Friday, May 29, 2015

June TBR

My TBR for this month is going to be quite a bit larger for this month than it has been in any other post - usually I pick only 4-5 books that I know I can probably get to, but I'm going to be more ambitious this month!

Part of the reason is that I'm participating in a readathon. I don't do these often, but the challenges for this one sounded fun and I feel like it'll be nice to start off the month with a bunch of reading! If you're interested in which readathon I'm taking part in, it is the TBR Takedown Readathon, which is hosted by Shannon from leaninglights on Youtube. (The link leads to the readathon announcement video!)

This is also why my TBR is up a bit earlier than usual - I wanted to post it before the actual readathon began!

The Nature of Jade is the book that's been on my shelf for over a year, to fit with one of the readathon challenges. I have wanted to read this book for so long, but always put it off - not because I don't want to read it, but another book always seems to get in the way, and then I forget! I might make this my first read during the month, just so that I don't end up putting it off again.

A sequel that's sitting on my shelf is The Winner's Crime, which is perfect because I'm listening to the audio version of book one now, and I already planned to jump straight into book two. I'm really excited to catch up on this series, although I hope there isn't too much of a cliffhanger at the end of this book - it'll be awhile before book three is released.

Since one of the challenges is to read a first book in a series and there is a TON of hype regarding this one right now, I'm going to listen to the audiobook of An Ember in the Ashes this month. I don't know a lot about the plot, but I do have high hopes just because of all the hype. However, since I haven't started the audiobook, I might put it down if I think I would prefer the text version of the book. (I've had pretty bad luck lately when it comes to not liking a narrator's voice in audiobooks!) If that happens, I will start a different series instead - I definitely have enough of them to choose from.

It was difficult to pick a book that's out of my comfort zone - it took me awhile to find a book I wanted to read that fits the requirement - but I think Vanishing Girls works well here. While it's young adult, so the genre isn't a problem, I do tend to either love or hate Lauren Oliver's books. I've been putting this one of for a long time because of that, but I think this challenge is a perfect chance to pick this up.

My last book for the readathon is going to be Cinder. This is one of the books I bought in May, so it fits the last challenge. This also makes for a LOT of reading in one week, many of them audiobooks, so we'll see if I can do it! If not, I'll probably keep reading from this list throughout the month.

But when I do finish these, my next planned read for the month is If You're Lucky. This is a review book that does not come out until the end of November, but I've been dying to read it, and now's the perfect time - I don't have any review books that must be read this month, so it's a good time to catch up on later releases!

Lastly, I would like to get to A History of Glitter and Blood, another review book that will be released late July. If I find time for this during the month, I will have no unread review books, which would be so awesome! (Then I can go on a requesting spree without feeling bad, haha!) This one is a fantasy and it looks awesome, just like all the others I'm reading this month - hopefully, these all meet my expectations and June ends up being my lucky month for reading great books.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

In May...

May has been a fantastic month. I have read a ton, kept up with the blog, and gotten back into writing! The last one, especially, is so exciting. I've been in a writer's block lately that mostly consisted of laziness and me not wanting to edit, but I pushed through and am in love with the draft I'm working on now.

I read a total of 9 books in May.
I also began reading graphic novels, which I decided to list separately:
I don't tend to review anything that isn't strictly a "novel" just because it's difficult for me and, especially in this case, I haven't read enough similar work to give a useful review. But I did enjoy these as some lighter things to pick up between reads, and I do plan to branch out into more very soon. (If you have recommendations, leave them in the comments!)

I completely forgot I even had monthly goals.

I'm not upset that this happened. My month was awesome, and I was productive - just not in all the ways I planned. Which is fine, because I did not plan to spend so much of my time editing my fantasy novel - but I'm so glad I was able to get back into it! (You might hear me talk about this a lot. I'm proud!)

So, looking back at the post, I planned to stay caught up on reading blog posts and replying to my own comments. This sort of happened. I got backed up on comments this month for my post on why I don't comment back, which received some really great comments. (Thank you!) I loved the discussion, but some of my responses took me longer to come up with than I would have liked. (Meaning, mostly, that I let them sit in my email too long before going to the blog to reply.)

I also wanted to be more consistent when sharing reviews, and I have done that! I'm getting ready to go through each book on Goodreads to make sure every book I've reviewed on the blog is also posted there. Aside from that, I've caught up with all current reviews.

Last, I wanted to continue my writer's block post series. Clearly, that has not happened. I'm just going to accept that those posts take a ton of time for me to write, and they'll be coming slowly. Right now, I would rather write then talk about writer's block. That's not to say they won't continue - they will, it will just take more time than I originally thought.

I want to hear about your month!

Did anything great happen? What is your absolute favorite book you read this month? If you're a writer, what are you working on? 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Book Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Quick Facts
My Rating: 3.5 stars

Series: The Mortal Instruments, Book 1

Date Read: May 17, 2015

Source: Purchased ebook

Publication Date: March 27, 2007

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books 

Genres: Young adult, paranormal

When Clary sees people nobody else can, she ends up following them - and witnessing a murder. She is told the dead boy was a demon, and his body did disappear, so she doesn't know what to think. From then on she is absorbed into the world of the Shadowhunters, as they want to know what gives her the ability to see them - and Clary needs their help to find her mother, who disappeared from their home and is nowhere to be found.

For a long time, I have had no interest in continuing this series. After reading book one way back in 2012, I didn't remember anything, and I'm not much of a re-reader. But then I hit a bit of a day-long reading slump when none of my current reads interested me. I began picking up books at random. I don't know what made me choose this one - I already had it in my head I would never be reading this series. For whatever reason, I ended up reading the first few pages, then getting pulled into the story - mostly because I didn't remember hardly anything!

Although it was a long time ago, and I knew my memories of the book were vague, I thought I would recognize the words, the entire story line. Instead, the first few chapters were like reading a brand-new book. Once things got going, I began to remember most of the plot details - but it still amazes me just how much I could forget about a book in the span of three years.

Of course, I'm also a much different reader now than I was three years ago. I remember my initial reaction to this story - I was wowed by it, as I was most books. I wanted the rest of the series right away. (Which is silly, isn't it, when you think that I still haven't read them three years afterwords?) While I don't feel quite the same anymore - my previous five star rating has gone down. Still, I think this is a solid beginning for the series, and I do plan on reading book two very soon.

Another interesting thing during this read, besides my realization of having a terrible memory, was that I have now read Harry Potter. I heard the talk of the similarities before, and this time I was really able to see what people had been talking about. Of course I saw the parallels, although they have their differences as well. Most notably, to me, was the tone. This book felt more fun, fast-paced, and dramatic. Harry Potter, to me, was a more serious, quiet type of series.

Getting into the book itself, I think most of its appeal comes from the fast-paced plot. I picked it up in need of something quick and easy to read, and it definitely was that. The characters were alright, but I can't say I felt a lot for them - this was just so plot-driven. I did think their character arcs were done nicely, and especially liked how even side-characters got the chance to change and grow. But until the very end, the story never slowed enough to really let the changes - or much of their personalities - show. I do hope to get to know them better throughout the series, but this first one is a bit disappointing on that level.

The writing, while it flowed easily in most places and was easy to read, did have its flaws as well. It's probably because I write myself, but some parts distracted me, especially when it came to dialogue - at times I would sit back and ask myself, would anybody actually say that, though?

Still, I feel like I've pointed out the flaws in this review far more than the good aspects - and this was definitely an intriguing story. I read it in two sittings, although they were about a week apart from one another, and it was nice to have such a spontaneous, non-stress read for when I needed it, between review books and my monthly TBR. I'm eager to keep reading the next books as well, despite the fact that I've seen far too many spoilers!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Joyride by Anna Banks

Quick Facts
My Rating: 3 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: May 14, 2015

Source: Review copy from Netgalley

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Genres: Young adult, contemporary, romance

Goodreads | Author Site 

Carly is just trying to fly under the radar until she and her brother earn enough money to bring back their parents, who were deported to Mexico years before. Arden is trying to do anything he can think of to make his father, the sheriff, angry. When these two come together, their goals obviously clash.
Arden, who used to pull pranks with his older sister, is seeking another accomplice. Amber has been dead for some time, and he didn’t realize how lonely he felt until Carly entered his life. He knows that she is holding herself back and that she wants to have fun, he just doesn’t realize why.
Carly tries to avoid Arden, but he makes it difficult. And as Arden refuses to give up, she realizes that she might not want him to.
Part of me wishes I didn’t finish this book. I went into it expecting less romance, and for more of the issues in the book to be touched on. Instead, I feel like the romance took over the plot - or maybe it felt that way because I did not like Arden.
From the start, Arden was too forceful. Him being right about what she wanted doesn’t excuse that he forced Carly into a lot of situations she told him she didn’t want to take part in. He stalks her home from school - while thinking that it would sure look like he was stalking her, even though he “wasn’t” - and even steals her bike to get her to talk to him, although she’s made it clear she doesn’t want to. He gets her a higher-paying job, which was nice of him - except then he wants her to quit working her other job on week days, and spend time with him instead. It seems that, no matter how many times Carly explains that she needs the money, he doesn’t believe her.
He’s not an unrealistic character, though. I understand that his privilege would get in the way of him understanding Carly’s money issues, and that he has his flaws which create his problems with being so pushy - he isn’t just that way with Carly, but also with his uncle at the beginning, and his pranks show that attitude often as well. But it was difficult for me to get past his flaws, and I really did not want him and Carly together.
One thing I did like was the balance in this book. It switched easily between cute and real. I did try to like Arden, and it worked sometimes. A scene that stuck out to me was when he mentioned ordering black coffee in front of Carly because sugar and cream did not seem “manly.” He did go out of his way to impress Carly a number of times and, although he went about it wrong (The girl doesn’t care how you like your coffee, Arden!), the emotions there were still sweet to read about. Right after this scene, though, he gets a phone call from his depressed mother, asking him to pick up the medication she’s very dependent on after her daughter’s death. Then he goes straight to work helping his alcoholic uncle with housework.
At the same time, I feel like all these issues were more interesting than Arden and Carly’s relationship. It would have been nice to read more about their family life, and to have all that more fleshed out than it was. And many of these things resolved too quickly, and often unrealistically, at the end. There was also a bit of a time-jump once we did get to the interesting stuff, which felt really disappointing - the plot was finally picking up, and then most of the action was skipped or glossed over.
Overall, I think this would be a better read for those who enjoy the romance. It really was the main plot of the book, and this will likely be a great read for those who like Arden, or who like the idea of him and Carly together. I just didn’t enjoy the romance much, and saw so much potential in the side-plots here, very little of which seemed to follow through.

Confession: Half of my Posts Are Rambles

I'm sure if you've been reading my posts long enough, this isn't actually a secret: I tend to select a topic, ramble pointlessly about it for awhile, and call it a discussion post.

And don't get me wrong, that's basically what a discussion post is. It's not a chance to give some great wisdom to everyone who reads the blog - it's a chance to connect. These posts are a great way to get conversations going, and the comments are often more fun than any other kind of post, because each person gets to share their own opinion and experience.

But, my drafts section just keeps getting more and more cluttered with drafts that were meant to be published, until I reread them - or thought about them for some time - and realized I had not said anything useful. I hate discussing when I don't feel like I'm contributing to the conversation. When that's the case, I feel better off reading what others have to say, perhaps agreeing on their posts, and moving on. I also seem to type posts that go nowhere, because there was nothing to discuss in the first place.

For example, I just added a post about word count to my ever-growing pile. It basically said, "I can write 4k words on an average day. Why have I only written 10k in the past month? What is your word count, followers?" It was boring. I would not want to read posts like that on someone else's blog. And so I deleted it - or, as close as I ever come to deletion.

As a writer, I am in love with words. I like to think that some day I will look back on my drafts and, if I'm lucky, get a post idea from them. Maybe I'll remember where I was initially going with a post before I got off track. Or perhaps, it might just be a fun thing to look back on. I'm paranoid about deleting my words permanently, probably because it's so ingrained in me from fiction writing.

Anyway, a lot of these posts do start off with a direction. I think I'm headed someplace with them. But many times they end up in the never-publish pile.

I can't say that I want this to end completely, though. Sure, it would be nice to have a well-rounded post every time I sat down to blog, but missing out on these posts would mean missing out on ideas. Sometimes, I say something in a post and realize that's what I really want to be writing about. So I save it to my drafts and type up the post I actually want to share.

Other times, they might not be great posts, but they get my words and ideas flowing. Another thing I take from fiction writing when I blog is that you don't have to produce great writing every time. You just need to write consistently.

So I'm pretty okay with my growing list of never-to-be-published drafts. I'm even okay with the fact that I ramble too much. (It's why you love my posts here, right?)

But I do want to know if you guys have this problem as well. If you do, you should tell me: What's the most interesting/funny/your favorite post you've ever not published?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sharing Reviews: Do You "Share" Before You Post?

I'm sure the title is a bit confusing here - how do you share something before you post it? - but hopefully it will make sense with a bit of explanation! When I talk about sharing, I don't mean on Twitter, but on places where you actually post the review. For me, those places are Goodreads and Tumblr. So the question is, do you post your review elsewhere before you post it on your blog?

For me, it depends. If it's a review book then yes, unless I've read it very close to the release date, I usually wait. If I have a bunch of pre-scheduled reviews and I know the blog review won't be up for longer than a month, I also wait. And it also depends on the website, and here's my real problem with this: Tumblr has an option to schedule posts. Goodreads doesn't.

I'm very forgetful. Weeks after I've posted my review here, do I actually remember to add it up on Goodreads as well? Usually not. I tend to go back long after the initial post and add my review quickly, but that leads to a certain amount of guilt that I didn't get it up "on time." If there were a pre-scheduling feature, I would just schedule everything right away, as I'm typing the review. It would be part of my review process, and I would not be able to forget when the time to post actually comes.

Unless one of you reaches out to tell me there's a scheduling feature on Goodreads that I'm missing (which would be awesome), or they add one (just as great!), I guess I'm going to have to find another way around this without always forgetting or leaving it until months later when I notice the missing review. I'm thinking I should get on a better blogging schedule - probably I'll add in links on my Reviews page on the same day I go back and add previous reviews to Goodreads. Maybe once a month or so?

But all this thinking always makes me wonder what other bloggers do. I know some people just post their Goodreads review right away, but I would rather not do that. In fact, if it weren't so difficult to keep up with, I would rather my reviews always be posted to my blog first, before it's shared on other sites.

Do things like that matter to you guys? Is there somewhere your review has to be put first, in your eyes? Where do you post your reviews, and when?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Book Review: From A Distant Star by Karen McQuestion

Quick Facts
My Rating: 4 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: April 29, 2015

Source: Review copy from Netgalley

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Publisher: Amazon Publishing

Genres: Young adult, science fiction

When Emma's boyfriend, Lucas, was diagnosed with cancer, people seemed to give up on him right away. Even his own mother seemed determined he would not make it, especially as things grew worse. Lucas entered a coma and doctors said he had very little time left - perhaps a couple of days. 

Emma just knows that Lucas is strong enough to make it through. They had too many future plans, too much love, for him to just die. So she goes to see a woman who is known for magic. She gives Emma a potion to cure Lucas and a warning that he might not be the same, after coming back from the brink of death.

She could not have expected that her boyfriend would actually turn into a different person - or that his body had been taken over by an alien who was trying to make it home.

I have to be honest and say that I felt kind of awful and spoiler-y when typing that summary. The truth is, all of that information is given within the first few chapters. But should it have been? I don't think so. Books with multiple points of view can either be benefited from it, or harmed, and I think that seeing from the alien, Scout's, eyes did more harm than good. If the three or four chapters that were not in Emma's point of view had been left out, it would have left space for some more mystery in the story - instead of knowing the truth, readers would have been left guessing.

Setting that aside, though, I really enjoyed this book. It was difficult to put down, so much that I planned about a week's reading time (I've been an awfully slow reader lately), but read it in two days. The writing was great and very easy to read, and I really enjoyed the fast pace. It kept up throughout the book and made for a really fun, addicting read.

The characters were also great. I liked the contrast between Scout and Lucas, and seeing each character develop. It was especially nice to see Emma, who had been so dependent on Lucas before the cancer, learn to take charge and use her strengths. Scout had a wonderful personality overall, and his empathy made me stop and wonder at times what people would be like if we could read each others thoughts and emotions like those on his planet could. So many of the characters, Emma included, had a strong sense of love and caring for others, and that was so admirable and nice to see.

Overall, although it had a few faults, I really enjoyed this one. It's an enjoyable, fast-paced read that I would definitely recommend, especially to those who like science fiction and books that feature aliens. I'm pretty sure this was the first book I ever read with aliens in it, though, and I have to say that it was a nice introduction for me, although I'm not sure any others could compare to Scout's sweetness and compassion for others.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

One Year of Blogging

I don't post on Saturdays, but this is a special Saturday! One year ago today, I published my very first blog post - a pretty awful review of Fangirl that I should probably delete, but can still be found somewhere around here.

I thought it would be fun to talk about my experience blogging, and tell you guys a couple of important things I've learned over the past year. If I had known what I know now at the beginning, I think I would have been a happier blogger.

So first of all, I'm going to say something I have never seen another blogger say: I started blogging because I wanted free books. I know it's such a common piece of advice. Everyone says that, if that's the only reason you begin blogging, you won't last long as a blogger.

I knew it back then, when I looked up blogging advice for the first time. But I'm stubborn. I saw people with ARCs and I wanted them too. Worse, I saw people who requested more review copies than they could read - and I knew I wouldn't do that! I would actually read the books, because really, they're free!

And I did read all the books I requested. I promised myself that at the beginning and, even when it was difficult to do, I kept that promise. But I went from blogging all of the time and reading all the books! to not wanting to read or blog at all. For a few months towards the beginning, blogging felt like a chore - and reading review copies felt even worse.

So, to any new bloggers who started for the free books: You should know that free books get old after awhile. I think the majority, if not all, bloggers get more selective the longer they're blogging. We stop requesting so many books. And, while free books are a great perk, they won't be enough to make you stick around.

The truth of it is, blogging is hard work. I didn't go in thinking it would be super easy - I knew there was work involved - but I was still caught off guard by how time-consuming blogging is. Because it's not as easy as typing up a post, making a couple of comments, and growing into a large blog over night.

Typing posts takes time. Reading books takes time. But above all, there are so many great bloggers out there. It's easy to get absorbed in their posts, to spend hours reading them all. This is an important part of blogging, of course - supporting other bloggers, leaving comments to make yourself and your own blog known - but still. It's time-consuming. I have spent entire days going from blog to blog before.

Another thing I didn't think about before beginning my blog was simply the community. I know everyone says it, but it's true that book bloggers are so welcoming. The community has it's drama, I know (although admittedly, I miss most of it somehow), but overall it's really great. And I don't think you can realize how great it is just to get a comment on a post, until it happens. When those emails come I always smile, especially if the post took a lot of time or thought.

Overall, I just think blogging is a really rewarding experience and, despite going against all advice I could find, I'm glad I started this blog. I had so many doubts going in, but after a year I can't imagine my life without blogging.

I feel like this blog has come so far in the last year, and I'm already excited and planning so much more for the future. Hopefully I can say the same next year, and the year after that.

To you guys who are following the blog, or leave me comments all the time, or even have just read this post - thank you so much for reading what I write. The support, the community - that's the real reason I stuck around, in the end.

As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear why you guys began blogging, and why you stick around now. Have your reasons changed, like mine have?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I Don't Comment Back

I'm sure that most of you who comment frequently have realized this already: I reply to all comments, but I do not comment back on others' blogs.

That's not to say that I don't check out the blogs of those who comment on my posts, or that I don't comment on other blogs.

I really appreciate every comment I get. I check my email (too) often, and when I see a blog comment it always makes me smile. I read them right away, even though it sometimes takes me awhile to reply. But I never want people to feel obligated to reply to my posts. I don't want anyone to comment as a payment, or because they want me to check out (or return to) their blog.

And I feel like that's what commenting back does. It leads to this obligation to say something, even if there is nothing to say. It feels like I'm begging someone to return and comment again, which I DO want them to do - but that should happen because my posts keep them coming back. Because they want to be here. Not because we're in this silly comment-trading spree.

I have never commented back, but when I began blogging I did type a lot of pointless comments. It wasn't for followers or anything like that - I just genuinely wanted to say something. I wanted to let bloggers know that I read and enjoyed their posts. But how many times could I say on a Top Ten Tuesday, "I read that book too!" How many times could I say, "Great review! I also loved this book."

It just grew old. I have to admit, I rarely comment on blog posts anymore. I'm trying to get better at thinking of things to say that matter, that I haven't typed time and time again. I know from experience how much bloggers love comments; I just don't want to say nothing in my reply!

I would love to discuss this further in the comments. Do you comment back? How often do you comment on other's blogs at all? (Funny that I'm asking you to comment about how much you comment, isn't it?) Do you ever feel repetitive, or do you usually have something unique to say?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

There IS Enough Time in the Day

Lately, I've been wasting a lot of time. I think most people are guilty of this some way or another - we tell ourselves that there isn't enough time in the day to do what we want, or need, to do. And while we never will be able to do everything, we probably have a lot more time than we think.

This has been getting to me because I don't have time for so many things that are important to me. When I don't feel like writing, I tell myself there isn't time for it anyway. Most days, I don't have time for blogging. And while I usually fit some reading into my day, I could be doing a lot more of it.

So I'm planning to take away time-wasters, or at least use them less. I'll still spend some time on Twitter, but I won't read every single status update, I won't play so many games on my phone/tablet, etc. 

I'm also going to get back into audiobooks - I might just end up reading more of them than regular books, since there is a ton I can do while listening to them. (And I can bend the rules a bit - playing random games while listening to an audiobook is reading, not time-wasting. Right?)

Among other things, I'm going to be doing a ton of writing and blogging. So you guys should be able to expect a huge improvement when it comes to posting on time, getting back to your comments, and checking out all of your blog posts! I have a ton of things planned right now, so hopefully I can stick to it all.

My current plan is pretty simple, as I have a checklist of what needs to be done each day. It's just on a simple app on my tablet, and when I check something off it darkens and moves to the end of the list, so I can easily uncheck it the next day and start over. I LOVE lists, so it seemed the best way to go about things. I also include some things that don't have to be done every day, but often, and will just leave those checked off on days I don't have to do them - it'll make me feel like I have a bit of a head start!

If all goes well, I should have a bit of extra time once things get done. I really want to get back into art, and if it does happen I might start posting some things here on the blog! Even if I could find time to do something crafty every week or so, it would be so much more than I'm doing now. This is one of those things that I always want to do, but always put off for whatever reason. 

In the comments, you guys should let me know that I'm not the only one to do this! What is the number one thing you waste time doing? What are some things you always say you want to do, but there isn't enough time in the day for?

Friday, May 8, 2015

When Books Expire

I had to clear off my currently reading shelf the other day. It had three books on it, and I kept adding more rather than finish the old ones. More than that, I really had no desire to keep reading the old ones. I felt a reading slump coming on, so I thought it would be best to keep only one book (my audiobook of Snow Like Ashes, which I really do want to finish), and start a brand new, shiny book. (That book was Falling Into Place, if you're curious, and it's great so far!)

This isn't the first time I have had this problem, but it's the first time I gave it a name. What I realized as I was deleting ebooks from my device, removing them from my Goodreads shelf, etc. was that I can only read a book for so long before it becomes a chore. Even if I like the book, I need to either stop reading or risk a major reading slump, in which I force my way through that book and end up reading nothing else for a month afterwords. If I've been currently reading a book for too long, it seems to hit an "expire" and I don't have fun reading it anymore. Even if it's a great book!

I rarely read classics for this reason. Whenever I do begin them, I usually read lighter books alongside them, as they are typically slow-paced and sometimes are pretty long. But then, they take forever to read. And I don't want to read them as much as all the other books I could be reading.

I don't want to say that slow-paced books aren't for me, because there are some that I read and loved! But I have to be in the right mood for them. When I tried to continue The Night Circus, which I had been slowly making my way through since the middle of last month, I realized I just haven't been in the mood for it. Sure, I am interested in the story. It's a great book, and I want to know what happens. Right now, though, there are other books I will enjoy reading more. 

I'm really interested to see what you guys have to say about this. Have you ever had a book sit around so long, you just don't want to read it anymore? (This happens to books on my TBR shelf, as well as my currently read books!) Do books "expire" for you, or can you read them bit by bit without feeling bothered by it? How long can you take to read a book before you begin to think about everything else you could be reading?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Deleting Accounts and Growing As A Writer

After years spent on the site, I just deleted all but one of my accounts on Wattpad. I hadn't posted anything in three months and, even then, there was little I felt willing to share. So I did not think this would be a big deal for me. I did not think I would feel the need to post on my blog about it.

I began on that website in my early teens - I think I was either thirteen or fourteen, which means I joined either five or six years ago. At first I only read stories, the very popular ones on the site that were usually cliche. Then I got back into writing again on my own. Admittedly, most of my work at that time mimicked the popular fiction I saw on the site - back then, those cliches seemed genius.

Some time passed, and I began posting my work for others to see and comment on. I learned, slowly, how to interact with others on the site in a way that advertised my work and brought me reads and comments. It was the coolest thing in the world when one of my stories gained 100 views.

Fast-forward and I find the message boards, and I learn about critiques. Fast forward a long time - probably a year or two - after that, and I have learned how to accept critiques, how to take the parts I need from them, how not to be hurt every time someone criticized my work.

Now, I've known for awhile that the site was not helping my writing anymore. I have quit a few times, but the old accounts were always there to come back to. I also made new accounts - during my deletion, I got rid of four of them, and kept one simply for the name, even though I'll likely never return to it.

Since this last time I left, knowing it was final, I knew I should delete the accounts. I don't want people reading my old work anymore. I don't want to post new work anymore, not online for free. My writing can go further than that. It's worth more than that.

It was a surprise to me that, as I signed in and deleted each account, I felt emotional about it. But as I type this post - that hopefully makes sense, and doesn't just read like I'm rambling - I guess I realize why. Even though myself and my writing are far past that stage, even though I want to go new places, that site helped me so much. I always knew that, but looking back ... It gave me the strength and confidence to share my work and accept feedback. That isn't a small thing. And sharing my work with others became such a large part of my writing process, for such a long time.

It's over, for now. I won't be sharing another completed work until I am a published author. I've never liked change much, and this is a large one, although I'm definitely headed in the right direction.

I think that's all I have to say, but you guys should let me know if you've had any similar experiences to this one, or maybe just about a challenge or a change you've faced when writing. Have you ever shared your work online, and has it helped you grow as a writer?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Book Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Quick Facts
My Rating: 4 stars

Series: N/A

Date Read: April 15, 2015

Source: Purchased ebook

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Genres: Adult fiction, contemporary

A.J. is a rather grumpy man, especially after the death of his wife. Although he runs a bookstore, he keeps a distance from the locals, even those who are attempting to help him. This changes when a baby is left in the store, along with a note asking the owner to take care of her. Because A.J. knows little about children, but quickly grows attached to this one, he finds that he is forced to take the help offered to him.

I have mixed feelings about this one, because I really loved the first half of the book. Unfortunately, the second part felt dull and almost unnecessary in comparison, like an unneeded sequel to a perfectly good standalone. While part one could not completely stand on its own, I still felt like I would have enjoyed the book more if it ended there.

I have to admit that a lot of that has to do with my own preferences, though. Part one could have been written just for me - I love the trope where a child comes into someone's life who knows nothing about kids, and I loved the bookish references made throughout the story. Authors and books are discussed frequently, and I am a writer (and of course a reader/book blogger). So it matched really well with both my interests and my reading preferences. A.J.'s character was the kind I enjoy reading about - the kind that come across as grumpy and tough, but are actually great people on the inside.

So when part two began, it just felt lacking. I don't know how to be more specific without going into spoilers, but it went in a direction I wasn't fond of, and I think it made me pickier about everything else. Things I took easily and actually really liked about the first part, suddenly felt sort of unrealistic and I was constantly aware that I was reading a book. (Which of course I was, but most times when a reader is absorbed in a story, they can forget that they're reading instead of experiencing, which is how I felt during the first half.)

I really enjoyed the chapter openings, and into the second half they became one of my favorite parts. But when someone would, for example, go into detail about their reading preferences in casual conversation, including even tropes and character types they liked, I then saw it as something that would never happen - when before, I just took it as something that happened, and enjoyed seeing into the character's personalities through the books they enjoyed.

So I'm not saying that things like that didn't work for the book - they definitely added to the experience, until I began thinking too hard. As I said, I felt much less attached to the story during part two, and I think my mind started wandering to other things, making me more critical than I had been at the beginning.

Despite my complaints, I did not hate part two or think it was awful - just that it wasn't for me. In the end, I still think this was a good book and don't regret reading it at all. While I had my own issues that stopped it from being a five-star book for me, I can see how others would really love it the entire way through. The character development and the writing really were spot-on, and I think most book lovers will appreciate the story if only because the characters are book lovers themselves, and the story as a whole is quite bookish.

Friday, May 1, 2015

May TBR & Goals

I had a couple of great reading months in March and April, so I'm really hoping that lasts into May. There are so many books on my TBR that I want to read right now, so it was difficult to pull a list together, but here are some things I hope to read in the next month!
Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

I have already started this as an audiobook, but plan on finishing the book in May. It's started off very well, although I'm not very far into it, and I can't wait to see where the story goes.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I'm reading this one so slowly. I can't remember the last time a book took me more than two weeks to read, and yet I started this one about that long ago and am half-way through. I plan to focus on finishing this either the 
first or second week of May, so I can finally be done with it!

Joyride by Anna Banks

This one was on my April TBR as well, but I will definitely get to it this month! If all goes well, it should be my next read after The Night Circus.

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

This is another that I have to read this month, since it's a review copy. (Both this and Joyride release on June 2nd.) Hopefully if I can get these two read early in the month, I can read some other review copies and try to catch up on later releases as well, but we'll see how it goes.

  • Stay caught up on others' blog posts, and replying to comments on my own blog. I have been pretty consistent with this the past week or so, and hope to continue that throughout May.
  • Be more consistent posting reviews to Goodreads and Tumblr. While I do post my reviews to my accounts on those sites as well, I forget a lot and end up posting them later than planned! I want to do much better from now on.
  • Finish my 'Writer's Block' posts. Since talking about them in my last monthly goals, I've only managed to get one of these posts up. I really want to finish the ones I have in mind and then possibly think of something else writing-related to post here on the blog.

What do you plan to read this month? Do you have any blogging or reading goals? Have you read any of the books on my TBR? Talk to me in the comments!