Tag Archives: Reading

Discussion: Getting Real With Ratings!

discussion

GETTING REAL WITH RATINGS

I’ll admit it. I’ve padded a few ratings in my day. Whether because I loved the author and wanted to rate the book better, because I wanted to enjoy the book more and bumped it up, or just felt bad rating a book lower, I’ve added an extra half a star (or a whole star) to a rating before just because it felt right… but apparently 2017 is the year of rating harshly!

Well… I haven’t been harsh per se. I’ve just been putting my real feelings more out there rather than saying a book was good and giving it four stars. I still have had a lot of four-star reads this year but I wasn’t afraid to rate some books three stars, even if I did enjoy them. A brain-candy read with little plot and things that bothered me didn’t need to be rated fours stars, and that’s okay! Even if I enjoyed a book, it doesn’t mean it’s the best book out there.

But what’s been most noticeable lately is my lack of five-star reads. Aside from re-reads I haven’t had… ANY this year??? I have had some super, super solid 4.5 star reads that I rounded up to 5, so we can count those (like STRANGE THE DREAMER, HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA, and  A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC) but my other five-star reads have all been re-reads! And okay, I did pad WIRES AND NERVE a little bit because I adore Marissa Meyer and it hits all my feels being in the Lunar Chronicles world again. But where are all my five-star reads???

Sometimes I wonder if it’s the books. Am I not choosing the right books? I actually feel like I’ve been doing a better job of reading what I really want to read instead of what a publisher has offered me, and I’ve been doing better at turning down review copies or only requesting ones I really know I want, so that should actually help me pick better reads, which in a way I guess it has. I’ve had oodles of four star books and maybe about the same amount of threes but they were more books that I enjoyed but didn’t find feels with versus books I felt more disappointed in.

So maybe it’s just me! Has five years of reading gotten me all jaded about the books I’m reading? Am I expecting too much? Or are authors so amazing that they’ve set the bar so high that nothing compares until it blows me away? Or maybe I’ve read TOO MANY BOOKS and I’m having a hard time finding original ideas anymore.

I miss reading a book and being like OH. HECK. YES. I’M LIVING FOR THIS RIGHT NOW. It’s been so long! I think STRANGE THE DREAMER is my best read this year and I was definitely living for that book but there were just a couple minor hang-ups where I was ever-so-shy of 100% in love with it. I’m sure there are still five-star books out there for me and I will never quit the hunt to find them! And I’ve still read a lot of really great books this year too. Just because they weren’t five-star reads doesn’t mean I didn’t love them! I can’t wait for that feeling of being wholly enveloped in a story again though!

What are some of your five-star rated books from this year of reading? What would you recommend? Do you ever have problems where you feel like nothing is catching your whole heart and soul?

Discussion: Falling Out of Love with an Author/Series

discussion

FALLING OUT OF LOVE WITH AN AUTHOR/SERIES

I’ve fallen out of love with quite a few series over the past few years and it’s always hard to make the decision to part with books you once loved. It’s always hits hard when I think about how much I loved a particular book or series and then realizing that the love just isn’t there anymore. Sometimes it’s a direction that the series took, sometimes it’s an incident that made me see the author/series in a different light, and other times it’s just not quite the topic or series for me anymore.

Sometimes, this is why I love stand-alone novels. The publishing industry seems both fast and slow. Putting out one book of a series per year may seem like forever to wait for it but I know there’s soooo much more that goes on in order to get that book to publication, like you know… writing it. While it feels like we wait forever for a series to finish, I’m sure for an author it can feel like a mad dash to stick to the one-book-per-year pressure! And at the same time, I‘ve fallen out of love with series over the span of two or three years simply because I’m a different person than when I started reading it. I started the SWEET EVIL series when I was a baby blogger four or five years ago and I JUST LOVED IT. Then by the time that series wrapped up last year, I lost all interest in even finishing the series. Part of it was that I didn’t love the second book as much as the first but by the time the third book came out, I wasn’t the same person or the same reader that I was when I had read the first book. It was so sad to see how much I had loved and fangirled over the first book and then my love for the series just changing over time because of how my life had changed me.

Other times, it’s heart-breaking to see a series change with each book. There are plenty of books that I’ve read where I really enjoyed the first book in a series and then the second book just took a turn that baffled me! I think that is harder to take than just falling out of love with a series because of life-changes. It’s a disappointment that settles in when you were expecting the series to go one way and it totally goes somewhere that you’re not expecting. I positively adoooored REBEL OF THE SANDS but reading the second book just felt so…. different, and I just wasn’t on board with everything that happened in TRAITOR TO THE THRONE. Usually the changes aren’t too drastic but there have been a few series where it just didn’t even feel like the same characters or plot and I just had a hard time wanting to read the second book, much less continue on with the rest of the series, even if it was only one more book.

And the worst, I think, it’s falling out of love with an author completely. By now, you may know that I am not as into Sarah J. Maas’ books as I used to be. I hopped on late to the THRONE OF GLASS fandom but I fell in loooove with CROWN OF MIDNIGHT, HEIR OF FIRE, and QUEEN OF SHADOWS was actually my top top read of that year. I also really enjoyed A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES and was impressed with how it still felt like Sarah J. Maas but was different from the Throne of Glass series. Then I started having… issues. I just couldn’t get into EMPIRE OF STORMS and I never got in the swing of the book. I was surprised and disappointed to see the same elements pop up in EMPIRE OF STORMS that I had just read in A COURT OF MIST AND FURY. I had a hard time with some of the writing styles and dialogue in ACOMAF, didn’t get the pacing in EoS, and barely even had the desire to read A COURT OF WINGS AND RUIN, which ended up really disappointing me even going into it knowing that I wasn’t going to love it. I was just so shocked and a little heart-broken (or something less dramatic) that I just wasn’t loving her books as much. I simply adored QUEEN OF SHADOWS and I don’t know if it was me or the books but somewhere along the way, I lost that passion and the little things ended up being a main focus of irritation instead of seeing those big things that I loved as a whole. The series just felt… different by the end and so many things had happened that I almost didn’t feel like I was reading the same books anymore. Again, just my personal opinion but it’s the most notable change for me and the one that sticks out when talking about this topic. I’ll still be finishing the Throne of Glass series since I’m almost done and so far in but I’m not excited about it anymore, and that makes me sad.

BUT this happens! It’s a natural progression of a reader’s life, I think, and really it’s all the books’ fault!! I’ve changed so much because I read so much, so in a way, the fact that I’m a reader in itself has been the cause for a lot of my feelings to change. The more I read, the more I learn what I like. The more I see more technical things like world-building and character development. The more I discover magical new concepts and get tired of repeated ones. I guess reading it both a blessing and a curse when it comes to finishing old series and starting new ones! There’s always something new out there so it can be comforting to come back to a series that you’ve been keeping up with for years or it can be tiring that it’s not quite what you felt it used to be.

 

Are there any series or authors that you’ve fallen out of love with over the years? What caused your opinions to change? How do you deal with it — do you push on and finish a series or just let it be?

False Start [2] – The Traitor’s Kiss, The Impostor Queen, Nevernight

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I’m not sure if it’s me or if it’s time or if it’s the books I’m picking up, but I’ve found that lately, not a lot of books are sticking. I’m trying to figure out whether I want to finish the books that don’t grab me right away or just put them down and find something that I’m passionate about. On FALSE START today, I’m talking about some recent books that are currently in limbo for me!


THE TRAITOR’S KISS by Erin Beaty

I received a copy of THE TRAITOR’S KISS from Macmillan for review and I was so excited to read this book! Then once I started, I kind of felt like it wasn’t like how I remembered the synopsis when I first added it to my TBR. The beginning of this book felt a little too cookie-cutter, following popular YA tropes and Sage was a little too typical “rebellious/not-a-proper” girl and it just didn’t feel unique. I had a hard time starting this one and from the tone, I’m not sure I want to continue. I really tried to push forward but I kept getting stuck.

FINISH OR DITCH IT? I’m not sure yet. I think I’ll wait for more reviews to come out but this might be one of those that I put down and don’t make it back to because I’m not feeling it.


THE CURSED QUEEN by Sarah Fine

I actually really loved the first book in this series, THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN, but I just hit a wall starting this book. It’s a companion so I was left wanting more of the main characters from the first book (although it does feature those characters from a different view point early on) and the characters just felt so forced. I just really wasn’t into it and had a hard time continuing, no matter how much free time I had.

FINISH OR DITCH IT? I might ditch it. Once I hit that wall, it’s hard to recover. I know there’s a third book but I don’t know if I want to push myself to finsih this.


NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff

This was just a case of poor format! I started this via egalley months ago but it didn’t have the footnotes that everyone was talking about so I decided to wait for my print copy to arrive. By then I had other books lined up that I had to read and I just didn’t have the time to come back to this. I enjoyed the little bit that I read but this has been hanging out there ever since the summer.

FINISH OR DITCH IT? Definitely finish! I just need to find the time to get back to my print books. This is definitely high up on my list of things to read.


Have you read any of these books? What have you thought? Did you love them or leave them?

Discussion: Spoilers… How Soon is Too Soon?

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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

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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!

False Start [1]: A Shadow Bright and Burning, The Reader, Kiss Cam

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I’m not sure if it’s me or if it’s time or if it’s the books I’m picking up, but I’ve found that lately, not a lot of books are sticking. I’m trying to figure out whether I want to finish the books that don’t grab me right away or just put them down and find something that I’m passionate about. On FALSE START today, I’m talking about some recent books that are currently in limbo for me!


A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING by Jessica Cluess

I received an audio review copy of this book and was SO excited to start it. The concept sounded great and the audiobook narrator was Fiona Hardingham who I loved in THE SCORPIO RACES… but for some reason I’m having the hardest time with this audiobook! I actually stopped the audio and switched it out for THE SCORPIO RACES because 1) Fiona’s voice was just making me long for Puck’s story and 2) it was time for my annual re-read anyway. I think I started to realize though that I love Fiona Hardingham in TSR because her voice goes well with a spunky character. When it’s someone who’s not as bold and spunky, her narration starts to feel a little shrill and I’ve honestly not liked any of her other narrations so far. I was having a hard time getting into the story too, feeling like I was just kind of thrown in, but audio could be a big part of that.

FINISH OR DITCH IT? I think I’ll try to read this one in print instead of audio. I’ve heard some REALLY good things about the book and I think maybe I’m just not clicking with the narration.


THE READER by Traci Chee

I just started THE READER — on audio as well — and it’s another book I’m just not clicking with. The narrator, Kim Mai Guest, is okay and I liked her narration in another book I listened to but I think this is more of a case of me not clicking with the story. The beginning felt very cookie-cutter YA fantasy, almost edging on a dystopian feel with a society who can’t read and who seems to be persecuted if they can. Things just started picking up from where I last left off in the audiobook and it’s giving me a little hope. It doesn’t quite feel too deep yet so I’m unsure if I’ll like the actual story or writing but it’s too soon to make any judgments yet, I think. I’m going to push on a bit more and see how it goes.

FINISH OR DITCH IT? Try to keep going for a bit. I think I want to listen to a bit more of the book before making any decisions and see how the plot picks up. I’m not super impressed with the beginning though.


KISS CAM by Kiara London

I’ve had a hard time with Swoon Reads books (I seriously don’t think I’ve liked a single one. Not even exaggerating there) but Kiss Cam was best-friends-to-more so how could I not try it? It started off cute but it immediately took a turn into the unbelievable for me. From an incidental kiss brought on by vlog viewer questions to all of a sudden, let’s make this a whole segment where two characters who supposedly don’t like each other kiss all the time. It seems way too silly. The story could have very well started the *feelings* from the one kiss and I don’t get why this whole kissing segment is necessary or realistic. It really turned me off so far and the dialogue is just okay so I’m not super thrilled about continuing.

FINISH OR DITCH IT? I think I’ll try to keep reading and see how it goes. There’s still a lot of book left to build up those lovely friends-to-more feels and really develop a nice relationship. I think I’ll see how it goes and it’s a quick read so even if it doesn’t go well, maybe I can still finish it.


Have you read any of these books? What have you thought? Did you love them or leave them?

Discussion: Do Character Deaths Affect Your Rating?

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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: 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?