Tag Archives: Discussion

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!

Discussion | It’s Hard to Say No

discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Non-Review: Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) – Leigh Bardugo

A Non-Review: Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) – Leigh BardugoTitle: Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: September 29, 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 9, 2015
Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone.…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction–if they don’t kill each other first.

The “non-review” isn’t really something I intended to be a regular thing when I first posted it as my thoughts on REBEL by Amy Tintera but it felt appropriate to bring back for my thoughts about my SIX OF CROWS re-read. A “non-review” is less of a review of the actual book and more thoughts, feelings, and a bit of discussion based on how my reading experience went. I thought it would be a good thing to use for my SIX OF CROWS re-read feedback since I had quite a tumultuous time trying to write my original review.

Leigh Bardugo is one of my all-time favorite authors. I obsessively collect anything Grisha-related and just fell in love with her writing throughout the whole Grisha Trilogy. Naturally, SIX OF CROWS was one of my most-anticipated books like, ever so I was so disappointed to feel like it just wasn’t a five-star read for me (I mean, it was four stars so it’s not like I didn’t enjoy it). I read SIX OF CROWS several months before it released, immediately after I obtained a copy at BEA 2015 back in June. Since I had so many mixed feelings on how the book sat with me that pre-ordered the audiobook version so I could start it as soon as the book was released on sale to the public.

My experience with the audiobook was fantastic. It’s a cast of narrators, a different one for each point of view in the book and they pretty much all kill it. I had so much fun listening to the book and I really felt like that helped me connect to each voice even more which was something that I noted on my first read. I felt like I was left wanting more backstory and development of each character, something to pull at my heartstrings a little bit more since this crew of criminals is so hardened and tough and I really think being able to hear those voices brought a new level of connection to each one for me. I also really think that just re-reading the book helped a lot since I didn’t need to focus on the basics as much and I could shift to the details, personalities, and nuances.

Honestly, I think my biggest “struggle” with my original read of SIX OF CROWS was that I was just too excited. I’m usually complaining about the hype of a popular book that kills it for me (which really is just impossible to avoid when a community is so large and so excited), but how do you prevent your OWN hype from letting you down? SIX OF CROWS was honestly a fantastic book. I did bump up my rating from around four stars to four and a half (still not QUITE five for me yet) but I had to ask myself, what was really missing that I didn’t feel like I could give it a perfect rating? It had everything that I loved, everything was amazing… and I figured it out it was ME. I think I had just hyped the book up so much in my head (“omg a new book by my favorite author!”) that I had set it up to just totally blow my mind without even knowing how the book would feel. I spent time imagining how it would go, what it would be about, who the characters would be, etc that I essentially had an idea in my head of what the book would be and that turned out to be pretty far off. That’s not a bad thing at all — I mean, the book was GREAT and honestly better that it didn’t go the way I imagined! But I did have an expectation that just led me in a different direction and SIGH. It was my own damn fault.

The terrible thing about it all is how impossible it is to avoid hype. Whether it’s from the community or from yourself, there’s only so much you can do to avoid excitement and speculation. SIX OF CROWS wasn’t the only book to suffer from this self-inflicted hype either. It’s happened to me with more than one series conclusion this fall and I think that’s because I’m just SO excited for these books by my favorite authors that I’m just hyping it up too much for my own good.

The other dilemma I have here is that if a book is good, it’s good. If it’s hyped up and deserves the hype, you’ll still love it. It’s undeniable that QUEEN OF SHADOWS had some immense hype surrounding it and I still savored, adored, and absolutely fell in love with that book. I think I had the same amount of anticipation for QUEEN OF SHADOWS as I did for some other incredibly popular books lately, so that makes me even question if this is a valid reason or if I’m making this excuse because I just don’t want to say that I didn’t love these books from an author whose work I’ve obsessed over. I suppose it could be a mixture of both. Maybe I was okay with QUEEN OF SHADOWS because I really did have an idea of how it might happen and my expectations were closer to actuality. Maybe it was because things were still on the same track as the first three books (same characters, following the same plot, etc) whereas with SIX OF CROWS, I met all new characters, it was a different time and place, and I had a hard time adjusting to the same world but in a totally different aspect.

I’m not quite sure what the “right” answer is, but it if is me hyping up books too much for my own good, I hope I’m able to corral that a bit and quickly. I’ve still enjoyed all of these books but I do feel a sense of “that wasn’t quite what I thought it would be” and I don’t really know how to handle that. I’m not sure there is a way to avoid getting too excited for a book because that’s also what I love about being a reader! Books are a gloriously fun thing to be passionate about and it’s impossible not to catch on to that excitement and let it spread throughout the community to help support your favorite authors and push books into the hands of other people.

What do you guys think? Have you ever hyped a book up too much for yourself? Do you struggle with expectations changing your opinion of a book??

 

A Non-Review: Rebel (Reboot #2) – Amy Tintera

A Non-Review: Rebel (Reboot #2) – Amy TinteraTitle: Rebel (Reboot #2) by Amy Tintera
Publishing Info: May 13, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss, Purchased
Genres: Young Adult, Zombies, Dystopian
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 3, 2015
Related Posts: Reboot (Reboot #1)

Wren Connolly thought she'd left her human side behind when she dies five years ago and came back 178 minutes later as a Reboot. With her new abilities of strength, speed, and healing—along with a lack of emotions—Wren 178 became the perfect soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation). Then Callum 22 came along and changed everything.
Now that they've both escaped, they're ready to start a new life in peace on the Reboot reservation. But Micah 163, the Reboot running the reservation, has darker plans in mind: to wipe out the humans. All of them. Micah has been building a Reboot army for years and is now ready to launch his attack on the cities. Callum wants to stick around and protect the humans. Wren wants nothing more than to leave all the fighting behind them.
With Micah on one side, HARC on the other, and Wren and Callum at odds in the middle, there's only one option left...
It's time for Reboots to become rebels.

One of my blog policies is that I will write a review for every single book I finish, no matter what my final opinion was. I’ve been growing a bit more lax with holding myself to reviewing but I still feel the draw to review almost every book, simply because I enjoy sharing my feelings about what I read and how I felt when I read it… but when it came time to review REBEL by Amy Tintera, I was at a total loss for words.

REBEL became victim of several unfortunate reading decisions that ended up with a sadly unfortunate overall impression of the book. I read REBOOT back when it first came out — no, before it first came out because I read it as an eARC — back in the spring of 2013. And yes, if you do that math, you’ll see that means that I didn’t get to REBEL until two and a half years later. Sometimes that gap is okay if I’m reading a big, epic fantasy series that I’m already invested in and may not even have the book available to read until a few years later (*cough*A Song of Ice and Fire*cough*) but I really screwed myself and any hopes I may have had of enjoying REBEL as much as I did REBOOT by waiting so long to read it. That’s just too many years to put in between the first and last books of a duology and by the time I read REBEL, not only had I forgotten a ton but my reading tastes had even changed a bit. I knew that I enjoyed REBOOT so I didn’t want to kick REBEL to the curb but I think I lost that prime reading opportunity about a year and a half ago.

This is one of the many hardships of being an avid reader and/or book blogger. (First world problems, I know.) There are just so many good books and series out there that it’s just so hard to pick what book I want to read next and perfectly good books/series tend to sit on my shelves while I start new ones. Then I put it off because I’m not in the mood for that genre or I have a book I need to read for a deadline or I need to catch up on ARCs and shove my backlist books to the side. This isn’t the first time this has happened to a series and I’m sure that sadly, it won’t be the last.

I tried to get back into REBEL by reading the Recaptains recap of REBOOT and everything sounded familiar all right but that feeling and connection to the characters was close to gone by the time I got to book two. I wanted to enjoy the book as much as I had enjoyed the first and it was really easy to read but that connection just wasn’t there. It could be that I just wasn’t into the book but I think most of it was that I waited too long.

This poor, poor book also didn’t stand a chance because it was the last book I read before I picked up QUEEN OF SHADOWS. I had the choice to read one more book before starting the latest in this epic fantasy series from Sarah J. Maas or I could just wait patiently and you know, wait. But any time that I could be reading and am NOT feels wasted so I grabbed REBEL off the shelf to try and finally finish this series and put another check mark on the never-ending list of series that I need to complete. Bad, bad move. I started REBEL and then didn’t have enough time to read before QUEEN OF SHADOWS arrived and before you knew it, the precious was in my hands and I was still reading a book all the while staring at this new pretty. So, shame on me, I ended up rushing through REBEL to finish so I could start a different book and continue on in one of my favorite series. That made me feel even more detached and I felt the pressure and was anxiously trying to finish so I could start reading QUEEN OF SHADOWS before the spoilers started hitting Goodreads. Poor, poor REBEL.

I tried to come up with some thoughts once I finished and I felt… Ambivalent. The book was okay. The writing was okay. The plot, romance, action, and characters were all okay. And “okay” doesn’t really make for a great review. When it comes down to it, it could have just been a middle-of-the-road book but I also think I did it an injustice by waiting too long to read it and then on the flip side, rushing through it. I know there are cases where a book can be better or worse depending on your mood (*raises hand as a mood reader*) and that a book may be better for you at one time in your life versus another but this is something that I’ll never know! I may have rated it higher had circumstances been different but the fact is that this is how my read went and all I can do is reflect on what I did read and how it made me feel at the time. And there you have the non-review.

Discussion | Blogging Statistics: More Than Just Followers

discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

Discussion: In Defense of Instalove

discussion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discussion: On Going in Blind

 

discussion

Very recently, I’ve started a few books — namely ARMADA and THE ACCIDENT SEASON — having totally forgotten what they’re about before I started them so the idea came to me to share a little piece of my reading habits: going into books (mostly) blind. 

I’m sort of a “read a synopsis once and done” kind of girl. Usually when I’m adding books to Goodreads or my TBR or my bookshelves, I read the synopsis (of course) to see if I’m interested and then don’t really read it again… maybe ever. It seems like a silly thing to do, right? I bet you’re wondering how I can possibly know what I want to read if I don’t know what a book is about, but that’s the beauty of being both a mood reader and an obsessive Goodreads shelver — I don’t really have to!

By the time a book lands on my Goodreads shelves, I already know that I’m interested in reading it. If I obtain a copy of it, I mark it accordingly so I know it’s available for me to read and each book that I add to my shelves, I put on a different shelf according to genre. Sometimes I’m a liiiittle bit off if the description is vague but mostly I can place what sort of feel it might have. This is where my mood reading comes into play: by the time I’m ready to pick up a new book, I’m picking based on what I feel like reading so I usually choose based on genre, whether that’s browsing my Goodreads shelves or staring at the ones in my home. However I decide to pick a book, one thing is for sure — I don’t pick it based on synopsis.

I usually don’t read the blurb again until after I finish a book (or during if I’m starting to feel like the book is taking a weird turn) or when I start writing my review. It may seem crazy to some but I love going into books blind. Why, you ask? Because I love discovering every little surprise and secret the way the author intended. I know that sometimes blurbs or synopses have to include some minor plot points in order to get that hook out to readers to get them interested so I like to totally forget the specifics of a blurb by the time I pick up a book to read!

It may not seem like much but I’ve discovered big surprises within the first quarter of a book which can often times be given away because that’s the first big twist in a story to get the reader invested in the book… But if I’m familiar with the blurb and then go to pick up the book, that’s no longer a surprise for me. It may not seem like a big deal but I find a book so much more enjoyable when I’m able to discover those things for myself. Big twists and surprises really enhance my reading experience and I often bump up ratings because of a good twist at the end of a book or a surprising moment that I just really didn’t see coming.

Of course, going in blind does have its drawbacks sometimes. I can think of a couple books where I forgot exactly what the synopsis said (like I usually do) but then missed clues to the actual feel/genre (I thought the book was sci-fi, for example, and it was much more dystopian) or hints about a genre-changing twist (from mystery to straight-up paranormal). Those sorts of surprises aren’t the greatest because then I have to totally reassess the book that I’m reading and I feel disappointed because the book wasn’t what I thought it was. The happy news is that A) that doesn’t happen to me often and B) if the book really was going well for me, those surprises would have flowed naturally and I would have been okay with the change instead of them feeling totally out of place.

Thankfully, I haven’t had many bad or frustrating experiences but not fully knowing every detail about a book’s plot before I start it. Going in blind almost always enhances my reading experience because I’m a TOTAL spoiler-avoider and even those little twists make a big difference!


How about you? Do you ever go into books blind or do you like to be fully prepared before you pick up a book? Does mood reading help you decide or do you usually pick based by a book’s description?