Armchair BEA 2017 Wrap Up

Well that’s it for yet another year of Armchair BEA, but as usual, it has been a lot of fun and I have really enjoyed getting to meet all of you amazing bloggers! I managed to take part in more twitter parties this year which was great and I’ve entered a few giveaways, so hopefully this year is my year! This is honestly one of my favourite events of the blogging year and I hope to take part in it for many more years to come.

Here is a recap of what I wrote this week:

Day One-I introduced myself to everyone. The other topic was about practices in the online community, but I simply focused on the introduction part of the topic.

Day Two-I talked about what readers want, well particularly what I want from my books.

Day Three-I talked about dining with authors and which authors I’d most like to take part in a fictional brunch! I reckon if I really could get them all together for a meal, it would be the most fun!

Day Four-Day four was giveaway day and as a broke student, I really can’t afford to be running giveaways so I didn’t take part in this one! I could have done the recommendations topic but I already have enough books on my TBR, I didn’t really need to add any more!

So that’s all for this year’s ABEA! Thanks so much to the organisers of the event for making it so much fun, and to everyone who has taken part and looked at my posts. I hope to see you all again next year!

 

 

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Armchair BEA: Dining With Authors

Hi everyone! It’s day 3 of Armchair BEA (well it will probably be day 4 when you read this but you can blame Ryanair for that, my mum and I were flying back from Scotland today and it was literally the worst flight ever, we got delayed at basically every turn!). Anyway, today I’m going to be talking about dining with authors, essentially which authors I would like to meet and share a meal with. This could be an incredibly long list, as I have a lot of authors that I love, but I’m going to try and stick to the top five or six authors that I’d love to meet and have brunch with, I’d go with dinner but I think brunch would be a little less intense!

  1. JK Rowling-This would never happen, but a girl can dream right! I would just love to pick her brain about all things Hogwarts, I have so many questions about the Wizarding World that I’d love to be answered!
  2. Rick Riordan-I mean he never comes to the UK, so there wouldn’t be a scenario where this would happen, but I’d love to meet him. I’d love to chat with him about Greek Myths, he has so much knowledge and it would be interesting to hear about. I’d also ask a ton of questions about what’s next for Percy and the gang of course!
  3. Derek Landy-He would just be a bunch of fun to have, I imagine he’d make everyone laugh! I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland, so I’d definitely ask him a lot of questions about that, also whether he’s planning on writing any more Skulduggery books and where he gets all his zany ideas from. I maintain that if he and Rick Riordan ever met, they’d be a riot together because they both write really funny books!
  4. Sarah J Maas-I really just want to fangirl with her, when I went to her event in October last year, she seemed like such a fangirl, so it would be great to just talk to her about her favourite fantasy books and TV shows (I’m dying to know if she’s watched Once Upon A Time or Merlin because they totally seem like shows she would like!). I’d also want to ask her about TOG 7 and the possible heartbreak to come. I know she started writing very young as well, so it would be cool to hear about that.
  5. Maggie Stiefvater-Another funny author, honestly, this brunch would be a real riot! I know that Maggie’s had an array of weird jobs, so it would be a lot of fun to talk to her about that. I’d also really love to know what kind of research she did for The Raven Boys, because I’m sure that involved some weird and wonderful travels. I’d ask her about her new book and also see if I could try and find out what she has planned for her upcoming Ronan trilogy!
  6. Victoria Schwab-I need to know how she manages her crazy writing schedule, she always seems to be working on something! I’d also love to know where she gets her ideas from, all her books are so different! I’d love to talk to her about the Shades of Magic books, the world and characters, whether we’ll get anymore from them. I would make sure tea was served with brunch as I know how much she loves it. Not Earl Grey though!

So those are my favourite authors who I’d love to have brunch with! What about you? Which authors would you love to have brunch with? What would you talk about? Let me know in the comments!

I’m not sure if I’m going to do a post tomorrow since I’m too broke to do a giveaway and I’m not entirely sure I understand the other topic! I guess you’ll just have to wait and see!

 

Armchair BEA: What Readers Want

Hi all! So it’s day 2 of Armchair BEA and I’m back with another new post for you guys. Today I will be talking about what readers want, although obviously I can only really speak for myself and not for all readers, since we all want different things out of books, and what I want from a book will not be the same as what someone else wants out of a book.

1. What makes or breaks a book?

For me, there are many things that can make or break a book. First off is the cover. I know it sounds shallow, but a pretty cover really attracts me to reading a book. That’s not to say that I won’t read a book if it doesn’t have the most gorgeous cover, in fact I have read books that don’t have pretty covers that are really brilliant, but it definitely puts a book on the back foot with me if they don’t have a pretty cover. With all of the amazing covers out there now, there is no reason for publishers not to step up their game on this one, I expect a lot more from cover art now, just because there have been so many brilliant ones recently.

For me, I’m a really plot driven reader. You can have the most brilliant characters in the world, but if your book is slow paced, it will bore me. I want to feel like I’m being swept away, like I’m being totally immersed in the book and that only happens for me if the plot is fast moving and engaging.

Characters are still obviously very important to me, I need to feel like I have a connection to the characters because otherwise I cannot root for them, and it will be impossible for me to be fully immersed in their story, which is essential for me whilst reading. I want to read about complex three dimensional characters, after all, just because they’re fictional, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t feel real! The best drawn characters for me are the ones that when I walk away from the book, feel like friends to me. But I’m not a particularly visual reader, I don’t get a sense of what characters look like in my head, I just get a feeling from them. They need to make me feel something, whether it’s happy or sad or excited or angry, I just need to feel something. If I feel totally indifferent towards the main character in a book, I won’t enjoy the story either. Ideally, there should be a balance between plot and characters, though I would definitely still choose a fast moving plot book over a slow moving character book (the characters would have to be really, really good).

As a mostly fantasy reader, world building is also really important to me. I might not be particularly visual, but again, it’s all about the feeling. I want to feel swept up in this world, I want to feel like I’ve become a part of it. It needs to feel natural, not just dumped in there, infodumping about world building is definitely one of my biggest pet peeves. If I feel immersed in a world then I’m much more likely to enjoy a book than I feel indifferent about it. Terrible world building will definitely break a fantasy book for me, it’s one of the most important things, if the world building is bad, it doesn’t matter how good the plot or the characters are, I won’t feel immersed enough in the book to enjoy it.

Romance is also a big thing for me because I’m very picky about it. If a romance is going to work for me, I have to feel like the characters have a genuine connection, it has to be a slow burn and it needs to be in the background, not overtaking the main plot. I’ve come to accept that pretty much all YA will have some romance in it, whether I like it or not, so if it has to be there, then I want it to be done well. I’m so sick of love triangles and characters who fall in love after like one day of knowing each other. It’s not realistic and will guarantee a lower rating from me. What I really want from books, more than romance, is strong friendships and character dynamics, I will be far more likely to want to read a book with strong friendship themes than I will a book with strong romance.

I also do like certain styles of writing more than others, although it’s not as big of a deal for me as some of the other things I’ve mentioned. I’m not big on purple prose, I prefer more simple writing. I do like it when I can find pretty quotes in books, but they’re not the be all, end all for me. I’m actually more into dialogue than I am into description, if authors can write sharp, witty, interesting dialogue and have great character dynamics, then I’ll be more likely to like their work than if they string a bunch of pretty descriptions together. I think this again goes back to me not being a particularly visual reader, an author can describe things as prettily as they want to, and it just won’t make a difference to me. Poorly written books with a lot of typos really bother me, because it just feels like no one has bothered to edit them, so they are definitely a break it for me.

2. How Do I Rate Books?

I rate books on a 1-5 scale, like the star system on Goodreads, it just makes it easier to keep track of my ratings that way. This is what my ratings mean:

1 star-DNF. I could not finish the book.

2 stars-I finished the book, but I really didn’t enjoy it.

3 stars-I liked the book, but I still had quite a few problems with it.

4 stars-I really, really enjoyed the book, it just didn’t have the extra “something” that a 5 star book has.

5 stars-I absolutely LOVED the book.

Ratings are honestly kind of arbitrary for me, because I might rate a book the same, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I liked it the same as another book I rated that way. There’s a spectrum, there will be some 3 star books that I like better than others, or some 5 star books that I don’t like as much as others, My ratings generally mean that the books made me feel a similar way. I like to think I’m kind of a mix of analytical and emotional reviewer, I will analyse certain technical aspects of the book in my review, but I also rate based on how a book makes me feel and that’s honestly more important to me. I’m not really looking for “great literature” when I read, I read for enjoyment and what I really want is just a great story. It doesn’t matter to me if the author isn’t going to be the next Dickens or Austen, if the story is good, I feel connected to the characters and the world and the author manages to make me feel something, no matter what that feeling is, then that is great literature to me, whether it’s won awards or not. Because that’s the most important thing about reading for me, it’s a way of making you feel, and emote and connect to other people.

3. What do I want from an author event?

I’ve been to a few author events over the years and they’ve all been lovely. For me, all I need to make an author event enjoyable is that it’s well organized, you don’t want to be kept waiting too long before going into the event room, or be kept waiting to long once you’re there. You also want the author to be interactive and engaging, I want to come away from the event having learned things I didn’t know before. You want them to feel like they’re really excited to be there and connect with you, not like they’re bored and simply doing the event for book promo. I know it’s hard for authors who have long signing lines to actually talk to you for a long time, I don’t necessarily need that to enjoy an event, just a few nice words to show that they appreciate you coming is great. I’ve learned over the years that authors are such lovely people and just going to an event and hearing how passionate they are about their work is the best thing!

4. How does diversity representation fit into all of this?

I’ll be honest, I don’t pick up books specifically for diversity. I love it when I do read a book with diverse representation but I don’t necessarily always go out of my way to look for it. I tend to pick books based on authors and genres I like, more than diversity. It’s easy for me though, I’m in a place of privilege so it’s easy for me to find representation. Everyone should be able to see themselves represented in fiction somewhere, we’ve been making progress with that but there’s still a long way to go. Authors should definitely make the effort to incorporate some diversity into their books, we shouldn’t have to go out of our way to have to find good diverse representation, it should just naturally be a part of literature. Because it’s a part of life. I think it would definitely help if author events had more diverse panels, most of the panels that I have been to have been mainly white authors and it would be nice to see more diversity in that respect. I can’t particularly say that diversity has an effect on my rating of a book, it’s all very good having diverse characters, but if those characters are flat or the plot isn’t very good, it’s not going to matter much that the characters are diverse. Just because a book has diversity doesn’t mean that it’s given a free pass to suck in other ways. If anything I want a diverse book to be even better, because it already has that good aspect, you want everything else to measure up as well. I think I would honestly feel worse if I didn’t enjoy a diverse book than if I didn’t enjoy one that wasn’t, just because you really want the rest of the book to be as good as the diverse rep.

Over to you? What do you as a reader want? Let me know in the comments!

Tomorrow, the topic I’ve chosen is Dining With The Authors, so stay tuned to see who I’d want to have a meal with!

Armchair BEA: Introductions

Another year, another Armchair BEA! If you’re not entirely sure what that is and you haven’t been following my blog for the past two years that I’ve been doing it, it’s an online conference that runs alongside the Book Expo America event, for those of us bloggers who don’t live in America/cannot afford to make it to the conference. I have enjoyed taking part in this the last two years, and I’m hoping that this year will be just as fun. Today is simply introductions, so it will probably be a pretty short post, but hopefully will allow those of you taking part to get to know me better (I’m sorry if any of my answers are things you’ve heard about me before!).

  1. I am…..a 20 year old History and Journalism student, who has just finished her second year of University in Stirling. It’s very scary to think that I’m now halfway through my degree course!
  2. Currently……well whilst writing this, I am currently watching the newest episode of IZombie! Anyone else watch this?
  3. I love……books, movies, food, music, horses, dogs, writing, shopping
  4. My favourite……..movie is Moulin Rouge. My friends even got me a cardboard cutout of Ewan McGregor for my birthday last year!
  5. My least favourite……subject at school was Maths. I just don’t have a mathematically inclined brain!
  6. My current reads……are The Archived by Victoria Schwab and One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus.
  7. My summer plans……I’m going to Greece with two of my best friends in two weeks as an early 21st birthday celebration (really early, my 21st isn’t actually until September, but it’s during the Uni semester) and I’m so excited! I also can’t wait to go to YALC for the third time this summer.

9. My blog…….turned three this year! I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for three years already, I was still in sixth form when I started this, it seems like such a long time ago!

10. The best……flavour is salted caramel. I maintain that any dessert can be made better with salted caramel!

So that’s me! If you’re taking part in ABEA, link up your posts in the comment below so I can visit and get to know you guys!

 

 

Armchair BEA 2016 Wrap-up

Yet another year of Armchair BEA is over (very sad!), but it has once again been a lot of fun, even if I didn’t have time to take part in any of the twitter parties this year (the timings were kind of awkward for me, what with most of them being very early in the morning UK time!). I have however entered a few giveaways, so hopefully, I’m more lucky this year than I was last year! I figure I have to win at least one giveaway eventually right? Anyway, I’ve had fun writing all my posts for Armchair BEA this year and hopefully, next year, I’ll be able to be a little more interactive and take part in twitter parties again!

Here’s a recap of what I wrote this week:

  1. On day one, I introduced myself to everyone and talked a little about diversity, both in books and in the industry in general.
  2. On day two I talked about aesthetics, in books and in our blogs, what attracts me to reading both books and other people’s blogs and what I like and don’t like in book covers and in the aesthetics of people’s blogs.
  3. Day three was about going beyond books and beyond blogs but because I’m a very traditional reader and my blog is my main platform to talk about books, I didn’t take part in that day’s topic.
  4. Day four was my favourite topic (kind of ironic, since day four was my favourite topic of ABEA last year as well). I talked about surviving fictional worlds, what fictional worlds I would like to visit and be a part of, and what fictional worlds I would rather just read about! I also entered a few giveaways, so hopefully I get lucky this time and actually win something!

So that’s all! Thank you to the ABEA runners who made this year’s event so much fun and to everyone who has taken part and looked at my posts. I hope everyone has enjoyed reading my posts as much as I have enjoyed writing them and hopefully ABEA is back again next year, because I look forward to doing this again!

Armchair BEA: Surviving Fictional Worlds

Armchair BEA always seems to go by way too quickly! I can’t believe today is the last day! I’m sorry I didn’t have a post for you guys yesterday, but because I’m a very traditional reader (I only really read physical books), I didn’t feel like it was a topic that really appealed to me. But today’s topic about surviving fictional worlds is right up my alley and a topic of been looking forward to. So let’s get started shall we?

I’m going to start with the obvious and say that of course I would like to live in the Wizarding World (although wouldn’t everyone?). I would love to go on adventures with Harry, Ron and Hermione, go to Hogsmeade, have Butterbeer, play Quidditch, go to the Shrieking Shack etc. I would love to go to the Yule Ball as well. Also just to be able to use magic would be incredible. Definitely if I could pick one world to live in, it would be the Wizarding World.

I’d also really like to live in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. After all, I love chocolate and if you lived there, you’d be able to have as much chocolate as you wanted, all day every day (though the novelty would probably wear off after a while). Also, I’d love to meet the Oompa-Loompas and see them perform one of their songs. As long as I was really nice, I don’t reckon any of the bad stuff that happens to the kids in the novels would happen to me!

I’d love to live at Camp Half-Blood. I mean, the whole being attacked by monsters part of being a demigod doesn’t sound so cool, but Camp Half-Blood is essentially the world’s coolest summer camp, I mean they do chariot racing for crying out loud, that would be so much fun to do! I’d also love to climb the lava wall, I mean dangerous but really fun. I suck at archery but I reckon I could avoid that. The best thing of all though, would be hanging out with Percy and the gang. I’d also love to go on quest, it sounds like such fun, even if you could possibly die!

I’d also really love to live in the Faraway Tree (a childhood dream of mine). I would hang out with Silky and Moonface and the Saucepan Man and go to the new land at the top of tree every week (hopefully it would be a good one!). It’s been a long time since I read these books (obviously), so I can’t quite remember all of the lands, but I seem to remember there was one where you could get loads of baked goods, so I’d like to go to that. There was also the land of Birthday Parties, that would be a pretty cool place to go. And I don’t know if this was in the books, but if there was a land of chocolate, I would definitely go there.

I’d love to live in the Skulduggery Pleasant world too. Getting to fight bad guys alongside Skulduggery? That would be pretty awesome! Having magic? Would also be pretty awesome. I reckon I’d like to be an Adept because it seems like you can have basically any power, whereas Elemental you’re limited to only using the elements. I wouldn’t like to be a Necromancer though, it seems a bit creepy.

As for fictional worlds I wouldn’t want to live in, you couldn’t pay me to live in Panem. I mean I love The Hunger Games books, but to live in that world? Especially if you were reaped for the Games? I don’t think so. I would probably die in the bloodbath if I was entered into the Games. That’s a world I’d rather enjoy behind the pages than in them!

The same goes for the Unwind universe. I mean the books are incredible, but that’s a scary world. I could not live my entire teenage years knowing that my parents could possibly unwind me, though I don’t think they would ever do that, but I reckon it’s something you would live in constant fear of in that world. Also you would live in constant fear of possibly being caught by Parts Pirates! I could not live with the paranoia.

The A Series of Unfortunate Events world would be pretty miserable to live in too, I mean nothing good ever happens to those kids, so whilst Violet’s inventions are pretty cool and I’d love to talk books with Klaus, I reckon it was better to experience that world from an outsider perspective than inside. I also wouldn’t really like to live in the Divergent world, even though it’s probably one of the better of the futuristic worlds that I’ve read, because I’d hate to be valued by just one of my personality traits.

I wouldn’t really like to live in any of the historical fiction books that I’ve read either, because lovely as they are, it was a horrible time and much as I appreciate everything that people who were alive at that time did during the war, I’m quite grateful that I was not! I wouldn’t mind being able to meet Liesel from The Book Thief though and having a good natter about books!

So over to you, which fictional worlds would you like to be a part of? Where would you not want to be a part of? Where do you think is better experienced via the page? How would you survive in a dangerous fictional universe? Let me know!

Armchair BEA: Aesthetic Concerns-Books & Blogs

So today’s topic for ABEA is all about aesthetics, both with our books and our blogs! I have to admit this isn’t something I’ve thought about much before, but it’s always good to talk about new things!

The Books:

How often do you judge a book by it’s cover? How often are you surprised by what you find? Do you strategise and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to) and type? How important is it for the visual art on the outside of the book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside?

I think we’re all guilty of judging books by their covers. That’s not to say that I won’t read a book if it doesn’t have a pretty cover and my final decision on whether I read the book or not comes down to whether I like the sound of the synopsis, but I’ll admit that the cover has a lot to do with whether I’ll pick the book up the shelf or not in the first place. That doesn’t mean that a pretty cover means the story is going to be good, but it sure helps in initially being attracted to a book. However, I don’t necessarily always need the cover to be pretty as such, I just need it to catch my eye and think “oh that’s interesting” because that makes me want to pick up the book and see what’s inside. Cover matching is one of my biggest bug bears! I hate it when a book publisher changes the cover of a series halfway through and then my books don’t match! Or when a book gets made into a movie and you’re stuck with the crappy tie in cover! I definitely think it is important that the cover reflect the inside of the book, the cover is the first indication we have as to what the story is about, and it should reflect the story that the book is telling I feel. I find it weird when the cover seems to be totally unrelated to the story.

The Blog:

Since I’m not self-hosted yet, I have a limited choice of graphics to choose for my blog. The reason I chose the theme I did is that I liked the simplicity of it. I wanted my blog to have a nice, clean, simple look and the theme I picked was perfect for that. It’s probably better that I only have a limited choice of themes though, because I would be rubbish at doing graphics! I wouldn’t even know where to start. It took me a while to figure out the layout of my blog, for the first few months it was a bit confused, but once I figured out how do a drop down menu and all the different tags for the different areas of my blog, the layout fell more into place. I work hard on trying to make sure that everything is easy to navigate, so I hope that comes across! In terms of what I like on other people’s blogs, aesthetically speaking, I like it when the blog appears to be a reflection of the blogger. That’s what are blogs are after all aren’t they? A reflection of us.

I’d love to hear from all of you! What do you like in terms of book and blog aesthetics? let me know in the comments!