Tag Archives: Discussion

Why I Use Digg (And not Feedly or Bloglovin)

When Google Reader shut down last year, I think we were all a bit worried about how we would read our blog content now. If you’re a book blogger, it’s likely that you follow way too many blogs to simply hop around the internet every day. Having them all organized in one place is key to sorting through, saving posts for later, and checking out the ones you want to comment on. At least it is for me – without my reader I would forget which posts I liked, which ones I need to come back too, etc. etc.

Another thing happened with Google Reader shut down – the blogosphere piled up with posts about choosing your next reader. I think most people have discovered their new reader of choice by now, so you’re probably wondering why I’m jumping in so late to the game.

Well, when I read all of these posts, I noticed that far and wide, the two major contenders for people were Bloglovin’ and Feedly.

I ended up trying out both. First I started with Bloglovin’. What I liked was the clean interface, and how it was pretty easy to use. I could just import all the blogs I followed right in and be on my way. However, I wasn’t thrilled with the way you had to click on each post to expand it, and there’s no way to collapse the posts to see everything in that category/blog.

So, onto Feedly. I actually stuck with Feedly for a while because I really like the look of it. You can customize so much – the colours, the set up, how your posts are displayed. Also, I had the mobile version on my iPod which worked out really well when I just wanted to quickly scroll through a whole ton of posts. But then I started having some issues. Feedly wouldn’t let me change the categories I had previously set up on Google Reader – they were permanently stuck, and they just weren’t working for me anymore. It was unorganized and pretty inefficient. I looked through all the help pages but nothing addressed the issue, and eventually I just got fed up. I felt a bit like the Panda Cheese Panda.

For a while, I’ll admit I didn’t really use a Reader. I kind of just gave up and randomly visited blogs whenever I remembered to. I realized that this was even worse than my frustrating Feedly experience, and I needed to find a solution. Enter Digg.

Digg isn’t just a Reader (although that’s the only thing I use it for). It’s basically a place to just find out all the cool things happening across cyberspace. But for me it ended up being perfect. I chose not to import all the blogs I followed previously because a lot of them didn’t even exist anymore and the whole thing was just getting way too crowded for me to actually read anything properly. But, if you’re looking to transfer to a new reader and keep all the blogs you follow, you can easily import them.

So what do I like about Digg? I like that it’s simple, easy to use, and you can customize how the posts are shown to you. I think what I like most is that since literally clearing out my whole reader, I now only have blogs that actually exist, and that I actually read. It’s way more manageable and it doesn’t feel like a task every time I open it up. I know I could’ve done this with any other reader, but Digg is just perfect for me. Also, it really closely resembles the older Google Reader style, just more modern.

I know most people are comfortable with the reader they’re using now, and I’m a bit late to this whole game, but I really wanted to talk about Digg because I never really saw anyone mentioning it when the reader debate was going on. Bloglovin’ and Feedly are probably great for some people, but if you’re still searching for an alternative and looking for familiarity and ease of use, I would definitely recommend Digg.

End of Year Book Survey

best books 2013 end of year survey

Once again Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner is hosting her fantastic End of Year Book Survey! While I didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped this year, I’m so excited to look back on my favourites.

Note: I reread two books this year (Anna and the French Kiss and Catching Fire). I love both those books but I’m not going to be including them in this survey since they’re re-reads.

The Books

The Book Thief1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want)
My overall favourite is hands down, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It is truly a masterpiece. I will recommend this book to everyone and anyone, regardless of age. The Book Thief is one that you simply must read.

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
Probably Dare You To by Katie McGarry. It just didn’t wow me as much as her first book did.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi – I didn’t love love Shatter Me but this one was really great.
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick – Seriously did not see myself loving this one so much.
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – Hahahahaha, I’m laughing just thinking about this one.

 4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
Probably The Book Thief. I will push that book forever.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. I really enjoyed it but it’s also the only series I discovered and read more than one book from in 2013. I’m eager for Ignite Me, to say the least.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
Courtney Summers. I read This is Not a Test and Some Girls Are, and really loved both.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Ru by Kim Thuy was a lovely adult book that I read this year, as well as Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh which is a novel/comic book hybrid of sorts.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick was really fast paced and exciting. Shatter Me and Unravel Me were also quite exciting. Ooh, and This Is Not A Test was also tough to put down.

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
The Book Thief, or maybe Hyperbole and a Half.

10. Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013?

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Georgia Nicolson, most definitely.

12. Most beautifully written book in 2013?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, no question.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
Once again I feel like I can’t adequately answer this question because no book that I read truly impacted me that much, which I’m sad about. For that reason I’m going to skip this question because I don’t think I can do it justice.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2013 to finally read?
The Book Thief, once again. I was given this for Christmas many years back and I cannot believe I just read it this year…

Beauty Queens15. Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?
“Taylor clapped three times for attention. “Ladies! Ladies! My stars! That’s enough. Now. We all know Miss Arkansas’s girls are fake, Miss Ohio’s easier than making cereal, and Miss Montana’s dress is something my blind meemaw would wear to bingo night.” -Libba Bray, Beauty Queens

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2013?
Longest: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (552 pgs)
Shortest: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (picture book, 32 pgs) OR Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth by Drew Hayden Taylor (112 pgs)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Chapter 62 in Unravel Me. I’m pretty sure this is everyone’s answer, but honestly…

18. Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (romantic, friendship, etc.)?
Non-romantic: Rose + her friends at Ravensbruck (Rose Under Fire), Liesel + Rudy (The Book Thief)
Romanitc: Sloane + Rhys (This Is Not A Test), Sam + Jase (My Life Next Door), Juliette + Adam + Warner (?!) (Unravel  Me)

19. Favourite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve read previously?
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein or Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.

20. Best book you read in 2012 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.

21. Genre you read the most from in 2013?
Unsurprisingly, contemporary YA.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Both Adam and Warner from Unravel Me, as well as Jase and Samantha from My Life Next Door.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
None. I didn’t read that many debuts this year, and from the ones I did, I didn’t really enjoy any of them.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
Probably Rose Under Fire or The Book Thief, both of which displayed different elements of World War 2 in beautiful yet also horrific detail.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray was a laugh. I also just read Hyperbole and a Half which is hilarious. I also read an amazing picture book this year called I Want My Hat Back which was fantastic.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?
The Book Thief definitely, and maybe a little bit in Rose Under Fire.

27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out?
Probably Beauty Queens. This book has made this list so much, and it’s not that I loved loved loved it, it was just so funny and different.

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2013

1. New favourite book blog you discovered in 2013?
This is tough because I’ve discovered so many great new blogs this year! I really love Paper Riot, but to be honest I’m not sure if I discovered it this year or last year sooo… Oh, and Books With Cass!

2. Favourite review that you wrote in 2013?
My review of The Book Thief is one of my favourites I’ve ever written.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
I really enjoyed writing my post on Book Banning in Canada, and it garnered a lot of discussion.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
I honestly can’t say. I read so many fascinating discussions this year but, like the horribly unorganized person that I am, I didn’t keep track of them at all.

5. Best event that you participated in?
I loved going to the YeahYA! tour when it stopped in my area!

6. Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?
I feel like 2013 was kind of a crap year for me in terms of book blogging and reading, so I don’t really know what to put for this question. I guess moving my blog to WordPress was a big step that I’m pretty proud of.

7. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
I’m not quite sure, because my switch to WordPress kind of messed all my stats up, but my Top Ten Tuesday post on my all-time favourite books got a lot of love!

8. Post you wished got a little more love?
All my reviews, because like everyone’s said, they take a long time to put together and I find that unless it’s a really hot book or a super new release they don’t get very many views or comments.

9. Best bookish discovery?
I really like the new site Book Blogging. Also, I’m quite liking Digg Reader as my new reader of choice.

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
Nope. I only managed to read something like 47 or 48 books when my goal was 50. I also challenged myself to re-read more books and I only re-read two.

Looking Ahead

1. One book you diIsla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)dn’t get to in 2013 but will be your number 1 priority in 2014?
Eleanor and Park. I started it a couple days ago but just haven’t had time to continue, so I’m going to pick it up again soon.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2014?
Isla and the Happily Ever After. We Were Liars. Ignite Me. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The Boy Most Likely To.

3. 2014 debut you are most anticipating?
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira sounds pretty freaking cool.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2014?
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins or Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2014?
I really want to try to post at least once a week. I’m hoping that with a slightly less demanding semester coming up I’ll be able to follow through with this… hopefully!

Ohmygosh that was long! Congrats if you made it to the end. I’d love to hear your favourites of 2013, leave me a comment! Happy New Years!

Blogger vs. WordPress: My Thoughts

This year over March break, I made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. I wrote a detailed post about the logistics of the move and how I did everything. Blogger was good to me all the time I had my blog there (it never crashed or got suddenly removed, thank gosh), but I’m in my third year of blogging and I just felt the need to move beyond Blogger to something more serious. I’m glad I waited a couple years before paying for a host and my own domain, to make sure I was actually going to stick to blogging.
So now that I’ve been using WordPress for a few months, I’m going to do a bit of a comparison between Blogger and WordPress, based on my experience so far. Hopefully this will be helpful if you’re thinking of making the switch.

Major Differences

1. Plugins: One of the biggest draws of WordPress for people is usually plugins. It’s true – there is a plugin for absolutely everything. I definitely don’t use plugins as much as I could or should, but here are some of the plugins I do use:

  • Akismet – spam blocker, works wonderfully (it’s caught every spam comment so far)
  • All in One Favicon – see that cute little bird image next to my blog name in the tab/browser? That’s because of this plugin
  • Disqus – comments
  • Easy Content Templates – lets me format templates in advance, and then when I’m writing a post I can use which template I want to use, and which part of the template I want to use (whole thing, just the title, just the body, etc.). I use this plugin every time I write a post. I have templates for reviews, Top Ten Tuesday, and All the Books
  • SEO – You’ve probably heard a lot about SEO. Basically it lets me write a short description for each post that will appear when my link is found on Google, as well as adding key words that Google picks up.
  • And way, way more. I also used a bunch of plugins when I made the switch, like a redirection plugin and another one that converted all my Blogger links to WordPress links. VERY handy.

It took me a while to figure out how to install plugins, but in the end all I had to do was install a Firefox add-on and now I can go to my “control panel” simply by clicking a button in Firefox.

2. Dashboard

The dashboard in WordPress is obviously very different than Blogger. At first glance it seems a lot more complicated. There are a lot more options and links, you just have to get used to it. I definitely don’t make the best use of everything. Even after all these months I’m still not completely familiar with all the options the WordPress dashboard offers.

3. Ease of Use

WordPress is definitely more complicated than Blogger. However, it’s also much more advanced. With Blogger I was able to manipulate my layout and basically create my own blog design, but in WordPress I don’t have a chance. I also dislike how there’s not as much control to move around things in your layout. On Blogger it’s very easy to switch where the location of things are, like your “pages” section. In WordPress that takes a bit more work. It’s the same with adding widgets. I found it much easier to install widgets in Blogger than in WordPress, but I’ve gotten a lot better at it now. I’m still looking for some plugins that act as widgets, like a “featured posts” plugin – anyone have suggestions?

I’m going to leave it at that for now, because I don’t want this post to be overwhelming. I’m really happy with my switch to WordPress. It was just time for me to move to something bigger. (But note that I also have my own domain and hosting that I pay for, so I assume if you just get a standard WordPress blog, things will be a bit different). Have you made the switch from Blogger to WordPress? And if so, are you happy about it?

 

Book Banning in Canada, Eh!

censorship

Lately there has been a lot of debate going on over the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. This has been summed up very nicely by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish, if you’re interested in finding out more about that.

I sort of skimmed the article, not really paying much attention. Isn’t there always some sort of banned-book drama going on? Then I followed this link and read that article. Yeah, the whole thing made me feel kind of nauseated but I still didn’t really think it was anything out of the ordinary.

Then something dawned on me: I have never encountered this problem in real life. I’ve attended 3 elementary schools and 1 high school, and never has there been any controversy about the books that were in our library or the books we were assigned to read. My first thought was that I clearly just live in an area where this doesn’t happen. Maybe my little town just doesn’t get that worked up about books or something. I’ve always been allowed to read the books I wanted to. I’ve read Speak, Go Ask Alice, Forever by Judy Blume, and countless other books that have been controversial elsewhere. My elementary school library placed “mature” stickers on some books, meaning only students in grade 7 or 8 could take them out, but my librarian always let me read them anyway. When I was in grade 2 or 3 my parents steered me away from Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, which is the closest I’ve ever been to being banned from a book. I ended up reading it in the next year or two anyway. When I was in grade 6 my best friend and I both took out copies of Forever from our library and read it simultaneously. Both of those Judy Blume books introduced me to new things and ideas that I’d heard swirling around me in my primary school years. Was I too young to read those books? I don’t know, maybe. Is there a minimum age for curiosity?

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. After I realized that I’d never been banned from a book, I decided to do some research. A quick Google search of “banned books in Canada” brought up some interesting links. The first was a Wikipedia link with a list of books that have been commonly banned in Canada at one time or another. The article is prefaced with, “Banning books is not a common practice in Canada at the current time.” The list contains 7 books which have apparently been banned or challenge in Canada, at various times and in various places. I’ve only heard of one book on the list: Lolita. The other 6 I’ve got no clue about.

However, it’s been ingrained in my head by my very thorough and repetitive teachers to Never Trust Wikipedia, so back to Google I went. The third link from my search was for Freedom to Read.ca. This site says it focuses on book censorship in Canada, so immediately I thought Wiki had failed me, and book banning actually is prevalent in Canada, I just don’t know about it. After doing some digging on the site, I finally found this list, which is apparently books that have been challenged in Canada. The list consists of 15 books and magazines, with more info about each. I haven’t really heard about most of the books… a lot of them seem to be rather unheard of, not really mainstream publications, such as “U.S. gay mens’ leather fetish magazine” and a bunch of random French works. Five of them seem to be for children (and I’ve read one of them as part of the Silver Birch reading program). When I clicked on the individual titles, it turned out that a lot of the books have requests to be taken off the shelf, but only two of the books were actually removed from shelves. One of these books was a graphic novel (I don’t even know if it’s published) that Canada Border Services prohibited the import of because it was “legally obscene” and the other one deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Oh, and there was a graphic novel that was removed from shelves for a short time because educators were worried the overly thin girls portrayed would lead teens to anorexia (and I believe this was at a school for troubled/at risk teens). In the end, even that was put back.

Following all this research of book-banning in Canada, I realized that there’s a reason I’ve never encountered it myself… Book banning just is not as prevalent here. I’m definitely not saying it doesn’t happen, because it certainly does. No matter where you live, there will always be the people who think a 13 year-old reading a sex-scene will turn them into a prostitute. But as a whole, book banning just isn’t as big in Canada as it is in America. I suppose there are a lot of different factors that contribute to this. Gay marriage, abortion, legal drinking age, health care, religion and all your other stock “controversy issues”. There are clear differences in all these categories; in Canada, gay marriage is just, ya know… marriage. There are no legal restrictions on abortions. We don’t have a Bible Belt, or anything like it.

From what I’ve read, most books banned in America are banned because of one or more of these issues, so is that the difference?

However, I really don’t want to get into these topics because that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I don’t want to offend anyone, or sound like I’m putting down America. I know there are millions of people in the States who absolutely do not condone book banning, and I also know there are tons of generous, kind, and nice people living in the Bible Belt. Furthermore, Canada is far from perfect, and we definitely have our fair share of issues (have you looked at the Tar Sands lately?). All I’m saying is, Canada and the US, though similar in many ways, also have a lot of big differences. And from what I’ve learned through all this research, these differences seem to be among the reasons book banning is just not as prevalent in Canada.

But who knows, I might be completely off my rocker.

Maybe the real reason is because we have the same population as the state of California, and half of our population is just too busy building igloos and combing their polar bear’s fur to bother with what their children are reading (but that’s a post for another day).

What do you think?

Does mood reading = mood reviewing?

I’m a complete mood reader. Sometimes I read books by the date they’re released (if I have to review them), but other than that, I pick up books purely based on what I’m in the mood for. This had be thinking – if I pick up a really light contemporary because that’s what I’m in the mood for, does it mean my review will be biased because I was just craving a light contemp? If I read that light contemp for a blog tour/review/whatever, but I was really in the mood for an action packed dystopian, then will my review of the light contemp be unfair?

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Sometimes I look back on reviews of books that I gave 4 or 5 stars and then wonder, why? I honestly can’t remember that book being very good, or I can’t really remember anything about it. But for some reason, at the time I read it, I loved that book. I blame mood reading.

When I write a review, I try to make it as articulate and informative as possible (but half the time my reviews turn into a flat-out mess). If I’m giving a book a 5 star review simply because I was in the mood for it, not because it was an amazing book, how is that helping anyone? If I had read that book a month, a week, or even just a day later, I would probably have a very different opinion on it.

So then I think tat the solution is to stop mood reading. Right? Wrong.

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Because if I eliminated mood reading, then I end up reading books based on their release date, or just picking books randomly (which I am seriously considering doing thanks to Lanna), which leads to the opposite problem of unreasonably positive reviews: unfairly negative reviews. If I really want to read a horror (lol no) but I force myself to read a high fantasy, then that poor high fantasy book will have to endure my wrath because dammit I just wanted a horror book.

It seems like either way I’m stuck. Clearly the solution is to just hide away in a dark room with Netflix. Okay but seriously, does anyone else have this problem? How do you deal with mood reading leading to mood reviewing?

Book Ignorance? Let’s Discuss.

So I’m in one of those moods, all fired up to write a discussion post because MAN do I have something to say.

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No but seriously. What I want to talk about is something that doesn’t really have a name, but I’ve dubbed Book Ignorance. Have you noticed that there are a LOT of YA books becoming movies/TV series soon? I mean, a lot. Let’s make a quick list… (links go to IMDB page)

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Divergent by Veronica Roth

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

And many, many others that don’t yet have full pages on IMDB. I could honestly go on with this list for ever.

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However, this is not what’s making me angry. Yes, I hate it when a great book is butchered by Hollywood, but I think that’s been covered a lot in the past. What I want to talk about is the common phrase, “I didn’t know movie X was a book first!”. This phrase makes me so, so angry. Of course I don’t expect everyone to know about every book that’s every been made into a movie, and I admit I have been guilty of uttering this phrase (Silver Linings Playbook).

So maybe I’m not being rational when I say that this phrase upsets me, because just not knowing about a book doesn’t make you a bad person. But it’s also a big fear for me – almost as bad as a great book becoming a bad movie – that one of my all time favourite books will become a movie and either:

A) Everyone will love the movie, and therefore believe they are THE WORLD’S BIGGEST FAN when in reality, they do not even realize that this was a book first, and most likely, the book was better.

B) The movie will suck and no one will give the book a try.

In regards to scenario A, I was a bit of a late comer to the Harry Potter series – I only read the series last year. It seemed like everyone I talked to was another fan, which was fantastic because I could discuss the books endlessly! One of my friends continuously told me how much she LOVES and ADORES the series. The ULTIMATE fan. So after I finished the series I was eager to discuss ALL THE BOOKS with her of course. Oh, but then.

“I haven’t read all the books,” she said.

“Just the first couple,” she said.

“But I saw all the movies and I love them and so that makes me the biggest fan EVERRRR!”*

Anyone who has read all of the HP books knows that this is the WRONG thing to say to us. Sitting down to watch a movie takes approximately 2 hours, but reading a book takes commitment and time. Plus, half of those HP books are upward of 500 pages. So obviously this whole thing made me upset, because it’s almost like the movie is an excuse to not read the book and still claim you’re a fan, and to me (and probably all book lovers), that’s not cool! I mean, it’s not a criminal offense to watch a movie and not read the book, but to watch the movie and decide that you are the biggest fan ever? Not okay!

However, that’s not the situation that actually sparked this post. A couple months ago I read The Book Thief (my review) and it completely blew me away. It reminded me why I love to read, because a lot of the time we read mediocre books, or even five star books that are great, but not GREAT. Sometimes we just need to read that one book that completely, totally captures us. And I found that in The Book Thief.

Recently I found out that The Book Thief is being made into a movie. The cast has already been announced, and although I can see it turning out to be great, I still have some fears. What if it gets completely mauled? I remember when I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower and absolutely loved it. But then I watched the movie and honestly, I didn’t think it was that good. But so many of my friends saw just the movie (didn’t read the book) and thought it was amazing because they had nothing to compare it to. It kind of bugged me because compared to the fantastic book, the movie (in my opinion) sucked. And I’m really afraid that something similar is going to happen with The Book Thief. What if it’s just an okay movie compared to the book, but people think it’s fantastic and don’t even realize that it was a book first? Or what if the movie is fantastic and it ends up becoming someone’s favourite movie and they don’t even know it’s a book?

I just hate seeing such wonderful books getting ignored. You know, book ignorance. So that’s basically what caused me to write this post: I’m terrified that when the movie of The Book Thief comes out everyone will love it or hate it or whatever, but the majority of people won’t know that it’s a completely life changing book. It’s not like The Hunger Games or Twilight where it’s common knowledge that there’s a book version. The Book Thief, along with so many other YA books, is pretty much unknown to the general public. I don’t want the book to become some franchise instead of just an amazing book, or become tainted by peoples’ opinion of the movie (or the movie itself). If I had my perfect world, everyone would read the book as well as seeing the movie, so that both could be appreciated fully.

But maybe I’m being irrational? Is this something that bothers you, or is it just me? And what’s that one YA book that you’re terrified of being made into a movie because Hollywood might butcher it?

*Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating a teeny bit there.

TV Rules My Life

I have a confession, you guys…. I have not been reading as much as I used to. Although I mostly blame this on school and just being in a perpetual reading slump, I also have been taking up time doing something else: watching TV.

I never used to have TV shows I followed. I watched a lot of movies, but I was never really into TV shows. That’s not to say I didn’t watch TV; I just didn’t have shows that I watched religiously and really cared about. But something changed in 2012. I have become addicted to almost 10 TV shows. I have cried, laughed, and thrown fits because of these shows. It’s too much for me to keep bottled up inside, so I’ve decided to throw books out the window for the moment and tell you guys about these TV shows that have me so worked up all the time. For every group of shows I’ll be sharing my biggest freak out moments so far, so there will be spoilers, but they’re hidden unless you highlight to see them.

The Harmless

These three shows are what I like to call The Harmless Trio. All are light, funny, feel good shows. They’re only 30 minutes long, and I can always guarantee that I’ll be in a better mood after watching them.

Favourite character from each show: Jess (New Girl), Phil (Modern Family), and a tie between Morgan and Mindy (The Mindy Project)

My biggest freakout with these shows has to be that episode of the New Girl when… (spoiler: highlight below to find out)

WHEN NICK AND JESS KISS I MEAN WE WERE ALL WAITING FOR THAT AM I RIGHT??

My Best F.R.I.E.N.D.S

I say this one’s my best friend because I’ve been watching it for as long as I can remember, and I have a special place in my heart for all of these characters. For Christmas I got the complete box set and I’ve been working my way through the whole series start to finish. It’s great because although I’ve already seen so many episodes, I’m now watching them in the right order and it’s just like a continuous story 🙂

Favourite character: all of them! I love them all! But I think Chandler is especially hilarious.

My biggest freakout with this show? Highlight below to find out (season 5 spoiler, I believe).

Okay, well nothing really, because I’ve always known the outcome of Friends! However, I think the craziest and most surprising moment for everyone when the show was still on would be when you find out about Monica and Chandler! That one scene where she pops out of Chandler’s bed in London is just SO GREAT.

Mind = Blown

 

I am beyond addicted to these shows. Honestly, I come home every night and watch at least one episode of Lost, eat dinner, and then catch up on The Walking Dead that I have PVR’d. I’m watching Lost on Netflix, and I’ve gone over our monthly bandwidth way too many times now. I just can’t stop.

I’ve seen every season of The Walking Dead so far, and season 3 just ended last week. I wasn’t as impressed with season 3 as I was with 1 and 2, but it was still epic. I really disliked the season 3 finale though – they might as well change the name to The Walking Retirement Home now. I’m a little bit nervous for season 4 because I think it already went downhill a bit with season 3, and now they’re getting a new director/producer? That seems to be the point when all shows fail :/

Favourite character: Hmm, well half of them are dead as the motto of this show seems to be “kill ALL the characters!”. But definitely my favourite character is Daryl Dixon. He seems like a total jerk, but he’s really so sweet, he has a cross bow, and come on – those arms!

My biggest freakout with this show was when… (spoiler: highlight below to see!)

Okay, well that scene when Sophia walks out of the barn, and everything is just dead silent because NO ONE SAW THAT COMING. Also, there was major sobbing on my couch when Lori died. Why couldn’t they have killed off Carl instead? (I hate Carl. He seems to monopolize the episodes with his bad mood, and he’s a jerk to Rick.)

I’m only on season 2 of Lost because holy crap, there are like 30 episodes per season, and they’re each an hour long. This show is intense. I think there are 30+ plot lines going on right now, and I love all of them. I cannot get enough of Lost. Only thing is, I watched the movie This Is 40, and they show the ending of the very last episode of Lost. I don’t know everything but I think I have a pretty good idea of what happens (but DO NOT TELL ME ANY SPOILERS).

My favourite character: Well seeing as there are about 1000000000asdfghjkl characters in this show it’s hard to choose. I love Kate, because she’s super bad-ass and her flashbacks are the most interesting in my opinion. Locke is a noble character and always so level-headed. Jack is such an obvious choice but I do love him. Oh, and Sun! Sun is such a subtle character but I think her story is so empowering, and there’s a lot more to her than we think. Then there’s Libby and Hurley and Sawyer and…

My biggest freakout with this show (spoiler: highlight to see)…

Well obviously when they find the hatch it’s just like WHAT IS GOING ON. And the whole Dharma thing is crazy, I really can’t wait to see how they continue that story! And every time they realize that someone among them was not on the plane is just creepy. (side note: every time one of The Others passes for one of the survivors, they claim to be from Canada. What is with this? Is Canada like the go-to decoy country because no one knows anything about it so they can’t ask them questions to find out their real identity??)

Overall, probably my favourite moment of the show so far is when Rose and Bernard are reunited. Everyone told Rose that he was dead, but she always had faith, and they made it back together.

I HAVE NO EMOTIONS LEFT. I HAVE NO WORDS. I AM SO DONE.

Sometimes I watch a movie or a TV show, or I read a book, and I get so attached that I forget it’s not real life. I guess that’s what happened with Downton, but multiplied by 1002029438998374732641728642173678. If I had to pick a favourite TV show, I can easily say this comes out on top.

I never thought that I would get so emotionally attached to a British, period piece soap opera. This show is so well cast and so well written that I cannot even begin to explain it. I have so much love for this show, and I cannot get it through my head that it’s just a TV show. It’s so easy to get completely swept away by the world of Downton, and clearly I did.

The third season of this show just ended, and here in Canada we won’t get another season until NEXT JANUARY. That’s almost a year away. Plus, since the UK gets a new season this coming fall, it’s likely that spoilers and such will get leaked, so I’m going to try my best to stay far far away from any spoilers. Unfortunately, I read spoilers on Twitter for two MAJOR events in season 3 of this show, and I was so disappointed.

People: DO NOT POST SPOILERS ON TWITTER. Even if your Tweet isn’t an obvious spoiler, it may still give a big hint as to what’s coming. That’s what happened to me, and I REGRET IT.

But nevertheless, this show has given me all the feels, and every episode was even more brilliant than the last. I seriously cannot express how much I love Downton Abbey. You know those books you read where they tear you up so much inside that once you put them down you just crawl around the house and feel like nothing good will ever happen again because that book is over and it was so momentous? That is how I felt after practically ever episode of Downton Abbey.

I made a custom Downton background for my Mac and now I basically cry every time I turn on my computer.

Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 11.54.50 AM

My favourite character: ALL OF THEM ALL OF THEM ALL OF THEM. But seriously now… ALL OF THEM. Mary, Edith, Sybil, Branson, MATTHEW CRAWLEY. And downstairs: Anna, Bates, O’Brien, Mrs. Patmore, Thomas, Carson, Mrs. Hughes – the list never ends. Of course we can’t forget the marvelous Granny, played by Maggie Smith (McGonagall!!).

Biggest freakout of this show (spoiler, highlight below to see)…

1. When Matthew proposed to Mary. We knew it would happen eventually (they kiss and then Lavinia dies? I can already hear the marriage bells!), but I was totally not expecting it in that Christmas episode, and it was so amazing 🙂

2. When Sybil dies. This was one of the events spoiled for me by Twitter, but I still sobbed uncontrollably. Watching her die, you just knew that you were losing one of the sweetest, kindest, best characters on that show. When Downton started she was just 16, and she grew so much but she was still so young. What made it even worse for me was that, knowing the outcome, I was so frustrated with Lord Grantham for not listening to Dr. Clarkson! Sybil could have lived, but Grantham was so damn high and mighty that he only listened to the fancy doctor.

3. When Matthew Crawley dies (the second death Twitter spoiled for me). This was brutal. BRUTAL. The complete contrast of switching between Mary lying in bed with their newborn son to Matthew lying on the ground, blood slowly dripping down his face, was absolutely horrendous and heart wrenching but just SO WELL DONE. And Mary’s telling the nurse to tell Matthew to let the others have a chance to see the baby because he’s already had his chance but MARY HE’S DEAD. HE’S DEAD AND SHE WON’T KNOW UNTIL NEXT JANUARY. It kills me.

Well, that’s it. I think my keyboard is damaged from me slamming on it so hard, and my caps lock button will probably never recover from the beating it just got. But it was worth it, because I have needed to say all those things about all those shows for so long now, so thank you for listening to me ramble and scream (virtually).

I would love love love to hear what shows you guys are addicted to, and I would love your recommendations for more shows I should watch!

But remember: please keep the comments spoiler free!

On Re-Reading: Anna and the French Kiss

So, one of my goals for this year was to re-read more books. I decided to start early with a reread of Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

Anna and the French Kiss
When I first read this book, back in 2011, I was completely enamored with it. I actually slept with it under my pillow. I was a bit obsessed, let’s just say that. So rereading this book about 2 years later, you can imagine that I was expecting great things. And this book definitely delivered. Again. Ettiene St. Clair was just as amazing and Anna is still someone I’d love to be best friends with. Paris was described just beautifully, and it was impossible for me to put this book down. But, I did notice some things that I didn’t see last time. Perhaps this time I read with more open eyes, because I was already familiar with all the characters and I had more opportunity to catch closer details that I missed the first time round. For example, St. Clair is short. I still love him, no question, but reading it this time I realized that his height is mentioned a lot, and he’s shorter than Anna.
Also, this was mentioned a whole bunch when the book first came out, but I just brushed it aside because I was so in love with this novel. See, Anna’s kind of a flawed character. She makes some pretty crappy decisions and is, at many times in the book, not a great friend. Some people even say she’s a boyfriend stealer. And while I wouldn’t go to that extreme, because she never actually steals someone’s boyfriend in that sense, she does act selfishly at times.
So yeah, I definitely saw things in this book that I didn’t notice the first time around, but I’m okay with that. It was different from reading it the first time because although I was still swept up in the story, I wasn’t completely taken back. I would like to blame it on the fact that I already knew what was going to happen, so the surprise factor was gone, because I still love this book. I love the story and the writing and the characters, and it’s one of my favourite contemporary books. I’m just a little disappointed that I didn’t LOVE LOVE LOVE it like I did the first time around, but I guess I can’t really expect that when it’s been two years and I’ve read so many books since then.
All in all, I’m glad I reread the book. It gave me a new perspective on it, and I can easily say that although I wasn’t as blown away as the first time around, I still love this book. It’s quickly becoming one of my comforting rereads. And rereading it was so fun that I just want to reread all my favourite books now!

ARCs: What’s All the Fuss About?

Advanced Readers Copies, or ARCs as they are more commonly known, are a big deal in the book blogging world. What is an ARC? ARCs are bound uncorrected versions of books that are created before the book’s release date in the hopes of gaining publicity for the book.

Who gets to read ARCs? ARCs are shared with different people in the book world – and this does not mean just book bloggers. Librarians, professional reviewers (for newspapers, magazines, etc.), and many others are in need of ARCs, not just book bloggers. While book bloggers are a huge part of the book world, we are not the reason ARCs are created.

If you’re new to this whole blogging thing, you might be wondering how one can go about receiving ARCs. Well, there are a whole bundle of ways.

ARC Programs
There are a lot of really good programs out there that you can receive ARCs from. This is a really good idea, especially for new bloggers, because a lot of the time it also means you have to network a bit, and post more on your blog.
Here’s a short list of programs that get ARCs out to readers/bloggers:

  • Goodreads: First Reads – Giveaways are listed by publishers/authors, and members can enter to win. If you do win, it’s best to review the book in a timely manner on Goodreads (and make sure you fill out the form on the website saying you’ve read/reviewed it) so that you are more likely to receive ARCs in the future.
  • Library Thing: Early Reviewers
  • Shelf Awareness – Sign up to their daily newsletter, and look for ads in the newsletter about ARCs needing reviewers!
  • Netgalley – Netgalley is a widely loved tool in the book blogging world. Fill out a profile with all of your blogging info/stats/etc. and request different E-ARCs. The publishers will review your profile, and you will get an email saying if you have been accepted to review the book or not.
  • Early Birds ARC Review – This is a group in conjunction with Hachette Book Group that offers ARCs for review
  • Simon & Schuster Galley Grab
In addition to those, there are many other different places to win/receive ARCs. Presenting Lenore has compiled a thorough list if you want to check out some more.

From the Publisher
Maybe you see some bloggers receiving ARCs from the publisher or author. Maybe you wonder how they made those connections?
Well here’s the deal: Publishers can’t read your mind. They can’t magically know your address and ship off a bunch of ARCs to you. The best way to go about getting ARCs from publishers is to ask them in an email.
But, you have to remember a few things:

  • If you have only been blogging for a very short amount of time and have little to no stats, this is not the time to be emailing publishers and requesting ARCs. Yes, it can be exciting to be a part of this awesome book blogging community, and you’re probably really wishing for an ARC, but be patient. You don’t want to come off as if you only started blogging to get free books (which is something that is not appreciated in the blogosphere). Let your blog grow before you request anything. I personally started getting attention from publishers when I had about 700 GFC followers. I’ve been blogging consistently for a year and a half, and I spend A LOT of time on this blog. Do I consider myself to be well established? Not in the least. I am constantly finding ways to improve my blog, gain readership, and find a place for myself in the blogging community. I’m lucky if I get 1-2 ARCs a week, and it took me a long time and a lot of work to get to this point. My message: work hard, be patient and friendly, and it will pay off.
  • Publishers are busy. If a publisher doesn’t get back to you quickly, don’t panic. Also, don’t continue to email them and harass them about your request. If you don’t hear back and you don’t receive anything, chances are your request has been declined. Maybe this is because you do not have enough stats or because your email was unprofessional. Let some time pass. When your blog becomes more established and you think you are ready, try emailing them again.
  • Be professional! I cannot repeat this enough. Literary Exploration has a really great post on what to include in a request and how to be professional.  In your request, include your name, blog URL, various stats from your blog, links to your Goodreads/Shelfari/similar site profile if you have one, the book you want (author, title, ISBN), a quick note on why you are interested in reviewing that book, and your address.
  • Only request books you want to read and review! If a publisher accepts your request and sends a book your way, it is your responsibility to read and review it (most likely within a timeline). Think hard before you request any books, because you will be tied to them if you get accepted.
How can you contact a publisher about review copies? This is a list I have found immensely helpful. It has emails for the publicity department of different publishing houses. Please, never ask another blogger for their personal contacts at a publishing house. That’s confidential. Use the main link for the publisher and go from there.
ARC Tours
There are a lot of different ARC tour sites! Here are just a couple to get you started. Smitten With Books has a post with a longer list.
Around The World ARC Tours (United States only)
International Book Tours (International)
Other Important Things To Remember
  • ARCs are not free. In fact, they cost the publisher more to make because they are printing so few of them, and get no monetary compensation because no one buys them.
  • Don’t get mad at other people if they have more ARCs than you. Sure, I complain on Twitter sometimes about weeks when I don’t get anything in the mail, but I would never dream of telling a blogger they “hog ARCs” or some such ridiculous statement.
  • Make sure you have a detailed and informative review policy.
  • Keep track of your stats so you have accurate information to give publishers. I use Google Analytics because they are very precise and fairly easy to use.

So, what’s all the fuss about ARCs? I know I find myself getting jealous from time to time when I see another blogger with an ARC that I wish I had. But in the end, are ARCs really a measure of your status as a blogger? I have to say no. Personally, I value a friendly blogger with good content over a blogger that gets lots of ARCs.

Like I said, I don’t consider myself to be the know-all on ARCs. These are just a few tips I’ve learned while blogging. Tons of bloggers have excellent posts on this subject, so here’s a list of other posts you can check out and get advice from:
Presenting Lenore: New Book Blogger FAQ
The Story Siren: Advanced Readers Copies – What You Need To Know
Peachtree Publishers: Yes, We Do Read Your Review Policies
Alexandra Bracken: Dearest Book Blogger
Bookalicio.us: Why Aren’t Publishers Getting Back to Me?

If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave a comment! Or you can email me (chloe.yabookloverblog(at)gmail(dot)com) or ask me a question on Formspring. I hope to post more informative posts for bloggers in the future, so if you have a suggestion or a topic you would like addressed, tell me!