Tag Archives: Discussion

Discussion: Spoilers… How Soon is Too Soon?

discussion

SPOILERS: HOW SOON IS TOO SOON?

How soon is too soon to publicly talk about a major book/movie/TV show spoiler? Ah, that’s the age-old question. I think we as a book community tend to be a little bit more aware of how we talk about spoilers because a reading experience is so much more time-consuming than a (single) viewing experience and we understand that not everyone will have finished a book by the time we’ve finished. I feel like it’s also more common to read a book long after its release date, where spoilers will still need to remain secret. And even though I feel like reading has never been more of a social experience as it is now, I feel that it can still be the least talked-about media when directly comparing books, movies, and TV shows.

No matter the form of media, there’s always a window where fans refrain from revealing any spoilers so other fans can also enjoy the experience (well, we hope everyone is so considerate. I think we have a fairly good track record with this in the book community). So how long should fans wait before openly discussing spoilers? A month? A year? Forever? I don’t think we’ll ever have a definitive answer. Personally, I try to avoid all spoilers at all times, because you just never know who is going to be a new member of a fandom that’s exploring these stories for the first time… BUT I’ll also admit to openly discussing major spoilers for major MAJOR series like Harry Potter, where the books have been out for decades and the movies have been out for a number of years so I assume the spoilers have already been revealed to whoever may be exposed to them. That still may not be safe though. I still know quite a few friends who haven’t read or watched Harry Potter and some who just did so for the first time and managed to avoid major spoilers before they did so. That just tells me that it’s really never safe to speak openly about these things because there’s always someone who will be starting this journey for the first time.

I do understand that the media may not feel the same way, but I also feel like some forms of media are being way too cavalier about throwing spoilers around. I’ve read all of the books in A Song of Ice and Fire but I’ve only made it through the first few seasons of the TV show, and as most Game of Thrones fans know, the TV has gone in a few different directions from the series and has also started progressing beyond the books. I personally would rather read the books first, even if they are different (and that’s not the reason I’m still behind on the TV show) because even though the show is different in a lot of ways, it still might have parallels to the book series and I’d rather experience those twists while I’m reading versus watching. I finally came to the point where I knew I was going to get spoiled because I was so many seasons behind so I didn’t go out looking for what happened but if there was something major, I willingly acknowledged it instead of being upset and trying to hide from it.
Where I get upset is the media maybe being bit too jumpy to hang onto those spoilers to use them as attention grabbers. A major magazine had posted about a big show spoiler the day after it aired. Now that was just way, way, WAY too soon. Even if you’re someone who watches the show, maybe you were on vacation, away from the TV, or taking care of something more important the night that it aired and you didn’t have time to watch the show that night. That magazine just took that experience away from many, many fans who happened to not watch the show live and I think that is a definite no-no.

Where the lines blur a bit starts around a few months after a show has aired or a book has come out. I think for a book, I’d tend to wait until around six months to a year before I would even think about revealing a spoiler on social media but not everyone feels the same way. For TV shows, it seems to be even less. It’s been a few months since a big Game of Thrones reveal and a major wireless network used the twist in one of their recent commercials. The “star” of the commercial is quoting lines from major movies and TV shows in his regular life, proving that he’s experiencing the network’s features for movies & TV, but no other quote was a spoiler except for this major Game of Thrones one. He then says to his comrades in the elevator after dumping this spoiler on them, “You guys watch Game of Thrones, right?” Well, buddy, if they didn’t, you just spoiled something major for them. I guess if you don’t watch the show, it doesn’t matter to you one way or another. But if you’re behind and in the process of catching up, then your experience just got ruined. This was one that I found out about shortly after it had happened because people couldn’t stop talking about so it wasn’t a huge spoiler to me, but I also felt like it was still too soon to use in a major commercial.

 

This really all came up because this past week’s Modern Family also mentioned the same Game of Thrones spoiler and even described it in more detail, not just referenced the now-infamous line. Even though I knew that it happened, now I know even more about it that I didn’t get to learn by watching the TV show. To a certain extent, I know it’s my own “fault”. I could find the time to catch up with the TV show and being seasons behind, I logically can’t expect all spoilers to stay hidden forever, especially with such a popular series, but at the same time, I do think more precaution could be taken to at least not reveal spoilers in another form of media as a passing comment.

Spoilers come in all shapes and sizes, and through many different forms of media. Whether it’s a family member who doesn’t understand what a spoiler is and reveals a twist in the new Star Wars movie, a character aesthetic on Tumblr that reveals a character death, or an article in Shelf Awareness spoiling the last season of Downton Abbey for you (and yes, these all happened to me), it may never be possible to avoid all spoilers all the time. I do the best I can to keep the surprises alive. I like to go in blind to most of my books, not looking back at the synopsis before I start it to try to keep the reading experience totally fresh. I try to avoid Goodreads until I’ve finished that super popular series-ender so I make sure I don’t see someone else’s reactions that may reveal a secret or two that I haven’t experienced yet. I try to skip over images, memes, and aesthetics that might have a little too much about a book or show that I haven’t yet experienced… but there’s only so much a person can do to stay totally in the dark when we’re all so constantly connected.

Again, I think the book community has the best track record for keeping spoilers locked up, or maybe it just seems like that to me because I’m so personally invested in this community. I’m not sure how that really differs from a TV or movie fandom — or maybe it’s just because I’ve been spoiled for more movies and TV shows than I have books, even though I read many more books than I watch TV. It’s just a theory of mine with no real details to back it up!

Regardless of which form of media you’re experiencing, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how long you hang onto spoilers before you talk about them! Do you always keep them under wraps, only speaking about them with clear spoiler tags and warnings? Do you feel safe talking about twists after a few months? Or a year? Does it make a difference to you how quickly you talk about a TV show versus a movie versus a book? I’d love to know your general thoughts!

Discussion: On Being the Black Sheep

discussion

ON BEING THE BLACK SHEEP READER

Yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday post prompted bloggers to write about books that they liked more or less than they thought they would. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m the black sheep on a LOT of books! By this point in time in my “reading career”, I know what kind of books I like, what genres I prefer, what writing styles I don’t get along with, etc… but sometimes you just don’t know that a writing style or a character flaw or a huge red flag will throw you off until you start reading. If it’s not a book that’s been getting a ton of attention, I’ll usually DNF or put it to the side and check out reviews some time in the future but for many big-name authors or highly hyped books, I end up asking myself what’s wrong with me and why I didn’t like this book as much as the rest of the world.

Being the black sheep can kind of suck. A lot. I’m okay with being the one that doesn’t like what everyone else does. There are plenty of things that I’m not keen on that the world seems to love and it doesn’t bother me: Football. The color pink. Songs on the radio. Shopping. Makeup. I couldn’t care less to be in the minority there… but when it’s books it’s just… different. I actually don’t mind being in the minority on a book and being the one who didn’t like it when everyone else did but the real sting happens because I actually care about what other people are reading. I want to like the same books as my best friends — I mean, I met them through blogging and books are how we met and something that we bond about every single day — so when my friends love something and I don’t, it’s more personal than me just having a different taste than everyone else. You don’t have to like all of the same things as your friends but when they’re passionate about something and you’re not, being the black sheep feels even worse. (And then I’m afraid my friends are going to dump me.)

Aside from being the odd man out, sometimes I feel just plain uncouth. I’ve tried many, many times and I’m just not a person who connects with certain reading styles or trying to read some classics (again). When I’m the odd person out on a book that had beautiful writing, I can see that it’s there but it’s just not something I connect with. I can certainly appreciate an author’s writing style and I’m not a person who needs action for a book to be interesting or moving, but there are some styles that I just don’t click with and I feel just plain dumb when I don’t. I end up feeling like my friends are so much more sophisticated for enjoying those styles while I allow myself to be swept away in an action-packed fantasy or fluffy contemporary novel. And I know, I know, we all read what we want and no shame in that, and I really don’t have shame in what I enjoy reading. Sometimes I just feel ashamed when I don’t enjoy something and like I really should have loved it too. (Thankfully my friends haven’t left me yet so that’s good.)

Then there are the times where I feel just plain crazy being the black sheep on a book. Or rather, I ask myself, is everyone else crazy? I don’t feel bad when I don’t enjoy a book because of poor plot structure, undeveloped characters, or cheesy romances but then I wonder how so many people loved the same book and rated it five stars when I rated it two or three. These are the moments that stump me the most. I know not everyone will enjoy a book but five stars??? Versus my two/three??? How did these people enjoy this book so much and I didn’t? I guess a lot of it has to do with personal preference, of course, and a lot of my reading experiences really have to do with timing. Books that I read early on in my blogging career were easy, fun, and exciting in many cases because I hadn’t read anything like them.

TWILIGHT was great when I was a teenager because it was popular, dramatic, and I hadn’t read a book about vampires before. SWEET EVIL was like, the best book ever when I read it and as the years went by and I tried to continue the series, I easily fell out of love with writing, concept, and pretty much everything about it, not even making it to the last book. I read these at points in my life that were perfect moments to read these books and if I read them now, they would be cheesy and I’m sure I wouldn’t love them at all like I had all those years ago. And maybe this is the case with all of these books that people are enjoying that I’m not. Maybe these people are reading them at a good time in their life and these are moments when they’re just enjoying a book and not really caring about plot holes or cheesy moments. I know I do that a lot with books — if I’m really enjoying something, I just roll with it and don’t even care if an author uses the wrong scientific term or forgot that something happened three years ago and not five. Then there are the books where a red flag throws me off in the very beginning and I pick everything else apart from there.

It’s not that I need to fit in with every book but sometimes it’s hard being the opposite of a crowd when it’s something that’s so popular! Seeing merch everywhere for the book, raving reviews, reading updates… it’s all just so… blah and makes me wish that I at least liked it a little bit so I could understand where everyone is coming from. Thankfully, I know myself well enough that I like what I like and I don’t what I don’t and I don’t have to “fit in” with the crowd, even if it means I’m the crazy one who didn’t like the new hit release!

The one shining moment about being the black sheep on a book is when you find other black sheep. We don’t need to fit in but there is some validation of your reactions and feelings and it’s like WOOOOO! Someone else who agrees! I know plenty of us are happy to be ourselves or even to go against the grain but deep down, it’s human nature to want to connect with someone and enjoy the same things that someone else does. Find another black sheep to rant and revel with can be a glorious moment when you find it, so there’s always at least one silver lining in those black sheep reads!


Do you find yourself being on the opposite of popular books and reviews? Do you ever feel like the odd person out when it comes to those black sheep reads? Tell me your stories!

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!