Tag «blogging life»

SERIESous Tips: Using Trello to Keep Track of Reviews

*I want to be clear that this post isn’t affiliated with Trello in any way, this is just my personal experience!*

I first talked about how I use Trello in 2016 during a Keeping Organized Tips Series I ran. At the time, I mostly highlighted how I use Trello to keep track of ARC Requests and only briefly mentioned my Review Board. That’s about to change here!

Back in university, a co-coordinator for an event I was running showed me Trello as a tool for keeping organized. The list-maker in me loved it and I used it a lot while organizing various things. But I never thought about using it for book blogging until I read a post by Brittany @ Book Bumblings about Trello. After that, everything just clicked and I created my own boards to keep track of things!

>> Check out Brittany’s guide here!

Trello is great for a number of reasons. First off, it’s free (there is a premium version you can buy with more features) and the options are endless for the free version. It is a very fluid web-based program. It’s super easy to move things around and has a ton of customizing features (which I’m going to highlight a little more below). It also has an app for your phone so you can use it on the go if you are so inclined.

Let me introduce my Review Board:

Every post that is created for my blog has a card on this board. I have 7 main lists I use to keep my reviews/posts organized depending on what stage they are at.

What are you looking at?

These are my lists I used to keep track of reviews and blog posts. I’ll break it down for you:

  1. To Do
    • This is my brainstorm list where I keep track of ideas for blog posts I might want to do in the future
  2. ARCs
    • This is where I create review cards for Request copies I have received
      • I’ll detail what’s on those cards below
  3. In Development
    • These are reviews/posts I am currently writing
  4. Started
    • These are reviews that are finished, they just need something else before they can be published
  5. Cross Post
    • This is where review cards go after I’ve finished writing my blog post
    • This is where I keep track of what other review sites I need to post my review to
  6. Pending Sequels
    • These are drafted series reviews that I’m holding off on posting until I’ve read all the available sequels
  7. Done
    • This is where all review and post cards go after I have completed all their requirements

As I’m sure you can predict, when I’m writing a post from my To Do list or from my ARCs list, they get put in the In Development column. After they are complete, they either get put in the Cross Post, Pending Sequels or Done columns depending on their posting requirements.

What’s On a Review Card?

An example of a review card for an ARC request

There are 4 features I use the most when it comes to creating my review cards.

  1. Labels (colour codes)
    • This is great for seeing things at a glance. I colour code all my reviews based on their source (ARC or Blog Tour), if they require a Recap, if I need to Cross Post or if I need to Update a previous review and/or stats. I also have a special colour for Promo posts like blitzes.
    • If a card gets a certain label, it usually has an accompanying checklist (see #3).
  2. Due Date
    • This is the date I plan to post on my blog, not necessarily the book’s publishing date.
    • This is super handy because you can sort lists by their due dates chronologically. I do this for posts that I have to cross post to external sites.
  3. Checklist — My FAVOURITE Feature!
    • We do a lot of repetitive things when it comes to blogging and sometimes it’s hard to remember them all.
      • See the section below for more details!
  4. Comment (not pictured)
    • I use this mostly for post cards for Tags or posts inspired by other blogs and I want to remember the source or ideas for the post

Why the Checklist Feature is the BEST!

Certain reviews require certain things. For example, when I write a series review, I need to make sure I’ve added a recap section (if applicable) to my Recap Page and put the series on my Series Sequel Spreadsheet. If it’s a review for Netgalley, I need to make sure I’ve added my review to the site as well as the links to my cross posted reviews. I even have a list for those cross posts! And the lists go on and on…

What I love about Trello is that you can create unique checklists for every card and you can see at a glance how many items you’ve completed from that list.

But the greatest thing is that you can copy checklists from other cards to your current card!

I have a card I’ve titled Master Checklist. On it, I’ve created all the checklists I use on a regular basis and when I create a new card, I import the lists from this card. If I need to make a change, I do it on this list so that a new cards going forward have this newly changed list.

Other Notable Features:

  • Assign Tasks by Team Member
    • This would be great if you have multiple blog contributors!
    • You can leave notes too for each other on the card and see what others have done.
  • Calendar
    • You can enable a calendar that will put your cards on those respective dates
      • I don’t use this feature as I use a Word Doc do keep track of my dates for everything (posts, library due dates, etc). Learn more here.
  • Tracks Activity
    • Any changes you make to a card (and when) are noted at the bottom

This way, I always know where I am when it comes to my reviews!

While I try to do a little bit of blogging each day, I don’t always get the chance to with my job. But Trello makes it easy for me to pick up where I left off and to see what I need to get done and when. It truly has become an essential tool to my blogging experience.

>> See how Carrie @ Reading is My Super Power was inspired by my other Trello post!

How to you keep track of the reviews/posts you have in the works?

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SERIESous Discussions: Lessons Learned from Blog Tours


SERIESous Discussions: Every once and awhile I will post my random ramblings about a bookish or blogging topic. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


Truth: I didn’t know that blog tours existed until my 2nd year of blogging.

Embarrassing, I know, but I was in such a bubble during my first year of blogging (2013) that I didn’t know what was out there. Anyways, I started slowly with taking review requests in 2015, joining Netgalley and then in 2016, I officially joined the community of being a tour host.

I thought about making this a tips post but I really think this is more a reflection on my experiences being a tour host and how two years of hosting blog tours has changed my blogging and reading habits.

Lesson #1: I LOVE Helping Authors!

There are so many great books out there, from big-name publishers to self-published, and I love the idea that my blog post might help one person discover a book they never knew about. Exposure is everything, especially for those debut authors who are just emerging onto the scene. Just getting the email sign-ups for tours has exposed me to a lot of books I might never have seen otherwise.

More often than not, I often get to connect with these authors after the fact and I love that! I’ve had some great discussions and fantastic opportunities present themselves as a result. Those interactions remind me why I love blogging and reading in the first place: a shared passion for stories.

>>Some Blog Tour Organizers: Audiobookworm Promotions |  Lola’s Blog Tours  | Chapter by Chapter | Social Butterfly PR | Xpresso Book Tours | YA Bound Book Tours

Lesson #2: Keep an Eye on the Number of Requests

I’ve talked in the past about some of the tactics I use to minimize the feeling of reading as a chore but it is so easy to sign-up for blog tours when you are getting emails daily. Like I said, there are a lot of interesting books out there and it can be hard to resist clicking the “request” button for every title that gets your attention. But you don’t want to overwhelm yourself by creating more deadlines and commitments than you can handle.

I personally aim to do no more than 2 requests (blog tour or review request/opportunities) per month. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail but I find that ground rule keeps me from requesting all the books.

Using a calendar to keep track of all my posts allows me to see the bigger picture. Can I fit that tour in on those specific dates? Have I already applied/committed to review something that day? You have to be careful because most blog tours want their post to be the “top” post of the day and that may mean shuffling your schedule around to meet that requirement.

>>Tip Posts: Using Trello to Keep Organized | Organizing Requests | How to Start Scheduling Blog Posts

Lesson #3: Read the Book ASAP!

Most blog tours give you a month or more notice before your scheduled date and you often get the review copy a few weeks before the posting date. When I put in my book deadlines on my calendar, I aim to have the ARC finished at least a week before my tour stop…but that doesn’t always happen.

Reading the review copy at the last minute can have some unfortunate consequences. For one thing, you might not be able to finish the review on time. For another, you might end up DNFing the book or are unable to give it a favourable review (which defeats the purpose of a promotional tour though you are always encouraged to post your review later). Or something comes up and you just can’t post anything for the tour.

All the touring groups I deal with are great with recognizing that you won’t like every book you read and are very accommodating with changing the date or type of tour stop and/or making alternate arrangements. But my point here is that it can be stressful for all involved if you leave your reading to the last minute and arrangements can’t be made. You have to remember that it is a privilege to be awarded a spot on a tour, not your right as a blogger. If you are hard to work with or can’t make your commitments, it might affect your opportunities with that company later on.


Those are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the last year. Although blog tours can be a bit of work, I’ve found them to be extremely rewarding! I’ve discovered a ton of amazing books and authors over the last two years and I hope you have to by following my blog.

Do you participate in Blog Tours? Why or why not?

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Self-Hosting: A 6 Month Reflection

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In February 2016, I made the decision to move my blog to a self-hosted site. It was a big decision for me and one that came with a lot of learning curves.

Which is why I thought it would be a good idea to do a 6-month reflection and see if I am happy with my choice.

What I Love

–Manipulating my Theme–

One of the biggest reasons I switched was the desire to have full control over my theme. I really wanted to be able to customize it however I wanted and after a lot of searching I found the theme that works.

I’m not sure if I totally love it but it’s pretty close to what I want. Over the last few months, I’ve had to work out some kinks (like a grid system that cuts off images or why my images weren’t lining up straight) but I think I’ve got a good handle on it all now.

–The Plug-ins–

There are SO MANY PLUG-INS! It’s a little overwhelming! And trying to find what I’m looking for exactly can be difficult. I’ve tested out quite a few until I found the ones that work best but sometimes, it’s touch and go.

I don’t really have any plug-ins that help with my actual blog-posts though. One reason is the fact that the good ones cost money that I don’t really want to spend. The other is that I enjoy inputting the meta data for my posts and because I follow a pretty specific format, the ones currently out there don’t meet my needs.

–I can have HTML Sliding Galleries!!!–

You might have seen it on my home page but I am super excited I have more freedom with embedded features like video, slideshows and the like!

The Bummers

–Getting Followers–

One thing I wish I thought a little more about was “follow” buttons. I really took for granted the fact that as a blog on WordPress.com, it automatically pops up for users when they view my blog.

Yeah–not so much on a self-hosted blog!

I learned how to get a WordPress.com follow widget and now I have that. I’ve also promoted following my blog on Bloglovin’ more.

Since I made the switch, my follower numbers have stayed the same. Honestly, it sucks. However, I’ve seen growth on my Bloglovin’ followers which is great. But my main concern is that my blog lacks the options for people to follow.

–I Forgot my WordPress.com Blog Still Exists!–

My domain was originally purchased through WordPress.com where domain mapping (essentially rerouted people from my wordpress.com address to my .com address) was a part of my package. So in April (when it expired), my old wordpress.com blog was popping up! What really sucked was that I had a form for contacts and people had contacted me on that and I didn’t know!

So I scrambled to make sure everything was rerouted so people weren’t following a “dead” blog!

–Issues with CommentLUV–

While CommentLUV seems to work on my blog for commenters, I’ve run into issues while commenting on other blogs because of how my blog feed is set on my page. Because my blog opens on a home page and not my feed, sometimes CommentLUV struggles to find my latest post.

Am I Sticking With It?

Well, I paid for a year so yes 😛

Honestly, I’m a little on the fence. We’ll see how the last half of my year goes (I’m going to adulting soon by joining the workforce) and how much of my time I can allot to blogging and reading.

I know I don’t use self-hosting to its max in terms of the tools available for book bloggers so that influences my experience. I’m also really cheap and would rather spend my money on books (especially once I lose my library card for where I go to school).

But at this time it’s a wait and see.


I’m happy to say, I’ve (finally) launched my mini-guide to self-hosting complete with help links!

Check it out here:

selfhost


What are your thoughts on Self-Hosting?

What problems have you run into?

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SERIESous Tips: Scheduling Blog Posts

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Why Schedule Posts?

When I see another blogger mention that one of their goals is to schedule their posts, I’m always a little taken aback. I’ve been scheduling posts since I started blogging 3 years ago and have never looked back–it’s just routine for me now!

I get it though. There is something so satisfying about writing a post and immediately sharing it with the world. Your thoughts and feelings are still fresh on your mind and you get that satisfaction of unleashing them on the world.

But sometimes, I don’t have that luxury. School eats up a lot of my time so I don’t always have the chance to write something the same day I would ideally like to publish it. Scheduling posts has saved my ass quite a few times when it comes to making sure I have content regularly on my blog. Especially if I go through a “blogging spree” where I just churn out posts like a boss. (Ironically, this is always around exam time :P)

I don’t like posting something everyday simply for the sake that I couldn’t possibly write that many posts in a year (props to those that do!). I like spacing out my reviews and my features. I don’t like having 5 discussion posts in a row nor do I like scheduling two brand new series reviews on the same day or week. I also have features that I only do on a monthly or seasonal basis so I need to make sure I stay on top of those. It’s also really helpful to know when I can squeeze in a blog tour or two 😉

Basically, I like having a posting schedule to make sure I have a decent number of posts on a weekly (and therefore, monthly) basis. It helps me stay organized and makes me feel better and less frazzled when it comes to my blogging (especially when I know I won’t be able to create new posts during the week).

How I Schedule My Posts:

I know lots of people use a pen and paper method to keep track of posts and books to read, but I found that too hard to maintain. Partly because I always lose my planner somewhere on my desk and mostly because I change my posting dates all. the. time. Since I schedule posts well in advance (usually 2 months later), I often move those posting dates around when I get new requests and the like. My planner becomes a disaster of crossed-out or heavily erased marks and the neat-freak in me can’t handle it.  I needed something that was easy to change when I needed to change it.

And so, I created a Word Document that uses a calendar template:

monthlyagenda

At first, I just used it to keep track of posts and library due dates. Then, when I started requesting from NetGalley, I had to keep track of those dates as well (see my post on tracking ARCs). So it has definitely become more colourful over the last few months.

Different colours mean different things (ex. purple means it is a post I have to finish writing whereas black means it is good to go) as does the position of the title (ex. centred at the top means a library/request title whereas bottom left is blog post).

I also really like that I can see things as a whole month. It makes scheduling posts so much easier because I can see the bigger picture and not just what I have posting later in the week. AND, it makes meeting reading deadlines a lot easier too. Now that I’ve reduced the number of books I get from the library and my ARCs, I can take a glance at my calendar and see what books I need to read in the next week or so. If you follow me on Goodreads, you might see that my “Currently Reading Shelf” has at least 3 books on it. Normally, I’m not reading 3 books at a time; rather, these are the books that are next on my reading schedule as per my Word calendar.

It’s probably complicated for someone who isn’t me (trust me, it took me a while to get use to it all too) but it really has become a part of my everyday blogging routine. Like I said earlier, I have other methods of keeping track of the particulars (like Trello) but this Word Document is definitely my master list of what is happening for my blog.

 

Do you schedule your posts?

How do you keep track of everything for your blog?

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SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized Part 2 – ARC/Requests

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When I participate in Twitter chats, a common question people ask each other is “how do you stay organized” and so I decided to share my methods with everyone (not that anyone asked me specifically). Normally, I post this sort of thing as a guide but I wanted more interaction and felt like a post would be better.

I’ve separated this post into the various sources I use: library (Part 1), ARCs/requests (Part 2-today) and purchases (Part 3–tomorrow) as well as scheduling posts (Part 4–day after). Each part will be posted over the course of four days.


 Part 2: ARCs & Request Copies

*I want to be clear that this post isn’t affiliated with Trello in any way, this is just my personal experience!*

To keep track of my ARC requests and reviews, I use Trello first and foremost. For those who don’t know, Trello is basically a virtual to-do list board that allows you to create different categories and cards to put under those categories. In addition to tracking ARCs and reviews, I also use a Trello board for site maintenance and reminders.

My first board is the one I use to track all NetGalley Requests, Blog Tours and Other ARC Requests:

trellonetgalley

As you can see, I use it to keep track of books I want to request from NetGalley (don’t you wish NetGalley had a wishlist feature?), books I have placed a request for (this is really helpful when thinking about signing up for blog tours and the like), books I have received for review as well as books I have reviewed. The “no longer available one” is basically for me to remember what books I saw on NetGalley and want to read now that they are published/removed.

I have different coloured labels that mean different things (mainly the source of the book) and I note the publishing date or the date I have to have the review published. That last part is what is helpful when trying to sign-up for Blog Tours or ARCs because it gives me a rough idea of how many review posts I have for that week/time-frame.

Once I get approved for a review copy, I move that title over to my “Review” Board:

trelloreviews

This is where I keep track of all my posts for my blog. I write down various ideas in my “To-Do”column, note the ARCs I have to review, what reviews/posts are in development, cross-posting and a few other boards.

What I really like about Trello is that each card can have mini checklists, a due date, a place to write notes and of course, coloured labels.

trellochecklist

The checklists feature is really, really helpful when it comes to cross posting my reviews on other sites or making sure I hit all the requirements of a blog tour post. It’s also super easy to copy checklists from previous cards so I don’t have to rewrite all my checklists every time I add a new card.

Because it is a web-based system, I can access Trello anywhere so long as I have internet. I can get it for my phone and tablet so that makes it super easy to add cards while on the go.

I also keep track of all my review posting dates on my master list which I will be talking about in Part 4 of my series.


 

There you have it! Join me tomorrow when I explain how I track my eBook purchases.

Do you have a specific way for keeping track of your ARCs/requests?

Let me know below!

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SERIESous Tips: Keeping Organized Part 1 – Library

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Nowadays, there are so many places that you can get books! Whether it is through your library, ARC programs or purchases, book bloggers and book readers have many avenues to explore.

When I’m not blogging, reading or watching TV, I’m making lists or creating some other organizational tool for these activities. I love organizing things–which may surprise you if you ever enter my messy room.

This is not my room but sometimes it sure feels like it!

When I participate in Twitter chats, a common question people ask each other is “how do you stay organized” and so I decided to share my methods with everyone (not that anyone asked me specifically). Normally, I post this sort of thing as a guide but I wanted more interaction and felt like a post would be better.

I’ve separated this post into the various sources I use: library (Part 1–today), ARCs/requests (Part 2–tomorrow) and purchases (Part 3) as well as scheduling posts (Part 4). Each part will be posted over the next four days.


 Part 1: The Library

I am actually a member of two different libraries (my hometown’s and the one where I live for school) AND I read eBooks; so all in all, I have 4 sources for library books.

Early last year, I had almost 30 books on hold across all four places and to make things worse, they each had a different hold line and/or checkout time. What I wanted to know was: “which place will get me the book faster?” and “when can I expect it?”

I was able to find a formula for an Excel document that helped me estimate when books I put on hold would come in based on where I was in the holds line. While it wasn’t always 100% accurate (it didn’t factor in people returning books early for example), it did help me determine the best location for placing a hold or when I needed to suspend my holds to prevent all the books from coming in at once (Murphy’s Law at its finest).

 This is what my Library Hold Excel sheet looks like currently:

libraryholds

What I Keep Track of:

  • # of books I have out
  • # of books I have on hold
  • # of books on hold that are pre-release
  • # of audiobooks
  • # of novellas
  • # of suspended
  • Where I have books on hold
  • What books I have on hold
  • How long it will take (approx) to receive

I love organizing things, so I think this is definitely more extreme than most people need or want to do. I’ve got it to a point now where everything pretty much calculates itself thanks to various formulas (ah, the beauty of Excel) so it doesn’t require too much input or work. I then update my place in the holds queue on a weekly basis.

Yes, it’s a little complicated. So you can understand why I needed a change.

Last year, I made it a mission to Tackle My TBR and came up with a set of rules to limit myself from over requesting library books and ARCs. It’s been pretty successful so far.

Now, I can only put 5 books on hold at a time as per my 2016 Resolutions. In an effort to finish previously started series, 3 of these holds must be a continuing series and the other 2 can be new releases. I keep track of these books and what I want to put on hold next on a separate Excel table (I will be showing that one off later this summer for a different Tips post).

Why bother with all of this? It seems like a lot of work.

It can be at times, but I actually find it very stress-relieving! When I’m bothered by school, doing menial tasks like this helps me calm down and get my focus back.

And by doing this, I am also getting more time to read. That may seem counter intuitive so I’ll explain. I’d say about 85% of the books I read are from the library and so I’m at their mercy when it comes to availability. By having a better grasp on when I may or may not get a book, I can plan my other reads accordingly. And now that I limit how many books I have out or on hold at a time, I have more time to dedicate to my other book sources.

Wishlists

I just want to make a quick note about library Wishlists options. My eCatalogues use the Overdrive system which has a great wishlist feature. You can put any book on your wishlist and it tells you how many are available for instant download. I’m starting to use this a lot more so I can keep track of what books my library has and what to put on hold next. Highly recommend it!


There you have it! Join me tomorrow when I explain how I track review copies and the like.

Do you have a specific way for keeping track of your library reads?

Let me know below!

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Tag it Thursdays: Would you Rather [4]

tagitthurs
Tag it Thursdays: I occasionally get tagged by fellow bloggers to complete various tags. Once a month I will post my response. Please, feel free to tag yourself if any of these tags interest you!

This month’s tag:

Would you rather Tag

While browsing the blogs I follow, I came across Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books‘ Would You Rather Tag post where she tagged anyone who wants to do this tag. It seemed like a lot of fun so I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity–so thanks Marie!

Would you rather only read trilogies or only read standalones?

I think my blog’s name speaks for itself: I enjoy book series so trilogies is the obvious answer. However, I don’t think every book series that comes out needs to be a trilogy…but I digress.

The simple answer: trilogies, there’s just more to love and I enjoy the longer journey.

Would you rather only read male or female authors?

You know, I don’t really look at the sex of an author when I pick up a book. I guess I read more female authors because I really enjoy romances and that is a market dominated primarily by female authors.

Would you rather shop at Barnes and Noble [Kobo] or Amazon?

We don’t have Barnes and Nobles in Canada so I’m making this a Kobo vs Amazon question. I’m a Kobo girl all the way! I love my Kobo Aura eReader (read my guide to buying an eReader)! Though I am debating whether or not to buy a Kindle with my Swagbuck’s gift cards for all my free booksI think I have a reading addiction :O

(Note: I actually wrote this month’s before I published it! I actually have purchased a Kindle for reading.)

Would you rather books were made into TV shows or movies?

For series with lots of characters or books and a very dramatic plot line that isn’t self-limiting: TV series.

ex. The Mortal Instruments, The Selection, Rosemary Beach, Gallagher Girls

For standalones or trilogies that have definite conclusions: movies. But no breaking up the third book into two parts please, that just ruins everything!

ex. Snow Like Ashes, A Thousand Pieces of You, All the Rage, The Infernal Devices

Would you rather read only 5 pages per day or 5 books per week?

Why is this a serious question? 5 per week!

Would you rather be a professional author or reviewer?

I would love to write for a living but I don’t think I have a real talent for it–though I’ve been experimenting this summer! So for now, a reviewer! I really enjoy writing my reviews, talking to others about books and debating with my fellow bloggers.

Would you rather be a librarian or a bookseller?

A librarian! I’ve always had really positive experiences going to the library as a kid; whether it was the public or school library. I love the helping role librarian’s play in reading and life. Plus, I really enjoy organizing things!

Would you rather read only your favorite genre, or every other genre but your favorite?

I like a variety of genres and within my books so I guess every other but my favourite? If I had to choose my favourite genre, it’s New Adult Romance but romance is in most other genres so I wouldn’t miss out on that.

Would you rather only read ebooks or physical books?

I actually much prefer eReading nowadays. It’s just much more convenient for me as a student who is back and forth between towns/cities/home/class/work. Plus, my small hands have a much easier time holding an eReader vs a real book. You can read more about my eReading experience here or join in a discussion about eBooks vs Physical books!

My addition (to make it an even 10): Would you rather read a love at first sight romance or an intense love triangle romance?

Gah! I detest both of these options! I’m going to go with love at first sight because most of the time they are really just lust at first sight situation and the relationship will hopefully develop as the story progresses.


Thanks for reading! Please feel free to tag yourselves!

What would you rather pick?

Return to homepage!Happy Holidays!

 

Tag it Thursdays: Reader Problems

tagitthurs
Tag it Thursdays: I occasionally get tagged by fellow bloggers to complete various tags. Once a month I will post my response. Please, feel free to tag yourself if any of these tags interest you!

This month’s tag:

The Reader Problems Tag

I was tagged by Summer @XingSings wayyyy back in July to do  this fun tag. We actually share a lot of the same problems it seems 😛 Thank as always Summer!

1. You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?
Who doesn’t have that many books on their TBR? What I read next is almost entirely based on what books come in from on hold at the library–a problem I identified back in late May of this year and decided to do something about with my Tackling the TBR personal goal. I do have a beautiful TBR jar for all my purchased books when I manage to get a chance to pick something out (it’s colour coded and it is glorious) and thanks to my TBR challenge, I’ve been able to do that a lot more! Prior to my TBR jar I used to use a random number generator to pick from a list of 5-10 books I was in the mood to read.

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2. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or are you committed?
I actually have a 50 Page Rule when it comes to books: if I’m not loving a book and by the end of the first 50 pages, if I don’t care what happens next, I drop it! Most of the time these are books that cause my mind to wander while reading or even worse, cause me to NOT want to read! GASP! After reading and blogging for two years, I think I have a good handle on what I like and don’t so I rarely have to do this. More often than not, I will keep reading it. Sometimes I will book that book up at a later date if I think it was just my personal mood preventing me from liking it or the pressure to finish it before I return it to the library was stressing me out too much.

3. The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but so far away on your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and how?
I’ve never had this problem. I’m constantly underestimating how many books I can read in a year. Take for example this year, I had completed my Goodreads goal by August!

But, if I did have this problem, I would read lots of novellas, join a few readathons and set aside some weekend days just for reading!

4. The covers of a series you love do. not. match. How do you cope?
Haha you know, this was never a problem until I started blogging and read about other people freaking out over this. I’m not really picky about hardcovers mixing with paperbacks (the frugal reader in me doesn’t mind so long as the artwork is the same). BUT, I recently bought two books I already owned to make them match the other books I have in the series. They were only a couple of dollars, I think I spent more to ship them! I only plan to do this if the price is right.

5. Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?
This happens a lot actually, as does the reverse. Part of the reason I started blogging was to have this outlet to share my feelings about books. No one I know really reads books like I do (though my best friend from university is pretty close!). For example, I was a huge Throne of Glass fan but totally thought it was an underdog when it was first published (maybe it was? I dunno because I wasn’t following blogs online when it first came out); so imagine my surprise when everyone starts to rave about it once I do start to blog! I’ve tried some groups on Goodreads but people don’t really discuss it

6. You’re reading a book and you are about to start crying in public. How do you deal?
I totally struggled with this at work the other day! I’m pretty good about holding back my emotions in public because I am very aware of where I am. But if I was alone in my room at home, full out sobs. #noshame

7. A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a synopsis on Goodreads?
Time for a shameless self plug! I actually have recaps for a lot of book on my blog for this very purpose! Because I read so many series and don’t have the time–nor the desire for some series–to reread all the books, I created a word document for myself that summarizes the key points of the book–especially the ending! I do this for all the sequels and I’ve even started to do it for romance novels that have sequel books with different leads just to keep my memory fresh.

But a helpful hint is that some series have great fan-run Wikia pages and even Wikipedia has detailed summaries for very popular novels!

8. You do not want anyone. ANYONE. borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people nope when they ask?
I actually don’t mind people boring my books. I don’t have a lot of physical books anymore so I suppose I am possessive of them (they are books I consider to be my favourites that I want to pass on to my kids one day). But I am also a firm believer in sharing the joy of reading with anyone who wants to read something and if borrowing my book will let them read, I’m all for it.

I just make sure to tell them to return it in the same condition when they are done AND TO BE SURE THEY RETURN IT!

9. You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?
I had this problem at the start of July and it sucked! Nothing was wowing me and I hadn’t had a 5 star read in WEEKS! I got over that one by reading a sequel to a series by one of my favourite authors (FYI it was Empire of Night in the Age of Legends Trilogy by Kelley Armstrong and it was AMAZING!). It depends what type of slump I am in. Most of the time reading something I’ve been dying to read will work; other times, reading a favourite authors work will do the trick. Most of the time though, I good romance (usually New Adult) will make me happy again (unless I am in a slump from reading too many romance novels than a good dystiopian or high fantasy will work).

Can you tell that I am a mood reader yet?

10. There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
I don’t by very many “new books”, I put them at hold on the library. I don’t reread a lot of books so I don’t see the purpose of buying them. Most of the time, if I really enjoy a book and think I will reread it once I have read it from the library, I will buy it later. I do buy lots of Kobo eBooks but mostly when there is a contest promotion so I get coupon codes. Again, I am a cheap person. So unless a book is under $3 when it comes out, I won’t buy it immediately. I’ll wait until I get a coupon or a sale or it drops in price.

11. After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?
I have books that have been on my shelf since 2009 if not a little sooner. I had been hoping to read them when I was home at my parents for the summer before I left for school but (as I write this, it is the first week of August) but that doesn’t look like it is going to happen. BUT, does it count if someone else has read them? I think my mom has read most of them 😉

Thanks again Summer!

Do we share any of the same problems? Tag yourself or comment below!

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Meme-ful Musings: Spoiler Alert

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(Meme from: memecrunch.com)

When I first decided to create my blog, one of the first things I promised myself to do was write reviews with no spoilers. Up until this point, I was really only using GoodReads to find books–which is not an awful place to start by any means–BUT, people on that site love to post super long reviews filled with GIFS, pictures and the worst thing of all: SPOILERS.

Man, nothing ruins a book (or a TV or a movie) more than reading a spoiler! I HATE knowing what is going to happen next in a book–it just ruins the whole experience for me. I like to be surprised, I like to see something come out of left field and hit me in the face. It doesn’t get much better than that for me.

What is the point in me reading the book after you have told me the best part of the story?

None…at least to me.  

But I know that some of you include spoilers in your posts or that you enjoy reading reviews with spoilers. For those of you who do write spoilers, I thank you for being kind enough to warn potential readers that your posts do have spoilers! As a spoiler hater, I like knowing what lies ahead in a post–ironic, eh?

I will admit that I see the appeal of including spoilers in your reviews. Sometimes it just makes things so much easier to explain why you like/dislike a certain part of a book by including the direct evidence. On occasion I will include a mini-spoiler-rant in my reviews just to let off some steam but I am sure to put it in hidden text so that if someone doesn’t want to read it, they don’t have to.

But sometimes the temptation is too great! As much as I don’t enjoy knowing a spoiler, the fact that something is hidden and unknown is kryptonite to the knowledge-driven personality I have. Most of the time I refrain, unless I know that I will not be reading the book. I usually use the spoilers to justify why I decided not to read it–though sometimes that backfires and makes me wish I did read the book.

Regardless, I really, really dislike spoilers. They don’t do anything for me other than ruin what would have been a great plot twist and so I try to avoid them at all costs.

***

So I guess my question is: what are your thoughts on spoilers? Why do you include or not include them in your blog posts?

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Memeful Musings: Are you harder on characters of your own gender?

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Meme-ful Musings: At the end of the month THIS IS A SPECIAL DOUBLE MUSING MONTH! I’ll post a book-related meme that I think brings up an interesting discussion about books. Feel free to join in by making a comment below or linking back!


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(Meme from: thatschurch.com)

(I’ll get to why I used this particular meme later in the post, but I’ll just say it has something to do with reviewers who use the TSTL [too stupid to live] acronym in their reviews to describe heroines).

It occurred to me one day when I was writing a review for a book that I think I am more critical of female characters than male characters and I got to thinking why. I came up with two theories…

1) I mostly read books that are told from a female perspective

This is mostly because I lean more towards romance novels when I read. In society, romantic notions tend to be cast as female tendencies so most romances are told by females. Now, that isn’t always the case. There is a growing trend in New Adult novels, as well as other genres, to include both male and female POV; or at the very least have an alternate POV sequel or short stories that provide the male POV.

Regardless, if that female character is considered the main lead, and most of the story is told from her perspective, you have more of a reaction to her character than a side character who is only in a few scenes. So when you review the book you also review her as a character and explain what you liked and/or didn’t like about her. Or at least, that is what I do.

I also think that when you read too much of one thing, you get tired of the subsequent stories with similar aspects. So if I’ve read about two heroines who find have the same characteristics, the third one is going to be compared to the previous two.

2) Because I am a female, I am more critical of female characters & their actions

When I read a book, I like to think about what I would do or react if I was in the position of the characters. So when a character does something that I think is not-so intelligent, I get more critical of them or I start to dislike them. 

I ask myself “why on earth would you choose that?” and reply “I would have done ____ instead”.

And this is especially true for female characters. I’m not sure if you all do this, but when I read, I tend to picture myself in the role of the lead heroine. It’s just how I read. So when I am reading, I really picture myself in her shoes. And if she does something I think is idiotic I get really upset and judge her harshly for it.

The thing that struck me the most

when I was writing the series review that inspired this post was that I wasn’t as critical of the male lead for making similar idiotic decisions. Then that got me thinking that even in books where there is dual POV, I am always harder on the female than I am the male!

And I really think it comes down to the idea that as a girl, I think I know how I would react to the situation the heroine finds herself in and I judge her for when she doesn’t react the same way as me–who I consider to be a rational, logical person.

Which brings me to the reason I used the meme I did.

I’m not sure how many of you have seen the acronym TSTL–Too Stupid To Live–in other book reviews but I have. I personally don’t use it in my reviews (I think it is rude) though I can understand the appeal to a certain extent.

Regardless, why I bring it up is because I think that the frustration a “TSTL” causes is the same that I get when I read about a heroine I greatly disagree with. I am not above calling heroines (or heroes for that matter) stupid or idiotic when I do a review if they make some bad decisions for silly reasons. Plotlines are a huge part of a story, but what makes or breaks a story is how those characters react to those plotlines. And if you are a heroine who makes what I consider to be the wrong choice with respect to the plot, be prepared to feel the full wrath of my scathing review!

The point I’m trying to make is that I am more quick to say that a heroine is “dumb” more so than a male hero because, as a female, I know what decision I would make and I have a hard time grasping why another female doesn’t make the same decision. Which in turn makes me frustrated with the novel and usually results in me giving it a lower rating.

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So, do you think you are more critical of characters from your own gender? Or do you think the opposite is true?

Is it because you share the same gender or is it because you’ve read too many books with similar leads?