Tag Archives: ARCs

Discussion: Do Character Deaths Affect Your Rating?

discussion

SPOILER WARNING for:
+ The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J. Maas (not a spoiler if you have already read the Throne of Glass series but not the novellas as it is mentioned throughout the series).
+ The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
+ Unnamed book, author, and character. I do not mention specifics in any way but if you don’t even want to guess you might want to avert your eyes from this post!
+ Any specific character deaths are mentioned toward the BOTTOM of the post so if you have seen these warnings and need to run, don’t scroll down! 

DO CHARACTER DEATHS AFFECT YOUR BOOK RATING?

Obviously, this is a loaded question — of course character deaths affect how you feel about a book because of the connection you have with a character, how the death affected the plot, and whether it was even “necessary” or not. I think deaths of beloved characters really shake up a book, not only in the sense that it rattles our emotions as reader but it also brings in a sense of reality. There are so many different ways a character death affects us!

I had a weird moment where I was reading a book that I was really enjoying but honestly not as much as I had expected to. It was a fantastic story, a great author, and some really amazing characters but for some reason (probably the fact that I don’t have a lot of reading time anymore), I just wasn’t as emotionally invested as I thought I should be. Then a character death happened and I was SOBBING. Literally sobbing. Thank goodness I was alone (well, as alone as you can be listening to an audiobook in your car — what’s up, guy in the car next to me? I just went through a traumatic experience, OKAY?) because while reactions from other people told me something like this was coming, I was A) in denial, B) not sure who might be at risk, and C) wondering if maybe it wasn’t even a death but just a THING that happened. Of course, the author made it WORSE with the way they wrote the reactions of other characters, the love interest, and really how the whole death went down in the first place. I was totally wrecked and I really didn’t see the emotional wreckage coming.

Here is the weird part that I don’t know how to articulate when talking about character deaths… I actually liked the book more because the author killed off a character that I really, really loved. (Seriously, they were one of my favorites.) I know part of that is because it really got me more emotionally involved. At a time where I was having a hard time getting good chunks of reading time in a just couldn’t fully immerse myself in a book, this character death was like, “HERE, let me throw you face first into some feels!” and feels were had by all. When I wasn’t as connected as I wanted to be, this character’s abrupt death pulled me straight into the action and also allowed me to see a different side of all the of the other main characters as well. I got to see a side of them that I hadn’t previously seen at all and I connected with them on one more level that really brought me even further into the experience. Because of all this, I actually ended up rating the book higher than I might have, so even though it sounds strange, often times character deaths make me rate a book higher, even if I’m left without one of my beloveds.

I also appreciate that a death of a main character really brings a sense of reality to a plot. Sure, we’d love for all of our precious favorites to make it through the huge battle, win the war, and all go home with their ships, living happily ever after… but more often than not, the odds are bound to take someone from a group. You just can’t go through what some of these characters go through and not lose a person (or two. Or three). It’s only so realistic to see so many secondary or tertiary characters die while preserving the core group of main characters. Sure, it can happen sometimes but the sense of vulnerability really has to be proven in a plot. There are only so many ways a group can be invincible and if nothing ever happens to them, it’s not exciting or suspenseful to watch them fight the fight. ** SPOILER FOR HARRY POTTER ** For example, there’s no way that all of the good guys would survive the Battle of Hogwarts. It’s just not possible to have a battle that big and not lose good people. I still remember crying my eyes out at the deaths in the last book and the loss of some of my favorite characters. It’s too hard to lose the pure of heart and fun-loving characters and each time I watch the movies, I still cry at their loss.

Of course, not everyone reacts to character deaths the same way. We all have different connections, see different interpretations, and place different values on the people and pieces of a story. When it comes to killing off characters, it’s hard to say what’s the “right” thing to do. I don’t think there really is a right or wrong way to handle it but obviously readers want to feel like it wasn’t totally senseless and that there was a purpose to a death. It doesn’t always have to have a specific reason but I think people feel more upset when they don’t understand why a death was “necessary” or important to a plot. Sometimes it may not have a specific purpose other than to expose vulnerability of an invincible group and that may seem like a small concept but it can shake up an entire series. ** SPOILER FOR THE ASSASSIN’S BLADE ** For something that happened in a novella, you wouldn’t think it would be so important to such a major series but the story of Celaena and Sam is such an important one. Sam was such a wonderful character and I think he’s truly my favorite love interest of the entire series, even still. There were so many reasons that this horrific character death was so important and it’s something I’ve always appreciated from Sarah J. Maas. As awful as it was and as sad as I still am, Sam’s death was so important to the series. It totally and absolutely changed Celaena. It made her colder. It inspired vengeance. It gave her PTSD, essentially. It shook a main character who thought she was totally invincible and gave her something to fear and we shared that fear with her. This death set the course of the whole series and if you don’t read the novellas, I don’t think the impact is nearly as strong. It may have seemed totally unjust but it truly set the series into motion an an entirely different emotional level.


How do you feel about character deaths and the way the affect your reading experience? Do you ever rate a book HIGHER because of the death of a character you liked?

Discussion: Blogging Slumps

discussion

THE DREADED BLOGGING SLUMP

It’s been over four years but… I finally hit that blogging slump. I’ve been so in love with blogging that I just didn’t see it coming! I’ve been so passionate about my blog and what I do here that I just didn’t anticipate falling into a blogging slump! Sure I’ve had book slumps and ARC slumps but I just didn’t see a blogging slump happening… but as I sat in front of my computer, trying to think of a new blogging topic on and off all day, I realized it had finally hit me.

I’m still passionate about blogging but a little thing called life got in the way. Ever since the candle company really started picking up, I just haven’t had as much time to keep up with blogging as I used to. I do most of my candle work on the weekends and at nights but there’s also a lot that cuts into reading time and things to keep up with when I could be blogging. When it comes down to it, I end up doing things for my business first and then for my hobby second, naturally.

 

Then there’s just the matter of a slight burn out after doing this for so many years. After over four years of blogging, you learn what works for you and what doesn’t. You see so many people come up with creative ideas that you admire but don’t want to copy. It’s become a sort of vicious cycle with me as well to feel like I don’t have interesting posts and then I come up with one new thing to either hate it later or it was so time consuming that I just don’t have time to repeat it. Reviews are a staple but they take a long time to write. Top Ten Tuesday is always an option but I don’t feel like as many people are interested in stopping by as they used to for that and I feel the obligation to link and post photos but that’s so time consuming as well. Not every blog post has to be a long blog post but I’m so long-winded and at times maybe too thorough that I have a hard time coming up with a meaningful, short post.

I think it’s my own fault, in some ways. I used to have so much content (and so much time) that I would post every weekday. It was fun to come up with new posts and I couldn’t wait to share them with everyone! Now that I have much less time to write, it’s not a “chore” to come up with a blog post but I don’t have those creative writing juices flowing as much and the posts that I used to spend literal days on, I just can’t do anymore. I also got used to the post-every-weekday routine that now that I don’t have as much time, I feel like I’m totally slacking when I don’t. I know that’s silly and it’s totally me but it’s making me feel like I’m in more of a slump than I am.

So how do I get out of this blogging slump? I’m not totally sure! Maybe I’ll try to come up with some shorter yet fun blog posts. Maybe I’ll just write all the reviews that I need to catch up on and do all of those at once. Maybe I’ll try to allow myself not to post every weekday (I truly don’t need to) and keep the content fresher because it doesn’t feel as urgent and forced. New blogging ideas are always so much fun but after four years of writing posts, it does get hard to come up with new things every once in a while! Right now, the dreaded blogging slump is hitting me hard but I’m sure I’ll swing back up when I get some creative inspiration!


What’s your method of busting out of that blogging slump? Do you try to stir things up with new ideas or simply take a break? Where do you go for inspiration when you feel like you’re totally out?

Discussion: Kicking ARCs to the Curb (Sort Of)

discussion

In my previous discussion on book slumps, I talked about how I’ve been having a lot of trouble with “okay” books lately and feeling like I was just being too hard on books recently. The more I thought about it, it wasn’t necessarily that I was being too hard on any particular book but the more I keep on reading, the more I realize quite precisely what I like and dislike, and more particularly, the more my TBR stacks up with books I really want to read and books I sort of want to read. My reading habits and TBR tackling-strategies tend to waffle back and forth between reading on a schedule and throwing caution to the wind but I’m really starting to lean back to the “caution to the wind” side of things again. 

Like I have in previous times, I think part of my reading slump was due to reading too many “obligation” books. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with publishers and I’ve gotten better at saying no and picking up only the books I’m really interested in but I also think I still have a little room to improve on that. I’m sure you’re asking, “Why ‘obligation’ books? You’re choosing them yourself, aren’t you? This isn’t school.” Why you are correct. I am choosing those books for myself. BUT once I’ve made a commitment to read a book or read it on a specific timeline, it starts to feel like an obligation. Even if it’s a book I wanted to read anyway, once I make a commitment to read a book and send a review back to the publisher or to participate in a blog tour, a lot of times it becomes — dun dun dunnnn — WORK. It’s silly because reading is always fun but then I have a stressor there of having to read it by X date and make sure my blog post is done so I can post it or send it along.

So here’s my recent (or really not recent at all but recurring) issue: ARCs always have dates attached to them. No matter when I receive an ARC, I always feel like there’s this little clock looming over my shoulder counting down to the publication date. There are still so many times I totally forgot that a book was coming out soon and I see the “book birthday” tweets on social media and feel just terrible that it was another book that I didn’t read “on time”. So then I scramble to try to read it and push more books to the side that maybe I want to read more than my “commitment” book. Then I don’t make time for my must-reads because I’m too busy playing the vicious cycle of catch-up on all of these ARCs.

I will admit that it’s very, very hard for me to turn down the nice and shiny and new. I’ve been blogging for over four years now and some of the shininess of ARCs still hasn’t lost its appeal. One thing I am resolving now — like, right now — is to really fight that urge to request (or simply accept) some of these ARCs that I don’t need to read right away. I had started slowing down on ARC and egalley requests a while ago but I was still having a hard time when being directly presented with an opportunity — a blog tour, a review copy, a chance for promo — and those were still stacking up on a list of things that I had to accomplish and frankly, my time to read and relax these days has shrank even more. The last thing I need is a list of “things to do” for my hobby when I can’t even finish my list of things to do around my house. So as of right now, I am making a better attempt at really only requesting and accepting the review copies of books that I really want to read RIGHT NOW. If it’s not a book I want to read RIGHT NOW that means I’ll push it aside. If I push it aside, it’s not something that I need a review copy or advanced copy of. This allows someone else to read the book who may have a lot more time to read it than I do, who may appreciate it more than I do, and who might be able to do better promo than I can right now and I really want that person to have the book instead of having it sit on my shelf until I can get to it. If time passes by and I still want to read it, I can always borrow it from the library or buy it and then it’s back to being a leisurely read and not something that I feel like I have to finish by a certain date.

This is not commentary on other bloggers’ habits or reading habits. This is not commentary on how others use (or don’t use) ARCs. No matter what anyone’s opinions are on that, this is not the post for it. This is my own personal statement and promise that I want to be held to because at a time where my must-read books are going unread, it’s time to take back control of my TBR pile!

I’m not saying goodbye to ARCs for good. I love working with publishers and having books presented to me that I might not otherwise know of or choose for myself. I’ve found some awesome surprises thanks to publisher recommendations and review copies! But I am making a sincere effort to read those books that are truly calling my name and I am still more than happy (understatement) to get my hands on my most-anticipated books early in the form of ARCs (I’m eyeing you, HEARTLESS and GEMINA and others) and taking a step back from the maybes for now. I do still like mixing things up and requesting something that may be flying under the radar or requesting an ARC on a whim but for now, I think I’m pulling way back — at least until I can get my TBR stacks more under control!


What’s your relationship with ARCs? Are you swimming in unreleased titles? Overwhelmed with current releases? Making your way through backlist books? Have you pulled back with requesting as well?

ARC August 2014: I’m participating!

I made a promise to myself (just a couple weeks ago, actually… What planning ahead, right?) that I would catch up on some ARCs and SOON. I’ve had a stack of them growing, especially after BEA 2014 (which always brings a LOAD of September ARCs) and I really wanted to catch up on quite a few before their actual pub dates roll around since I seem to be having issues with that recently. (I do what I can to read before the pub date but I just read so many other things too!)

I decided the last couple of weeks of July and all throughout August, I wanted to start catching up on my ARCs — some pre-pub ARCs (Augus & September mostly) but also ones that I still need to read after being approved on NetGalley and Edelweiss (probably with more focus on NG since I seem to read more EW books for some reason)… When I heard/remembered about ARC AUGUST, that seemed like the perfect opportunity to officially commit to this plan! A big thanks to Octavia for hosting this and I’m really looking forward to kick off here soon!

GOALS

Hmmm. Well, I don’t want to say “THESE ARE THE BOOKS I WILL READ” because we all know I’m a mood reader and that won’t happen. What I WILL do is post some books from my lists that I really need to and want to read SOON and these will be the ARCs I’m focusing on!

AUGUST ARCs:

  • A LITLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall
  • MORTAL DANGER by Ann Aguirre (have heard some not good stuff about this so do I still read it?)
  • SIX FEET OVER IT by Jennifer Longo
  • VIRGIN by Radhika Sanghani
  • BLIND by Rachel DeWoskin

SEPTEMBER ARCs:

  • I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
  • EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN by Lindsey Lane
  • TRIAL BY FIRE by Josephine Angelini
  • FALLING INTO PLACE by Amy Zhang
  • ROOMS by Lauren Oliver
  • THE JEWEL by Amy Ewing
  • BELZHAR by Meg Wolitzer
  • SALT AND STORM by Kendall Kuper
  • WINTERSPELL by Claire LeGrand
  • FIREBUG by Lish McBride

OOPS I AM ALREADY BEHIND:

  • DISSONANCE by Erika O’Rourke (July)
  • THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE by Katrina Leno (July)
  • THE VANISHING SEASON by Jodi Lynn Anderson (July)
  • JUST LIKE THE MOVIES by Kelly Fiore (July)
  • 17 FIRST KISSES by Rachel Allen (June)
  • THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen (June)
  • BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler (June)
  • MY BEST FRIEND, MAYBE by Caela Carter (June)
  • THE THINGS YOU KISS GOODBYE by Leslie Carter (June)
  • COIN HEIST by Elisa Ludwig (June)
  • THE SECRETS OF LILY GRAVES by Sarah Strohmeyer (May)
  • REBEL by Amy Tintera (May)
  • BUZZKILL by Beth Fantasky (May)

So there you have it! That’s my reading list for August, more or less. I’m hoping to make it to at least… at LEAST six. Upwards to about 10? I’ve been averaging 8-12 books a month lately but that’s also including audiobooks which I won’t have for any of these so six may even be the max. Hopefully I’ll knock quite a few out in August!

Thanks again to Octavia for hosting! See you in August!

Reading Resolutions: 2014

HAPPYNEWYEAR

Well, we made it through another calendar year and I’m so happy to say that The Book Addict’s Guide is still going strong — stronger than ever! 2013 was a BIG year for me and I went through a lot of changes — both good and a little stressful — and so my 2014 goals are going to be totally different than everything I wanted to accomplish in 2013!

challenges

  • LAST YEAR: I started the year by participating in the Debut Author Challenge, The YA Contemporary Challenge, and was working on my own version of Epic Reads’ United States of YA.
  • THIS YEAR: I am signing up for ZERO challenges. I have a tendency to take on a LOT of different things because it’s so fun to participate in everything! But you know what? It’s really hard and time consuming to try to do it all! I actually ended up giving up on keeping tracking of both the Debut Author Challenge and YA Contemporary Challenge less than halfway through the year. Updating and maintaining my Goodreads, designated blog page, and staying on track for the challenges became overwhelming. I also decided the United States of YA was fun but also not something I really wanted to update and maintain all the time. 

readalongs

  • LAST YEAR: I participated in the Song of Ice and Fire read along, reading five massive books totaling over 5000 pages. I hosted and participated in the Gayle Forman Read Along (another 5 books, but much less in terms of pages). They were only two, but they were a MASSIVE undertaking and while they were a lot of fun, they took up a huge amount of time.
  • THIS YEAR: I’m not saying no to read alongs, but I’m going to be a lot choosier about what I sign up for. Read alongs are really a lot of fun, but that’s also time that I have to designate to a book while reading another book for my own personal reading time. Alyssa, Amy and I will be doing our “Three’s Company” read alongs this year which is really less for a formal read along and more for us just reading some really good books together and enjoying them all at the same time. I’m REALLY looking forward to this because it’s so much fun to read the same books at the same time and this will definitely be much less pressure than a formal read along and then I also wouldn’t have to read multiple books at once. I already know that it will also push me to read books that are maybe a little bit out of my comfort zone (whether it be genre, content or adult/MG vs my usual YA) and expand my horizons to new things!

arcs

  • LAST YEAR: I still had some trouble with reading ARCs on time and keeping track of them really well. I also went to BEA and picked up a ton of books there… I had this grand plan of reading them all in order before the pub date and… well, that didn’t really happen at all. With my read alongs and older books I wanted to read and newer books and egalleys… Well, a lot of books got tossed to the side to make way for all of the newer books and then those got pushed to the side for commitments. COMMITMENTS. So much fun but caused lots of trouble haha!
  • THIS YEAR: This year I’m going to try to request WAY less egalleys and really pick and choose the books that I want to read. I’m going to try to stay on track with the ARCs I currently have and start working on the ARCs I had requested and work on reviewing those as well. I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to work on catching up on the books I already have/own/have downloaded and I also really want to start cleaning up my shelves and reading what I’ve already purchased.
    I plan on going back to BEA this year and while grabbing books was a certain thrill, I really want to pick up only the ones I’m really interested in. I thought I did a good job of this in 2013 but at the same time, I still have a lot of unread books at home that I knew I probably wasn’t going to get to. I feel bad that I have so many books that I took because I felt like they had potential but really in the back of my head, I knew I was going to push them aside for my “must-reads”. (Sadly, some of which are STILL sitting on my shelf unread. See??)
    I’m also going to try to do better at reading ARCs around their pub dates. Some have really gotten lost in the mix because I just requested to many and there are so many egalleys and physical ARCs that I need to get to still that I’ve actually been dying to read!

shelves

  • LAST YEAR: Let’s face it. My blog is called “The Book Addict’s Guide” for a reason. I have a problem. And that problem is buying books. My shelves continue to grow with more new books and then I read ARCs or egalleys and I forget about those glorious books I have on my shelves! I’d be interested to see how many new releases I read last year versus books I already had on my shelves but…. that’s too much work to actually find out haha!
  • THIS YEAR: Although unofficially, I’m going to try to read more of a mix. It’s hard to read a variety of old and new when there are so many new releases at my fingertips via ARCs from publishers, Netgalley, Edelweiss, and whatever I’ll haul from BEA this year, but I really do want to read some of the books I already have! I finally read LEGEND by Marie Lu this year and I don’t know why I waited so long! I know there are hidden treasures hanging out there and I want to be able to get to them!

GRCHALLENGE

  • LAST YEAR: I barely squeaked by, reading barely more books than I had last year (only by two but hey, I did it!) because it was SUCH a busy year! 2014 is probably even more busy so…
  • THIS YEAR: I’m hoping to beat 2013 but I guess we’ll see how the year goes! I have so many things going on that I hope I have time for that much reading but we’ll see what the year holds. I read 131 books in 2013 so my goal in 2014? Starting at 132 haha!!

2014 is going to be a busy year for me. I’m planning my wedding, visiting Alyssa & Amy in a few weeks, travelling for two destination weddings (April & June) and have two more locally (my two best friends from elementary school — one in July and one the week before mine!!), BEA in May, and well… I think that’s plenty! I’ll try to keep up as best as I can which is why this year I am actually planning to commit to a lot less outside of my own blog. I can keep up at my own pace but I’m trying not to commit to other things for fear of not making deadlines!

Reading Pressure!

I’ve come to a point where I realized that I’ve been battling with my personal reading habits lately. Thanks to my addiction to Edelweiss (and Netgalley) and my “need” (realization: It’s not really a need AT ALL) to have & read new releases that now I’ve created quite a conundrum for myself.

Usually when I receive egalleys or ARCs, I try to read and review the book right before it’s released. My personal preference is to be able to post the review for said book within a week of the release date (preferably before, but sometimes after if I’m slammed with commitments). Recently, I just haven’t been able to keep up with the things that I’ve been requesting and guys… It’s KILLING me.

I’ve been feeling so terrible that I’ve requested so many egalleys and haven’t been able to read them before their release days. I also still have a few ARCs from the giveaway I won from Jamie back in December and I just haven’t been able to keep up with those before they’ve been released either. By not reading them and posting a review within a week of the release date, I feel like I’m letting the publisher down. I feel like they approved me for these advanced copies expecting me to help promote these books and spread the word. Is that realistic? Maybe not. I know that there’s probably an ideal date publishers would like us bloggers to post by, but it’s not mandatory. Still, my guilty conscience just eats at me and I come home every day and stare at those ARCs on my shelf… Already released… Begging me to read them… Reminding me that I’m falling behind on my “reading schedule” (which doesn’t really exist because I constantly change it)…

Because of this reading pressure (that I’ve put on myself)…
I haven’t been to the library in AGES. I just can’t. I can’t check out books that I need to finish up series or have been anxious to read because I have too many other things that I need to read on a time crunch!
I started trying to read some of the egalleys on my computer at work. OOPS, sorry work. I just need to read, read, read to try to catch up!
I haven’t been watching TV practically at all. The only time I allow myself to watch TV is when I’m hanging out with my boyfriend and we’re watching TV together or while I’m doing something else, like cleaning. Guys. I’m nine episodes behind on Grey’s Anatomy. SAD.

Don’t get me wrong — I kind of love that I’m reading more than I’m watching TV now BUT I would like to feel like if I wanted to watch TV that I could… No pressure, no sideways glances at my books as I sit there NOT reading them. Blogging is first and foremost a hobby — One that I truly love but every once in a while starts to take control of my life and I get panicked with how much reading I really need to do before specific deadlines! I had to just recently take a step back and tell myself that IT’S OKAY. I may not be cranking out these reviews before the pub date, but I do still plan to read the books I’ve requested. It just might take me a little while to get there!

What do you guys think? Do you feel the reading pressure!? When do you try to post your reviews for ARCs and/or new releases? Any tips for combatting the pressures of balancing your reading?