Tag Archives: Blogging

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?

Discussion: On Book Slumps

discussion

I went through a little book slump recently where nothing was just really clicking except for my favorite authors. After many discussions and whining with friends over not feeling our current reads, it got me thinking…

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MANY BOOKS?

I’ve been blogging for four years now and have literally read hundreds of books in the past few years. Obviously I was a reader before then but book blogging really amped up the number of books I have discovered, tried, and finished. As a casual reader before blogging, I would read a lot, sure. But it wasn’t until I started blogging that I started reading multiple versions at a time (especially since I only ever read physical copies before my blog, not at all interested in audiobooks or ebooks). I got to wondering… have I just read too many books? 

I think most of if not all of us have certain genres that we love. First I binged all of the dystopian I could find but before long, I ended up tiring of the genre and things just didn’t feel like new ideas. I still can’t read a new dystopian book without comparing it to a popular series like The Hunger Games but part of that’s because of the elements that are really necessary in order for it to be classified as dystopian. There are so many things that are common in dystopian novels that it becomes hard to really separate them or to feel like what I’m reading is totally new and I haven’t felt the desire to pick up a new dystopian book in quite some time.  I’ve started to feel that way recently about a lot of contemporary books as well. Have I just read too many books that things aren’t seeming as original anymore?

AN ONSLAUGHT OF GRIEF AND LOSS

I’ve exhausted myself on the disease/illness/loss of a love one concept but… it’s not like it’s a trope. It’s a part of life. Everyone goes through these experiences and the stories are important — that’s why they’re turned into books. I’ve experienced all of these things as well but right now I’m at the point in my life where I’m dealing with my own things in life and I just don’t want to take on the burden of a book character as I’m going through my own stuff. I also find it harder to read books about loss lately and the “heavier” books are just kind of bringing me down. I’m in the mood for action, adventure, or a cute and light romance. The heavy realistic novels just aren’t working for me at the moment so I’ve really been avoiding those to prevent further book slumps. I just started a book recently that I thought would be a fun summer romance — still serious and not fluffy, but a good romance to dig into — and it started off with a girl grieving for her mother who had just passed away. I immediately put it on hold because that was just more than I bargained for at the time.

I also feel like there’s just an onslaught of books that surround grief and loss. Again, rightfully so since this is something that anyone at any age may need to deal with or go through. Maybe because I’m avoiding it, I recognize it more often but I recently read a Publisher’s Weekly release and three out of four of the new YA deals were dealing with a recent loss. Maybe it’s just me but it does feel like it’s a lot of the market at the moment. I have no issues with other serious topics like mental health and books that share stories and raise awareness — I actually enjoy those books quite a bit. I think I’ve always been more connected to mental health and disorders and it’s the physical ailments that I’ve really started to avoid. They aren’t less important but they’re a bit harder for me to read right now.

On a different note, I have no issue with these topics in fantasy books! I’m thinking it’s probably because there’s so much else going on in the book and it’s not the main focus. If the main character in a fantasy book is grieving, that loss usually comes with a mission of some sort — revenge, honor, power, rights, retrieval of something — the grief may be a plot-starter but there’s so much more going on than that.

WRITING STYLES

I’ve also started to feel like the writing styles for some newer books just isn’t as good as what I’m used to. Not everything has to be flowery or detailed or serious; I adore fluffy contemporary books as much as I do epic fantasy or serious realistic fiction… But I do feel like I’m not jiving with a lot of books lately because of the writing. It could be a style I’m not connecting with — though I’m not certain since I can’t quite pin it down — but I’m having a hard time with the writing in a lot of books recently. Passages that go on for too long, taking forever to get to a big plot point, cheesy dialogue, story and characters jumping around, too easily fitting into a stereotype — I just can’t seem to shake a lot of these notions as I read. I’m not judging. Hey, I’m not a writer by any means and if I were to write a book it’d probably be much worse than any published novel that I’ve read… but I’m starting to wonder if maybe it’s not me and certain books are published because the topic and plot is important and the writing sort of got left by the wayside.

That comes back around to the “too many books” question. Have I just read so many books now that I have a certain standard I hold authors to? I know that’s not fair at all and I try to go into a new book with an open mind but I can’t help but notice that some of the writing in some recent reads just doesn’t seem up to par with some of my favorite authors. I feel bad for saying that because hey, not like I’m writing a book over here and who am I to judge someone’s writing when I’m not doing it myself? But as an avid reader and a book reviewer, writing styles and plot structure is something that I end up noticing and analyzing more. Sometimes I just feel like things could be so much more cohesive or flow a little better and those noticeable things in an author’s writing just end up throwing up red flags to me. Too many red flags and it makes it hard for me to continue reading a book. Often times my DNFs have nothing to do with the credibility of a plot and more so just if I’m even interested in what’s going on.

AM I TOO HARD ON BOOKS?

Am I just being too hard on these books? Sometimes I feel like I’m skipping over books that are okay in order to get to a book I will LOVE. I feel guilty that I may not have given the book a chance and I’m just being too hard on it because it’s not a book I’m in LOVE with. But then again, why SHOULD I continue a book that’s just okay? I know a lot of people don’t DNF, especially when it’s something that’s not actively turning them off, but anyone is allowed to put down a book for any reason. I try to ask myself, if I wasn’t blogging/if I hadn’t received this book for review, would I continue? If the casual reader in me says no, then I put the book down. Sometimes I feel like I’m being too hard on books, knowing that if I had finished that book, I probably could have given it three stars (though my rating scale is a bit skewed from the Goodreads scale — three stars for me is more “meh just okay” than actually “good”) but if I’m just feeling “meh” about a book, why should I feel forced to finish it? I do end up finishing a lot of three star books but those are ones where I have other issues but the book still holds my attention. My DNF-possible-three-star books are ones that I just wasn’t interested in the plot and I felt like the book wasn’t really going anywhere.

I do still feel like I might be holding any new books I read to a certain standard. I really have read SO many books that turned into favorites or books that I really enjoyed that I do find it hard to end up with a true five-star book anymore. Usually they’re from my favorite authors but there are a few that I just instantly fell in love with. Is that fair? Sure, why not. If my TBR pile keeps growing and there are potential five-star books on my TBR, why shouldn’t I skip over a book that is just “meh” and head straight for a book I’ll love? I DO try to finish what I start but sometimes it’s not worth forcing myself to finish a book that has lost my interest simply to finish it. I still provide feedback even if I don’t finish (though not as a formal review) so I am still reviewing it in some fashion. Not everyone will like every book and I think it’s fine to know what you like and head straight for it! When you read as much as we do, it’s hard not to have a certain standard, preferred writing style, or expectation. I think it’s inevitable. It’s just very hard when I encounter book after book that just doesn’t quite feel up to par to what I’m expecting and BAM. Book slumps galore.


What aspects cause you to fall into a book slump? Have you changed the way you select books to try to avoid getting bogged down? How do you get out of slumps?

Discussion: Blogging Reflections After Four Years

discussion

My blog turned four years old last week and I’m amazed at how quickly the time has flown by and yet how it feels like I’ve been blogging forever all at the same time. After four years of blogging, I feel like a lot has changed in how I approach my writing and reading habits!

BLOG FEATURES

So many bloggers have excellent, creative features! When I was just starting out, I wanted so badly to be one of those creative people. I tried to create some new features (whether with other bloggers or on my own) and I’ve seen so many things come and go until something finally stuck. I almost don’t even want to tell you what “failed” because I’m still so embarrassed by some of my newbie posts but I will say that the things that stuck were things that were naturally me! Features like Book and a Beverage and Pub Date incorporate other parts of my life that I wanted to share and My Latest Bookish Addiction easily fell into the theme of my blog. They were easy for other people to relate to (although Pub Date less since it was a bit more specific of a focus) and things like Book and a Beverage invited other people to join in which really kept it going!

Things that ended up “failing” or fading ended up either being too much work (Book Blogger Organization Challenge) or just things that were interesting in concept but really hard to execute (Freaky Friday lasted a whole two posts, I think. I will not even link you to that. It was awful). Read Alongs also really ended up in this sort of realm where I started an epic read along but by the end of it, people forgot/didn’t have time/didn’t care to keep up so the interest really waned.

I can’t really offer advice on what works or what doesn’t as far as your own blog feature goes but I will always advise to shoot for something that already fits with what you love! If you’re involving participants, my best advice is to keep it short so you don’t lose people who forget that things are going on. And make sure it’s something that you can keep up with in the long run too! If you can only think of a few ideas when you start it or if you foresee it’s going to be a lot of work, really think about if that’s something you want to start as a feature and maybe instead do it as a one-time post.

ARCs

I didn’t even know ARCs existed when I started blogging. I found out about Netgalley and LibraryThing and I was like “Whoa, whoa. You can request to read books for FREE? And EARLY?” Four years later, I will admit that ARCs are still shiny things for me. It’s hard to resist the offer when I see a book on Netgalley/Edelweiss or get an email from a publisher. I’m really bad at saying no anyway and when it’s a book that I have interest in, it’s so hard to turn down if I think I might enjoy it!

So has my opinion on ARCs changed in the last four years? A little bit. They are still shiny and exciting for me but I am able to be a bit more selective. (I said a BIT more, those of you who know me well. I’m trying!) I’ve gotten better at not saying yes to every opportunity because I do take the commitment to read them seriously. I’ll be totally honest and say that there are a lot I haven’t gotten to but I do still hope to read them some day. I do request them with the intent to read them and although some don’t get read before their publication dates, I do still want to be able to review them and share my thoughts.

I’ve really gone back and forth many, many times on making an ARC “schedule” for myself. I’ve gone from telling myself I have to read X amount of ARCs each month to trying to read as many as possible to saying “screw it, I’m reading whatever” and now I’m sort of back to trying to do a good job of reading some before pub date. I’m not going “in order” any more which means I’ve been able to read quite a few long before the pub dates and then I don’t have to worry about them later!

I’ll admit that I do still get a little ARC envy but nowadays it’s more for the authors that have become my favorites and I’m dying to read their next book. Other than that, nothing is really insanely urgent with the exception of some buzzed debuts. When it comes down to it, my issues always lie with overcommitting so I’m really trying to be more mindful of what I accept to review.

POSTING SCHEDULE

I’ve never really had a set schedule on what I post on which days but in the past year or so, I’ve started posting every week day. I don’t feel like I have to but for a while I had a lot of content and was able to work ahead so I had a post for every day of the week. Lately I’ve been feeling… not burned out but less creative so it is starting to slow down a bit but it’s more on the creative side of things. I feel like there’s SO much out there and there are so many book bloggers that I’m really trying to come up with unique posts and it can be hard! I don’t want to get in this unbreakable rhythm of review, Top Ten Tuesday, review, Book and a Beverage, freebie day but my posts have started taking on a bit of a pattern when I’m feeling uncreative. It’s actually kind of nice to fall back on sometimes but the struggle is real to come up with new and exciting ideas! I don’t feel like I HAVE to keep up the 5-day posting “schedule” but so far I’ve been able to keep up with it. It feels weird when I skip a day but I know that it’s my blog and there are no rules I need to keep up with!

COMMENTING

I have gotten SO. BAD. at commenting on other blogs and commenting back on my own. Honestly between reading and writing posts and keeping up on social media and making candles and you know, my full-time job… it’s just so hard to keep up with comments. I truly cherish every single comment made on my blog and I feel so bad that I have such a hard time replying! I remember a few years ago, I used to comment on some big blogs at the time and I got so frustrated when I kept commenting and commenting and the blogger never replied to me or came to my blog to leave a comment… And now I’ve become that person!! The time gone by and experience gained has really shown me that it wasn’t because this blogger was snubbing me — she was just a blogger with a lot of followers and at a certain point in time, it’s just hard to keep up!

I do try to visit my blog feed and click on any good posts I may see on Twitter and go comment right away. It’s gotten a bit overwhelming, especially with the amount of friends I’ve gained over the years!! I’ve been fortunate to get to know so many people that it’s impossible to keep up with everyone’s blog and comment all the time. Now I know that it’s not something to take personally because I’ve had the experience where I’m trying so hard to stay in touch on social media, continue creative posts, and keeping up with all of my actual work that comments somehow ended up being the lowest thing on the priority totem pole. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care! I always love comments and I do try to stop by people’s blogs so if you’ve ever been feeling like I’m not replying to you, please don’t feel ignored! You can always hit me up on Twitter because it’s easier for me to reply there, especially when I’m on the go!


 

I could probably write a whole lot more but as with any of my posts, they tend to get wordy! After four years, things haven’t so much changed as grown and I’ve gained some experience to really customize my blogging experience and make it my own. I’m still so in love with reading and with this hobby and hope to continue for many more years!

Books + Blogging | Spring Cleaning

Spring is there, the holidays are long gone, and I finally have time on the weekends to read, relax, and organize. It’s never too late for spring cleaning and I’ve been more motivated lately to clean off my bookshelves as well as spruce up my blog. I’m fairly good at keeping the front-and-center things update since they’re so visible (graphics, links) but there are so many behind-the-scenes things that I tend to forget about and then they stack up! Today I’m sharing some of my spring cleaning goals and listing a few ideas to help get my blog and bookshelves a bit more organized!

BOOKSHELF CLEAN-UP

I usually reorganize my bookshelf every few months. It’s a big process since I have a very specific way I organize them (by genre, read or not read, series, color — they’re all factors that are involved) and so when I get a new book that needs to fit on a shelf that’s full, it’s a big deal. I tend to stack books up until I have the time to reorganize practically the whole bookcase again!

  • Designate piles for all of your books: Keep, donate, sell, giveaway/trade. If you’re looking to get rid of some of your books after this process, decide which ones you want to give away, if you want to donate any to resale stores, or sell them to a used book store.
    • TIP: If you’re looking to keep your shelves organized and clutter-free or find yourself with too many books you don’t think you’ll read, check out Hannah and Alexa’s Picky Pledge posts! They’ve got great tips and details on how they’re being more selective with what they buy and accept/request for review.
  • Find duplicates. I’m sure most of us don’t have duplicates (or too many) but I know I have a few. Some are ARCs that I know have in a finished copy. Others I received randomly or bought by accident not knowing I already owned the book.
    • TIP: Want to get better at avoiding duplicates? Create a shelf on Goodreads or an Execl spreadsheet for all of the books that you own! The initial set-up will be a bit grueling but especially if you own a ton of books, but it’ll be so much easier to pin down what you own — and it’ll put the number of books you own/buy into perspective.
  • Weed out old ARCs. I’m constantly amazed at people who actually read their entire TBR (like, is that even possible??). I have the best intentions when requesting review books but sometimes I end up with older ARCs that I’ve decided I just won’t get around to or don’t want to read anymore. I really do try to read all of the books that I request and I’ve hung onto many older ARCs even though their pub date is long gone because I really do still want to read those books! I end up passing on books that haven’t gotten great reviews so I don’t spend the time reading something that I’m fairly sure I won’t enjoy or a books where my tastes have changed since I’ve requested them.
    • TIP: Don’t know what to do with old ARCs? Although they may be harder to unload since you can’t sell them to a used book store (no selling ARCs!!!), many bloggers will still be happy to have a copy of a book even if it’s not a finished copy. I usually do giveaways for mine! You can also check to see if local libraries are interested or if any local charities are looking for donations.

BLOG CLEAN-UP

These are the areas that I feel are less obvious (and places I tend to avoid). Blog maintenance isn’t nearly as much fun as sitting in a room full of your books and listening to music while you organize BUT it ends up being a necessary part of blogging! Here’s what I’ll be focusing on:

  • Delete old graphics/images. I have many images that I’ve ended up uploading to my blog that I change or update or delete. I’ve updated my graphics along the way and then never delete the old ones. If you’re a WordPress user, you can go into your media library and switch the drop-down menu from “All Media Items” to “Unattached”. There you can see what images are not attached to a blog post or page BUT be careful that you don’t delete an image that’s in your side bar/header! Those will show up as unattached as well.
    • TIP: Aside from just your blog, you can delete old images from your computer as well. Pictures take up a lot of space and it’ll free a bunch of memory for you computer. (MAN, do I need to do this one.) I can’t tell you how many versions I have of the same picture before I decided I liked the graphic, but then didn’t delete the old ones.
  • Review + graphic clean-up. If you’ve recently (or not recently) switched up your graphics or are still converting your reviews from old format to UBB plug-in format, take the time to do some of those little by little. It’s so much easier to do a few a day than try to sit down and do it all at once!
  • Delete unused/old tags and categories. I’ve recently cleaned up some of my categories and made the more streamlined. This has also applied to some of my UBB items (like publishers and sources). Instead of each one being a main category, I created some parent categories (like filing time travel and parallel universes under sci-fi).
  • Organize pages. I have a few index pages that automatically update themselves (thank you, UBB plug-in!) but others I do need to keep updated myself (my infographics page and pages like My Latest Bookish Addiction).

GOODREADS CLEAN-UP

I am always in need of some sprucing up on Goodreads. My TBR is always out of control and I feel like I’ve gotten better at not adding every book to my TBR but there’s still a lot out there to weed out!

  • Delete duplicates on your shelves. Go to “My Books” and then below all of your shelves you’ll see “find duplicates”. Just MAKE SURE you’re deleting the correct version! I accidentally deleted a version that had all my status updates for a book and I was pretty bummed. There’s no way to get that back if you delete the wrong one!
  • Create new shelves and delete ones you don’t really need. I’m a Goodreads shelf fanatic. If you’re looking to get more organized, create some new ones for genres, star rating, POV, currently own, or where you got them from! Or you can delete some of the shelves you haven’t really been using.
  • Go through the books you’ve shelved and make sure they’re shelved properly! For some reason if I add a book to a shelf and don’t put it on Read/To-Read/Currently Reading, the default is “Read” so I’ve had to go back and swap that around to “To-Read”. I’ve also gone through ALL of the books that I’ve shelved and made sure they’re all in the right place!
  • Update to proper versions: I’m not too huge on having the correct version of a book on my shelves but I know some people are! For me what matters is the right cover, most of the time but if you like Goodreads to reflect the proper versions that you own or have read, hop to it!
  • TBR Culling. Go through your TBR and remove books that you don’t want to read anymore. I’m sure we all have HUNDREDS of books on our TBRs so now’s a good time to weed through what you might be able to part with, especially books you don’t already own!
  • Cross-post. If you’ve been meaning to cross-post, that can be an epic project to start doing too… But that’s another thing to start on little by little! Once you (finally) get caught up, it’ll be easy to cross-post as soon as a new review posts!

These are just some obvious ways to do some bookish Spring Cleaning but that’s what I’ll be focusing on in the upcoming weeks! What sorts of spring cleaning do you do for your bookish habits and hobbies? Good luck!

Discussion | It’s Hard to Say No

discussion

Book blogging covers many different degrees of content, opportunities, and of course the goals of book bloggers themselves.  Some of us choose to update sporadically and some of us update every day. Some of us are dying to get our hands on ARCs and some of us couldn’t care less about reading advance copies. I love the range of people and content that this community offers and I think it’s so wonderful to see everyone’s individuality through their blogs, what they write, and how they choose to express their feelings all on the same topics and/or books! I think it’s absolutely fantastic how diverse this community is in countless ways! But this post is for that corner of the internet who are “yes people” like I am. We have trouble saying no to good offers!

Gather ’round, fellow “yes people”! Let’s have a little chat about how to say no. Now I’m not saying that you have to say no to things but I’ve had several posts over the years about my personal experiences where I felt the need to put stress on myself to join challenges, participate in blog tours, accept books/ARCs when they were offered, and run promos for pubs/authors/bloggers. These are only a handful of the opportunities that are possible as a book blogger and I’m sure you know that the list goes on! I was one of those people who was just so excited about being a part of everything that I really and truly did want to say yes to nearly every offer.

When I was a newer blogger, I didn’t have as many opportunities as I do now so I really did say yes to just about damn near every pitch that was sent my way. I read books I probably shouldn’t have, joined blog tours when I wasn’t sure I would be keen on the book but felt like I couldn’t turn a publisher down, and hopped on read alongs/blogger projects because I felt bad saying no to the hosts. The silly thing is, this actually put more stress on myself. Sometimes everything worked out great and I had an absolute blast! But too many times I ended up scrambling to meet deadlines because I was doing so many things, rushing through reads, or simply not enjoying the book I was reading. The commitment added more pressure to my hectic blogging schedule and I ended up feeling worse about the content I was putting out and disappointed when I didn’t enjoy a particular book, especially if I needed to report that back to an author or publisher.

I’ve been blogging for almost four years now and I can honestly tell you that it really has taken me this long to be okay with saying no to people. I had to realize that someone else would be able to provide better content or feedback. Someone else might have more time than I do to put together a more thorough post (although really, I always feel like my posts are too wordy… like this one…). Someone else might really want that opportunity more than I do and authors/publishers will more likely appreciate my honesty that a book might not be a good fit for me and offer it to someone who is better suited to give it good feedback. It also really took me this long to put myself first. Sounds stupid, right? I’m reading and blogging for a hobby — how am I not putting myself first this whole time? But being a “yes person” often goes hand-in-hand in being a giver for me. I like to support authors/publishers/bloggers and like to do everything I can do help out. Sometimes I extend myself a little too far and I’ve started doing too many things for other people that I don’t have time to do my own things like read backlist books or post my own personal features. Not to mention that I also have a personal life and I need time to cook, clean, spend time with family, travel, hang out with friends, or simply sit at home and do nothing!

I was afraid to say no because I was afraid I would lose this opportunities if I did. I didn’t want it to seem like I wasn’t interested in working with a publisher because I kept saying no to their offers. The thing is, I didn’t stop to think that they contacted me for a reason and may end up offering me something more suiting to my tastes if I told them my reasons for why I was refusing the offer. Saying something like “I don’t think this book is the right book for me” or “I’m actually more of a fantasy girl than dystopian” is totally okay to say. I don’t personally know how the publishing/blogger relationship works on their end but I’m betting someone out there makes a note of what your preference is so they can pitch you the right books instead of wasting time/money on sending you a book that you don’t want to promote because it wasn’t right. Logic doesn’t win out over emotions sometimes I had to take a step back to look at it from a head vs heart perspective.

I also have a serious case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), especially with blogger-run events/features. I hate saying no to things that sound like fun but I might be too busy to do them. (Note: I always complete an assignment once I commit but that doesn’t mean I’m not stressed while working to do so!) I didn’t want to hurt my blogger friend’s feelings when I said no to her event but something I’ve learned over the years is that people are generally understanding, especially when you give them genuine reasons why you just can’t commit at the moment. Mostly likely, they don’t want you to be stressed over a fun even that they’re planning because that really takes away from the fun aspect of it! My FOMO also applied a lot to book offers which was so silly because whether it’s an ARC, egalley, or finished copy, this book will be available to me in one way or another. If I say no to it now, I can always buy, borrow from the library, or borrow from a friend later. There will be SOME way for me to read it. I might pass on the opportunity for a blog tour but it’s really not the end of the world to pass on something that will end up stressing me out more!

That being said, I do still say yes to a lot. You’ll still see me in tons of places around the blogosphere because I really do enjoy being a part of so many things! No matter what I’ve committed to in the past or what I might commit to in the future, my participation is always genuine even if my stress levels run high sometimes! It’s still hard for me to say no but I’ve gotten MUCH  better at only committing to what I think I will have time for or what I will really enjoy and I think everyone can understand that when I do have to turn something down, there’s a real reason for it. It’s a bit painful to turn down a review copy or decline and invitation to a blog tour but I’m trying to keep in mind that I might not be the best fit for it and then someone else will get that opportunity instead. I could be making someone else’s day!


Do you have a hard time saying no? Do you have FOMO? What are your best tips to psych yourself up to politely refuse?

Social Media Support Sunday | Twitter

Social Media Support Sunday

Social Media Support Sunday is an idea I’ve been fiddling with for a long time now in various forms. There are SO many times where I realize I’m not following some of my friends on social media somehow or I’m looking for new accounts to follow and I just have no idea where to begin. Sometimes we get stuck in our own social groups on social media or just the opposite — get lost in the sea of social media users and followers — that it’s hard to find new accounts. I’ve also been toying with the idea of posting “social media hacks” (which are really just any tips or tricks I’ve learned over the years). I don’t claim to be an expert on any social media site but I find that it’s always helpful to share information because you never know who has been looking for just that thing for a long time! I decided to combine these two things into Social Media Support Sunday with the hopes that I can help some book bloggers who are aiming to grow their social media presence in the easiest way possible!
Note: These posts are not designed to tell people “how to” or “how not to” use social media. They are simply packed full of helpful information to get knowledge out to people about various functions on social media sites that they may not be aware of or would like to learn more about. I am in no way saying there is a right or wrong way to run your social media accounts! The “best” way can only be determined by each individual user!

Over the next few Sundays, I’ll be doing features for multiple social media accounts that a prevalent in the book blogging community/book industry. Hang tight for:

TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | PINTEREST | TUMBLR

SOCIAL MEDIA SUPPORT: TWITTER

Today I want to talk about Twitter since it seems to be one of the most important social media tools for book bloggers! (It is for me, at least.) If you have a book blog and you don’t use Twitter, it’s my personal recommendation to try it out. Twitter is the place where I connect with truly everyone. From other bloggers to readers to publicists to authors — Twitter seems to be one of the main places for the bookish community! I think most of us know the ins and outs of Twitter but I just wanted to share some of my favorite and most-often used features!

Before I get into that, I also want to share my most favorite Twitter tool ever… TWEETDECK. Tweetdeck is a super awesome Twitter app that lets you do just a bit more than Twitter itself. As I go through some of my favorite features, I’m also going to make notes on the extra features that Tweetdeck offers because they have literally changed my Twitter experience! (Note: Tweetdeck does not have a mobile app but it does have an app for Mac desktop. You can also use it in-browser (which I do ALL the time) via tweetdeck.twitter.com!) 

LISTS

Twitter lists are essential for me. I currently follow 960 people on Twitter (and yes, I have gone through to clean up that list. Somehow I do still want to follow over 900 people!) and there is no way I can keep up with them all and not miss something. Naturally, there will be some feeds and updates that will be more important to you than others whether that’s your favorite author, your favorite book bloggers, a publisher, etc and lists are a perfect way to separate those from the many other accounts you have updating in your main feed. If you’re not familiar with how to make lists, all you have to do is click on your avatar and you’ll see an option to select lists. From there, you can go ahead and create new lists to your heart’s content.

social media support

Some things to know about lists created directly on Twitter (that is, Twitter.com and not through an app like Tweetdeck):

  • You can currently only create lists by adding users. That us, you’ll be following all of the updates from all of these accounts on your specified list. You currently cannot save a list based on a hashtag or keywords.
    • Through Tweetdeck: You can also add “columns” to your feed based on hashtags, searches, groups, notifications, and so much more. Below you can take a peek at my feed. It’s the perfect way to see multiple columns at once and keep track of keywords and any hashtags you may want to follow! I also ALWAYS use Tweetdeck for Twitter chats. I just make a column for the hashtag and it constantly updates as people use it! (I apologize for how small it is but I wanted you to see everything that I can keep track of!)
  • You can designate whether each group is public or private. Public lists allow others to tweetdeck listssee who is on your list and will also show up in a person’s notifications when you add them. That’s important to know. If you add someone to a public list, they will be able to see what list you’ve added them to. If you create a private list, only you will be able to see who is on that list and a user will not be notified when you add them.
    • Through Tweetdeck: All of the above still applies. Through Tweetdeck, though, you can add a group as one of your columns to better view/follow. Public and private still apply. You can also add or remove people from groups through Tweetdeck by clicking on the “more” option in their Tweet or the “more” option once you click on their user name (you’ll see the add/remove from lists) and you can adjust your lists from there. These changes will be effective on Twitter.com once you changed them through Tweetdeck.
  • You can add people to a list if you are not following them. Usually when I add someone to a list, I’m already following them (that is why I add them to a feed!) but if you so desire, you can add someone to a list without following. (This does not apply to blocked accounts.)

social media support

An example of Tweetdeck (blurred out my DMs for privacy)

MUTE

Feel like you can’t unfollow someone but don’t want to see their tweets in your feed? Mute is a blessing for cases like this! On Twitter or in Tweetdeck, you can go through the same process you do for lists — click on the “more” option through their tweet or on their profile page (on Twitter, it’s the gear next to the “Follow” option (“Following” if you’re already following them). The big difference (and life-changer for me) is the ability to mute hashtags and keywords in Tweetdeck. If you feel like you’re getting spammed by a hashtag, are offended by certain words, or just don’t want to see something about a particular topic because you don’t care about it, you can mute ALL OF THOSE THINGS in Tweetdeck.

How to mute in Tweetdeck: Go to the SETTINGS icon (in the bottom left of your dash). It will bring up a menu and choose the “settings” option from there (so you’re selecting settings and then settings again). From there you’ll see the MUTE tab. You can enter ANYTHING YOU WANT in there, from a single word to a phrase to a hashtag to a user. (You also do not have to put quotes around it. Just enter text only. If you want to mute a user, just use their handle with no @ symbol. If you want to mute ANY mentions of a specific user, then use the @ symbol and you won’t even see when people reply to them.)

  • Be careful what you mute because you will not see ANY tweets with the keywords/hashtag/user you mute. If you mute the word “hate” and that word appears ANYWHERE in the tweet, you will not see it in your feed. That’s great if you never want to see that word again but if someone uses it in a sentence even when they directly reply to you it will not show up in your Tweetdeck feed. (Note: This doesn’t prevent them from replying directly to you. It will still show up in your notifications on Twitter or in the Twitter mobile app. The special mute functions in Tweetdeck that Twitter does not have are only effective in Tweetdeck.)
  • Muted users can still contact you… but you won’t see it. If you mute a user or their handle, you may be missing replies from them in Tweetdeck. You won’t see any updates from them even if they directly reply to you which has the potential to cause trouble if they think you’re ignoring them (even though you kind of are. But ya know… user beware.) If you mute a user, you also will not see Direct Messages from them pop up in Tweetdeck. It will show one new message but won’t show the message or who it is. You will still be able to see that DM on Twitter though.

I personally use this feature for muting hashtags or book titles that I don’t really care about seeing. If readers are gaga over a series that I don’t really like, I generally mute the book title until the excitement has blown over so my feed isn’t clogged with something that I don’t really care about. I also mute hashtags that clog my feed. It can be really helpful to weed out what you don’t really have interest in but again, be careful what you mute!

ON TWEETDECK: MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS

If you run or have access to multiple Twitter accounts, you can keep track of ALL of them on Tweetdeck. Through Twitter (in-browser), you have to log in and log out in order to access each one. On the Twitter mobile app, you can add multiple accounts and just have to toggle back and forth between each one. It functions nicely but sometimes I tweet from the wrong account if I open up a notification for a different one. Oops!

Tweetdeck allows you to essentially be logged into all of your accounts at once and view any activity from each one. All you have to do is add them each to Tweetdeck through ACCOUNTS and you can start adding columns once they’re all added in. You select which account you want to be your default and that will be the one that’s automatically selected when you start to compose a new tweet. If you want to allow someone else to use your account via Tweetdeck without giving out your password (I haven’t had a reason to do this yet but you never know), you can also invite people to your “team” (see below).

social media support

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you have added a column for an account other than your default (say for example, the column I have in my feed for replies to the @galsonthesamepg account) and you reply within that feed, it will then change from your default account to the account that received the reply. So for example, if I replied to a tweet that someone said to @galsonthesamepg within that column, @galsonthesamepg is my default account for that column since that is the account it’s associated with. Essentially the moral of the story is if you’re using multiple accounts in Tweetdeck, just double check which account is actually sending your reply!

SCHEDULING TWEETS

Twitter does not currently allow you to schedule tweets to be posted at a later time which is another reason I really enjoy Tweetdeck! Sometimes I just want to schedule a bunch of tweets about my latest post because I’ll be away from Twitter all day or so I don’t forget about it as the day progresses. I’ve also used it when I’m on vacation, out of town, or just preoccupied with other things and don’t want to have to remember to tweet something later. It’s also super easy to do! You just type your text, add whatever links/images you want, and then select the day/time you want it to post. I use this ALL the time and is one of my favorite features about Tweetdeck!

schedule


So those are my favorite things about Twitter and how I use it on a day-to-day basis! I’d love to hear anything else I may have missed that really enhance your Twitter experience/make things easier for you or if there are any other awesome features in an application like HootSuite that I don’t currently use. Please do share! I’m sure there’s always something new to learn!

TWITTER LINK-UP

Here’s the part where we share and explore! Feel free to add your Twitter account to help others find you on Twitter! Part of this process is also to find other people to follow and for us to support each other on social media so please do click on at least a few accounts that you don’t currently follow to check them out. It’s just a common courtesy since people will be doing the same for you!! Try to find at least a couple accounts to follow, or follow back some people who will be new followers to you. This is all about community!

Some of us have Twitter handles that are different than our blogs/user names so please add your first name and Twitter handle to the “name” section. (So for me it would be “Brittany @bookaddictguide” — I’ll get it kicked off here!) Your link should be the link to your Twitter account, NOT your blog! 

** This feature is mostly directed to book bloggers since I feel like that is who will use it most but authors and other active book community members are also welcome to link up and share as well! Again… community! ** 

 

So long as this post is a success, I’ll keep them coming for the next few Sundays for other social media sites that we in the book community use! If you have any favorite tips or tricks about one of your favorite social media sites that you think I should include in the next post, please email it to me at bookaddictsguide (at) gmail (dot) com!

Discussion | Blogging Statistics: More Than Just Followers

discussion

A couple weeks ago, it came to my attention that there was a bit of talk going around Twitter regarding posting habits (what is “too little” and what it “too much”) and I felt really cringey that there’s still a sort of mention of what bloggers “should” and “should not” do (lots of quotes here, I know… Can you tell I don’t approve?) and what the “norms” are. I don’t often tweet out into the abyss about issues or THINGS but I just couldn’t hold my tongue…

I was mostly upset (and maybe a little ranty) because the tweet that I saw was regarding a person who was frustrated someone unfollowed them due to too many social media posts in one day. I know it’s disheartening when you see someone actively make the decision not to follow your account anymore, but it made me upset because it felt like the focus was on the number of followers for this person’s account and not the reason why they were posting in the first place.

I wrote a previous discussion post about how we as bloggers need to give ourselves a break and not worry too much about the so-called expectations of the blogging community. We read for fun. We blog for fun. It’s a hobby and it should always been enhancing our lives and happiness, not causing stress… and this whole posting thing really follows that message as well. This is the ONLY blogging “rule” I think we should abide by and sort of my own personal mantra for my blogging habits. The “blogger advice” posts are great, but to all bloggers — new AND old — remember that advice does not equal rules. I’ve had some bloggers ask me how I come up with ideas, how I schedule, how I write reviews, and even how to gain followers, and I’m always happy to share my experience and advice but the best possible advice I can ever give is to make sure you’re enjoying your time and that there is no wrong way to do something. What works for me may not work for the next person — and that’s a good thing. I think we’ve all created our blogs to have our own little corner of the internet where we can voice our opinions and share some awesome book information with the rest of the world and this is my one “should” — your blog should be that corner of the internet where you’re 100% free to find your own voice and what content works for you and the originality and passion for what you enjoy is what makes your blog successful, in my opinion, and what will attract the most followers to your blog. I think readers are able to see a genuine voice, original content, and something that they connect to and that’s the best way to “get followers”. I know it’s hard not to focus on how many followers your blog has, but trust me, they will come if you just keep doing what you’re doing in your own way.

Recently, I had a lot going on in my personal life and I couldn’t find the time to blog. I generally post every weekday (and that is in no way a “norm” — I just really enjoy posting and generally have enough content to fill a week) and there came a day when I just had nothing to post and no time to write something up even if I could come up with an idea. I find the time to blog because it’s something I enjoy  but in this case, my focus needed to be somewhere else. It was very silly to have that number of page views in the back of my mind and how it might drop if I didn’t post that day but I know that page hits isn’t why I’m blogging. I’m a human being who has a life outside of my blog and that is the most important thing to me ALL of the time. I do work hard on my blog but because it’s something I enjoy dedicating my time to. It was very weird letting go and leaving that day empty but in a way, it was also freeing. I didn’t have to post every day. I know that I like to, but it was kind of a reminder that this isn’t something I need to do. It’s something I like to do. I think we all get into our habits and whether they’re fun or maybe a little stressful, sometimes they’re had habits to break.

The other side of that posting “schedule” involves my social media habits as well. I’m sure we all feel that there are certain “norms” — like spacing out promo tweets between personal interactions or the amount of Instagram photos we post in a day — but honestly, along with your blog, your social media accounts are YOURS. You get to choose how often you post, who you interact with, what exactly you post, and what you deem important. These accounts are yours to do whatever you want (well, hopefully you’re being respectful throughout). Whatever you post and however you post it just shows more of your own personality and who you are. If someone unfollows you or doesn’t follow you because of what you’re posting or how often you post it, then they’re not your target audience anyway. Your followers enjoy your content and that’s why they choose to follow you or interact with you. The right people will follow you.

I know it’s hard when I’m sure a vast amount of us feel like blogging is a numbers game. How many followers does my blog have? How many people follow me on Twitter? On Instagram? How many page views do I get? And sometimes it’s really hard NOT to focus on the numbers. For me? I’ve always been a numbers person, even before blogging. I absolutely LOVE statistics so my blogging stats are something that I’m just naturally drawn to. I also can’t help that I have a somewhat competitive personality (sports, grades, board games — that’s just how it’s always been) so it’s not that I’m trying to beat out other bloggers in the numbers game, but I do tend to notice when my numbers grow and I can’t help that happy feeling that happens when I hit an exciting milestone.

It’s not a bad thing to keep track of your statistics and I don’t think anyone should feel ashamed for being proud of seeing those numbers grow. If you work hard on your blog, you deserve all of the followers and recognition and rewards for the work you’re putting into it. I WILL say that may be a harmful thing if you’re blogging IN ORDER to increase your stats. (This is speaking for the majority of us who are doing this as a hobby that we enjoy.) I enjoy blogging. I enjoy watching my follower-base grow. But really, more important than the numbers are the people behind them. I created my blog over three years ago with one idea in mind: I was reading some really good books and I wanted to share my reviews with people so they might be able to enjoy them as well. To this day, that’s still my number one goal. I started writing reviews to share that joy with other people and although the some formatting and content have changed over the years, that’s still my main goal — the reviews, the fun posts, the interviews, the giveaways, the discussions — it’s all because I like voicing my opinions in the hopes that it reaches someone else and enriches their life. I hope that each new follower I get is someone who appreciates the content of my blog and maybe one of my posts brightens their day or they find a new book that they’ll enjoy. I don’t have many extraordinary talents but knowing that this blog might bring a tiny bit of joy or excitement into someone’s life makes it worth it every day and that’s what really matters when I see those numbers grow.

It’s another one of those things where there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to blog. I enjoy keeping track of my stats because statistics are just something I always enjoy. Other people couldn’t care less about followers or statistics… But when it comes down to it, the people are always the most important part of this blogging experience and my blogging life. I’ve made life-long friends, received amazing opportunities, traveled to book conferences to meet even MORE bookish people, and have met wonderful authors. I enjoy talking books to people on Twitter every day and I’m so thankful for the community that I’ve gotten to know. I keep on hoping that my blog and my posts connect with someone out there and they’re enjoying what I write because book blogging is very much about the community and what are all of those numbers anyway? They’re the people behind the stats. And I value those individuals and the way they’ve enriched my life more than the statistics they might provide my blog any day!


So weigh in with what you think! Are you a person who follows stats? What are the reasons YOU  blog?

 

Discussion: In Defense of Instalove

discussion

A few weeks ago, Fierce Reads proposed an interesting question for the Twitterverse to answer… and for me the answer wasn’t easy! 

There’s a lot of animosity and instant negative reactions towards tropes like love triangles and instalove, especially because I think a lot of us have been inundated with both of these concept and/or seen them done errmmm… not well (to put it nicely) too many times. I know that when I hear a book has a love triangle or instalove, I instantly brace myself, preparing for impending doom BUT I don’t always think that’s a fair snap judgement.

It was really interesting to see the answers to this tweet and I was actually surprised to see SO many answers filled with rage about instalove! When it’s done poorly or clumsily, I’m not a fan of it either, but I don’t think it’s something to be counted out, especially when reading YA (come on. I know I suffered from instalove when I was a teenager). I feel like instalove is a term that can encompass more than just the negative instances so I was surprised to see so many reactions!

Okay, story time. I personally consider the way that I met my husband to be a bit insta-lovey. I went to a party with my friend (she had to convince me a little to be honest haha!) and I met Shane there. We instantly hit it off and he even scheduled his plans just to come out and see me if our groups of friends were getting together. He changed his entire opinion of marriage after we started dating (before we officially even started dating, actually). He never wanted to get married and here we are! On our way to our 1st anniversary.

I guess what I’m saying is that for me, it depends on how instalove is written. Do I believe in LOVE at first sight? No. You can’t LOVE someone instantly BUT I do believe in a genuine connection upon first meeting and an instant attraction which is a ridiculously good assistance to falling in love quickly. I firmly believe in insta-attaction and and instant connection but the love part does take time. I think where we have the most issues lies in books like fantasies, sci-fi, and dystopians where two characters meet and then all of a sudden are willing to do anything and everything for that person. In that case… no. That would be instant dedication and maybe instant obsession and attraction but that’s not quite a spark of love.

I also think that it’s such an issue in YA because we’re reading about teenagers. I can remember a VERY specific time when I thought I was in love… from dating a guy for a week. It’s a tumultuous time and easy for a teenager to think that they’re in love because they don’t quite know what love is and have a very strong attraction. Insta-love may be closer to a teenager truth sometimes but that also doesn’t mean it makes it any easier to read! (I much prefer the stories that feel more natural, even if teens do jump into the “L” word too quickly sometimes!)

I could read several books that could be deemed instalove based on a definition and never consider them to be instalove because the relationship just felt natural. I think we just notice when instalove isn’t written as well that sticks out in our brains, giving the concept a generally bad connotation! When it’s written well, I don’t even notice it. I just call it love!

Which is worse for you — instalove or love triangles? Do you think instalove can be written well? If so, what are some great examples?