting More: MATT FINCH. Just always more Matt, right? Right.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

I looooooved it. So much. I instantly pre-ordered as soon as I was finished with my egalley because I NEEDED this one for my shelves.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

        Dirty Little Secret       The Book of Broken Hearts

Book and a Beverage [52] – Kelley from Oh, the Books!

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Kelley from Oh, the Books!

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Name & Blog Name: My name is Kelley and my blog is called Oh, the Books! (I previously had a blog called Another Novel Read as well) — Oh, and my cat’s name is Genovieve!
Tell us a little about your blog! Oh, the Books! is a collaboration between me and two of my absolute favorite people: Asti from A Bookish Heart and Leanne from Literary Excursion. We’ve all had so much fun as book bloggers this past year, but our lives were getting so busy that all three of us were on the verge of either hiatus or — dare I say it — having to stop blogging. So we decided to band together and see if we could hold each other up and lighten one another’s burdens! Our site has been up for about a month and a half now and we’re having a blast! This way, we get to focus on our favorite types of posts, and put out quality content, without feeling the pressure to put up “filler” posts just to keep our site active. (Sorry, was that more than “a little”?)
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? (Link us up!) I think some of my favorite posts have been ones where I get to share a bit about my personal life as well as my bookish life, like…


Got anything special coming up we should know about? IHmm, I’ve got a couple new posts coming up in my “Exploring Tarot with…” series, as well as some discussion posts I had a lot of fun writing. I’ve also been enjoying being Asti’s assistant with The Bookish Games this time around, and next time is going to be a theme of my choosing — muahaha!

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Whatcha reading?
Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor!
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc) I pre-ordered it on B&N the moment I heard that it was coming with an exclusive, signed art print by Laini Taylor!
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? It’s my current read — as soon as it arrived, it basically overrode anything else I was reading at the moment. The conclusion to one of my all-time favorites series? How could I wait?!
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? Well, I’ve barely gotten into it so far, but as I said, it’s one of my all-time favorite series. Laini Taylor is a MASTER at vivid imagery and lyrical prose. I’d recommend this series to anyone who likes YA, fantasy, beautiful writing, or weird stories!

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Whatcha drinking? In my cute little yellow cup (yes, I chose it to match the book cover) is just a quick vanilla cappuccino. I chose that little cup because it matches, but I actually enjoyed having a small serving of a hot beverage, because I got to drink it all before it got cold!
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? You know, I don’t think I really drink much while reading, but when I get the opportunity to curl up with a book, I do like to enjoy a glass of red wine with it. A nice mug of coffee is great too.
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! Ouch, this is hard. I’m going to be a bit boring and say ice-cold water. There’s really nothing quite as refreshing as that (and don’t EVEN tell me to drink water if it’s not ice-cold. That would be the opposite of refreshing!).

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What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? This is hard because I like to recommend books based on the particular person’s tastes… But I’m pretty sure just about *everyone’s* heard or seen me recommending Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Grendel by John Gardner, and basically everything by Laini Taylor!
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? Ooh, great question, and I’m going to cheat a little bit and answer all three!

  • Proudest blogging moment: Starting up Oh, the Books! with Asti and Leanne, and having it open to such success and positive reception. It’s really rewarding to be partnering with such wonderful people, and to be part of a project that people seem to really enjoy!
  • Proudest reading moment: I guess it’s hard to be proud about reading something (?), but it always makes me feel good when I recommend a book to someone and they end up loving it — especially my husband, because he’s so hard to please!
  • Proudest writing moment: So far? This may seem weird because it’s not actually related to my book blogging, but the post I wrote about being a female gamer (The Trouble with Magic and Me) has been met with a lot of encouragement from the community.

Anything else you’d like to share? Ummm, how about this video of my cat eating pizza

Thanks, Kelley! So happy to have you on Book and a Beverage! Firstly, your cat is adorable!! I love her little cameo.
I’m in the middle of reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters too and I just don’t want it to end! I’m taking so long because I’m scared to read it haha!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Kelley! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog || Twitter || Tumblr || Goodreads || Instagram || BookBlogging

Are you interested in being featured on BOOK AND A BEVERAGE? Head on over to this feature’s page for the sign-up form!
** Book and a Beverage sign-ups are temporarily closed due to the large number of wonderful people who have signed up! Check back for sign-ups to re-open in May/June! If you’re anxious to participate, you can always Tweet/Instagram your current #bookandabeverage with the hashtag and I’ll be sure to retweet you! **

And don’t forget! You can participate in Book and a Beverage at any time! Got a book? Got a beverage? Just tweet or post your photo on Instagram using the hashtag #bookandabeverage and I’ll retweet or repost your photo!

#bookandabeverage