Jo Talks Books: On Mid Series Cover Changes

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good week, mine has been relatively quiet for the most part. I wasn’t really sure what to write about for this first discussion post of August, but then this week with all of the talk around the new covers for Sabaa Tahir’s Ember in The Ashes series, I figured that it was the perfect opportunity to talk about one of my biggest pet peeves: mid series cover changes.

I’d like to preface this by saying that Ember’s cover changes were merely an inspiration for this post, I think it’s great that Sabaa Tahir insisted on changing the covers so that POC could see themselves on book covers and I’m excited to collect the series with the new covers, I’m talking about mid series cover changes in a general sense here, it was just inspired by today’s announcement.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this before, you start reading a series, you fall in love, but not all the books are out yet. You wait and you wait and you wait for the title and cover for the next book in the series to be released only to discover….the cover has been changed! The horror! What ever shall you do? Do you buy the series over again with the new covers? Do you collect the series with mismatching covers? Do you stop reading altogether? (Okay that last one is seriously over-dramatic and I would never do that, but you get it, mid series cover changes, big deal for me).

I’m sure publishers have perfectly good reasons for changing series covers, there could be a theme that better suits the book, they want to attract new readers with brand new covers, they want to refresh the series…..I don’t know the reasons could be endless. But for me and I’m sure plenty of other readers like me, I need my covers to match. I need my series with the same covers in the same format. And I wouldn’t be surprised if publishers were exploiting that, knowing that readers like their covers to match, so they release new ones in order to gain even more sales, knowing that die hard fans will buy the books over again so that their covers will match with the new ones. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me being cynical, but it would explain why so many series get multiple different covers!

But here’s the thing: I’m a student, I don’t have endless money to be spending on multiple copies of books when they suddenly redesign the covers mid series. The same goes for the teens who are the primary audience of these books, they’re not necessarily going to be able to afford multiple copies of the same book just because the cover has changed. Waiting until the series is over to publish copies with new covers? Cool, more choice for everyone! Changing the cover mid series, forcing those who really cannot manage having mismatched covers, who may not actually have the money to do so? Not so cool.

Also I tend to find that I don’t like the new covers as much as the original ones? Now of course there are exceptions to this (there are some really great Harry Potter covers out there, the Throne of Glass covers are way better than the original one) but for the most part, cover redesigns don’t usually improve on the original cover. We then end up with an ugly book, alongside our pretty ones, which not only doesn’t match, but is also not as good as the originals? Hell no.

You also get the much feared movie tie in cover, when a series book becomes a movie and suddenly that book’s cover needs to be changed to the movie poster. These covers are usually really ugly and when the movie tie in cover comes out, the original cover suddenly becomes scarce and you can’t get hold of it, meaning you either have to wait until all the movie tie in covers are released in order to have a matching set (which will likely not be as pretty as the original cover), or you have one book with the movie tie in cover and the rest without. Not ideal.

But Jo, you say, not all cover redesigns are bad. And I agree, not all cover redesigns are bad, I’m not saying that the principle itself is a bad thing. Redesigning the cover is basically like a book undergoing a regeneration for future readers and if it helps introduce new readers to the story, that isn’t a bad thing. Harry Potter for instance has undergone multiple cover changes. As have Cassandra Clare’s books, as have The Hunger Games. The difference here is that the series was complete when the redesigns occurred, so no possibility of mismatching covers.

It wouldn’t be a discussion about covers, without some examples, so for the rest of this post, I’m going to pick out some book series that underwent mid series cover change and talk about whether I liked them better before or after the redesign:

First off, the mid series cover changes I didn’t like:

  1. The Bone Season

20590667Before cover change

Image result for the bone seasonAfter

I just started reading The Bone Season series this year (have now read the first two released books and have only the third to read) and I got the first two covers pre cover change as I really liked them. Of course I then realised that those covers weren’t available for book three (I think she did some limited ones with the same covers as books 1 & 2) so I now have a hardback with a different cover (#bookwormnightmare). I actually liked the original cover so much better for this one, you have the Seven Dials, the poppy anemone and the anchor of Scion all represented, plus the blue background is so much more captivating. The new cover with the white background and the red flower is perfectly fine, and it’s not a bad cover redesign per se, but I do think the first one just pops a bit more.

2. Throne of Glass

So the Throne of Glass series has actually been pretty consistent so far, I think there was a cover change at the start of the series but all the UK covers have been the same thus far. Until now. So for some reason the publishers have decided to go with a different theme for the upcoming Chaol book. Now how hard would it be to have a guy in a wheelchair in a similar pose to the one Celaena does normally? No instead, the cover is a symbol on a blue background. Me thinks I smell a rat here……

Original TOG series cover

13519397

Tower of Dawn cover:

31450852

Not only does the Tower of Dawn cover not really have a cohesive connection with the other books (YOU WOULDN’T NEED THE WORDS A THRONE OF GLASS NOVEL, if it was in the same style as the rest of the TOG books) but the fact that the only book in the series not to have a person on the cover is the book that features a wheelchair-bound protagonist………yeah that’s not cool at all.

3. Young Sherlock Holmes

Image result for young sherlock holmes andrew laneBefore

Image result for young sherlock holmes andrew laneAfter

Okay this one really bugged me because by the time they did the cover change, there were already 6 books in the series out! So I have books 1-6 in the first cover style and books 7 & 8 in the second cover style and of course 7 & 8 haven’t been released in the original style, so yup, you guessed it, my covers don’t match! I wouldn’t say the original covers were my favourite series covers anyway, but I really hate the new covers. The stock model cover photo trend is just not something I like? I would say that both covers need to relate more to the book, as I wouldn’t say you can really tell much about the story from either cover, but I still think the first one is more engaging.

4. Unbound

So the first four books in the Unwind series have this theme:

Unwind (Unwind, #1)It’s cool, it’s creepy, the black, white and red work so well together and they look so cool together on the shelf.

25551332Okay so the unravelling string does kind of go with the theme of unwinding, but it doesn’t match the rest of my books, and I know it’s a short story collection in the universe rather than a continuation of the series, but I feel like it should still match? And the first cover was so much cooler and creepier!

Now, the ones I did:

  1. Throne Of Glass

Yup okay, so I have it on both sides of the list, I know, it’s weird, but TOG actually had a cover change early in the series as well. Luckily it never made it across this side of the pond, but it could have done if it hadn’t been changed!

Image result for mid series cover changes

(Before)                                                                    (After)

So I think we can agree the after is way better right? This is probably just me again not really liking the whole cover model trend, but I feel like the girl on the right is much fiercer than the girl on the left?

2. Shatter Me

Image result for shatter me cover change

(Before)                                 (After)

Now I haven’t read this series, so I can’t speak to which one represents the book better, but I much prefer the floating eye to the girl in the dress, I feel like it’s more striking? I don’t know, honestly neither is my favourite cover in the world, but I think the one on the right definitely has the edge.

3. Tales of The Peculiar

Okay so this is a bit of a weird one as like Unbound, Tales of The Peculiar isn’t really part of the Miss Peregrine’s Series, it’s a collection of short stories set in the same universe as the Miss Peregrine’s series (also one I haven’t read). But unlike with Unbound, I actually prefer the cover of Tales of The Peculiar to the original Miss Peregrine’s series, though I can’t speak to how either reflect the book as I am yet to read them!

So this is the original Miss Peregrines cover:

Image result for miss peregrines cover changeI mean it’s not a bad cover and I know that old photographs are a feature of the book, so it makes sense that this would be the cover, but little girls kind of freak me out so the idea of having this on my shelf……..not great.

And this is Tales of The Peculiar:

29358487This cover however, is gorgeous and doesn’t freak me out at all!

4. Red Queen

This is a slightly different case to the others as there is now a collectors edition of Red Queen as well as the original cover, so you don’t actually have to buy mismatched covers, (can I get a hallelujah?) but I actually like the collectors’ cover more than the original!

Image result for red queen cover changeOriginal Cover

I love the minimalism of this cover and from it, you can see the main theme of the series, the red blood dripping from the silver crown, symbolising the Reds Vs the Silvers.

Collector’s Edition

Image result for red queen collector's editionThe collector’s edition follows the same theme as the original cover, with the crown and the blood, but I think the red background just pops a bit more. Of course, I can’t be sure they’ll do collector’s editions of the entire series, so I won’t buy them, but if they were to do the other covers in this design too, I would be welcoming of the change!

So there we go, some hit and some miss mid series cover changes. It was much easier to come up with the ones I didn’t like than the ones I did! I don’t really consider myself to be obsessive about many things, but I definitely like my book covers to be matching, and books in the same format. It just makes for a more pleasing bookshelf! Having said that, I would never boycott an author’s work just because I didn’t like the cover. After all the contents are the most important thing are they not?

What do you think? Are matching covers important to you or do you not care? Can you think of series that have undergone mid series changes for the better? Or for the worst? Do you like the new Ember covers (if you’ve seen them)? Let me know in the comments!

I will have another August discussion post up, probably quite soon as I know what I’m going to be writing about, I’m going to be talking about fans expectations of authors and whether we’ve come to have a sense of entitlement about getting to interact with our favourite authors. In the meantime, I’m hoping to have a new review up by the end of the week, although I can’t promise anything, it’s dependent on me finishing my current read!

 

Jo Talks Books: Tips For New Book Bloggers

Hi everyone! YALC starts tomorrow and I’m so excited, I can’t wait to go and see all the amazing authors and get all of the books! Anyone else going to YALC? Hopefully I’ll see some of you there, I’ll be around all day Friday and Saturday! Anyway, this second discussion post of July, is one that I was inspired to do by a question I was asked by a commenter on here, what tips would I give to new bloggers? Now even though I’ve been blogging for over 3 years now (honestly can’t believe how quickly time has passed, it feels like I was writing my first ever post yesterday!), I’m constantly learning and my blog evolving, I honestly cringe when I look back at some of my early reviews here as to how bad they were, it took me a good year to really figure out what I wanted my blog to be and who I wanted to be as a blogger, so don’t worry if it’s your first year and you’re still figuring things out, you’ll get there! Gosh, I feel weird even giving advice really because I still feel like I’m learning it all myself, but hopefully these will be some helpful tips to get you started as you embark on your blogging adventure:

  1. Get involved in memes, twitter chats, conversations as much as you can!

This is a great community, full of warm and welcoming people! I regret that in my first year I didn’t really talk to other bloggers much, and it’s only been in the past two years that I’ve really got to know anyone in this community. Don’t be afraid to get involved, comment on other people’s blogs, chat to people on twitter, get involved with things like Top Ten Tuesday or twitter events like Armchair BEA or #ukyachat, interacting with other bloggers will help you feel more involved in the community and will also help you gain new followers for your blog!

2. Have some form of social media

This kind of follows on from the first one about interacting, but if you’re starting a new book blog and don’t have any form of social media yet, I would suggest getting a Twitter account or Goodreads as this is where bloggers tend to interact the most, Twitter is especially helpful as lots of bloggers use this. This way you have an easy method of interacting with other bloggers, gettting to know them, and also publicising posts from your blog. You do not need to have every single social media platform ever, but a few will be helpful.

3. ARCs are not the be all end all

If you’ve been around the community for a while before starting your blog, you’ve probably seen lots of bloggers receiving free ARCs from publishers. Whilst this is a nice perk of blogging, don’t expect to receive them straight away, publishers expect you to have a decent amount of traffic before they will be willing to send you ARCs. Don’t blog simply on the expectation of receiving ARCs because you will be disappointed. I’ve been blogging for three years and only started getting e-ARCs from Netgalley last year. It’s not the end of everything if you don’t get ARCs, what matters is that you are producing quality content for your blog, not getting freebies from publishers.

4. Don’t just focus on reviews (but equally don’t have purely filler content)

I know when I started blogging the reviewing aspect was what I really started doing it for, but reviews take a long time to write and you obviously won’t be posting them consistently, so you will need other content for your blog as well. Memes are a good way of ensuring that you have something to post every week, but use them sparingly. I tried to do a meme every day for a while and it didn’t really work, so find one or two that you really like and stick with those. Tags and Awards are also fun but again don’t feel like you have to do every single one. Discussions are a great thing to have on your blog because it gets people talking. There is a wealth of possible features out there that you can have on your blog, reviews are important, but they aren’t the be all end all of blogging, get some variety in your posts! It will take you a while to find the right balance for your blog, but don’t worry, you will hit it eventually.

5. Make sure your blog is easy to navigate

This is one from personal experience, when I first did my blog, I had no idea how to set up a menu or anything, so you had to scroll through every single post I had done in order to find the one you were looking for. Not ideal. So when setting up your blog (or if you have a current blog that you haven’t done this for), set up a menu with tabs to cover all the content you have on there, so that it is easy for people to find and get to the post they want.

6. It’s your blog, do what you like with it

Don’t feel like you have to be like other book blogs! You don’t have to do the same features as everyone else, you don’t have to review the same books as everyone else, you don’t even have to purely post about books if you don’t want to, you can talk about other stuff too. Your blog is your canvas to do what you like with, have fun with it!

7. Try to post consistently

You don’t have to post every day, that’s usually not possible, but try and post consistently. I aim to post at least once or twice a week whilst I’m at university and more often when I am at home for the summer. It helps if you post consistently as people will be more likely to come back to your blog if they know there will be consistent new content for them to read. Having said that, don’t stress about it! There will be times when you are busy and can’t post as consistently as usual and that’s okay. If you know you’re going to have a particularly busy week or time, it might be worth it to schedule posts in advance to ensure that you have new content for your readers. I don’t personally schedule posts often but I know other bloggers swear by it. Basically, find a schedule that works for you!

8. Read and comment on other blogs

Reading other book blogs can be helpful in order to see what’s out there and give you a better idea of what you want to be and where you’ll fit in the book blogging community. Commenting will help you forge connections with other bloggers, thereby both making friends in the community and gaining followers for your blog.

9. Be honest with your reviews

You are not going to love everything you read. Period. If you don’t like something don’t be afraid to write a negative review. Even if it’s a well loved book by other bloggers and you feel intimidated to be writing a negative review, still write it! People will appreciate your honesty. And you don’t have to write a positive review if a publisher sends you an ARC or if you don’t like an ARC you request on Netgalley, if you don’t like it say so. You’ll be far more respected for being honest than if you write a positive review just because you don’t want the publisher not to give you any more ARCs. Don’t be rude though, that’s a big no, there’s a definite line between being honest and being rude, make sure you don’t cross it.

10. Don’t get bogged down in your stats

You might have pretty woeful stats your first year, I know I did. But don’t feel like you’ve failed if your stats aren’t sky high right away. It takes a while to develop a consistent following, and it’s not going to happen overnight. Stats are not the be all, end all of blogging. If you’re enjoying it and your audience is enjoying what your putting out then that’s what matters the most, not the size of the audience.

11. Don’t go overboard when requesting ARCs (either from Netgalley or publishers)

There are only so many hours in the day, and you will likely have a lot of your own books to read as well, so don’t go crazy when requesting ARCs. Request what you think you can read (or less) in the time required.

12. Backlist books need love too!

Don’t just review the shiny new releases, chances are, all bloggers out there will be doing that. Review older books as well, just because it’s been out for a while, doesn’t mean everyone has read it and readers love it when you introduce them to books they haven’t heard of before!

13. Be Yourself

The best blogs I’ve found are the ones where the person behind the blog shines through. You want your blog to reflect your own personality, that’s how you make it unique to you. It might take you a while to find your unique blogging voice, I know I’ve really only settled into it in the last year or so, but that’s okay. Experiment, see what works best for you and your blog. What you have at the start may end up being completely different to what your blog evolves to be, don’t be scared of that, as long as your blog reflects you and who you are then people will love it.

14. Have fun!

This is the last, but most important tip. Have fun with your blog! You don’t want blogging to become a chore, you want it to be something you enjoy, somewhere you can share your passion for books. If you’re having fun and that shines through your posts, then your readers will have fun too!

So that’s it! All my tips for new bloggers. If you have been blogging for a while, what would you suggest is the biggest thing for new bloggers to remember? What do you wish you had known when you first started your blog? Let me know in the comments!

I will have my first discussion post of August up at some point during the next few weeks, though I don’t know what it will be about yet, as always, if there is anything you would like to see me discuss on the blog then let me know! In the meantime, I will have lots of YALC related posts for you all following this weekend, so stay tuned for those. Who is coming to YALC? Give me a shout in the comments, maybe I’ll see you there!

Jo Talks Books: On The Pros and Cons of Goodreads

Hi everyone! I didn’t mean for it to be so long for me to get up my first discussion post of July but I’ve been busier than expected. This was actually a post that was inspired by another discussion post I did, when I was talking about how difficult I find it to DNF and how Goodreads is a contributing factor to that, and it got me thinking about Goodreads and all the pros and cons of using it and I figured I could do a whole discussion post on it, so here I am!

I figure most, if not all bloggers know what Goodreads is, but for those of my readers who aren’t necessarily bloggers/don’t use Goodreads, Goodreads is basically a cataloguing site for book lovers, there’s a huge catalogue of books and you can create lists of books you’ve read and want to read and share these with people you know. You can also review and rate books that you’ve read and follow other people’s reviews so that you can see what they’re reading and what they think about it.

The Pros

On the surface, that sounds very cool right? And it is, there are definite benefits to using Goodreads. For one thing, it’s a great way of keeping track of new releases, I find out about most new releases through other bloggers but I can then go straight to Goodreads, find the new release and add it to my to-read list. Then I’m guaranteed not to just forget about it because it’s right there. You can also see what your friends/fellow bloggers are reading, which can result in new reading recommendations for you if you have similar tastes (I mean more books, never a bad thing right?).

Goodreads is also a great way of keeping track of what you read yourself. I mean sure, my blog kind of functions as that as well, but it only has books I’ve read since I started blogging whereas Goodreads has everything that I’ve read (that I can remember of course, I’m sure I’ve read way more books than the total on my Goodreads read shelf) regardless of whether I read it before or after I started blogging. It means that all of the books I’ve read, regardless whether I own them, borrowed them, or have been given them for review are in one convenient place and I can keep track of my reading stats for end of year wrap ups for the blog which is great!

Goodreads also means you can check out reviews for books before you buy them. I’m actually kind of on the fence about this particular aspect of Goodreads and don’t tend to check the reviews of a book before I buy it? I prefer to rely on my gut instinct as to whether I’ll like a book or not and checking out a bunch of reviews before I buy a book, be they positive or negative, probably won’t change my gut instinct about a book but they will give me expectations which I don’t like having, I’d rather go into all books blind (though this is near impossible as a blogger) than with any kind of expectation.  I prefer to check out Goodreads reviews either whilst I’m reading (avoiding all spoiler tabs) or after I’m done to see if other people felt the same way about them. But still, for those who do like to check out reviews of a book before they buy them, this is a definite advantage of Goodreads.

Goodreads is also an easy way of finding quotes that you like from a book that you want to share, as you can just type the book’s name into the search engine under the quotes tab and find the one you want as opposed to having to flick through the entire book for one specific quote.

It’s also a great way of finding presents for your book loving friends as you can find out what they like/haven’t read yet, from their Goodreads! (if they have one of course).

Cons

However, as with anything there are drawbacks as well as benefits to using Goodreads. I could probably do an entire separate post on the benefits vs drawbacks of the Goodreads Reading Challenge, but really, it’s just a symptom of one of the wider drawbacks of Goodreads, it can make you feel bad about how much/little you read. When you’re seeing all your Goodreads friends reading hundreds of books a year, it can make you feel a bit bad about your 20-30 odd books a year, even when logically you know that people read at different paces and you don’t have time to be constantly reading. I have been working on getting better with this, but it is hard not to feel a little bad/jealous when you see people having read 60-70 odd books already when you’ve only just cracked 20! I honestly never really thought about how much I read in a year before I started Goodreads, but now I’m constantly thinking about it, and it’s not great really!

I also feel like I have to finish every single book I read (as a by product of both doing the Goodreads challenge and just blogging in general) because if I DNF anything then it won’t count towards my Goodreads challenge.

One of the major cons about Goodreads is that the overall average rating for a book is not always reliable, because readers are allowed to rate books before they are even released based on how excited they are for it. Now unpopular opinion time, I don’t think we should be able to do this. Fair enough, readers who have ARCs of a book rating it when they’ve finished, they’ve read the book, formed an opinion, of course they should be able to rate it even if it’s not released. But readers rating a book before they’ve even read it is not good, because it can skew the rating for an author’s book if lots of people just happen to dislike said author which doesn’t seem really fair to me. I tend not to look at the average rating on Goodreads because it’s pretty unreliable really, you never know how much of the rating has come from people who have actually read the book and how much has not.

Goodreads also doesn’t allow you to use half stars (seriously could do a whole ranty post about this because it really annoys me), so you either have to up your rating or down it if your actual opinion on a book lies between two different star ratings. Sure, you can explain this in your review, but it will again mean that the average rating for a book is unreliable as many people may have in actuality given a book a half star rating but this won’t be shown as Goodreads does not allow you to do this.

Overall, whilst there are things about Goodreads that I would change, it has definitely been a useful tool in my reading and blogging to keep track of what I read and has allowed me to connect with other readers and find new releases, so I am glad that I use it, but I do hope that in the future some changes will be made to the site in order to make it more reliable in terms of finding book recommendations, particularly in regards to allowing people to rate books that they haven’t even read yet.

So let’s chat! What do you like most about Goodreads? What do you dislike most about Goodreads? Do you use Goodreads or a different site in order to keep track of what you read (or no site at all)? What would you change about Goodreads if you could? Let me know in the comments!

I will hopefully have another discussion post up for you soon (the end of the month will be too busy with YALC!), I’m going to be giving tips to new bloggers. In the meantime, the next you’ll hear from me will probably be my new Top Ten post on Tuesday.

 

 

Jo Talks Books: On What Harry Potter Means To Me

Hi everyone! I know I said my next Jo Talks post would be about the pros and cons of Goodreads and I do still intend to do that post, but this Monday was the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, and I couldn’t very well let any anniversary like that pass without doing a post about Harry Potter could I (granted a four days late post, but still!).

I’m almost 21, so I literally grew up with Harry Potter, although because I was so young when the books were releasing, I never went to any of the midnight releases (not until The Cursed Child was released last year when I went to a midnight release in Basingstoke with a friend), but still, the books were an integral part of my childhood. My dad used to read them to my sister and I when we were really little and when I was old enough to read on my own, Harry Potter was one of the first series I came to. I went to see each and every movie when it was released in cinemas (at least I think so, I was 4 when The Philosopher’s Stone was released, so I perhaps didn’t see that one in the cinema, but I definitely remember seeing the second one onwards), after having read the books first of course!

I had always loved fantasy books, when I was a kid, I loved reading about fairies and unicorns and magic and adventures but no fantasy book that I read when I was a kid had more impact on me than Harry Potter. I’m not sure what it was, whether it was the fact that the books were set in our world rather than a fantastical one, or that it was so connected to the city I grew up in (London), or perhaps just that Harry was a totally normal kid, who grew up in a totally normal household and found out that he was special but I definitely felt an instant connection to this young wizard who was thrust into a magical world. It started what I’m sure will be a lifelong addiction to magic.

Hermione was and still is one of the biggest reasons why Harry Potter means so much to me. I connected to her on such a deep level, reading about her was like seeing a reflection of myself. She was this frizzy haired, brainy, reader who never had a lot of friends, but was incredibly loyal to her close ones and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what she believed in and I could totally relate to that. I loved seeing someone who liked school, who liked books and wasn’t the prettiest or most popular girl in school, save the world because that gave me hope. It gave me hope that if Hermione, someone who was very much like me, could make a huge difference in her world then maybe I could too. And that it didn’t matter that I wasn’t the prettiest or most popular girl in school, because neither was Hermione and without her, Harry would have died in the first book! For me, Hermione was always the real hero of Harry Potter and having her as a kid, gave me someone to look up to, someone to aspire to be. I will be forever grateful to JK Rowling for Hermione as she has been a profound inspiration and influence on my life.

Having Harry Potter has also given me an instant connection with the other readers of my generation. We all have this common thread, this common experience to share, it’s created a beautiful community of passionate nerds who are all connected by this one story and it’s such an amazing and wonderful thing. All of my closest friends are of course Harry Potter addicts as well and it’s been a great thing for us to bond over.

Reading Harry Potter was the first time that I knew I wanted to be a writer. Right from that very first sentence, I was captivated. I had always been a reader and I had written a little, but reading about JK Rowling’s magical world was the first time that I knew I wanted to do that too, I wanted to create magical worlds. I remember telling people when I was a kid, not that I wanted to be an author but that I wanted to be JK Rowling. She gave me something to aspire to, something to dream of and for that I will always be thankful. She opened up a whole new world of possibilities for a little girl who dreamed of magic and I have no words to describe how grateful I am for that. If I ever do manage to get a book published, I will know that it all started with a little girl reading about a boy wizard and a magical world.

Harry Potter is like an old friend. Every time I come back to the series (which I have, many times over the years), it feels like I’m being welcomed home, like I’m being embraced by friends that I haven’t seen in years. It is there to comfort me, to bring me joy, to give me an escape from my mundane world. It is an ever constant in my life, even when everything else is changing, I always have these books and movies and I know that no matter what happens it will always be there for me.

Harry Potter also taught me so much. It taught me about prejudice, it taught me about friendship and love and strength and bravery. It taught me that it’s okay to be unapologetically myself and no matter how desperate the odds, that there is always hope. The lessons that I have taken from Harry Potter are lessons that I know I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Harry Potter will always be more than just a book series for me. It has shaped who I am as a person, as a reader, as a writer and in so many other innumerable ways. It is the series of my childhood, one of the first books I remember truly loving. It’s made me a part of a worldwide family that I will be forever connected to, if only through this one thing. I’m so proud to be a part of this amazing fandom, and will be forever grateful to JK Rowling, not only for inspiring me to want to become a writer but for creating this beautiful world that made me believe in magic. That showed me that the written word is the closest thing to magic that we have. And for forever giving me a home within the pages of her books. She’ll never know how much she has done for this frizzy haired book nerd.

Happy anniversary Harry Potter! And thank you JK Rowling. From all of us.

What does Harry Potter mean to you? Share your Potter related memories in the comments!

I will have more discussion posts for you soon, but in the meantime, I just finished One of Us Is Lying, so I’ll have a review of that up very soon, I will also have a new #RockMyTBR update and a new Top Ten Tuesday, so lots to come in the next week, stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Jo Talks Books: On My Problems With DNFing

Hi everyone! I know, I know, it’s really late for me to be doing my first (and probably only) discussion post of the month, but in my defence, I have been really busy what with coming back from Uni and then being on holiday! This was a discussion post I had planned to do a while ago, but being me, I got distracted with all the other things I wanted to talk about that I totally forgot about it. Luckily I hadn’t really planned anything to talk about this month, so I figured why not use this? So what I’m going to be talking about today is DNFing books and how even though it’s been something I’ve been working on, I still find it really hard to put down books that I’m not enjoying.

For those of you who aren’t bloggers or maybe aren’t familiar with the term DNF, it stands for Did Not Finish, ie those books that we put down before we make it to the end of them. I’ve always had a problem with this, but becoming a blogger has created new challenges for me in this department, which I will discuss over the course of this post.

Currently on my Goodreads DNF shelf, I have four books. Yup that’s right. Four. I have probably not finished more books than that over the course of my life, as obviously not every single book I’ve read/tried to read is on my Goodreads, but I’d guess that the number of books I’ve not finished is probably still in single figures, quite an achievement for someone who has read as many books as I have. However, my desire to complete every single book I pick up is not always a good thing as it has meant over the years me struggling through books up not really enjoying just to finish them. So why do I do it?

Well first off I have a closure problem. This is true for my life, not just specifically books, I like things to be finished, to be tied up in a nice neat bow (which is more of a problem in life as things don’t necessarily come with a nice neat bow, but that’s besides the point of this discussion) and if I drop a book before I’ve read the ending, then I never get to know how things turn out and I find that infuriating! I need to know that everyone’s okay! This is why I’m so picky about series that I read, I need to be pretty confident that I’m going to love it before I read it as if I don’t like it, I will be stuck reading it for however many more books there are just because I’m desperate to know how things work out. It’s the same for movies and TV shows, I won’t stop watching even if I don’t like it very much because I need to see how things turn out!

I also feel like I owe it to both myself and the author to finish their book. After all, they worked really hard on it and if I don’t make it to the end then I’ll feel really bad because they spent years working on this book and I can’t even make it through a few days/weeks to finish it? Just seems wrong to me, even if I know I’m not enjoying it. Plus I spent my money on that book (usually) so I’ll feel like that was a waste if I don’t finish the book. It’s perhaps slightly easier to not finish books that I’ve got on Netgalley or been sent by publishers because I didn’t pay for them but then you have the whole guilt of letting the publisher down malarkey to deal with.

Becoming a blogger has produced added challenges in my difficulty DNFing, for a number of reasons. Firstly because I now have Goodreads, which in some ways is great, because it gives me a way to track what I’m reading and see what my friends and fellow bloggers are reading but it also means that I feel more pressured to finish every single book I read, as I know the book won’t count towards my Goodreads challenge if I don’t finish it (honestly I could do a whole post on the pros and cons of Goodreads, which I think I might!), so this means that I’ll always be pushing myself to finish whatever I’m reading even if I don’t enjoy it. I also feel like I have to finish everything because if I don’t then I can’t write a review for it and I’ll feel like I’ll be letting everyone who reads my reviews down, which is ridiculous and makes no sense but there you go!

It’s also hard to tell when you should give up and decide it’s not for you. After all a lot of books are slow in the first half but get really good in the second half, so you think, well maybe this is just a slow starter and it will get better. I don’t want to miss out if it does get really good! It’s the same with series, even if I’m not a big fan of the first book, I will still try the next one because I’ve often found the second book in a series improves on the first one, and I’m glad I do this because if I didn’t then I would have missed out on a lot of what are now my favourite series. So when do you decide a book is not for you? 10 pages? 20? 50? 100? There’s no defined place where you can be like, ah this book isn’t for me. I like to give a book until halfway through, but by that point, I’ve already invested so much time in it that I want to read to the end! Yet dropping the book before then feels like I haven’t given it enough of a chance! It’s a vicious cycle.

Also if it’s a book that “society” thinks you should read, like a really important classic or something then you’ll feel really bad about not finishing it because this is something that you’re supposed to love and find really important and be like “yes you have to read this before you die” and you just feel a little embarrassed that it’s this big classic you’re meant to have read and you couldn’t finish it. This happened to me with Jane Eyre, I just couldn’t finish it, it was too boring, but I still feel a little guilty to this day because it’s Jane Eyre! Which is ridiculous because you should be able to finish/not finish whatever books you want, no matter how important other people think they are.

I also don’t feel like I can fully form an opinion on a book I haven’t finished. I’m constantly changing and reevaluating my opinion (and final rating) of a book whilst I’m reading it and if I don’t get to the end, yes I can say if I did or didn’t like what I did read, but I have no way of forming an opinion on the book as whole. Though I will say that I’ve usually made my mind up about a book by the time I’m about halfway through and it will take something major in the climax to change it-but then if I never read the climax, how will I know? I could be hating a book most of the way through and then get really engaged at the end (this has happened before) but if I don’t give myself the chance to get there, then I will never know. It’s the whole closure thing again, I need to know the whole story in order to fully form an opinion on it and if I don’t then the only opinion I’ll have is that I didn’t love it but I want to know what happened in the end!

I have been getting better at not forcing myself to read books that I don’t love, I know there’s so many books out there, heck so many books already on my shelves, that there’s no reason to push through with stuff that I’m not enjoying. But it is still very hard to overcome the urge to find out what happens at the end, even if I wasn’t a big fan of the beginning and middle. I always used to actually flip to the last page (yes I know, I know I’m horrified at me too, I still self spoil a bit, I’ve been getting better at not doing it though!), to find out what happened at the end before I’d even started reading because I was so desperate to know. My need for closure is something that I don’t think will ever change, but I have been trying to work on the issues that Goodreads presents, by making sure that I have a manageable challenge and space to DNF if I want to. I also occasionally read books that I won’t review for the blog (very occasionally, I’ve only read one this year), so that I don’t feel like I have to review every single thing I read. And I think I’m getting better at telling when books are not for me and I should give up, although I don’t always do so!

Over to you! Do you have difficulty in putting books you’re not enjoying now? Any tips for me as to how to be better at it? Will you carry on series when you didn’t enjoy the first book to see if they get better? Let me know in the comments!

I’m not sure if I’ll get another discussion post up before the end of this month, but if I do, it will be about the Pros and Cons of Goodreads (and yes I had that idea whilst writing this post!) and if not then that will be my first discussion post of July. In the meantime, the next that you’ll hear from me will probably be on Tuesday for my latest TTT post!

Jo Talks Books: On The Lack of Non Romance Focused Books For New Adults

Hi all! I know, I know, you’re probably tired of hearing from me today, but I do try to do two discussion posts a month if I can and since it’s the last day of May, it’s my last chance to get a discussion in for this month! This week’s topic was inspired by everything that has been going on in the Twittersphere recently about the importance of teen bloggers and the lack of them in a community that is about books that are first and foremost for them. I totally agree that it is very important that we respect teen bloggers voices in the YA community and that it is a shame that teens actually make up a smaller proportion of the YA community than adults, but the issue I want to explore today isn’t about the place of teens in the YA community (an issue I’ve already talked about in a discussion post earlier in the year), I actually want to talk about New Adults and the lack of non-romance focused books in the genre.

First off, though I’m sure most people reading this already know, I figure I should define what a “New Adult” is. New Adult is defined as fiction for people aged 18-30, so those at the upper end of YA and younger adults. This age category explores many of the same issues as YA but also how you deal with adulthood. A poll done on Twitter about the ages of bloggers revealed that actually most of the the bloggers in the YA community, fit into this age category of New Adult. So how come these bloggers (myself included), find YA more appealing?

Well for starters New Adult is still a relatively new age category of fiction I feel? There’s not really a place for it in bookstores, I mean at least not in the UK, so New Adult fiction tends to either be shelved with the Young Adult books, or the Adult books. I mean it’s quite an accurate way of describing what it’s like to be one of the ages that is encompassed in this category, if you’re over 20 then you’re not a teen anymore but at the same time, you may not find adult fiction particularly appealing either or just not feel like you fit with adult fiction bloggers. I still feel much closer in age to teen bloggers than I do to most adult bloggers. It’s a very weird space to be in, because you don’t necessarily fit with either one, there’s no real space specifically for us, so we have to choose where we think we fit better.

I also think, perhaps because NA is such a new thing, that there isn’t really enough variety available. The great thing about YA and even adult books, is that there is something for everyone. There’s such diversity in genres, you can pick whatever it is you want to read and there will be something for you. With NA (I will admit that I don’t have much experience with it, this is just what I’ve gleaned from the NA books I know about), it seems like it is over-saturated with romance and that there is very little else on offer. And that sucks. Because not all 18-30 year old readers want that. Some might, and that’s great for them, but not all of us do. I’m not interested in reading a NA book that’s purely about sex, with a hot, shirtless guy on the cover. I’d like to read books that explore the issues that I have faced as a 20 something, heading off to University for the first time, having to maintain long distance relationships with your friends from school that don’t go to the same University as you do, making new friends, exploring independence from your parents for the first time etc. Being a New Adult isn’t just all about the sex! Yes relationships are a part of your late teens, 20’s & 30’s but they’re not the be all and end all, at this point in my life, my relationships with my friends are so much more important to me. There’s so much more to life as an NA than just romance and I’d like to see this reflected in NA books.

I’d also love to see more NA books that aren’t contemporary. I hardly ever hear of any NA fantasy, and aside from Sarah J Maas’ ACOTAR books, which are marketed as YA, even though they’re really NA, I’ve never read any. Fantasy is my favourite genre and I’d love to see more fantasy heroes and heroines of my age. One of the reasons I loved VE Schwab’s Shades of Magic books, is because the main characters are all in their late teens or early twenties, because I hardly ever read fantasy books with older main characters (given that most of the fantasy I read is YA). Still those books aren’t NA, they’re Adult. It would be great to see more NA fantasy, to bridge the gap between YA and Adult fantasy. It’s not just fantasy though, most of the NA you hear about seems to be exclusively contemporary. What about those that like Sci-Fi? Or Crime? Or retellings? Or thrillers? Or horror? It just seems like as a category, NA is still rather narrow.

The fact that there is no specific shelf space for New Adult books, means that a lot of them are published as e-books, which puts up roadblocks for those of us who don’t necessarily like reading in that format.

It also seems to me like it’s pretty difficult to find NA books without sex, which puts me off slightly, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. “Well just read YA books then, they don’t have sex” you say, and that’s true, but I don’t want to stop reading YA books, I would just like to broaden my reading by reading about characters that are in the same stage as life as me, but that’s pretty difficult to do when it seems like most of the books that feature these characters involve something that I don’t particularly love reading about. I’m sure it’s appealing to some people, but what about those who perhaps want to move on from YA (not me but others) but don’t necessarily want a book with a lot of sexual or romantic content?

New Adult is definitely still a growing category of fiction, and I think it has a long way to go before it has the same level of appeal in the online community as YA does. There’s definitely a slot for it to fill, life doesn’t stop after sixth form/high school and NA reflects this, but in order to gain wider recognition and popularity, I think there needs to be more of a variety of books available, to reflect the different experiences and preferences of 18-30 year old readers. We need to show publishers that we want these kinds of stories, that we want a space that reflects us in literature, that we want NA stories in diverse genres, stories that reflect all aspects of the experience of emerging into adulthood. If we show publishers that we would buy these stories, then more of them would be published and then finally, like adults and young adults, us twenty somethings would no longer be in limbo, we could finally have our own space, and books that are specifically written for us.

What do you think? Do you think there needs to be more variety in New Adult? Is there a kind of limbo between YA and Adult? What would you like to see more of in New Adult books? And do you have any NA Fantasy recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

I will have my first Jo Talks post of June up at some point, I’m hoping that it will be before I go to Greece on 12th June, but we’ll see! I haven’t decided what the topic will be yet, so I can’t tell you, but if there’s anything that you’d particularly like to see me talk about, then please let me know! In the meantime, I have plans for another review that I’m hoping will be up tonight (and I promise that’s the last you’ll hear from me today!), and I will have my latest #RockMyTBR update for you tomorrow, so stay tuned for those!

Jo Talks Books: On My Dream Reading Space

Hi everyone! I’m so sorry that it’s taken me so long to get around to posting something for this month, it’s not even that I’ve been busy, I was just stuck for ideas! Luckily I was approached by Arhaus to help them out with a project that they’re doing about reading spaces, and I thought it sounded like a fun idea to share what my dream reading space would look like.

Obviously, first off, my dream reading space would actually have enough space for all of my books! I have four bookshelves at home, and it’s still not really enough for my massive collection of books, I’ve had to take to keeping some of my older books in my wardrobe because I really didn’t have enough space for all the books that I own on my bookshelves! I’ve always wanted a room something like the Beast’s Library in Beauty and The Beast, with floor to ceiling bookshelves. Something like this would be perfect for me:

A Home For Book LoversSee how the bookshelves are so tall that you need a ladder to get to the top ones? I want that! I also love the idea of having an entire room devoted simply to reading and writing, it’s basically a dream for me. I love how this room is filled with light as well, I think that’s perfect for a reading space.

I’ve also always wanted a window seat to sit on whilst I read, I remember reading the My Secret Unicorn books when I was a kid, and in them, Lauren had this great window seat that looked out over her back garden and I remember thinking that was so cool. I read in bed most of the time, but it’s really hard to find a comfortable position, so I think it would be perfect if I had a window seat.

Family Home Design Ideas - Home Bunch - An Interior Design & Luxury Homes Blog: I’d love something like this for my window seat, you could really stretch out whilst reading, plus I love the colours of the seat cushion. I might have a few more pillows, given my bad back, but other than that, this is pretty well perfect. I love the under seat storage as I could fit more books under there. I might want a slightly bigger window to let more light in though.

Portier Writing DeskEvery great reading space needs a desk I think, as a lot of us readers are also writers too and it would be great to have somewhere to write in my reading space. I found this desk on the Arhaus website, I love the curved shaped and I think it just looks interesting and a little different.

And with every desk, you of course need a comfortable chair. For me, with my back issues this is even more important, if I’m going to be sitting, reading or writing for hours, then I need somewhere comfy to sit. This beautiful Arhaus chair would be perfect for that:

Addy Upholstered Tufted Desk Chair in Samantha Sand

I also think to make any reading space truly comfy, you need a great fluffy rug (okay this may be my addiction to fluffy stuff speaking, but it’s true!). I would want my reading space to have a wooden floor rather than a carpet I think, but I would definitely want one or more fluffy rugs in my reading room:

Safavieh's Shag collection is inspired by timeless contemporary designs crafted with the softest polyester available.:

Obviously I would need a desk lamp in case I was in my reading space reading late, which of course would happen as I do most of my reading at night, and I think this one is perfect:

Fielding Table Lamp

I’d obviously need a main light for the room as well, and I found this one on Pinterest that I think looks a little different and quirky and I kind of like that:

pinned by barefootstyling.com A Warm Glow Slips Through The Porous Skin Of These Ceramic Lampshades:

Like I said, I would definitely need more pillows for my window set and I found this adorable pillow on Pinterest that I think would look perfect:

Geometric throw pillow cover pastel pink white by VanillaGreyShop                                                                                                                                                                                 More

I’d also love some of these fluffy Arhaus pillows, my sister used to have some fluffy pillows in her room at home and they were so comfy, so they’d definitely be perfect for my reading space:

Tibetan 16" Square Lambswool Pillow in Slate BlueTibetan 16" Square Lambswool Pillow in Plum

Sheepskin 14" Square Pillow in Rose

I would also need a blanket/throw for my window seat, which I could sit on during the day and use to curl up with at night when it got cold. I think this one would be perfect as it looks warm and goes with the colours that I’ve chosen for my reading space:

Rose Pink Waffle Fleece Throw - throws & bedspreads - Home, Lighting & Furniture - BHS:

I think I’d like the room to be painted in a blue, as it will be a contrast against all the pink, plus I really like the colour blue, but it would be a sky blue rather than a dark blue.

Rio 35" Upholstered Chair in Check Please ThunderI love this gorgeous checked chair and think it would go perfectly in my reading space, for when I don’t want to use my window seat, or if I had a guest come to visit. Funnily enough, I actually have a dress in a very similar pattern!

Rio 24" Upholstered Ottoman in Check Please ThunderThis ottoman goes perfectly with the chair and would give me a chance to put my feet up!

Tremont 20" End Table in Midnight JavaThis little end table would be perfect for putting food and drink on if I got hungry or thirsty whilst reading. I could also have another one by the chair for guests.

I’d also like to have bookish prints on the wall above my desk, there are many wonderful stores on Etsy where you can get them from, but this shop is my favourite:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/CartabanCards?ref=search_shop_redirect

I also think I’d have some bookish candles around the room, maybe on the bookshelves or on the desk. There are again, lots of great candle shops on Etsy, but this one is my favourite:

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Bookwormcandlescraft?ref=pr_faveshops

So what do you think? Would you like a space like mine for reading? What would you have in your dream reading space? Let me know in the comments!

If you like any of the pieces in this post, then check out the Arhaus website where a lot of these pieces came from:

https://www.arhaus.com/

I will have a new Jo Talks post up next week (hopefully anyway!) where I’m going to be talking about the lack of non romance focused New Adult books. In the meantime, I think I’m going to do another Thursday Quotables post tomorrow, I know, wonders never cease!