Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 Day 4: Ethics and Nonfiction

graphic by Nina @NinaReads
Day 4, let's do this thing!

There's a definite standard of ethics that must be followed when it comes to book blogging and reviewing. I'm not going to say I'm an expert when it comes to this, but I will say this: better to be safe than sorry. Also, remember the Internet is forever.

Start with the basics and give credit where credit is due: who wrote the book? Who is publishing it? When did it come out/will it come out? If some awesome person sent you a copy of this book, electronically or printed in a contest or as an ARC, who are they? Just remember, you are doing what you're doing as (usually) a hobby because a lot of other people out there are doing their jobs. Acknowledge that. I start every single review post I do with this information right away, very clearly so people know what's to come.

Then you get to the review itself. Now as far as I know, I've never had people plagiarize off of my blog, but unfortunately I have heard of blogs this has happened to. It's a shame. It's rotten. It's a crummy thing to do in any walk of life to take credit for someone else's work, but at the same time there's not a whole lot legally speaking that I think bloggers can do in this regard. I will give the caution that word of mouth spreads like lightening on the Internet. If someone goes to social media and says 'so and so's reviews are just copies of mine, don't read that blog!' you can bet that news will get around. So is it really worth it to copy? No, of course not. So don't do it.

So when you are writing you're completely, 100% original opinion and review, be yourself. If you like the book, say why. If you don't, say that too. This brings me to my second point, though, that the Internet is forever. It is possible to write a review about why you wouldn't recommend a book without being mean. There's no need to be rude. For one, it can turn people off. I don't want to spend time in real life with people who are mean, so why spend time online surrounding myself with that. No thanks, I'll pass. Also, remember that a person wrote this book. A person, with real hopes and dreams and if you're reading this book and it's not self-published, that also usually means an agent liked it enough to represent it, and a publishing house liked it enough to make it real. The key word here is professionalism - act professionally if you want to be respected. Sure you can take down a review later, but if someone wants it badly enough, they'll be able to get to it one way or another.

Moral of the story: think before you post. You'll be glad you did.

I wish I read more nonfiction! I love biographies and memoirs, stories about things that really happened. I love getting wrapped up in a story, and I find the true ones are often more incredible than even some of the best fiction out there because you couldn't make it up if you tried. Richard Hammond's memoir On the Edge, the story about when he suffered massive brain trauma in an jet-powered car accident that was caught all on tape because he was recording a segment for the world-wide hit BBC TV show Top Gear remains one of my favorite nonfiction books. His story is so raw and honest, and when he can't share parts due to the trauma causing him not to remember parts of his ordeal, Richard's wife fills in the blanks. Even if you don't like cars, it's a fantastic TV show and a brilliant read that I cannot recommend highly enough.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 Day 3: Giveaways and Literature

graphic by Nina at Nina Reads
It's already Day 3 of Armchair BEA! Let's just get right to it, shall we?

It's giveaway day for many of the blogs participating in Armchair BEA, and oh how I wish this were one of them. Unfortunately, this week is nuts so I wasn't able to get myself properly organized in time. I work in a school and with the academic year ending next week, things have been crazy busy. However! I do hope you'll subscribe or follow me on Twitter if you don't already because I do plan on having giveaways this summer. There are many books in my possession at the moment that are in need of new homes. So stay tuned!

General Literary Fiction. It's a term that gets thrown around a lot in the book and publishing world, but I have yet to interact with a definition that encompasses this genre satisfactorily. These books don't necessarily have to take place in a contemporary setting. They can have aspects of an other (sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, magical realism, etc.). They do tend to take on life's BIG QUESTIONS and I feel like in many cases, it's a good idea to have a dictionary nearby.

But again, I'm a fairly educated person and I still feel a little bit off balance when this term gets thrown into the mix. Am I the only one? Today's post is a short one because I'm hoping to explore other people's blogs and find some answers.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 Day 2: Blogger Development and Genre Fiction

graphic by Nina at Nina Reads
Hello, Internet, and welcome to Day 2 of Armchair BEA!

Blogger Development
I'll admit that my blog is tiny in the grand scheme of things. I usually get next to no comments (other than this one week a year), I don't have that many subscribers, and my view count isn't terribly high. But I think that those facts stand true for a lot of reasons.

For starters, I jumped into book blogging not knowing that a community already existed, I just wanted to write. I had no idea what ARCs were or blog tours or any of it. And in some ways, I think that was a good thing. I think I would have been intimidated and talked myself out of it. But I've been doing this for a while now and I've gotten the hang of things. My blog is smaller, sure, but that's what works for me. This is one of many hobbies I have, so I give it what I can. Lately I've gotten better about contacting publishers, getting on lists, that sort of thing, but I also have a full time job and my own writing aspirations.

My advice to new book bloggers and book tubers is this: don't expect overnight success. Unless your best friend is a NYT best selling author or runs a huge blog, it will take time and a lot of effort. But if you love it, it will be worth it. I'm so appreciative of each and every person who reads or views or comments, and it is important to let them know that. Stick with it and your time will eventually come.

Genre Fiction
"What's your favorite genre? What kinds of books to you most like to read/review?" Ugh these questions! They seem so simple, they ought to have one word answers, but is that ever really the case?

Generally, I like contemporary fiction, stories that could be happening at this very moment. However, I like it with fantasy or science fiction or paranormal twists, too. Magical realism when done well can be awesome. That being said, I try to be widely read too (but usually no gory thrillers or horror - I'm a BIG pansy). I love fantasy and always have as a proud member of the Harry Potter generation. In recent years I've come to like science fiction because I think the genre has evolved in ways that makes it more accessible. Paranormal I still tend to be a bit picky only because the vampire trend was SO BIG and it wasn't my thing, so I tread lightly there. Like my comments on classics yesterday, my reading picks come down to one thing: do I connect with this story on a deeper level?

Some favorites that come to mind which showcase my evolution in reading tastes over the last year and my efforts to expand what genres I read, in no particular order, are as follows:

  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (magical realism)
  • Pivot Point by Kasie West (science fiction)
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (science fiction)
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (fantastical elements)
If you have any suggestions or thoughts, I'd be happy to hear them. Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA 2013 Day 1: Introductions and Classics

graphic by Nina at Nina Reads

Welcome back, boys and girls, young and old, readers and writers to another year of Armchair BEA! This is my second year participating in this online extravaganza since I am unable to make it to NYC for the real deal, but I still love the comments and conversations that come as a result of many of us taking over the blogosphere. So, without further ado, let's get to the Day 1 topics: intros and classics.

An Introduction (In which I answer 5 questions posted by Armchair BEA in no particular order)
1. Hi! My name is Monica and The Fuma Files is my baby, clocking in at about a year and a half old. I got into book blogging (and later book tubing on YouTube - my channel is monielynn5) because I wanted to share my thoughts on the books I read and it seemed like a fun community.
2. I'm coming to you all from the Chicago suburbs where I was born and raised. In fact, I actually currently work at the high school I graduated from. This picture is me in the school library where I work holding a copy of Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein, the novel in which my short story that won a contest is printed in the back. Someday one of my dreams is that I'll get one of my own books published and it will be on the shelves there, too.
3. I'm currently reading Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, the second book in her Grisha Trilogy. So far, OMG!
4. If I could visit any literary location, it would be all of Europe. I've been to Great Britain and Italy, and I'd love to go back as well as explore plenty of other countries. 
5. My favorite part of the book blogging community is when I get to see the people whose blogs/Twitters/Tumblrs/YouTube channels I follow in real life, putting a face and voice with a name and posts. I'm looking forward to networking and meeting even more people at ALA in Chicago this summer!

Today's Discussion: The Classics
Frankly, I love them. Or at least I love some of them. It goes like this: there is a reason that there are some books that can stand the test of time and why we are reading them and loving them and hating them centuries after they have been written. There are reasons why some books are 'instant classics' and their place in the literary canon goes without saying.

But those reasons are highly subjective. It's a question I grappled with first as AP Literature student in high school, then as an English major, then as a library school grad student, and still today as a librarian. What makes some books more worthy of being a part of the canon than others? To me the answer is just as complicated as the question: what does this story say about the human condition?

The classics I love are Jane Austen's novels, Shakespeare's plays, and Dickinson's poetry to name a few. To me, these writers and the stories or moments they capture defy time. Love, relationships, family, sacrifice, inner and outer demons - these are things people had to grapple with centuries ago and we will for the centuries to come. In that respect, it's hard for me to believe that Pride and Prejudice is already 200 years old because it takes on a part of humanity that will stay the same even as so much of the world changes.

So that probably doesn't answer the question very well, but I'd be happy to see the conversation continue down in comments. I just don't want this post to get too long. And that, dear readers, is my kickoff to Armchair BEA 2013! Comments are always welcome, and happy reading!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Finale with Fight: Requiem

Requiem by Lauren Oliver (Delirium #3)
HarperTeen, 2013

Lauren Oliver is officially the queen of open endings. She did it with her debut Before I Fall and again in each of the books making up her Delirium Trilogy. That's right, each of them, including this one. But unlike the reactions of so many other people, it honestly didn't bother me all that much.

Requiem is the final chapter in Lena's story, the tale of a girl who fell in love in a world where it has been declared a highly contagious disease that people need to be cured of. She's given up everything she's ever known to join the resistance and a single question remains: is all of this worth the high price she's had to pay? But unlike the first two books, this is also Hana's story. Chapters alternate between the girl who ran away and her best friend who stayed behind, has been Cured, and has been paired to marry the mayor.

I have had to wait a long time to see how this story would conclude since my library's copy of the book is always checked out. So what was my initial reaction to the story, especially the ending? Thinking. I closed the book and just needed to think, because like I said, it's a very open ending with some answers and lots of questions. I can see why this upset a lot of people. After all, this series is all about love, so the love story is the biggest part for a lot of readers. However, to me the ending very much suited Oliver's style and an overarching theme of the book that I think was best told through Hana's story - we cannot confine love to romantic love. It comes in all shapes and sizes and forms. In the end, Lena has love in her life, so in that regard, her journey has been a success. I wasn't always happy with her behavior, and so that regard the ending left me disappointing in her, but it's a dystopian story - happily ever afters should never be expected here.

And getting back to Hana, I was much more interested in her story throughout the novel than Lena's. To see the world through the eyes of a Cured person was so inventive, and the way she describes things, especially her feelings, was so thought provoking. Even though the resistance commonly refers to traditional cities as Zombieland, Hana shows us that that's not the case. She still feels, just not how she used to, and that's a result of trying to take love out of the mix. She shows incredible growth here, especially compared to the girl we knew her as back in the first book. She too got an open ending, but hers here reminded me of the ending of Delirium - unclear, uncertain, but still with some air of hope somehow.

Overall, if you've read the first two books in the series and haven't read Requiem yet, you should. The first book still remains my favorite by far, but the whole story asks a lot of questions that are worth exploring. And if you're really unsatisfied with the ending, check out Delirium Endings on Tumblr, a project Lauren Oliver has set up for people to share their fan fic of what happens after.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Lauren Oliver's Website
Lauren Oliver on Twitter

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Words: Fan Fic for Sale

Today Amazon announced a fan fiction platform in which people who write stories inspired by certain (currently three) fandoms can publish their work - and get paid for it.

If you just did a double take, you're not the only one. I haven't gotten to read too much about it yet, but the general reaction from people seems to be confusion. How is it legal? Is it legal? What are the parameters? Why are the specifics and 'rules' Amazon has set up for this so vague and, frankly, weird?

I have all these questions too, but another one that comes to mind is what does this mean for the nature of fan fiction? Right now, fan fic is a great outlet for people to express their love for characters, settings, situations. Like playing with dolls when I was a little girl, fan fiction is my 'grown up' outlet for extending the stories I love or choosing to take them in a totally different direction. It's also a way that I hear of many writers getting their feet wet. Rather than having to start it all from scratch, they can take pieces from things that others have already developed and practice with those parts. Because they want to and for the love of it, not because they get paid for it. Once money starts changing hands (outside the realm of authorized spinoffs and that sort of thing), can we really call this fan fiction in it's purest sense?

This is a more random post, but again, I haven't had much time to read up on this or form a more decided opinion. But what do you all think? Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Heart and Home: A Brief History of Montmaray

A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper (The Montmaray Journals #1)
Knopf, 2009

I'll admit to not being the most wide-read individual when it comes to historical fiction, but I do generally enjoy it. In A Brief History of Montmaray, Australian author Michelle Cooper takes on a time period many of us are familiar with - World War II - but from a perspective with a twist.

Sophie FitzOsborne has spent her whole life living in a dilapidated castle on the small island country of Montmary. Located in the Atlantic, about equidistant from England and Spain, she is a member of the royal family which has suffered greatly since the Great War. In fact, the FitzOsbornes are the only inhabitants left of their small but once proud nation. Sophie's diary chronicles six months of life on the island, showing readers the day-to-day poverty Sophie and her remaining family endures, life living under the threat of war in 1936, and her general growing pains about relationships and if she should honor her aunt's request to come to England and properly join society as a princess ought to do.

To me, this story was an interesting combination of Dodie Smith's classic I Capture the Castle and Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries (but without the fairy tale). It took me a while to get into the story, with honestly not a whole lot of action happening until the final quarter of the novel. On the one hand, it left me needing to push to get through. On the other, I can applaud Cooper for wanting to keep the story grounded in realism - as someone who keeps a journal myself, I can attest that not every entry chronicles a day that is particularly exciting. Sophie as a narrator was something of a challenge for me. Yes she's 16 and she's more interested in boys and spinning up a little drama in her imagination, and I eventually liked her, but I never felt a strong connection with her.

While it doesn't have a cliffhanger ending in the truest sense, this is definitely a book that sets up for a sequel. I may not have been completely in love with this installment of the story, but my interest has been piqued enough where once my to-read pile gets a little smaller, I might consider borrowing books two and three from a library just to see how it all works out.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Michelle Cooper's Website

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Where's Your Bookmark? (26)

In which I discuss Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Ahern. It's also worth mentioning that I recorded this before Maureen Johnson's Coverflip project, so the comments I make on the pink cover and why I don't think it suits a book told 50% from a grown man's point of view were completely serendipitous!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wednesday Words: Right Books, Right Time

A few weeks ago, I posted a video here on the blog in which I made a book jar. Simply put, I have a lot of unread books in my room, and I think half of that is because I make deciding what to read next a HUGE decision. The jar is a simple concept that removes ambiguity: put the titles of all the books I have that I need to still read in the jar, pull out a slip, read that book.

So far, I like the concept even if I haven't stuck with it so well. I pulled one book and started reading it, and while I liked it, I wasn't in quite the right mood for it. (It's hard for me to read historical fiction involving zombies when the weather is so completely gorgeous, full of sunshine and hope and colors.) So I shelved it and then had a choice to make: chance it and pull another title, or do a once-over of my shelf again first? I went with option #2 and am currently reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

What we have now come across is a case of a the right book at the right time. It's that truly serendipitous thing when the things the character is feeling on the page mirror what is bouncing around inside my soul. But I'm not going to lie - this book's content is heavy, the story of a woman who loses her job and becomes a caretaker for a quadriplegic man.

Did I mention that Disney animals are practically singing outside my open window right now?

And so I also started a second book, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, from the library. This is a contemporary YA about Sam, a girl who has always been told by her conservative and strict mother to steer clear of the "wild" family that lives next door, a family with lots of kids and who she's always been fascinated by with their color and vivacity. Things only get more complicated when Sam falls in love with one of those many offspring. A perfect almost-summer story.

They are both the perfect book for me at the moment, and I love it when that happens. Am I crazy in thinking this, or do you guys agree? Do you think the timing of when you read a book plays a role in what you end up thinking about it in the end?

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Rereading With New Eyes: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
J.B. Lippencott & Co, 1960

It’s often said that English and literature teachers are out to torture students with old books, which is why young people are forced to read “classics” against their will. It’s not actually true, but you probably couldn’t convince my high school students of that. It’s also been said by Cliff Fadiman that when you rearead a classic, you don’t see more in the book than there was before, you see more than you than there was before. Put these ideas together and you have me digging up my old copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. For the first time in 10 years, I decided to take another turn through one of the greatest American novels of all time.

What I found was a book I thought I’d remembered but so clearly didn’t. I liked it well enough when I was a freshman in high school, but at 14 years old there were so many other things going on. Now what I read was about so much more than the trial of Tom Robinson and how young Scout and her brother Jem watched their father Atticus defend a black man for a crime he didn’t commit in a time and place where everything was defined by one’s race. That’s a huge part to be sure, but Scout actually tells a story that spans four years - the trial only happens over the course of a few days one summer.

This book is full of growing pains and of not understanding. It’s a realization that our world is unfortunate shades of gray, and I don’t think anyone illustrates this better than Jem who is at a time in his life when he starts to see that the world is far more imperfect than he ever could have imagined. Scout is pure emotion, luckily raised in a house of love. And then there is Atticus, a literary hero unlike any other. Is he perfect? No. He’s from an age where there are things that can and can’t be done, and there are some aspects of society he accepts rather than fights to tear down. But overall, he is a good man. He is a fiercely loving father who wants to do right by his children and does the best he can. He is willing to take on incredible burdens because he knows it is the right thing to do and because though he won’t take on everything, it’s clear that he knows the blatant racism of Maycomb’s court is something that he must stand up against and should not be tolerated. He feels that if he doesn't do right by Tom, then he'll never be able to look Scout and Jem in the eye ever again.

It’s a story with humors and heartaches, with justice and injustice, with love and hatred, with kindness and cruelty. And while I’m sure I looked at it when I was 14, I didn’t really see it until I read this book again, with eyes 10 years older and a mind a decade wiser, much more aware of the world. I know how things have changed since Harper Lee penned this tale, and how some things have unfortunately stayed the same.

There’s not more in this book than there was before, but there’s certainly more in me. And if you haven’t read this book before, or you haven’t read it since your own high school days, I can’t urge you enough to pick it up. It’s one of those books that changes lives.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday Words: Coverflips and Cover Ups

Gender politics: they're hardly new. Many of us are raised with the idea that there are "girl things" and "boy things." Of course as we grow up, many of us come to realize that the world - especially the world of gender - is hardly so simple.

But identifying that there is a problem and doing something about it are two very different things. Now I've written about the nature of book covers, especially in YA, before, and you can see that post here. Long story short, I'm getting bored because to me, they're all starting to look the same.

We say don't judge a book by it's cover, but we do. Earlier this week, Maureen Johnson posed the question a little differently than I did last year because she threw in the gender card. Let's face it: books written by men often get different cover art than books written by women, further emphasizing this idea of a Girl Thing and a Boy Thing. I mean, there's a reason so many women authors go by their initials instead of their first names when they publish to hide their gender - J.K. Rowling is a modern example of a woman who was told boys wouldn't read stories written by Joanne.

So Maureen's challenge was this: coverflip. Take a book and pretend that the author was the opposite gender of what the actually are. The content of the story is exactly the same, but how might the cover change? This grew into such a big project that Huffington Post actually got in on the action, articles were posted (along with some of what they felt were the best examples), and this spread like wildfire. I'll admit that I did a cover, just to try it. What I didn't expect was to see it in the Huffington Post slideshow.

Original Hardcover 1999
I took on Neil Gaiman's Stardust, a fairy and action tale for adults. The original cover is more literal: it showcases the wall and the falling star that get the story started. The cover for the following year's mass market paperback looks more like a diary. This is actually pretty plain except for the small shooting star on the cover. It's more understated, but there's still a sense of something in store if you're daring enough to enter. This, I feel, is a more common trend with books written by men - they trust that readers will dig a little, trust a little, dare a little.

And then there's the cover I submitted, imagining that this tale was not written by Neil, but instead by "Nellie Gaiman." So often with books written by women, I find that if there is any sort of romantic element to the story, that's often what is played up so girls will read it. Because we girls all love love all the time and couldn't possibly care about flying pirate ships and epic sword fights, right? No, bring on the romance angle, so I did. I came up with this:

Now I'll admit it - I probably wouldn't pick up this book right away. Maybe if someone told me about it before, I'd pick it up and base my judgment on the blurb (which is what I usually do - since I think about covers so much, I've grown to ignore them and make my reading selections blurb-based). This only shows a very, very small part of the story in the grand scheme of things, but so often with cover art for women's books,it's the part that is played up the most.

Is this always the case? No. I actually had a hard time picking a book to try this project on because looking through my own bookshelves, I feel that many of novels I own do a good job being neutral (or really, just honestly true to the story within). Is there anything we can do about it? As a teacher, librarian, and reviewer, I feel like all I can do is continue to urge people to look past the title and cover, reminding them to consider content above all. Thankfully, many of the students at my high school are already pretty good at this, with plenty of boys reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer openly, even with a giant red high heel on the cover. But not everyone is so open minded, and projects like this make people look up, though, and open their eyes to the gender stereotypes at play on our book covers.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading.

Huffington Post Article
Maureen Johnson's HP Blog on the Gender Coverup

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Know Thyself: The Host

The Host by Stephenie Meyer
Little, Brown, 2008

Plenty of people have plenty of thoughts on Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and the saga that followed, and while that story wasn't for me, I'm so happy to say that I gave this author another chance and found out The Host, Meyer's first venture outside of her vampire universe, was.

In a science fiction novel aimed for adults (more like New Adult if that genre buzzword had been around when this was published), readers learn the tale of Wanderer, an alien Soul who has lived many lives in many planets in host bodies. Her latest life has brought her to earth, and nearly the entire human population has been occupied. Trouble soon becomes evident when the consciousness of Melanie, the woman whose body Wanderer now inhabits, refuses to fade away. As these two beings share one body, Wanderer sees Melanie's memories, forms her own feelings for the people in Melanie's life such as her boyfriend Jared and her brother Jamie, all the while being pursued by a Seeker who wants to use Melanie's mind to find other remaining 'wild' humans left. Suddenly rather than helping her own race take over, Wanderer forms bonds with humans and fights to keep them free.

I'm absolutely shocked at how much I liked this book. I will admit I set the bar low as I was not a Twilight fan, but Meyer is completely inventive in this different kind of body-snatcher story. I loved how she told this story not from the human's perspective, but from the alien's - it was so interesting to examine human nature from this outsider point of view. I also loved the societal rules of the Souls and how thoroughly Meyer clearly thought about how they functioned. Wanderer, or as she comes to be called, Wanda displays an incredible amount of care and actually shows the best of humanity.

Secondary characters also grabbed me. Jamie as well as Mel's Uncle Jeb were so introspective and always displayed an understanding of the fact that Mel and Wanda were not the same. Ian, a human Wanda develops feelings for, had a fantastic arc and showed growth that I loved. But not everyone likes Wanda, which I felt was very realistic.

The Host is currently a book that stands on its own, and while there are rumors of possibly two sequels, I hope that doesn't happen. I liked this story just the way it was, ending with imperfections that were still complicated, but I also found hopeful. So if you like science fiction or are looking to give it a try, pick up The Host and don't let any prejudices against Stephenie Meyer stop you. I was pleasantly surprised and think I may actually purchase a copy of this book to enjoy for rereads in the years to come.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Stephenie Meyer's Website

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Making my Book Jar

I have a lot of books. Many I've read. Some I still need to read. Some I need or want to re-read. And some are on my e-reader and I've forgotten about the fact that I still mean to read or re-read them. So when Rincey at RinceyReads on YouTube posted a video on making a book jar, I thought it was a great idea and decided to make one for myself to help me take on this massive to-read list, putting myself on temporary probation from buying and checking new stuff out until I can make a decent dent.

Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wednesday Words: Going Negative

If you're a book blogger, chances are you have a blog policy page. What kinds of books you review. Who is eligible for contests and giveaways. How you want to be contacted.

Recently I've found that the discussion of negative reviews and what to do about books that are DNF (did not finish). To review or not to review? What's the line between being critical and being mean? Can you really trust a blog that only gives nice reviews?

I hope so because that's kind of my policy. Basically I love writing book reviews. I love reading and then sharing my thoughts on those books. But I'll be honest - I don't review every book I read. I read for fun, to relax, to challenge myself or escape and as such, my choices are varied. Sometimes it's just because I have nothing to really say. Sometimes I have nothing nice to say. And as someone who is also a writer and trying to get into this business, I don't want to also have my name out there as someone who is bringing other people down when at the same time I'm trying to get agents to take a chance on me.

My policy is this: there's enough negativity in the world and I don't want to add to that if I can help it. I'd rather recommend the books I like than name the ones I wouldn't. I've written negative reviews before - I thought I had to to be taken 'seriously' as a blogger - but it never sat well with me. If I love a book, I'll say so - you'll know it. If I only liked it, I'll say that too and I'll try to say why it didn't resonate with me as strongly for whatever reason or another. If I didn't like a book, chances are that I'll mark it as 'read' on Goodreads but won't give it a star-rating or put any comments. The only time I'll write a negative review is if I've gotten a book or ARC directly from a publisher under the condition of writing an honest review in return.

Is my policy soft? Maybe, but it's what works for me. But what about you guys? Comments welcome, and, as always, happy reading!