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Let’s Talk Bookish: Romance as a Subplot

Hello, lovelies!

I’m back this Friday participating in another Let’s Talk Bookish post, as always hosted by the amazing Rukky @ Eternity Books and awesome Dani @ The Literary Lion! For this week, our topic is:

Romance as a Subplot

This might be a controversial take (I have no idea, because I feel like romance gets a bad wrap sometimes?), but I fucking love romance.

I’m not sure what about it automatically elevates a story for me, but, if I’m reading a fantasy or sci-fi novel that isn’t marketed as a romance and then I discover there is a romance? My interest in the book is set to automatically increase, no questions asked. Perhaps it’s because I’ve always been such a hopeless romantic and was single for most of my life, so reading was the only way I got that kind of connection. Perhaps it’s because the romance helps me connect with characters more and helps raise the stakes by giving them something additional to lose. Perhaps I just enjoy really well written chemistry and seeing characters navigate love? Perhaps all three.

But, I enjoy it–which is a good thing, since it seems like it’s a popular thing to include. I’m not sure really why it’s something that’s more common than a platonic friendship, for example. I would like to see a wider array of relationships (platonic friendships, rivalries, more misfit friendships!!) in books, of course. But I’m never going to complain when romance is added, too.

Now, something I will say about romance within the genres that I like to read (fantasy and sci-fi) is that I HATE when a book is marketed as a romance simply because a woman wrote it, so the assumption is that there must be romance, for that’s all women can write.

i just threw up in my mouth a little bit GIF by chuber channel

Obviously, women can write so much more than “just” romance (and there’s nothing “just” about writing romance, either!!). So that really bothers me. If you’re marketing something as a romance, that gives me different expectations and I’ll be frustrated, as a reader who likes romance, if this mistake is made and there actually isn’t any romance for a book marketed as such! And that’s on top of already being upset that an assumption was made on a woman’s behalf.

Now, does every book have to have romance? No, absolutely not! Of course there are fantastic books that have no elements of romance whatsoever. Yet, as someone who just really loves reading well-written romance, if a book happens to chose to have that, I’m going to be more interested. *shrugs*

I am so curious to see what everyone else thinks about this topic! Do you enjoy reading romance or is it something you’d rather avoid? What are some of your favorite romances you’ve read as subplots? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

Cheers.

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Discussion

Let’s Talk Bookish: The Care and Keeping of a TBR

Hello, lovelies!

I’m back this Friday participating in another Let’s Talk Bookish post, as always hosted by the amazing Rukky @ Eternity Books and awesome Dani @ The Literary Lion! For this week, our topic is:

The Care and Keeping of a TBR

I think this is such a fun topic, because this is something that I’ve tried to do in so many ways and definitely am always trying to do it a little bit better, because, as so many of us know and relate to (I believe, but if this next statement doesn’t resonate, please, TEACH ME YOUR WAYS), but TBRs are notorious for being out of control and impossible too control.

So, how do I try and wrangle mine? A few ways:

This year, I started using the AMAZING template from Kal @ The Reader Voracious to track my books online. I love the idea of having a notebook dedicated to my reading habits and my little personal library, but my handwriting is atrocious and I’m nervous about making this amazing catalog in print, only to lose it or get it ruined. I love Google Drive and how it’s connected to my account, instead of a device, and Kal’s template is INCREDIBLE. I love being able to track my stats, have graphs that I’m not talented enough to make, plus a reading spreadsheet and the planning calenadr for my blog posts?!

Honestly, Kal’s spreadsheet changed my life.

Thank U GIF by MOODMAN

I used to just track via Goodreads, but it isn’t my favorite because of multiple reasons:

  • Owned by Amazon, so already don’t like it
  • Not the most user friendly, especially on the mobile app
  • I’d always forget to update it

So, that last one is my bad (oops), but I mostly use Goodreads to track my reading progress in whatever book I’m reading currently and to post reviews to help out authors. I am also trying out StoryGraph, which I need to mess around with more, as I think I’m leaning towards abandoning Goodreads to use that more exclusively (though, I would still post reviews on both sites, as I know Goodreads still affects authors sales). I am also trying to get Notion sorted, after seeing it take Book Twitter by storm and am thinking about trying to emulate Kal’s spreadsheet on there, somehow? But honestly not sure if I’m talented enough, so…

A book gets the pleasure of making my TBR impossible by:

  • A gorgeous cover (honestly, I’ll add a book just because the cover is enjoyable to me, even without reading the back, because I’m a fool)
  • It sounds interesting to me or fits my tastes
  • It’s by a trusted author or recommended by a trusted reviewer
  • It’s published by Orbit 🤷‍♀️

Currently, if you look at my Goodreads, I have 349 books on my TBR. That number isn’t accurate, because there are plenty of books that I haven’t added yet that I’ve seen recently and I haven’t done a cull in a while (and I want to, especially since Goodreads makes it so difficult to update your lists, so a lot of books on there, I’ve prolly either lost interest in or forgot about). Even knowing that, I know I have way too many books on my TBR, since I own 162 books that I haven’t read it…

In A Box Reaction GIF

I am so curious to see what everyone else thinks about this topic! How do you track your TBR? Is it out of control or properly managed? Have you tried StoryGraph, Notion or use a different form of tracking? Are you as obsessed over Kal’s spreadsheet as I am? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

Cheers.

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Discussion

Change in Reading Habits

Hello, lovelies!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. As the election continues to loom closer, I find my mental health continuing to drop and my motivation to do anything has lessened (not to mention my day job is kicking my ass). I fear this is something that’s going to continue until we find out what’s going to happen next and then…well, I guess we’ll see.

BUT, that’s not what I wanted to focus on. Instead, I wanted to write a quick post (potentially, we’ll see how long it gets) to discuss a change in my reading habits that I realized recently, which I’m hoping will help me be a little more forgiving that I’m not reading nearly as much as I used to.

You see, I’ve been a reader since…forever, really. Some of my earliest school memories is centered around reading books. I would always read after I finished assignments in class (and got made fun of it), constantly have the max number of books I was allowed to checked out at the library, participated in things like Novel Navigators and Advanced Readers club with my school. In the evenings, I’d go to bed and read every night, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to do that on the weekends for hours at a time, either.

I didn’t keep track back then, even in middle school or high school, but I read a lot of books. Easily over a 100 a year, I’d bet. It was pretty much my only hobby growing up, and, even though I read slightly less in high school, thanks to…well, it being high school, it was still what I was known for. It’s still what I did a lot of the time.

reading read GIF by Alexandra Dvornikova

Here’s the interesting thing: in recent years, but especially recently, I’ve been disappointed in myself for not reading “that much”. This year, I’ve started tracking better and it’s taking me, on average, two weeks to read a book. I’m reading 1-2 books a month. I’ve only read 26 books this year (let’s ignore the fact that my Goodreads goal is set at 150; HA). I keep feeling genuine guilt every time I think about it, because why aren’t I reading more? How can I be reading so “little”?

It finally dawned on me that my reading habits have changed, not to mention the fact that what is considered a little and a lot, reading-number-wise, is completely subjective.

Reading isn’t my only hobby, anymore. Video games have taken over as my main hobby and something I do every night after work and on the weekends, a lot of the time. I enjoy them and love that escape.

I am also working two jobs (freelance editing and my full-time day job as an academic advisor), plus I’m a blogger (who puts in easily 10+ hours a week into this blog–which didn’t exist until 2012) and a writer. I also started grad school this year, albeit part-time. I have a house to clean, cooking to do, and a partner and pets I want to hang out with. Social media didn’t exist until I was in middle school and I wasn’t allowed to get accounts until I was in late high school, and we all know that unfortunately takes up a lot of time.

In that context, should I really be surprised that my reading time has lessened dramatically and thus, I’m not going to read as many books as I did before?

doctor who sherlock GIF

*sighs in obvious*

So, that guilt? Completely unnecessary. I need to update my reading expectations to match my new reality: reading isn’t the only thing that takes up my time, now. And that’s okay. I’m not going to feel guilty for doing something I love, like video games, because that means I’m not going to be reading 10 books a month or whatever it is I used to read.

All that said, though, I do want to try and put two new “rules” back in place, because I could be–and WANT to be–reading more. It’s great for my mental health and, like I said above, that…isn’t so great, currently.

  1. Stop doomscrolling before bed
  2. Actually take a lunch break and read

I’ve gotten into the really bad habit of staying up too late playing video games and then complaining that I’m too tired to read, only to scroll for another hour. 🤦‍♀️ Likewise, because my day job is so busy and I’m working remotely, I find it easier to work over my lunch break and snack throughout the day, instead of actually taking a BREAK. Or, I’ll make lunch, but then I’ll clean or do something else around the house–which is nice, but I miss reading and recharging in the middle of my day, that way.

Dedicating that “hour” each day, between my lunch break and before bed, isn’t going to get me up to my old reading output. But, I don’t think that’s the goal; don’t think it should be. There are a ton of great books that I want to read and more continue to be published every day. I miss reading to escape, to enjoy it and to help my own mental health through that, instead of panicking about a reading challenge or a number. I’m hoping, by realizing that my life has changed and I’m actually not reading as much, that I can accept that 2-4 books a month might be my norm, now. And that’s okay (even if, just writing that sentence, makes me panic inwardly as a gut reflex, because how am I going to read all of the books I want to with so few read each year!?!).

What about you? Have your reading habits changed at all? Do you feel guilty when you’re not reading? How do you combat that? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers.

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Discussion

Let’s Talk Bookish: What Makes You DNF a Book?

Hello, lovelies!

I’m back this Friday participating in another Let’s Talk Bookish post, as always hosted by the amazing Rukky @ Eternity Books and awesome Dani @ The Literary Lion! For this week, our topic is:

What Makes You DNF a Book?

This is such a great question, because I used to not DNF (did not finish or put a book down and stop reading, even without finishing it) books. When I was younger, it was because I didn’t realize that was an option. In school, I was forced to finish and read books I hated, so I guess the same logic slipped into my unconsciousness and I assumed you couldn’t do that for books you read for fun, either? 🤦‍♀️

The book community is actually who introduced me to the concept of DNFing, actually! And I’m so glad they did, because, as many people are probably aware, our TBRs are completely overwhelming even when we as readers are at the top of our games, so it’s no surprise that using that precious reading time to push through a book that you hate?

No Thank You GIF by The Dungeon Run

So, what makes me personally DNF a book?

Misogyny

Yeah, if a book can’t pass the Bechel test and women are only being used as damsels, plot devices for the male character, background servants or underdeveloped cuts outs, that’s going to be a hard no to me. Same for rampant sexism, female torture or excessive rape.

Schitts Creek No GIF by CBC

No Plot

If I’m 50 pages in and the book feels like it’s going nowhere, the characters make pointless decisions and everything feels nonsensical or pointless, that’s also going to make me wonder why I ever thought I wanted to read that book in the first place.

conan obrien GIF by Team Coco

Lack of Diversity

I haven’t DNFed a book for specifically this reason before (and I don’t DNF a ton usually anyway, since I’m pretty good at judging if I’m going to like a book or not!), but, ever since I started to read books that were ownvoices, inspired by Non-Western cultures, and featured BIPOC and LBTQIA+ casts, books that don’t have elements of this just seem…eh?

season 3 idgaf GIF by Black Sails

Poor Writing/Editing

This one gets me a lot, as a reader, writer AND an editor. But for the love of the gods, if I can’t read your book because it has so many typos and formatting issues, I’m not even going to waste my time.

eyeroll seriously GIF

I’m sure there are more things I could come up with, but to be honest, I have been working on writing blogs posts for this week for the past few hours and I gotta get some other stuff done. 😅 But, I am REALLY curious to hear what makes you DNF a book, so share your posts or your own thoughts in the comment below and have a great weekend!

Cheers.

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Discussion

Let’s Talk Bookish: The 3-Star Rating

Hello, lovelies!

I’m back this Friday participating in another Let’s Talk Bookish post, as always hosted by the amazing Rukky @ Eternity Books and awesome Dani @ The Literary Lion! I had a lot of fun joining in last month and am really excited to dive in this month, too, on a few of the topics! For this week, the topic is:

Is 3 Stars A Good Rating?

This one is an interesting one for me! As you can see on on Book Rating System page, I list 3 stars as a positive rating and believe it to be so. If I rate a book three stars (or gems, as I like to call it with my fantasy theme), it means:

3 Gems: Spotted a Dragon, But Still Sleeping on Tree Roots

This is one that I enjoyed. I didn’t regret reading the book. I had fun reading it, it was well written, without typos and formatting issues and the characters and the story were enticing. Did I fall completely in love with it? No. Will I probably read more by this author or continue the series? Absolutely!

3 stars

So, it’s that rating that is meant to mean that I enjoyed the book. I liked it and had a positive experience with it. I will continue reading the series, if it’s part of the series, and read more books by that author. However, it also means that, for me, it had enough negative elements that it kept me from loving the book entirely, which is why it didn’t move up to four or even five gems.

However, this is where it gets complicated: despite believing that and rating my books as such, whenever I see someone else give a book three stars, I’ll usually find myself being a little bit more wary of the book, as if I know there is something I might not like, than if a book was given four or five stars; despite believing that three stars is a positive rating!

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Confusing, right? This also comes from someone who, very admittedly, using four and five stars quite often. I think this is in part because I am quite certain of what books that I enjoy and I’m able to tailor my reading experience in such a way that they are those kinds of reads, for me. But, I also admit that I’m quite easy to please, and it’s easy for me to fall in love with a book that’s written well and falls into the realm of fantasy, sci-fi and romance I traditionally love.

That said, if I don’t love a book, I usually am quite put out by it and fall more towards the one or two star rating, disliking it much more than liking it. So, I actually don’t give out that many three star ratings, if I’m being honest, because I’m more extreme, in that I usually either love a book or hate it. *shrugs*

Is that very helpful in answering this question? Probably not, which might explain why this rating can be debated a bit and seen as both a possible rating and a negative rating. And I’m sure, once my own books are published, three stars will become something so precious, I can’t imagine why I ever approached those books rated as such with caution.

I’m curious to hear what you think! Let me know in the comments below about your own rating system, if you use one (or, I’m always curious to hear why people don’t, which is also totally valid, obviously). Do you agree with my assessment above or do you have different opinions of the three star rating? Tell me below and thanks for reading!

Cheers.post signature

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Discussion

My Quest to Become a Better Blogger

Hello lovelies!

I hope you’re all doing well! As you may have seen from Monday’s post, where I discussed how I want to shake up my review structure, it’s gotten me thinking about myself as a book blogger on the whole and if there is anything I can do better.

The short answer: yes, absolutely 100% yes.

The long answer: well…the rest of this post!

This is a bit of a vulnerable post to write, even though it’s also a very important post, so, if you do decide to comment on it, I would greatly appreciate if you respond with kindness, rather than any forms of attack. <3

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So, this blog is something that is really important to me. It’s my own space where I can feel completely whole, completely me. I’m not only a book blogger, but I also share my journey about my writing and my tidbits of my personal life in here. It’s a blog that’s been around for 8 years (!! 😮) and one I plan to continue for many more.

However, I think it’s also important to recognize that I come from a very privileged space as a book blogger. I am a white woman living in the US, where access to libraries is plenty and the ability to buy books is easy, due to access and shipping availability, which opens the doors to ARC and book tour opportunities that many international bloggers don’t have.

Obviously, I can’t change the book publishing industry overnight (and probably can’t do too much on my own, at any rate). However, I would like to try and do a few things that will hopefully help make positive strides, not only for myself a book blogger who wants to be a better ally to BIPOC communities, but also perhaps with publishers and how they view and interact with book bloggers.

Relationship with ARCS

Again, I must recognize that I am very privileged to even receive ARCs, including receiving regular emails from both Titan Books and Orbit Books. I don’t always accept them, but (with Orbit especially), when I see a book I’m really interested in, I definitely request it, even being lucky enough to receive print copies (which, I only like to read print books, to give my eyes a break from the screen, which is another privilege).

However, currently, I have 70 ARCs that are overdue. That number doesn’t include the books I’ve received as gifts from self-published authors, also in exchange for an honest review.

There are plenty of reasons why I fell behind: mental health struggles, changing jobs, changing commitments and time restraints, mood reading, a global pandemic. And, while all of those are valid, it’s also just as valid that, by not reviewing these books on time, I have hurt the important publicity chances of that author during a pivotal point in their book’s shelf-life: that first week, where sales are look at most closely and changes of hitting bestseller lists are determined, plus plenty of other factors I don’t fully understand, not working in publishing; all of this, however, impacts whether the author will be trusted–and paid–to write more books.

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Do I think a singular review from myself is going to truly make or break an author’s career? No, not really. However, I do know that ARCs are meant to be promotional tool and there are limit numbers given out and I have taken that slot for many books and failed to uphold my end.

This is even worse for books written by BIPOC authors, who already most likely have been given less marketing and publicity, due to how the publishing industry mistreats and undervalues writers of color.

Plus, with self-published authors, they are already paying for their entire publication of their book out of their own pocket–including sending an ARC to me. The least I can do is do a better job of reviewing their book in a timely manner.

This is something I feel a lot of guilt about, but guilt doesn’t fix things. I have been slowly working on catching up on my backlog of ARCs and will review these books, starting with any books by BIPOC authors, until I am completely caught up. I am very sorry that I haven’t honored this promise I have made and didn’t truly realize not only the negative impact this neglect could have, but also how this is a privilege denied to many, that I’m not upholding as well as I should.

Going forward, I:

  • am not accepting any review requests from self-published authors until I get my backlog caught up
  • will not accept new review request from publishers unless I have a) read at least double the amount of older review copies than what I am requesting that month and b) it is a book I was already actively wanting to reading (not a book that just looks interesting)
  • Once I am caught up, I plan to be more honest with myself about how much I truly read and if I have time to read a book in the ARC timeframe, only accepting books that I can actually read on time

Advocating for International and Diverse Bloggers and Authors

Like I mentioned above, I can’t change how publishing views or values diverse bloggers. I can’t change shipping costs or increase marketing budgets. I can, however, do a much better job using my voice to help support international and diverse bloggers and authors.

I plan to do this by:

  • Continuing to check and make sure I am following a wide range of bloggers, reading their posts, engaging genuinely with their content and sharing their work through things like my Monthly Wrap-Up posts
  • When I receive emails for ARCs for publishing, instead of accepting an ARC written by a BIPOC, I will start recommending bloggers who would connect with that ARC more than myself, as a white reviewer, and ask that the copy “reserved for me” be sent to them instead.
  • Prioritizing asking my library to purchase diverse books
  • Continue to check my own reading and make sure that I’m not just reading books by cishet white men. I’m doing an okay job of this currently, but I could definitely do a better job diversifying my own shelf.

Making My Website More Accessible and a Safe Space

To be honest, this is something I haven’t looked into too much, yet, but I know it’s something I want to do a better job at. I want my space to not only be a safe space, but also an accessible space, no matter what.

I plan to do this by:

  • Adding my pronouns to my “About Me” page and my “Welcome” blurb on the front page (they are already on my social media platforms)
  • Look at bloggers like Destiny @ Howling Libraries, Kal @ Reader Voracious and Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea on how they have made their blogs have accessible modes and how I can emulate that
  • Include descriptive captions on all of my pictures and GIFs that I use
  • Do more research on what my blog is lacking and how I can fix that

Those are just a few ways that I can definitely see myself improving as a book blogger (and a person, I think). I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Is there anything you’re hoping to improve upon? Is there anything else that you think I could be doing, to do a better job myself? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers.post signature

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Discussion

A Review Style Restructure

Hello lovelies!

I hope you’re all doing well as we start off another week. Life is about to get really hectic for me (I’ll have to write about that in another post!), so we’ll have to see how everything goes and how much of a balancing act I can pull off with everything. I’m also struggling because fall is my favorite time of year (please, can get stop with the 90+ degree weather dogs and start getting to the 70s?!), but I’m also a bit terrified for fall to come this year, since I doubt the pandemic is going to get better during the introduction of flu season…

But, I digress. That’s actually not what I’m hear to talk about today! Instead, I wanted to touch on a topic that I’m not really sure how to approach, so I think this post is just going to be a bunch of rambling until I figure shit out, so…apologies in advance? I want to talk about writing reviews and how I think I want my review style to change, but I’m not sure how to do that or what it’s going to look like (though, I hope I might figure it out, by the end of this post; spoiler alert: totally did).

You see, if you’re familiar with my reviews, they aren’t very structured–and I don’t think I’m looking to make that traditionally structured in any sort of way. I’m not trying to break down the plot, the characters, the structure, the pacing or anything like that (though, I do enjoy it when people are able to write something so in-depth!). I still really enjoy the fact that my reviews are centered in how a book makes me feel, rather than trying to read it critically, like I did for school.

It’s usually just a word vomit of my thoughts (which, all reviews are, in a sense). And I’ve been feeling…a little let down with my reviews, lately? They have always been the lowest in terms of engagement (and, let’s be real: they always will be, because they just aren’t as interesting in terms of the other content I write and publish). I just feel like they aren’t doing very much and they don’t really hit exactly where I want them to, because they are feeling…too generic, across all of my reviews? I dunno if that even makes sense, but that’s sort of what I’m feeling.

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So, I want to improve. As someone who has a platform (I am almost up to 800 followers!? How did this happen!? Even though I’m sure a 1/4 of that is bots, thank you so much for being here. Perhaps I’ll even get up to 1,000, one day?!!?), I think I need to recognize that and know that my reviews could potentially carry weight. As someone who reviews ARCs, I need to honor that agreement I made with the publisher and write quality reviews (and do a better job of reading them on time; but that’s for a later post). As someone who wants to create a safe space in her blog, I want to write reviews that people can trust and enjoy reading.

However, there are few things I don’t want to do, either:

  • I’m still really not into the specific breakdowns of narrative structures and craft. While I do recognize that can be really helpful in highlighting strengths and weaknesses within a story, it’s honestly not my style. And I don’t want to sacrifice that.
  • I don’t want to take notes while I read? Reading is one of the few things I do because I love it, for pure enjoyment. And while, through blogging, it has, at times, felt like a job and started to transition from a hobby to a responsibility, I want to try and hold onto making reading feel like a break from all of my responsibilities as much as possible.

So, where does that leave me?

I think I have an idea.

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I definitely want to start incorporating trigger warnings at the start of every review. I think it is important to help protect readers to let them know what might trigger them before they read a book. I’m going to start utilizing Lauren Hannah’s Book Trigger list, as well as start adding books that I’ve read to this amazing database, created by Fadwa and Laura that aren’t there already.

(I recognize that some people don’t see the need for them or are worried about potential spoilers. But, even as someone who HATES SPOILERS, I’d rather spoiler someone than have them be accidentally triggered by a book they only read because my review made them want to. Plus, if your book is using a trigger as a major plot twist or reveal, perhaps you should look into why that is happening in the first place and make sure there is a valid reason to be doing that? 👀)

I also like including the details of the book (the title and author, of course, but also the publisher and the blurb), as well as any general notes (if it’s an ARC, if there are spoilers, that sort of thing). This I have always done, but I think I want to format it a different way. I’m not sure exactly how, yet, but I might mess with this, so stay tuned!

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The main thing I think I’m going to change is how I write my reviews. Instead of writing a review in the way I usually do (free form thoughts), I’m going to try and break it down by my main three likes I enjoyed about the book and main three dislikes. That way, I can try and be a little more focused and a little less generic, it still focuses on my emotions (and I think I can do this without taking notes), but also gives me a little more structure, while also encouraging me to review the book ASAP after I finish it, so all of my thoughts are fresh!

I made a template blog post of what I think I’m going to include and how I want to structure it and I’m excited about this change! I’ve not been feeling as confident in my reviews as late and I’m hoping this change in format and restructuring, slightly, will spice them up in a way that I need to make writing them enjoyable again (and hopefully make them more enjoyable for you, too).

I’ll try this out with The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso, hopefully later this week, if not early not week, so please, let me know what you think of the new approach! And I’d love to hear about what you think about reviews in the comments below. Do you enjoy writing them? Do you have a certain style or way you approach them that you prefer to use? Anything you’d like to see differently, about mine? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers.post signature

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Discussion

Let’s Talk Bookish: Online Personas and Book Blogging

Hello, lovelies!

Happy Friday! I know this week has dragged on a bit too much for me, so I am excited for the weekend, where I can hopefully recharge and relax a bit. It’s Friday, so time for a new discussion post! As always, Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion!

This week, the topic is:

Do You use an Online Persona for Book Blogging?

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Basally, this question is asking two main things: do you keep your book blogging and your personal life separate or do you let them veer together in the same space? And, do you think you should?

I’m super excited to dig into this, because I have a lot of Opinions on the matter and I’m curious to see what you all think, as well!

So, it’s quite obvious that I don’t separate my book blog from my personal blog. In fact, I first attempted to do just that by creating an entirely separate book review blog–because, I thought (and who knows why this is) that you weren’t allowed to be personal on your book blog or ever deviate from that. Who It thought made these rules is beyond me, but I wanted to be a “true” book blogger, so I made the attempt to run two blogs for about a year? Maybe a little longer?

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But, I found trying to manage two different blogs to be exhausting and not as enjoyable as just having one space to call completely my own, that shows almost every side of me. And I think that’s one of the main reasons I advocate that, if you are comfortable with it or want to do it, you should be able to have your book blog be more than “just” a book blog (though, there is nothing “just” about being a book blogger, for it takes a lot of work and dedication!); but also a space where you share more personal posts, if you want to.

For me, it’s what makes me the happiest. Of course, I love writing and talking about books, so a lot of my content is surrounded in that. But I also talk about my writing, personal posts including mental health struggles, looking for advice on navigating life and rants; as well as other reviews, like films or video games, and starting to share activism and advocacy work, as well.

I like having one space for all of this, because not only do my readers have a chance to get to know me more fully, but it feels less restrictive. My blog feels fully mine because I’m doing exactly what I want with it, even though it doesn’t look similar to many book bloggers content, because it just covers such a variety and opens up a very personal, very vulnerable window into the person behind the blog.

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Of course, I also think it’s totally valid to not share any of this and to use an online persona. It could be to protect yourself and your privacy or simply because you don’t want to share that much and I think that’s so, so valid. I think the biggest thing is you shouldn’t feel pressured into sharing what you don’t want to–just like you shouldn’t feel lesser if you decide to get more personal.

For, I will admit: there are times when I feel like I can’t claim the title of “book blogger” because, when people come to my website, they can just as easily stumble upon my most recent post being a rant about student loans or a discussion about my depression as they could find a book tag or a passion-fueled review. Sometimes, I feel like, because my content is so varied, that I’m a lesser book blogger because of it. I don’t truly believe that’s true, but the feeling is still certainly there.

Tl;dr: I think the blogger should have the right to choose what they want their blog to be and what they want it to include. I think you can still be a book blogger, even if you post personal content. I think you can be a book blogger and never veer away from anything bookish and you should be just as respected as someone who wants to share everything.

But, I’m curious to hear your thoughts! What do you think? Do you enjoy blogs like mine, who do share more content aside from book blogging-related material, or do you wish my blog stuck with just the book blogging aspect of it? Let me know in the comments below and, as always, thank you so much for reading!

Cheers.post signature

 

Categories
Discussion

Let’s Talk Bookish: Reviews and Self-Published Books

Hello, lovelies!

I hope you’re all doing well. I know I promised more discussion posts, in my last monthly wrap-up, but I didn’t tell you exactly how I was going to be doing that. Well, I’ve decided to participate in Let’s Talk Bookish, a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion, “where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.”

I didn’t even know this was a thing (which, shows how much I haven’t been paying attention, because I’ve totally read posts from bloggers who participate in this meme before, so apparently I’m just a dingus). But, I am SO excited to take part! My goal is to post whenever the blog schedule allows it and I find the topic really interesting. I already know I plan to join in at least twice this month, so let’s get started!

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This week’s topic:

Should Reviewers Go Easier on Self-Published Authors?

Short answer: no.

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But, that’s not a very interesting blog post, so I’ll dive into why!

I think, first of all, you need to make sure you’ve done the work to confront any negative biases you might have, in the wrong assumption that self-published work is of lesser quality than traditional published work. I was definitely in this camp for most of my life, since it had always been framed to me that people only self-published their work when the traditional publishing world rejected them, meaning they weren’t good enough.

*sighs at past me*

Not only is that a bit elitist, but it’s also absolutely false. Yes, you’re going to find books where you question why it was published in the first place or books that are riddled with typos and poor formatting. But, there have definitely been traditionally published books I read where I was floored that it could even be published in the first place, the writing was so poor and the story was so bland (which is, of course, subjective opinion).

I think, by going “easier” on self-published books, you’re giving weight to that assumption that the book is lesser quality automatically from it’s traditionally published peers, simply because it’s been self-published. But self-published doesn’t mean unedited. Self-published doesn’t automatically equate to lesser quality, poor writing, shitty grammar, poor formatting or a bad story. I’ve read some incredible self-published fantasy, ever since I got off my high horse and admitted I was wrong to ever be fooled into thinking it was lesser. Books like: 

I also have a lot of self-published books I’m really excited to read (next month, hopefully, for September’s Self-Published Reading Month challenge–but you’ll have to tune it later this month, to see which books those are ;)).

So, I think the more important thing, as a reviewer, is not to view writing your reviews of self-published books by judging them more easily (or even more harshly!) than you would a traditionally published book. I think, no matter how a book is published, you need to focus on writing honest reviews.

Book reviews are subjective in nature. I’ve read and reviewed books I’ve adored that friends found lackluster. I’ve also read books that I was not a fan of that the community has absolutely praised. That’s why it’s so important to remain honest to your true opinion and to also say why. Why did you find the characters to be uncompelling? What about the narrative specifically lost your interest? Telling the why helps your readers to decide whether the books might still be something they want to try–or something they must absolutely avoid.

I also think, when you’re writing a review that critiques or leans more towards the negative side, it’s important to also highlight or remind people that reviews are subjective and others might still enjoy the book you’re bashing, however politely (though, if you’re commenting on problematic issues, then of course you don’t need that caveat, as it’s important to bring problematic books forward and not support them).

So: should you go easier on self-published books? No, I don’t think so. I think you should read and review it as how (I hope) many already judge any book they read: with an open mind, responding with an honest review that acknowledges your subjectivity, isn’t afraid to highlight problematic content, while also recognizing your own biases and life-experiences and how they influence your reading of the book.

Cheers.post signature

Categories
Discussion

Tropes I Want to See More Of

Hello, lovelies!

It’s been a while since I wrote my post about tropes that I absolutely love within the fantasy genre, which included your classic tropes like chosen one stories to romance staples like only one bed. Today, I want to switch the focus to ideas I’d like to either become so common, they become tropes or just tropes I’d love to see more of.

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Mothers who do both: mothers currently only exist as dead characters who never get page time or those left behind to mind the children as their husbands go off to have adventures. I want to see mothers with babes on their hips after they travel off to war, who wish their husbands goodbye as they leave for battle, who train their daughters on the art of adventuring.

Chosen Ones from Non-Western Cultures: Just because something is considered cliche in white book culture doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a chance to be written and appreciated by ownvoices from non-western cultures. Give me chosen ones with brown skin or wearing hijabs, from African-inspired lore to Asian heritage. There are still so many cultures that deserve the chance that whites have dominated within published for so long. I want to hear their stories.

Questioning characters: I’d love to see more characters in fantasy questioning their sexuality. And more societies where heterosexuality isn’t the norm or varying sexuality isn’t considered othering or something to be incorrectly frowned upon.

Characters with depression or anxiety: I know we see some of this, but I’d love to see more of this in adult fantasy.

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Sickness: I think it’d be really interesting to not only see how different fantasy worlds and cultures deal with the common cold, but what other types of sickness do they encounter on their quest across the continent to defeat the dark lord that we don’t encounter here?

Generational stories: This may be just me personally, but I’d love to read a trilogy or longer series that follows each generation of a family as they live through life. Not necessarily each is in a chosen one situation, but just how the previous generation’s choices impact the next’s.

More steampunk and cyberpunk genres: I just want more of these settings, especially within the romance genre (I’m a sucker for a good steampunk romance).

Periods: Obviously I want to see periods more normalized, without the taboo attached, as well as seeing a wide range of experiences related to period experiences (since, you know, I’m writing a duology about this very topic).

Chosen ones who fail: I’d love to see (and plan to write) a story about a chosen one who tries and fails and what the world looks like in the aftermath of the dark lord or villain who won.

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Those are just a few things I’d love to see more within the fantasy genre. What sort of tropes would you like to see more of? Let me know in the comments!

Cheers.post signature