Discussion: Do ARC Reviews HAVE To Be Positive?

Aren’t you proud of me? Being all consistent and writing discussions regularly for the first time ever? I told you had a list of ideas a mile long – I’m just working through it now.

Anyways. Onto the discussion you came here for.


I’ve seen a handful of bloggers touch upon this topic and I wanted to give my own view of it. Arcs are, especially, a book blogger’s lifeblood – one of my most popular discussion posts is on How To Request ARCs.

And for many of us, they are a perk to our hobby – but they are also a responsibility.

Regardless of your stance on negative reviews in general, we have do decide if its okay to negatively review on ARC.

ARC, simply put, stands for Advanced Readers/Review Copy.

An ARCs entire purpose of existence is to generate prerelease reviews and hype, so that the book sells better. Obviously, positive reviews are whats going to accomplish this, not negative reviews.

But upon reviewing an ARC, we all give a statement along the lines of “I received this book for free but it doesn’t influence my opinion”. I think for most of us, thats not even a conscious thing to write, its a legal, automatic, robotic thing. Like a user agreement – you mark agree and proceed to ignore it.

Even if you don’t consciously tailor reviews because its an ARC, I think it subconsciously motivates us to try and like the book a bit more – we feel bad giving a negative review when a publisher/author went out of their way, and spent money, to have us review the book.

But we need to be honest – thats the only way book blogs function. If our readers can trust us, if our fellow book bloggers can trust us.

If you heartily dislike the book – and you don’t want to give a negative review, maybe contact the publisher and let them know. Give them your feedback.

Otherwise, be careful with what you request or accept – if you’re not sure about it, don’t take it just because its offered – you don’t want to get yourself in that position.

Now, if you are reviewing an ARC, and you didn’t like it, DON’T BASH IT.

Explain why did and why did not work for you – what made you dislike it, its it a personal/subjective reason? Could others of certain tastes like it? Is the writing objectively good? Even if its a low rating, can you mention some positives?

We want to promote books. We want ARCs to serve their intended purpose, but not at the sake of our integrity. Be honest – just don’t be harsh or cruel.


What do you think?

Do you agree with me?

Do you have a different stance?

Let me know!

Discussion: Unhauling Books

With ever growing TBRs and book collections comes ever decreasing shelf space.

Especially when book bloggers move houses or go off to college.
Shelf space is a hot commodity not to be trifled with.

One ever common way to deal with this is the book unhaul.

Bloggers either donate books or host giveaways for books they no longer want on their shelves.


Different bloggers have different criteria for unhauls.

Some do it periodically to rid themselves of books below a certain star rating or that they distinctly disliked.

Some giveaway arcs they’ve finished.

Some get rid of old / beat up / or multiple copies of the same books. Sometimes it’s just a book they don’t intend to reread.

This is a good thing – or spreads the book Iove and stops your shelf from killing you in your sleep.


But I think I’m incapable of it.

Over the years I’ve turned in a handful of books to second hand stores, give.
A few to my sister or cousins.
But I am overwhelmingly a hoarder.

I always have been.
I probably always will.

I should probably embrace the unhauling.
Someday.
Someday.
Maybe.

Or next year when I’m packing up for college and start feeling the urge to set things on fire so I don’t have to deal with them.


What do you think?

Do you unhaul books?

Discussion: The Great Book Format Debate – Paperback, Hardcover or E-book?

This is a discussion post virtually every book blogger ever has added to.

I felt I should to.


Hardcover:

Pros-

  • Looks a lot nicer on a shelf.
  • Tend to have nicer covers.
  • Surprises under dust jackets.
  • First to be released.
  • More satisfying to possess/smell/feel/read usually.
  • The classic form of a book.

Cons-

  • Heavy
  • Hard to carry around / hold up to read for extended periods.
  • Dust jacket can get messed up or lost.
  • Way more expensive usually.
  • Take up a lot of space in one’s house/room.

Conclusion:

Hardcovers are preferable for looks but sometimes impracticable and expensive.


Paperback:

Pros-

  • Easy to read and carry than a hardback.
  • Cheaper and still physical for display and collection.
  • No dust jacket anxiety.
  • Easier than hardback to read for extended periods.

Cons-

  • They can take long to be released (over a year past the hardcover at times).
  • Usually have worse covers.
  • Get damaged easier (bent spines)
  • Don’t look as nice on a shelf.

Conclusion:

Easier, cheaper, but not as pretty.


E-books:

Pros-

  • Easy to carry around.
  • Doesn’t take up room/house/shelf space.
  • Generally the cheapest.
  • The modern book format.
  • No worries about loss or damages.
  • Don’t have to worry about being intimidated by book size.

Cons-

  • E-books can be tricky, because depending on the reader you have ( as in iPad vs. kindle vs nook vs app vs desktop vs what ever else exists) can make a big difference on the experience.
  •  Some books, especially image or formatting specific ones usually become unreadable in the best of times.
  • Can’t be lent to friends.
  • No physical shelf to be prideful of.
  • Have to buy a device that can cost $80+

Conclusion:

I love reading on my kindle – when I have mobis, PDFs only work on the desktop and I never have time to read there. Adobe Digital Editions gets tedious.

I’ve been using e-books since early middle school, as its easier to carry around in a bookbag and on vacations, and long books seem less intimidating. Also, decreasing shelf space.

E-books as a preference or option varies greatly by device and by the person.

E-books are the cheapest, easiest, and least satisfying.


Audiobooks:

Despite this discussion being ever popular, audiobooks are never included it seems. They always get a separate rave or rant. Its a book format like any other, only far it gets included. Hell, I made a rant about them in my first ever discussion.

Pros-

  • Easy to read on the go/ when multitasking.
  • Lets people who don’t usually have time to read, read.
  • Can be inexpensive.
  • Fun to listen to voices for the characters (on the better or full cast ones at least).

Cons-

  • Can be hard to focus on.
  • Can take longer to listen to than actually read.
  • Quality of audiobooks in narration varies drastically.
  • Makes it difficult to imagine characters for yourself.

Conclusion:

Audiobooks have less objective pros and cons, they mostly fall down to personal preference. I don’t abhor them or anything, but I prefer to read for myself. They I may have to listen to some that are full cast narrations, as those sound fun!


Overall Conclusions:

I will continue to prefer hardcovers, and only buying paperbacks when I’m desperate for a physical copy/at a second hand store.

My e-reader will continue to be for arcs.

Really there is no conclusion to be reached in this sort of discussion, I just wanted to make my pros and cons lists.


What do you think?

Which do you prefer?

Do you agree with what I said?

Let me know!

Discussion: Reviewing Non-Novel Reading Material (Short Stories / Comics / Manga etc.)

Last month I wrote a Discussion on What You Review.

But, I wanted to expand on what I said when I saw a great discussion on How Does One Review Manga and Comics @ RakioddBooks. (And really, check out her blog!)

Because I’d love it if more book bloggers reviewed comics/manga/ etc.

In my discussion, I had mentioned reviewing non-books, but hadn’t gone into detail.

And when commenting on Raquel’s post, I thought I had enough to say on my own views that I’d make my own discussion post as a sort of response. Get my insight out to my own followers.

Here is what I commented:

I haven’t really read enough manga/comics recently to be thinking about how to review them, but I think I’d use a similar system that I use for short story collections.

As you finish a short story (or manga/comic volume) write a mini review, then, when you’ve read enough (5-10 depending on length I’d guess – or even once you’ve finished the series), you can post all the mini-volume reviews in one post with an overall conclusion on your thoughts of the series.

That way, you don’t have to worry about either not having a long enough review or forgetting details of the series as you review.

I’ve reviewed short stories before – I review the collection as a whole with mini-reviews for each individual story in the same post.

I think a similar approach works for manga and comic volumes.

That way you can track your thoughts on each individual issue for your followers, without forgetting details by reviewing at the end, or getting annoying with two sentence reviews posted separately for the whole series/run/etc.


What do you think?

Should they be reviewed differently?

Do you have your own thoughts on it?

Or do you think book blogs should only review books?

Because I like seeing reviews of other types of material.

Discussion: On DNF Books And Reviews

DNF stands for “Did Not Finish” – an acronym you’ve probably heard around the book blogging community before.


People DNF books all the time, for all sorts of reasons.

Because they just weren’t liking the book.
Because they were bored.
Because they took a particular issue with the book (problematic /trope they dislike etc.).

Everyone has their own policy on this and I can’t speak for everyone.


I personally dislike DNFing books – it feels dishonest to pass judgement if I didn’t see it through.

I have only DNFed a handful of books. Generally because the content made me physically uncomfortable (like Nerdy and the Dirty) or I am extremely bored / disengaged / hitting a reading slump because of a book. Especially recently with my growing TBR.
Usually, if I put a book down, it’s with the intention of coming back later.


But why?
Why feel guilty about not enjoying a book and doing without it?
Book reviews are often subjective – what I enjoy or don’t enjoy may influence those of similar opinions – but it isn’t the end all be all of a books worth or who may enjoy it even if I don’t.


Recently my views of DNFing has changed. I think it’s okay. We read because our enjoy it, why continue if it becomes a chore. But we should explain ourselves.
Why did we DNF a book?
Something objective or something  subjective in its influence?
Could others potentially like it?
And definitely don’t bash a book you couldn’t finish – that I do see as unfair.


What do you think?

Do you agree with me?

What do you think of DNF books?

Discussion: Struggles Of A Book Blogger

Being a book blogger is weird, because it’s a hobby, at least for most it isn’t a job, and it’s fun.

But it’s also stressful like a real job – and requires a hell of a lot of effort, especially if your on your own.

Here, I’m discussing the 7 major things that can cause book bloggers stress.


Procrastination

Time management is a big thing. For most book bloggers, blogging isn’t a job it’s a hobby, which means carving out time to do it – and fun as it is, that’s not always possible. And even when it is, it can be hard to push your self to read or write when your brain is fried from real life.

Which leads to procrastination. Which is how you get the “accidental five month hiatuses” that my blog is no known for.

I deal with this by scheduling posts. Like last summer for while I was at camp, and like I have now for AP season – so I don’t have to worry about consolidating my melted brain so form a sensical string of words.

What do you do?


Stress Over Posting

Even when we do post, it brings a different kind of anxiety. Are people going to like it or hate it? Is it too over done? Is this original content stupid? Did I unleash too much of my weirdness at once? Did j say something dumb a future admissions officer will see and reject me for? (This last fear is one instilled in me by a very college oriented high school – like I needed more reasons to stress out).

These are legitimate concerns, and ones not easy to quell. This is the main reason generally behind my several month hiatuses to be honest.


Ever Growing TBR

This one is unique to book bloggers.

The ever Growing TBR.

TBR stands for To Be Read – a list of books a book blogger intends to read, and be a physical stack of book towering in ones room, can be a list online or wishlist of books to buy, can be a stack of arcs, or a massive ebook library – but the result is the same.

Sooner or later the TBR of s book blogger outgrows the reading speed – and threatens to crush them. Often this impending crushing can increase the prevalence of a reading slump and we get indecisive over what to read next and then just don’t. A vicious cycle.

Generally deadlines can get you reading again, but deadlines for reviews can bring their own kind of stress.

I myself have too many books in my TBR – a review TBR of about 50 and a physical TBR of too many to deal with.


Pressure For Content / The Look

The look of the blog matters.

Trying our best to improve the look of the blog, from graphics to the layout to the design to the domain is a big thing for us book bloggers. But when you don’t have the resources to get help and don’t have the skill to make good things yourself – it makes you feel a little behind the curve sometimes.

The pressure for the right look also applies to the content.

People like tags and memes. They are the life of book blogs. But too many and your blog is labeled unoriginal and boring.

Book reviews are a major thing. But so many discussions are being done on, really, other book bloggers don’t read book reviews – you might not even need them. But without them are you even really a book blog? But you can’t exactly churn out so many reviews since it takes time to actually read books- so what do you do?

The answer: Original content.

The elusive gold of book blogging.
It’s hard to come up with original posts consistently. And to be honest, most of us either take inspiration from or flat out copy each other (with credit unless your a terrible person). We do similar discussions and lists etc. But the continuing strive for better original content can keep you awake at night, thinking of ideas and second guessing yourself.

It’s hard to sustain.

So cut bloggers a break when there’s a lull in content okay? Okay.


Reviews / Discussions

Back to book reviews.
Every book blogger pretty much does reviews. In different styles with different frequency, but it is a staple of book blogging. (Though I read a great discussion at The Tattooed Book Geek that argues otherwise).

Reviews tend to take a long time though, so their less frequent – even if your reading pretty quickly.

Discussions are another thing – when everything seems to had been said but you still can to join in, what do you say? And how do you say t without sounding preachy or cheesy?


Role In The Industry

Sometimes other people read your stuff, and take your opinions seriously. Sometimes, I don’t feel qualified to be giving my opinion. I’m a kid! I’m 17! I have no authority! Except the fact that I’m a book blogger gives me a small amount of authority in a limited capacity – and it is occasionally terrifying.

I face this fear when I get review requests. People email me like I’m a professional. ADULTS email me asking me for my help/knowledge/influence and it’s weird. It feels like you can’t say no because, your just a kid and this is an adult. It’s a weird position, and not a universal struggle I’ll admit, just one I think about a lot.


Comparing Stats

Ah yes the stats. The thing everyone says not to worry about and yet everyone does.

But it’s hard not to.

When another blogger gets more comments or more likes then you.

When someone who’s been blogging for less time surpasses your follower count.

It’s hard to to try and measure up success. It hard not to get jealous. And want to be better than others. It’s human nature.

But sometimes being so concerned with stats can suck some joy out of blogging – that that sucks. But it’s honest.


This has been some of the struggles I’ve experienced being a book blogger – its fun, I love it, but people need to understand that it isn’t easy or quick before they start their own blogs or start getting snippy with bloggers for not posting more often. We’re only human.

Do you experience any of these?

Did I miss something glaringly obvious?

Let me know!

Discussion: Ways To Organize A Bookshelf

This is a pretty popular discussion – but I wanted to give my take on it, as I have a pretty unique system of organizing my bookshelf.

Here are five common organization methods to try out on your shelves – along with my own method (feel free to try it).


Color:

This one is very popular on bookstagram and booktube – though I personally have little interest as it seems like it would get annoying after a while -(per the order of the books having no rhyme or reason and series being separated).

But essentially, separate your books by spine color and lay them on the shelf to form a rainbow. It’s pleasing to look at even for the non-book hoarder.


Library System / Genre and Author:

This is a mix of organization systems – but you could do either individually. (As in, separate solely by author or solely by genre).

By genre is essentially, separating genres of books onto different shelves or sections so you can easily find a book for whatever mood you are in.

By author is generally by last name in alphabetical order.

If you do these in conjunction – alphabetizing authors within each genre section – then it becomes very easy to find a particular book rather than remembering where the hell you stuck it.


By Favorites:

Pretty simple. But your favorite reads at the center / eye level / front of the shelf and hide less favorites at the corners or back.

Your shelf will personally make you happier to look at. Since you’ll be staring mostly at you favorite books. This might also make it easier to write tag posts, as you’ll have your favorites in view.


By TBR:

You can do this two ways.

If you have multiple shelves, one can be read books and the other unread.

If you only have one shelf you can use half for read books and the other half unread books if you don’t want them mixing.

Or you can employ my chosen method – useful if you want to keep authors and genres together that are only particularly read: within a different organization method – put unread books vertically and read books horizontally as I prefer (but you could always do it the other way around).


Separate Hard- and Paper-Backs:

This ones simple – separate the hardcovers from the paperbacks.

Put the paperbacks in the back or the corners so they aren’t the focus, and the hardcovers more at eye level, center or main shelf – prettier and more eye catching and makes for a nicer overall bookshelf. Could also be done in conjunction with “By Favorites”.


My Method:

Obviously, some of these methods are not mutely exclusive. You can organize by both genre and author. By color and still separate hardcovers from paperbacks. Color coordinate TBR separated bookshelves etc.

My chosen organization is this:
By genre, by favorites, and by TBR.

Here’s what I mean.

I have one free standing shelf and two wall mounted shelves.

Books I love and books I need to read soon go in the free standing shelf (easier to reach – separated by genre and from each other within this).

Books of genres I read least or have the least to-be-read books within the genre go on the top / harder to reach wall mounted shelf. And so one.

Read books are horizontal and unread books are vertical. So unread books are easier to get. And read books overall take up less space, so as I read I get minimally more shelf space.


 Let me know what you think.

How do you organize your shelf?

Has this inspired you to try something new?

Which is your favorite?

Discussion: Dream Author Panel(s)

This post was inspired by Eventbrite.

I was emailed asking if I’d like to participate in this discussion and I loved the idea!

So here we are!


Eventbrite online registration page:
Organize and register for conferences in your local area


Note:

For the sake of this dream panel / wishful thinking discussion, we are going to disregard pesky little facts such as logistics of travel and scheduling as well as life or dead status. Alright? Cool.



Fantastical –

 Fantasy Authors Panel

JK Rowling (Author of Harry Potter)

Leigh Bardugo (Author of The Grisha Series)

VE Schwab (Author of A Darker Shade of Magic)

Maggie Steifvater (Author of The Raven Cycle)

Cassandra Clare (Author of The Shadowhunters Books)

George RR Martin (Author of Game of Thrones)

JRR Tolkien (Author of The Lord of the Rings)

Erin Morganstern (Author of The Night Circus)


Fluffy – 

 Romance/Contemporary Panel

Kasie West (Author of PS I Love You)

Katie Kennedy (Author of Learning to Swear In America)

Leah Thomas (Author of Because You’ll Never Meet Me)

Jeff Giles (Author of The Edge of Everything)

Rainbow Rowell (Author of Fangirl)

Jenny Han (Author of To All The Boys I Loved Before)

John Green (Author of The Fault In Our Stars)

Morgan Matson (Author of The Unexpected Everything)


Everyone is Unique –

Diversity and Mental Health Awareness Panel

Adam Silvera (Author of They Both Die at the End)

Becky Albertalli (Author of Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda)

Mackenzie Lee (Author of Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue)

April Daniels (Author of Dreadnought)

Sandhya Menon (Author of When Dimple Met Rishi)

Jennifer Niven (Author of All The Bright Places)

Emery Lord (Author of When We Collided)


Looking To The Future –

Scifi and Dystopian Panel

Rick Yancy (Author of The 5th Wave)

John Scalzi (Author of Redshirts)

Brandon Sanderson (Author of Steelheart)

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Authors of The Illuminae Files)

Marie Lu (Author of The Legend Series)

Tahereh Mafi (Author of the Shatter Me Series)

Alexandra Bracken (Author of The Darkest Minds Series)

Veronica Roth (Author of Divergent)

Suzanne Collins (Author of the Hunger Games)

Andy Weir (Author of The Martian)

JJ Abrams (Author of S. The Ship of Theseus – its a book, it counts!)


New Spins –

Retellings Panel

Rick Riordan (Author of Percy Jackson)

Sarah J Maas (Author of A Court of Thorns and Roses)

Heather W. Petty (Author of Lock & Mori)

Brittany Cavallaro (Author of A Study in Charlotte)

Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton has a book so he counts OKAY!?!)

Marrisa Meyer (Author of the Lunar Chronicles)


Fictional –

Characters Come To Life

There are so many book characters I can picture growing up and becoming authors! So in my mind, when they inevitably do, they can all be part of an author panel together.
ALLOW ME MY IMPOSSIBLE DREAMS ALRIGHT!

Hermoine Granger (from Harry Potter)

Annabeth Chase (from Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

Katy Swartz (from The Lux Series)

Maddy Whittier (from Everything Everything)

Richard Gansey III (from The Raven Cycle)

Klaus Baudelaire (from A Series Of Unfortunate Events)

Cath Avery (from Fangirl)


What do you think? 

 

What you attend any of these panels?

 

What would your dream panel be?

(And remember, these lists are in no way comprehensive to what those panels could be, but if I listed every authors I’d want to meet in every category, there would be over 100 names and that would take far too long).

Discussion: What Do You Review

Some book bloggers strictly review novels. Some review mangas, comics, short stories etc. Some incorporate tv shows, movies, animes etc.

This all depends on the blog, and the bloggers focus.
I review mostly books and a bit of everything else every once in a while.
I think people should just review anything they want, even if it is a book blog.
What do you think?
But that’s not my main point.
My main point is: which books do you review?
Do you review all the books you read? Only arcs?
Only positive reviews?
How do you decide?
I try my best to review every book I read – even negative ones, though that isn’t common with me. I haven’t done any DNF reviews, but I feel like I should.
Now, I don’t think you should bash books in negative reviews, but a negative review on why you specifically disliked a book and why others may or may not agree with you is perfectly valid – books blogs are for consumers and readers more than anything else in my opinion, even when we are sent arcs- that’s why we need to have honest reviews.
Only writing the positive ones feels a little less honest, even if we aren’t flat out lying about specific books.
What do you think?

Discussion: Why I Still Love Twilight

twilightsagaIntro:

Hating on Twilight is pretty popular – more popular these days than liking it. A lot of book bloggers have written about how they used to love Twilight but have since learned better or grown out of it. And that’s fine – your tastes change throughout your life. But while I may not be as obsessed as I was when I was younger, Twilight will always have a place in my heart – I still love it.


14-twilight-cast

The Problem With Twilight:

People hate on Twilight these days for a multitude of reasons.

Because it started a vampires and werewolf trend, because it got more popular than “more worthy” books, because its objectively not wonderfully written, because teenage girls liked it and people like hating on the things teenage girls like. Because it started the YA movie fad.

Pick your poison – I think people just like being crabby.

Twilight isn’t the objectively best written. There are cringe-y moments (Jacob’s imprint, Bella’s “helpless girl who needs a boy” portrayal etc.) but its hardly the worst written or most problematic book to reach this popularity, let alone one existence.


giphy1

My History with Twilight:

I read Twilight in the fourth grade – when I was 9 or 10 years old. I read the entire saga that year. My grandma bought me the first book for Christmas because my cousin, a year older than me, loved it. My grandma thought I might like it to.

(My grandma already had an established history of buying me books for Christmas. She bought me the full Harry Potter series when I was 7 (second grade) 0 I trusted her judgement. She bought me the full Ms. Peregrine’s trilogy for Christmas this past year.)

So because she bought me Twilight, I read it. I had no idea what it was about, but I loved it. Made me mom buy me the rest of the books. Read those too.

I got sent to the guidance counselor’s office at one point because they were concerned about a 9 year old reading such mature content, they called my mom and everything. But since my mom was cool with it they had to let me continue reading – even if I got my book taken away a few times for reading during class.

I made my dad rent the movies that were out so far – and made him watch them with me. He hated them – but watched all five. I had all the shirts, posters, and necklaces. I made all my friends read the books and started a shipping war among the fourth graders.


tumblr_liodkmmjf31qc4g8vo1_500

The moment where I am Bella and Bella is me.

Twilight and Me – Now:

I’d thought my obsession had calmed down. I reread the books in 7th grade – in full for the first time since in 4th grade I skipped all the “weird” (read “sex”) parts – no matter how mild Twilight really is, I was 9 the first time through. The second time around I was firmly Team Edward – the first time I’m pretty sure my loyalty to Jacob was entirely based on the fact that Taylor Lautner was Sharkboy.

But cue the release of Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined and I had it in my hands and read within the week.

I haven’t read the whole series in years – but Twilight itself remains a comfort read for me. The movies are “I’m sick and want to be entertained without thinking” movies.


tumblr_n9s7alpt6f1smcbm7o1_500

Final Thoughts:

I don’t have it in me to hate on Twilight. Flaws and all.

Part of it might be history and rose-tinted glasses rather than objectiveness – but who cares? Enjoying things is nice, reading is meant to be fun. Something doesn’t have to be objectively good to be enjoyed or liked – why do you think people love lifetime movies?

I just don’t see the appeal of critiquing the flaws in every detail of something I once loved – so I just won’t.

Allow yourself the rose tinted glasses sometimes.


What do you think?

Did you like Twilight?

Do you still like it?

Why or why not?

Let me know!