Jo Talks Books: On Buying Books Just To Hate On Them/Their Authors

Hi all! I had hoped to have a second discussion post up in April for you, but since my exams only finished last Friday, I just didn’t had time to write something up before the month ended. I had initially been planning on talking about Bookshelf Organization, which is something I am still planning on talking about, but I’ve seen a lot of the topic that I’m talking about today happening on Twitter and it’s something that I really want to explore, so I’ll be talking about Bookshelf Organization at another date.

This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed most often when it comes to Sarah J Maas books, but I’m pretty sure it happens with other books as well. People who obviously don’t like a book/author/series, will buy said book/series and post threads making fun of it on Twitter. Now, you are perfectly within your rights to spend your money on whatever you want and if someone wants to buy a book just to make fun of it then that’s their decision, but personally it rubs me up the wrong way.

It’s one thing buying a book that you know nothing about, ending up disliking it and making a thread on Twitter about it. I get it, you buy a book expecting to like it and then you really hate it, you want to rant about it and share it with the world. But when you buy a book that you know you’re not going to like, just so that you can be mean about it on Twitter? Quite frankly, I think that’s cruel. You are essentially getting a book so that you can make fun of and be mean about an author’s writing, and whilst I whole heartedly believe in honest reviews, I don’t believe in buying books just so you can make fun of them and their authors. I saw a thread on Twitter recently of someone who bought the latest ACOTAR book and made a thread hating on it on THE DAY of release, posting spoilery excerpts. Not only is that mean to people who haven’t had a chance to read it yet, an author shouldn’t have to see that on the release day of their book (Sarah J Maas isn’t really on Twitter anymore and I would hazard a guess that stuff like this is probably why).

I also don’t really understand WHY you would do this. If you clearly don’t like a book or a series or an author, then why waste your time with them? Book bloggers have A LOT of books to read, more than we can realistically get through in a lifetime. So what is the point of picking up a book that you know you won’t enjoy, just so that you can make fun of it? I understand wanting to warn readers of potential triggers or harmful scenes, but that’s not what I’m talking about here, I’m not talking about getting books to check for problematic content and protect readers, I’m talking about buying books that you know you won’t like, just so you can poke fun at an author. It irritates me when I pick up a book and I don’t like it, because I feel like I’ve wasted time that I could have spent on a book that I enjoyed, so people who purposefully do this? Yup, don’t get it at all. It also makes very little sense to me because people will go out and actually buy these books that they want to make fun of, spending their own money on them and if you don’t like a book or a series or an author, why would you support them with your money? It just doesn’t make sense to me at all.

The internet, and Twitter in particular, have brought us closer than ever to the authors that we love and that’s great, it’s wonderful to get to actually interact with the people who write our favourite books, but I think we forget sometimes that there are people behind those accounts. And whilst you might think it’s funny to buy books that you know you won’t like and make threads about them, there’s no guarantee that the authors that you’re poking fun at won’t see them (and if you deliberately tag authors in them, well that’s just horrible) and feel really hurt that readers have been buying their books in order to make fun of them.

Doing this also makes fun of readers that like particular books. Fair enough that you don’t like a book, that’s fine, but getting a book just to mock it makes fun of the readers who really do like that book and want to share that love for it and perhaps instead of buying a book that you know you won’t like just to get fun of it, we should allow others who might like the series to discover it and move on to books that we actually like. It’s fair enough if you go into a book and end up not liking it, but if you get a book that you know you won’t like and read it anyway, just to make a mocking thread on Twitter? You’re ruining it for the people who are actually fans of that book/series/author.

And do I even need to say why posting spoilery threads to mock a book on release day is wrong? Not everyone has the chance to read a book on release day and not only ruining their excitement for a book but also spoiling the book for them whilst doing it? Really uncool guys, really uncool.

I get that in society we seem to think that’s it’s cool and fun to tear down things that are super popular, especially if those things are liked by teenage girls, but I don’t think that we should be perpetuating that, particular in a community that is meant to be teen-focused. We’re not bound to love everything we ever read, and if we don’t like something then of course we should talk about it, but we shouldn’t be going out there, looking for these books that are super popular, just so we can make fun of them. Stuff like this doesn’t give people outside of the community a very good view us, we’re not going to look like the warm, welcoming community that we are or be very endearing to teens who might be considering starting book blogging, if what they see from us are a bunch of ranty threads about their favourite books which we bought just to tear them down. Life is too short and there are too many good books out there to read for so much pettiness.

I get that we’re obviously not going to be spreading the love all the time, but I don’t think that we should go out of our way to spread hate. If you don’t like a book, an author or a series, no one is forcing you to read them. But don’t ruin the experience for the people that do like them, it’s not fair to you, who has to buy and read a book that you’re not going to enjoy in order to do this, it’s not fair to the people who actually like the book or author that you’re making fun of and it’s not fair to the author and all of the other people who worked insanely hard on the book that you’re tearing down. So let’s not shall we? We all got into this because of the love of books, and whilst it’s not possible to love every book we ever read, it is perfectly possible to avoid the ones that we know we’re not going to like and allow the others who do to share the love.

What do you think? Have you noticed people on Book Twitter getting books just to hate on them? Let me know in the comments!

I will hopefully have another discussion post for you guys very soon, since I am now done with Uni for the summer, I will probably be talking about Bookshelf Organization, unless I have another idea before I write it. I am also hoping to do a Writing Q&A for my writing corner, I have a google form which I will link to below, but you can also ask me anything you want to about my writing in the comments. I just finished Almost Love today, so I will have a review of that up for you guys very soon-I apologise in advance for the likely bombardment of reviews you will get from me this summer!

The google form for my Writing Q&A:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeB6x9FIDByp8_ppv1ejrj8KdHNx3IGGl4GHAcPKgUYUbZlEg/viewform

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Jo Talks Books: On Having Different Tastes In Books and Movies

Hi all! It’s a little later than I would have liked for my first discussion post of April, but I’ve been busy the last few weeks, finishing up my last few assignment for Uni (finally done, just exams to go now) so I haven’t had as much time to write as I would have liked. For my first discussion post of this month, I’m going to be talking about having different tastes in books and movies. It’s something I’ve talked about with my friends before and they think I’m really strange, because my book tastes and movie tastes completely contradict each other, so I figured it might make a fun topic to talk about on here.

So those of you who have followed my blog for a while are probably pretty familiar with the types of books I read; largely YA fantasy with as little emphasis on romance as humanly possible, strong female led stories, the occasional historical novel and if I do read a novel in a contemporary, realistic setting, more often than not, it’s either a psychological thriller or something that focuses on tough issues, I’m not really one for the fluffy contemporary romance. You would think that these tastes would translate to the movies I watch. You would be wrong.

Despite trying to avoid romance as much as humanly possible in my books (though don’t get me wrong, I still have my ships and am as much of sucker for a shippable romance as anyone, I just don’t think it’s necessary to have romance in every single YA book of ever), a lot of my favourite movies are rom-coms. I genuinely don’t know why, in theory, I should hate them, I mean they’re incredibly cheesy, totally concentrated on romance and there’s not a whiff of magic in sight. If that was a book, it wouldn’t even make it off the shelf at a bookstore with me. Yet for reasons unknown (trust me, I would tell you if I had figured out why I’m such a strange bundle of contradictions), I love those things in movies. I suppose they give my romantic side a way to let off steam, since I like to refer to myself as a cynical romantic-basically I like the idea of romance but am way too much of a cynic/realist to believe that it will happen in my life (at least not the same way it does in the movies!). Rom-coms are really good for both the cynic and the romantic in me, because they allow me to indulge in my romantic fantasies whilst also rolling my eyes at the cheesiness of it all and knowing that things don’t really happen that way. Hand me a rom-com book though and I’d be more likely that not to throw it at a window. I think because I’m not the most visual reader, romantic books tend to only hit the cynic, as I’m just reading the cheese, without the visuals of the actions to accompany it, so instead of thinking “that’s unrealistic, but I don’t care, it’s so darn cute”, I’m just thinking “BARF”. Also you can actually see the cute guys in movies so you know…..that does help!

Take my favourite movie for instance (Moulin Rouge in case anyone didn’t know). That kind of story in a book would elicit massive eyerolls, barf noises and potentially me throwing the book across the room in frustration, if the book even made it into the house in the first place (which it probably wouldn’t have). I mean if you removed all the music, Moulin Rouge is essentially a star crossed lovers story, with a love triangle at the centre. Not exactly something that screams Jo. But I love it. Yes, the music is a big part of that, but also the stunning visuals (and no, I’m not just talking about Ewan McGregor here), the costumes, the story, the acting, everything. Something like that in the form of a book would just come across as cheesy to me, but when I can see (and hear) everything, on the screen, it captivates me. Again it all comes down the visuals (and audio here!), when I can see and listen to the relationship I am meant to be rooting for develop, then I find it a lot easier to let the inner romantic out! Plus I am a huge sucker for things that hit me in the feels (which is also true for books) and Moulin Rouge definitely does that.

Obviously when it comes to books I tend to go for the more fantastical, but most of the movies I watch are set in our world, although I don’t think this is because I prefer realistic movies (I mean The Lion King is one of my favourite movies and that has singing lions, so clearly not massive on the realism!), I think it’s just there’s more to choose from and if I could find more fantasy movies that I wanted to watch, I definitely would because the ones I have watched I have loved.

There are times when I have liked movie adaptations of books better than the books they are based on, usually because that kind of story works better for me in that format, or I like the story but I don’t like the format of the book. For example movies like The Princess Diaires & PS I Love You, I liked the movies better than the books because those kind of stories work better for me in film format. Perks of Being A Wallflower, I preferred the film to the book because I liked the story, but I didn’t like the epistolary format of the book. I have also been known to watch the movie/TV version of a book, with no intention of ever reading the book because I know it won’t work for me in that format. For instance, I watch the TV series Outlander, but I will never read the books because I know that level of romance will bother me in a novel in a way that it doesn’t onscreen.

Having said that, there are some similarities between the books I like and the movies I like. I love historical movies and TV shows, just like I love historical fiction, although I do have the tendency to rip them apart a little bit more over historical inaccuracies than I do books. I think historical fiction authors are a little bit more pedantic over the details of history than the people who work on historical movies, which I of course love, being a History student. RESEARCH IS KEY FOLKS. I don’t watch them often, but I do enjoy crime/psychological thriller movies as well as books. I’m not keen on horror movies, the same way I’m not keen on horror books, in both mediums, I prefer more of an eerie, creepy vibe (I’m actually slightly worried if they ever do get the Unwind movie off the ground, I won’t like it as much as the book because I fear they might be too graphic, and as we’ve already established, I’m not the most visual reader, so seeing all the creepy stuff I might not have pictured fully in my head in stark detail on the screen might be a little much). I do still also really love female led films as much as I love female lead books, I love films that have a strong focus on friendship (especially female friendship), and I love films that hit me in the feels, although I do love films that make me feel happy and laugh as well.

So yeah, when it comes to books and movies, I’m a bit of a bag of contradictions, but I think it mostly just comes down to the fact that they are different mediums, and what works for me in one won’t necessarily work in the other. I tend to find it’s a good thing though, as I’ll watch films that I never would have even thought of reading the book versions and I’ll still really enjoy the story, I’ll just take it in in a different way!

How about you? Do you have massively different tastes in books and movies? Are there any movies that you’d watch but you wouldn’t read their book countepart? Let me know in the comments!

I am about to dive into exam hell, so I will likely be dipping in and out of the blog in the next couple of weeks (mostly out), which means I don’t know when I’ll have another discussion post for you. Hopefully after my exam is over on the 27th, I’m planning on talking Bookshelf Organization. In the meantime however, I will have a new Top Ten Tuesday for you guys tomorrow!

 

Jo Talks Books: On Reading Gut Instincts

Hi everyone! It’s the last day of March and I’m just squeezing in this post before April, so that I can say I actually got two posts in this month, after the business (and shortness) of February meant I could only do one! So this month I’m going to be talking about, as you can see in the title “Reading Gut Instincts”. Now I know it’s probably a strange way of phrasing it, but what I’m talking about is really quite simple. As readers and bloggers, most of us will have been reading for so long that we have innate likes and dislikes and can probably tell from just a few words of a blurb or even a short sentence descriptor whether we will like a book or not. That’s what I’m talking about. When you just know, without needing to need reviews or anything extended about a book that you will love/dislike a book.

It takes a long time of reading to hone your gut instincts, after all, you do have to try a lot of different stuff first to work out what you like and don’t like, but you do get to a point, where you know instinctively when you pick up a book whether you’re going to like it or not. By this point, I can be pretty sure I will like any fantasy book I read, because you know magic. But to put it over the top, to become a fantasy book I LOVE; it will usually have one of the following things: Feisty women who take no crap, sassy characters, a fair degree of stabbing, some form of royalty (and preferably with masquerade balls and castles going along with that), a unique world and a strong friendship group at the centre. If a fantasy book has one or more of those things, alongside the magic, then it’s pretty much guaranteed to become a book I love.

For instance, I knew pretty much before I had even read a single word of A Darker Shade of Magic that I was going to love it. Feisty female, sass, stabbing, royalty, a unique world, it ticked so many boxes, so I didn’t need too much persuading to pick that one up. Same goes with Percy Jackson, I knew it had Greek mythology, and a healthy dose of humour and that was all I really needed to know about it to know that I was going to love it. I took little to no convincing to read The Book Thief, historical fiction in Nazi Germany about a girl who steals books? Yes please. Skulduggery Pleasant, a magical, talking skeleton detective, I really didn’t need to know anything more about the plot to know that I was interested in and would likely love that one and like Percy Jackson and the sequel series, Heroes of Olympus, Skulduggery Pleasant ended up being one of the defining series of my teenage years. The Raven Cycle, all I had to read was the first line, “Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she had been told she would kill her first love” and I knew that I was going to end up loving it (and I did, even though there were some rocky moments along the way). I hadn’t even loved The Scorpio Races that much and I’m pretty sure I picked up The Raven Boys mostly based on the cover, but after that first line, I just knew I was going to love the series. Throne of Glass, I picked up on a whim in a Waterstones one day and as soon as I read that it was about an assassin, I knew I was going to enjoy it. Unwind literally came up on my Amazon recommendations, which I usually don’t pay attention to, because they’re nearly always wrong, but I read the synopsis and was like “yup, gonna love this one”. More recently, I had this feeling with The Exact Opposite of Okay, all I needed were the words “humour” and “feminism” and I’m like, yup, that’s a “Jo book”.

So as you can see, a lot of my favourites have come from just that gut feeling that I knew I was going to like them. Sure, I may have heard hype about them from friends or other bloggers etc, but for the most part, I picked them up because I had that feeling, I just knew that I was going to love them. For me, a sign of a book I’m sure I’m going to love is that I just can’t stop thinking about it, I’ll see it every time I go into a bookshop and not be able to put it down, till it gets to a point where I’m like, “right, I have to buy this now”.

It does work the other way as well though. The Fault In Our Stars, I pretty much knew even before going into it that I would hate it, it sounded like the exact sort of cry-fest that I usually despise, filled to the brim with romance and just generally not my cup of tea at all. Had it not been for all the hype, I never would have picked it up at all, and I wish I’d listened to my gut on that one. With most classics, I have the same gut feeling, because I’ve been burned so many times before, that I pretty much know there’s no point me picking up anything like Pride and Prejudice or The Great Gatsby because I know that I won’t like them, I don’t like the style that all the classics I have read (mostly through being forced to at school) have been written in. Basically if it’s on a list of “Books You Should Read Before You Die”, I’m like no thanks. One of my very few exceptions to the “no classics” rule, is Black Beauty, which I loved, but I think my love of horses (their inclusion is another gut instinct indicator that I will like a book) overcame the distaste for the Victorian writing style there!

It’s not that I don’t occasionally get surprised by the books I read though. I mean none of Jodi Picoult’s books exactly scream “JO” and yet My Sister’s Keeper is still one of my favourite books I’ve ever read. It probably shouldn’t have been as much of a surprise as the relationships between sisters are at the centre of it, and as a younger sister, sisterly relationships have always meant a lot to me, but everything else about it didn’t exactly scream “Jo” and yet I still really loved it. There are certain books that I loved when I was younger that I’m really surprised by now, because they so wouldn’t be my jam at all anymore, like The Princess Diaries (apparently young Jo was not as opposed to romance stories as older Jo). I have found though, that I tend not to be as surprised by the books I read now as I was before I started blogging, as a) I am much more set in my ways and know pretty much exactly what I like to read now and b) it’s very hard for me to find books I haven’t heard of anymore!

To take a look at my reading gut instincts in practice, I thought I’d share with you guys a few of the books I’ve added to my TBR recently (of authors that I haven’t read before because obviously once I read and like an author, I’m likely to add more of their books to my TBR), and share why I added them:

  1. Sherwood-Megan Spooner

I have Megan Spooner’s book Hunted, but I haven’t read it yet. I added this one because it’s a female retelling of Robin Hood, with Maid Marian filling the role of Robin Hood and I wrote in a TTT almost 3 years ago that I really wanted to see a retelling with a female Robin Hood, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to love this one!

2. Fawkes-Nadine Brandes

I have this one on Netgalley and I requested it because basically it combines two things I love, history & fantasy and not enough books focus on early modern history, so I’m pretty sure that me and this book are going to be a match made in heaven.

3. Shatter The Sky-Rebecca Kim Wells

Can 2019 come sooner please? Literally all I had to read was dragons and I knew that this book was going to be a “Jo” book. Also it’s f/f and since I will likely still be writing Underground Magicians next year, it would be quite nice to have more examples of the sort of thing I’m going for!

4. The Blood of The Stars-Elizabeth Lim

I’m still not entirely sure what this is about, but I saw the words “magical tailor” and I was like, yup, yup, this is a “Jo” book.

5. All The Stars and Teeth-Adalyn Grace

I saw the words pirate, magic, bloody and feminist,  I was in. Why does 2020 have to be so far away??????

6. A Place For Wolves-Kosoko Jackson

Okay, this is kind of a weird one, but I saw Code Name Verity in the comps for this title and that automatically made me want to read it because CNV is one of my favourite books. It’s CNV but with gay boys, like what about that doesn’t sound AMAZING?

7. The Devouring Gray-Christine Lynn Herman

I saw The Raven Boys in the comps for this title and I absolutely loved that one, so I’m pretty sure, without knowing much more than that about this one, that I will like it too.

8. A Court of Miracles-Kester Grant

I saw Les Miserables meets The Jungle Book and was like, yup, this could be potentially weird enough to work!

9. Descendant of The Crane-Joan He

I saw Chinese Game of Thrones and I swear nearly broke my mouse by pressing on Want To Read so hard on my Goodreads!

10. Rise of The Dragon Moon-Gabrielle Byrne

Once again, I saw dragons and immediately had to add it to my TBR. I just LOVE dragons.

So there we go, that’s some examples of my reading gut instincts in practice, though I’ll have to wait a year, or even two, to see if my instincts about these books are right! By this point though, I trust my gut more than anything else when it comes to choosing a book to read. If a book is right for me, I’ll just feel it and more often than not, I am right, and I do love the book (it makes it all the more infuriating if my gut instincts are wrong)!

How about you? Do you get a gut instinct that a book is right for you? Are you like me, are there certain things that you’ll hear and you’ll just know that a book is right for you? Or do you need more guidance as to what to read, do you read a lot of reviews? Let me know in the comments!

I don’t know when I’ll next have a discussion post for you, I’m going to be quite busy for the next week or so, with assignments and everything, but I’m going to try and squeeze one in before my exams start at the end of April! I don’t know what it’s going to be about though, so if there’s anything you’d like me to talk about, as always, let me know! In the meantime, I will have a new Top Ten Tuesday for you guys on Tuesday.

 

Jo Talks Books: On Needing More Books Featuring Twenty Something Protagonists

Hi all! I had hoped I might be able to get another discussion post up for you in February, but alas, the end of February was super busy with assignment deadlines and work experience and everything, so I didn’t have time! Anyway, as promised, I’m going to be talking about the need for more books with 20+ aged protagonists this week as it’s something that I feel very strongly about and after all of the conversations that happened around this subject at the beginning of the year, I wanted to put my two cents in.

The book world is all about representation right now, and that’s awesome, it’s amazing to get to see people from marginalised communities telling their stories being recognised and finally starting to get the representation they deserve. However in terms of seeing ourselves in books, twenty somethings are the oft forgotten group. We have books for children, books for teens, books for adults (which are nearly always about older adults, 30 or even 40+) but the category for 20 somethings, New Adult, never really took off, so we are left wondering where exactly we fit and barely ever seeing characters our age in the books we read.

For me, I turned 20 two years ago and I am still at a place where I can relate to teens in books, which is why I still love and read YA, but at the same time, I would love to get to see characters who are at my stage in life. Your twenties are a super weird time, because you’re considered an adult, but you don’t really feel put together enough for that, you’re dealing with your first tastes of independence and having to manage on your own, moving away from home and having to make new friends at University, living without your parents for the first time, dealing with living with flatmates for the first time, I mean the list goes on. You have first jobs, first adult relationships, losing your virginity (because not everyone loses it at school), there are so many firsts and weird and different dynamics in your twenties and it seems like a really untapped area.

I know I really struggled when I first came to Uni, having to live away from home for the first time, hating my flatmates, not necessarily enjoying my course, having to deal with the fact that I wasn’t a heavy drinker in atmosphere that is very heavy on drinking. If I could have had books with protagonists who were the same age as me, dealing with the same issues that I was, I think it could have really helped me those first few months at Uni. Being in my twenties sometimes feels like being lost out at sea, but unlike teens, we don’t have as many books about our experiences to help keep us afloat.

At the moment, the large majority of NA books, books for twenty somethings are focused on the sex and relationships part of being a twenty something and whilst of course that is a part of being a twenty something, it is not the only part. I know for me personally, that sex has not been a part of my experience and that my friends have been a lot more important than me than romantic relationships in the last few years. We need more variety, more diversity to reflect the experiences of different twenty somethings.

Also I’d love to see more non-realistic fiction for twenty somethings. At the moment, the large majority of NA seems to be realistic fiction and not everyone wants that. One of the reasons I loved A Darker Shade of Magic so much (though it is labelled Adult Fantasy and not NA Fantasy), is because Lila, Kell and Rhy were all either in their late teens or early twenties and it was like YES, FINALLY, I am seeing characters close to my age, having adventures. A reader’s love of adventures doesn’t stop when they pass nineteen, and it would be great to see more older characters still having adventures! There’s so many options for YA and Adult readers and it would be great to see the same level of options for twenty somethings as well.

Your twenties are a time of massive change, from going to Uni, to getting your first jobs, to potentially having more serious relationships, to moving out and potentially getting your own house, changing relationships with your parents, changing relationships with your friends, balancing friends from Uni with friends from back home, there is so much to unpack there and having books that featured all these things, might make those changes easier to deal with.

There’s so much doubt that comes with being in your twenties, especially when you’re in Uni, because everyone is constantly asking you “What are you going to do next?” and you’re meant to be looking towards your future but everything feels so uncertain. There’s quite a natural evolution from YA into NA I feel, because you don’t immediately become an adult overnight, all of the feelings you have when you’re a teen are still just as relevant when you’re in your twenties, you just add a whole bunch of new concerns and doubts to them as well. YA is about figuring out who you are, and there’s a lot of that when you’re a twenty something as well, but also trying to figure out your place in the world and I reckon there’s some really interesting tension there (and we all know tension is a great foundation for a book!).

From people I’ve talked to though, this seems to be something that we’re crying out for, when I did a post on 20 something bloggers in the book community, everyone I talked to said they’d love to see more characters in their twenties. And I’m sure that people in their late teens would love to see University-set stories, because it would prepare them for going. If anything, I’ve found out more about myself in the three years that I’ve been at Uni than I did during most of my teen years.

Twenty somethings are notorious for being painted in the media as a generation who refuse to grow up, but how can we grow up when we’re being forgotten about and neglected by the books we read? In a year when we’ve been talking so much about representation and having characters in books we can relate to, we should be pushing for that for all age groups. Yes it’s important for teens of colour, LGBTQA+ teens, disabled teens, neurodivergent teens, teens with mental illnesses to have characters that represent them in books, but isn’t it also important than when those teens grow up, they can still see characters of their own ages representing them in books? Because that does not seem to be happening right now. Mental illness among university students is extremely high, it seems to me that not talking about this in books is a missed opportunity to potentially help someone.

Life doesn’t stop after you finish high school/sixth form. In fact if anything, the teen years are just the start of your story. Your twenties are just as turbulent, if not more so than your teens and emerging into adulthood is really hard. It would be wonderful if we could have books, in a variety of genres, that reflect this. No matter what year, or world a book is set in, twenty somethings have struggles that are unique to them and it’s not enough to have books of people close in age to us. Yes, plenty of us can still relate to YA, but it would be lovely to have books that reflected our changing experiences more closely. Considering that a large majority of book bloggers are in their twenties, it seems like publishers could really be missing a trick by neglecting books about characters of our age group.

What do you think? Do you think we need more stories centring around people in their twenties? What would you like to see in that sort of story, would you prefer a more realistic take, a fantastical one, a historical one, a thriller? What can we do to help push those books with twenty something protagonists that do exist (and do you have any recommendations for me?). Let me know in the comments!

I should have another discussion post for you guys at the end of the month, although I don’t know what on yet. If there is anything that you would like to see me talk about then let me know. In the meantime, I will have a new Top Ten Tuesday for you guys tomorrow!

 

Jo Talks Books: Blogaversary Q&A

Hi all! So for those of you who may not know, or didn’t read my Top Ten Tuesday post this week, Tuesday was my fourth blogaversary! Now I don’t usually do anything to celebrate, but this year I felt like doing something a little different, after all four years is quite a long time, I mean when I first started this blog I was doing my A Levels, and now I’m nearly at the end of my third year of University, my life has changed so much in the last four years and so has this blog and I thought it would be a pretty cool time to celebrate that. Now I asked for you guys to submit questions via a Google Form this week, didn’t get too many responses, but that’s okay, I’ll try and think of some questions of my own that might interest you! If there’s anything else you’d like to know at the end of this post then you can leave more questions in the comments. Hopefully this post will allow you guys to get to know me and the blog a little better and it should be a fun way to celebrate my blogaversary!:

  1. How did you get involved with the bookish community? Were you nervous to start?

I think I’ve talked about this a little on the blog before, but I’ll go over it again for any new followers. When I was 17, I saw someone posting book reviews on Tumblr, I thought it seemed like a cool idea, so I started doing them too. Obviously being in Lower Sixth, I was thinking about University and I was looking into ways to get into Journalism. A lot of the websites I looked at suggested that running a blog was a good idea, so I had a google to see how to start one up and came across WordPress. I always knew I would do a book blog, I’ve been a bookworm ever since I was a little kid, so it was a natural fit for me. I was nervous to start with yes, and it took me a good year before I really started to talking to anyone in the community, but the last few years I’ve really started to feel at home and feel like I actually belong here!

2. What do you like to do outside of reading?

I know it’s hard to believe, but I do other things outside of reading! Obviously I write a lot, not just these blog posts, articles for classes and The National Student, but I am a YA Fantasy writer as well, which I have been talking about a little in my Writing Corner and will be talking about more over the next few months. I also watch a LOT of TV, mostly on Netflix and a lot of movies as well. I’ve been horse riding since I was 8 and am a member of my University’s riding club and I’ve been doing Trampolining since I was 11 and am a member of my Uni’s Trampoline and Gymnastics Club as well. I am learning Spanish in my free time, in the hopes of doing a gap year trip to South America when I graduate Uni.

3. Do you find it hard balancing University and blogging?

Yes! That’s the simple answer to that one. I’d love to say that I’m some sort of blogging superstar and can magic up the time to blog between doing a full time Uni course, blogging and the rest of my life, but it’s not true. I’m only human and of course I struggle to fit blogging into my life, heck I struggle to fit reading in during really busy parts of the semester! There’s no magic formula to handling it, most bloggers would probably say that they live by a schedule, but I’ve never been like that, I prefer to be in the moment when writing a blog post. It does mean I have to squeeze writing blog posts into weekends or any smidge of free time that I get throughout the week, but I can’t imagine it any other way.

4. What do you feel is the biggest thing you’ve learned since you started blogging?

I’ve come out of my shell a lot since I first started I think! I’ve got a lot better and talking to people and interacting with people in the community and that’s been really great for me. My content has improved tenfold since I first started, I now take detailed notes for my reviews, I write in depth discussion posts, I’ve done Event Recaps, Read-a-thons, Quarterly Rewind posts, I think there’s a lot more to my blog now than just book reviews like it was when I started. I’ve also learned to open up a bit more and share more with you guys than I did when I first started and although I’ll never be one of those people who wants to share everything about their life on social media, I like to think I’m less of an enigma now than when I started blogging. Sorry I know that was a massive rambly answer ūüôā

5. What is your favourite thing you’ve done in your four years of blogging?

That’s pretty tough to decide, I’ve got to write some pretty cool things, go to some pretty cool events, read some incredible books and meet some amazing people! I would have to say the best thing blogging has brought me though is YALC, I never would have discovered YALC in 2015, if I hadn’t started blogging in 2014 and now it’s an annual tradition that I go down to London for YALC every year with my best friend and it’s so much fun.

6. You’ve got to meet some great authors during the time you’ve been blogging, is there anyone you’re still dying to meet?

Well the thing about being a reader and a blogger is that you are constantly discovering amazing new authors, so the list of authors you want to meet changes pretty rapidly! I’ve met a lot of my must meet authors in the last few years, Sarah J Maas, Derek Landy, Maggie Stiefvater, VE Schwab, Jodi Picoult etc, but there is still a few I’d love to meet. Obviously JK Rowling is the ultimate dream-never-gonna happen one, but I am also desperate to meet Rick Riordan (again never gonna happen as he doesn’t tour outside the US) and Neal Shusterman (although again, he doesn’t seem to tour outside the US). I would also love to meet Leigh Bardugo, I know she has done UK tours in the past, so hopefully she’ll come back again and I’ll get to meet her. Ally Carter is another one I’d love to get the chance to meet, who might be a possibility as she has come to the UK before. I missed Stephanie Garber on her last UK tour, so I’m hoping if she tours again for Legendary, I might be able to make it, as it has a summer release date.

7. Has blogging changed the way you read/what you read at all?

Yes I think so. Not in terms of genre, I still primarily read YA Fantasy, occasionally branching out into Historical YA, Contemporary YA, YA thrillers and Adult Fantasy, but it has definitely changed the way I read. I am far more aware of new releases now and go actively looking for certain books, whereas before I would just wander into a bookshop and nose around, I do kind of miss the surprise of not knowing what I am going to find, but it is great to be aware of what’s coming out. Obviously in a practical sense blogging has changed the way I read, because I now make notes on what I read in order to review it and I also obviously have review copies to take into consideration now. I’m a little bit more aware of how much I read now as well, because of having Goodreads and I make more active goals with my reading during the year. I think these are all really positive things though and have improved my reading for the better.

8. Is there anything that you think people would be surprised to know about you that they couldn’t find out on your blog?

Obviously my love for books is pretty obvious and my bookish opinions and everything are quite easily found on here. I’ve talked about movies I like quite often as well, and TV. I think people would be surprised to know how big a part of my life music is, I don’t necessarily mention it all that often on here, but I absolutely love music, I listen to my IPod every day and am constantly adding new stuff. Music is a massive part of my writing process as well, as I have a Writing Playlist, it’s also a big part of who I am as a reader as I am never without my IPod when I’m reading. I’m a massive fan of musicals, like half of my IPod is musical soundtracks, be it TV, film or stage musicals.

9. What would your biggest piece of advice be to new bloggers starting out?

Get involved! The blogging community can be scary and intimidating to start off with, especially if you start as a teen like I did and it seems like everyone around you is older and more experienced than you are, but we’re all in the same boat, and we’re more than willing to help new bloggers out. It can be kind of lonely, just sitting behind your laptop, talking into what seems like a void and you think that no one can hear you, but connecting with other bloggers has given me a great bookish Internet family, so whatever you do when you start out, talk to other bloggers, they’re your one stop advice shop, support system and most importantly, friends in this community.

If you want more tips though, then I have a couple of posts, one for new book bloggers in general and one for student book bloggers so you can check those out here (small shameless plug!):

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/jo-talks-books-tips-for-student-book-bloggers/

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/jo-talks-books-tips-for-new-book-bloggers/

10. How do you take your tea?

This one is from my friend Hannah, she thinks she’s being funny, since she knows very well that I don’t drink tea! Or coffee!

So there you have it, a little bit more of an insight into me to celebrate my fourth blogaversary! Here’s to hopefully many more years to come. Any other questions for me, about blogging, books, writing, life in general? Leave them in the comments!

I will hopefully have another discussion post for you later this month, though I’m not promising anything, as it’s nearly the end of the month anyway and I have an essay due on 1st March! My next discussion post, whenever it is, however, will definitely be about the need for more stories featuring twenty somethings, be they university related or not. In the meantime, I will be fairly busy next week with work experience, so don’t expect many posts, but I will have my Top Ten Tuesday post for you all as usual on Tuesday.

Jo Talks Books: On Author/Blogger Etiquette

Hi everyone! I know, two discussion posts in one month, what is this madness? After all of the discussions around author/blogger interactions last year and into the beginning of this year and that inspired this post. I’m not intending this on being a post naming and shaming people for bad behaviour or making people feel bad if they have done any of these things, the idea is to help out new bloggers and authors in the community who may not be entirely sure how to navigate interactions with each other yet. So here we go, a few top tips for best interactions between bloggers and authors:

For Authors:

  1. Reviews are for readers, not for you. Don’t harass bloggers.

This is probably the biggest one and something a few authors seem to be getting wrong recently. That is not to say all of them, for the most part, authors are lovely people but there have been a few incidences of authors harassing bloggers recently over negative reviews and that is so wrong. We do all of this for you, unpaid work, unpaid publicity for your books and we are entitled to our own opinions. We don’t write our reviews for you, we write them for other readers and if we don’t give our full and honest opinion then we are doing them a disservice. Bloggers talk as well, if you harass one of us, then chances are, the rest of us won’t be willing to work with you either: it’s a small community and word gets around fast!

2. Do your research

If you want to approach a blogger to review your books (and we don’t mind it if you do, we reserve the right to say no but we don’t mind being asked), then do your research about said blogger. Read their blog, their review policy and see if they are the right fit for you and your book. If they are, then great, engage with them, they will appreciate that you took the time to get to know them and their blog. If they are not, then don’t approach them. It will just frustrate them and seem like you didn’t take the time to get to know them at all. We are all very different and not every blogger will be the right fit for your book!

3. Do engage with us in a positive way, ask us to participate in street teams, blog tours, interviews, promotions for your book, that’s what we’re here for!

We want to engage with authors, so we are happy to participate in promotions for you book as long as we have the time to do so (we will tell you if we don’t). I would say the best way of doing this is to put the opportunity out there and allow bloggers to come to you, rather than the other way around (at least for street teams and blog tours, interviews obviously we will approach you if we want to do one), so that interested bloggers can take part and it allows bloggers who don’t think they have the time to not take part without having to feel bad about saying no.

4. Be respectful, follow our guidelines and boundaries

This kind of goes with point two, respect who we are and what are blogs are about and don’t approach us if we say that we don’t review books of your genre, or that we’re closed to review requests, if you try to bully your way in then all it will do is mean that you’ve ruined any chance of working with us in the future.

5. Don’t respond to tweets that haven’t included your handle

If we didn’t include your handle, then that means that we didn’t intend for you to respond to that tweet and if you do, it’s going to look like you’re stalking us. Even if it’s saying that we loved your book, if we didn’t tag you in it, then we don’t want you to respond.

6. Don’t contact blogs via any means other than the ones they put out there publically

Most bloggers have a review policy where we give our contact details, I have my email address on there and I’m also willing to be contacted through Twitter as that is a public platform. However, I have never, nor will I ever put my Facebook details on there, so if an author/publicist finds me through that, that would be a big red flag to me. Bloggers will only put out the information for the platforms that we wish to be found on and just because we put ourselves out there on the Internet via our blogs, doesn’t mean that you have the right to contact us via social media that we have decided to keep private. Just don’t do it, okay? Chances are we won’t agree to work with you and will be permanently creeped out.

Bloggers

7. Don’t tag authors in your negative reviews

If you didn’t like an author’s book, that’s fine. It’s our prerogative as readers, we won’t love everything that we read. But don’t tag the author in your negative reviews okay? It’s just mean. By all means, tag them in your positive reviews, authors like to hear that you loved their books, but don’t tag them in your negative reviews, as they can be disheartening to read.

8. Don’t approach authors asking for ARCs

Publicists are the ones you go to for ARCs, and they’re all pretty easy to find on social media, there is no need to approach the author for ARCs as they don’t have control of that. They may have a few, which they choose to giveaway but on the whole, authors don’t get many ARCs and they don’t want you tweeting at them asking for them, it comes across as greedy and not very respectful.

9. Authors don’t owe you personal information, so don’t demand it of them

Don’t harass authors asking if their books are #ownvoices. Those who want you to know that information will publicise it and if they don’t, they don’t want you to know. The only thing that an author puts out that you are entitled to, is their book, so don’t harass them asking for personal information. If they haven’t put it out there, they don’t want you to know it.

10. Read their FAQs, so you don’t ask them things they’ve answered over and over again

FAQs are Frequently Asked Questions. Most authors have a website with this information and it’s worth checking out, so that you don’t ask them something they’ve already answered a million times and end up frustrating them to no end.

11. Don’t harass authors over movie adaptations of their books: they have no control over them

This can apply to both authors who have movie adaptations of their books in the works and ones who don’t. Don’t ask the ones who do about casting, trailers, release dates, why the movie wasn’t as good as the book, didn’t include this part/that part, or blame them for the movie adaptation being bad. They have no control over movie adaptations of their work and you constantly asking questions about it, isn’t helpful. Equally for authors whose books haven’t been adapted into movies yet, don’t ask them why. Studios have to buy the rights to the books and if no one has shown interest in making the book as a movie, it won’t get made. Authors don’t need to be reminded of that. If they do have information about future movie adaptations, they will tell us, we just have to be patient!

So there we go, a quick guide to author/blogger interaction etiquette! Any questions about other dos and don’t of interactions between authors and bloggers? Anything else you would add to either list? Let me know in the comments!

I will have another discussion post for you in February, I’m going to be talking about the dearth of stories for new adults, the need for a larger range of genres and stories in the New Adult category and the need for more college aged stories. In the meantime, I’m hoping to do a January post for my Writing Corner, which should be up either over the weekend or on Monday, so stay tuned for that.

Jo Talks Books: On Encouraging Teens To Get Into Book Blogging

Hi all! Welcome to my first discussion post of 2018, very exciting! I had a lot of fun doing collaborations with other bloggers in these posts last year, getting other bloggers’ input into discussions on the blog so I wanted to continue this into 2018 and for my first discussion post of the year, I talked to five bloggers, 4 currently teens and one blogger who is an adult now but started blogging in her teens about how we can get more teens interested in book blogging. As a former teen book blogger (I started when I was 17), this is a topic that is very close to my heart, as when I was a teen, there seemed to be hardly any other teen bloggers out there to talk to. Thankfully this seems to have improved, but talking to the five girls for this discussion post threw up a lot of issues that affect teen bloggers, which I’m going to talk about further during this post as well as their ideas for what we can do to encourage more teens into book blogging and their advice for teen bloggers.

I was quite interested when I asked how the girls got into blogging, Ilsa, Sumedha and Charley all said it was out of boredom, from school, from exams etc. For me personally, it was to help me get into University as I had read that it was useful for Journalism students to have a blog. But it got me thinking, as great an outlet as blogging is, it’s not one that is advertised in school very much. If you want to get into blogging, it seems like you have to be the one to go looking for it yourself, if starting a blog was something that was talked about in school, then perhaps more teens would know how great it is and might take it up.

However, from the discussion I had with Ilsa, Sumedha, Charley, Ayla and Ruby, it seems that there are a lot of issues that could be putting teens off book blogging. I know that if I was a teen on Twitter and I saw some of the conversations happening around teen book bloggers from the past year or so, I wouldn’t be overly keen to join the community! Ilsa brought up the excellent point of the Epic Reads Book Nerd of The Year, that all the bloggers nominated were actually adult bloggers, despite it being a YA award. If I was a teen seeing that, I would be quite disheartened, because while awards aren’t everything, it definitely makes it seem like you are going to be less appreciated as a teen in the blogging community. Charley brought up the fact that a lot of newer blogs are by teens but they get ignored in favour of the more established adult blogs, again something that could be potentially off-putting if you were a teen looking to get into blogging, you might think, what is the point, when you only get a handful of followers and you see adult bloggers getting in the thousands. All the girls pointed out that adults had more time and money to pour into their blogs because they have jobs and don’t have school. I can definitely relate to that, as a student, I have to fit my blog around my university work and I don’t have the money to buy a domain name and pay for graphics and design and stuff. It must be quite intimidating as a teen blogger, seeing all of these other blogs out there that have all these fancy graphics and stuff and knowing you won’t be able to pay for anything like that.

I then asked the girls for their advice about how they think we can get more teens interested in blogging. They came up with so many wonderful ideas, which I probably don’t have space to share all of here, but I’m going to try and include the most important ones:

  1. Focus on blogging as an outlet-This was Sumedha’s idea, she suggested that to encourage more teens to take up blogging, we should present it as an outlet for life, you don’t necessarily need to start a book blog, blogging can also be a way to talk about your life and get all of your pent up frustrations out there. We also need to show how blogging can connect you with people with the same interests who you might not get to meet in your real life.
  2. Support teens-Ilsa suggested this one, and I think it’s probably the most important one, because if we support the teens that we already have in this community, boosting their reviews, commenting on their blogs, friending them on GR, nominating them for awards, then the teens outside of the community will see how lovely and supportive book bloggers are and might be interested in starting a blog of their own. If adult bloggers make teen bloggers feel welcome then they will let their friends know and the community will seem like a much friendlier place to those outside it.
  3. DivBookBridge-This was something I didn’t know about that Ilsa mentioned in our chat, it’s an organisation that donates ARCs to diverse teens. I think supporting organisations like this would be a great way to show teens that we support them and could be encouraging for marginalised teens who want to get into book blogging but may not be able to afford the books about them, that there is an organisation where they can access these. You can find DivBookBridge on Twitter, @DivBookBridge.
  4. Publishers-Publishers need to think of their target audience more, by giving more ARCs to teens. If teens see that they will be thought of, that they will be appreciated if they join the community, then it will be a lot easier to encourage more teens to join. As adult bloggers, this might involve passing our own ARCs onto teens, or maybe even declining and directing publishers towards teen bloggers instead. This was Ruby’s suggestion.
  5. Established bloggers need to help out more-This was a general theme throughout my discussion with the girls, a lot of them felt that big bloggers tend to ignore teens and smaller bloggers and that teens have to work twice as hard in order to get noticed. In order to change this, we need to promote teen voices on our platforms as much as possible, especially those bloggers with big followings as they have the most influence. I am trying to do what I can for this, but I’m not going to have as much influence as a blogger with thousands of followers!

I also asked the girls about advice that they would give teens interested in blogging. Again, they had a lot of ideas, not all of which I can share as this post is already super long, but I’ll share the most important points:

  1. Choose an easy platform-Ilsa suggested this one and I would definitely back her up on this. Blogging is hard enough without having to struggle with coding and graphics and everything right away. I use WordPress and would definitely recommend it for a first time blogger, it’s so easy to use and basically does everything for you! Sumedha also added don’t worry about get a .com website right away (this is your domain name) which I would echo, four years into blogging, I’m still just using the free WordPress plan and it works fine!
  2. Don’t worry about sticking to a niche-Sumedha mentioned this one, that it is something that is mentioned in all of the first time blogger post and that it actually narrows your scope. Personally I find it easier just concentrating on books, but she’s absolutely right, you don’t have to feel like just because you’re a book blogger, that’s the only thing you can talk about.
  3. You don’t have to read a certain number of books to qualify as a book blogger-Another of Sumedha’s excellent points. When you first start out blogging, it is going to seem like everyone is reading and reviewing a lot more than you. But it is quality over quantity, and if you write quality reviews and other content then people will keep coming back, they won’t care that you don’t read 200 books a year!
  4. Don’t be too intimidated by anyone & don’t be too concerned with having everything perfect right away-This was Ayla’s advice and something I wish I’d heard when I first started blogging. The book blogging community is really friendly and I wasted like a year of connecting with people, being too scared to talk to anyone. Comment on other people’s blogs, talk to people on Twitter, we don’t bite and we love talking to other book nerds!
  5. It’s okay for your interests to change-This was Sumedha’s advice and I think it’s a pretty good one-you won’t necessarily be interested in the same sorts of books later on than when you first start blogging and that’s okay. If you write quality content, people will still want to read it, no matter what books you’re writing about.

Finally we talked about how we can help out teen bloggers when they first start. This was something that was especially important to me, as when I started out at 17, I felt like there wasn’t really enough out there about helping out first time bloggers, so I hope that any new bloggers reading this find their advice helpful:

  1. Sumedha suggested reading Book Blogging 101 posts, where current book bloggers give new book bloggers advice about how to run a book blog. She shared this one, from Ava over at BookishnessAndTea:

https://bookishnessandtea.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/book-blogging-101/

In this post Ava shares a masterlist of all of her tips posts for new bloggers, so you can essentially find everything you need to know about book blogging in this one post. Also whilst we’re on the subject of tips posts, allow me a tiny bit of self promo here as I did these two tips posts last year that I hope are helpful for new bloggers!:

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/jo-talks-books-tips-for-student-book-bloggers/

https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/27/jo-talks-books-tips-for-new-book-bloggers/

2. Ruby suggested that posts about how to get into contact with publishers (especially for international bloggers) would be very useful because it’s not something that you automatically know about when you first start blogging. Ilsa then shared these posts by Lia @ LostInAStory, as examples of this.

A Guide to ARCS | #1 Emailing Publishers – Featuring Jess from Bookends And Endings

A Guide To ARCs | #2 The Master Who-To-Contact List for Internationals ARC Requests

3. Ayla was talking about potentially starting a business about helping new bloggers with all the things they need help with when they first start out and have one place where they kind find all the information they need, to make it easier for them. She’s not sure if anyone would be interested though, so if you are a new blogger who would be interested in this, then I’ll be putting Ayla’s social media contacts at the end of this post!

4. Ilsa is thinking of starting a project to boost the voices of teen bloggers, so again, if you are a teen blogger and you are interested in this, then her social media will be at the end of this post.

5. Sumedha suggested that we should compile a masterlist of all of the book blogging tips posts out there so that they are easier to find, which I think is a great idea, but it might be a little bit difficult to coordinate as I think there are lots of tips out there!

Thank you to Ruby, Sumedha, Ayla, Ilsa and Charley for helping me out with this post, making sure that teen voices are heard is really important to me, and I hope this post has raised some awareness for the issues that teen book bloggers face, but also provided some advice for teens interested in getting into book blogging! If you want to follow any of them, I’m going to include their social media below:

Ilsa:

Twitter: @WhisperofInk

Blog: https://awhisperofink.wordpress.com/

Ruby:

Twitter: @rubyraereads

Blog: https://rubyraereads.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/58459220-ruby-rae-reads

Sumedha (19):

Twitter: @thewordyhabitat

Blog: https://thewordyhabitat.wordpress.com/

Instagram: @thewordyhabitat

Ayla (21):

Twitter: @booksnbabbles

Blog: http://www.booksandbabbles.com/

Charley:

Twitter: @themisscharley

Blog: https://themisscharley.wordpress.com/

 

Teen bloggers, I want to know, what would be your advice for teens wanting to join the community? What do you feel the biggest issues facing you as a blogger are and how can we help? Is there anything that would have really helped you when you first started blogging that you didn’t get? Let me know in the comments!

I hope I will have another discussion post for you guys in January, as I kind of fell of my two discussions a month towards the end of last year, and I would like to get back into it. As usual, if there is anything you would like to see me talk about here, then let me know! In the meantime, I will probably next be back on Tuesday with my latest Top Ten Tuesday post, so stay tuned for that!