Why Is Cancel Culture Within The Bookish Community Toxic – A Discussion

Hi. You can tell from the title of this post what I’ll be talking about today. I wanna preface this post by saying that the opinions I am stating on here are my own – I am not claiming I am right – but this is what I think and how I feel about the current situation. I am willing to discuss this issue further in the comments, and I welcome people to disagree with me in a respectful manner, as what I am writing on here is not aimed to harm anyone and I will not welcome any harm directed back at me. I have a voice and I will use it in a way I see fit, as long as I am not harming others by it.

We all know what this is about – the absolute shit storm concerning Emily A. Duncan and Jay Kristoff. In the light of the current stop AAPI hate movement, and an ongoing BLM movement that has gotten a lot of traction last summer, both authors were called out as racist and bullies, for different reasons. I am not basing this post off those two and their behaviour, on anyone else who is involved in the conversation and controversy, and I am definitely not here to make excuses for anyone. If you expect a post shit talking an author and pointing out every single thing they did and said wrong, move along. I am here to talk about the fallout after these things were mentioned, and how we handle it as a bookish community, and why I think that’s wrong.

I don’t know a single person who has never in their life been disrespectful, racist, dismissive or oppressive in any shape or form. Whether we did things intentionally and meant it in a malicious way, or said things due to miseducation or simply ignorance, we have definitely done things that harmed others in some capacity. There is always room to improve, always a stance we can educate ourselves on, especially those who are not part of a minority. Yes, I am a white, straight passing female – I was born into a life where I didn’t have to worry about being oppressed, because of my race, religion or culture. My opinions on this issue may not be the most valid as I don’t have the authority to speak on things that don’t concern me personally. However, I can do my part in spreading awareness, and try to reach people who already listen to what I want to say and maybe change their opinions. Doing that is great and I think everyone with a platform should speak up on issues concerning racism, sexism, bullying and many other.

Where is this going, then, you ask? I have been noticing every single time someone calls out a famous author, many other people jump on that hate train without doing any research themselves and without educating themselves on the matter. It’s not enough to repost Instagram or Twitter posts, bashing said author and telling people to stop reading their work and promoting it, if you yourself don’t look deep into the issue and make sure that you really understand what’s going on. I have seen so many stories, linking to an Instagram post, basically captioning it – I don’t know the whole story, BUT read this post to educate yourself. I know, I know… it’s not their JOB to tell me, the follower, what is happening and why it’s bad, but if they really felt strongly about the matter, they would do EVERYTHING to reach the people who might still be ignorant, and not just repost an info graphic etc. That is not doing the work. That is false accountability just to not be called out. It creates a vacuum of people repeating the same things without really understanding them. People who tell you to educate yourself half the time forget to do the same. Those people then take the time out of their day to, for a lack of a better word, harass others because they post or read books by certain authors.

Do you see where I’m going with this? The time and efforts are completely misplaced. Instead of going onto someone’s post to shit talk them for posting about a book they’ve enjoyed, how about you make sure that you post alternatives to said books on your platform. Uplift marginalised voices ALWAYS, instead of posting a story saying “I can’t believe X amount of people I follow STILL follow that author and didn’t delete photos of their books off their feed”. Being bitter achieves nothing.

This is what cancel culture does, in a nutshell. It’s okay to call out an author who appropriates cultures that are not their own. It’s okay to take a stance and say it’s not a voice that should be uplifted. But there’s a fine line between appropriation and inspiration. Jay Kristoff can’t write about anything Japanese inspired, because he’s not Japanese, and a white male, but Sarah J. Maas can base her world on the UK and Ireland and make the Irish the evil fairies? Is it okay for Kiersten White to write about genderbent Vlad the Impaler, or for Leigh Bardugo to base her world of the Russian Empire? If the answer is no to any of these, then why are those books still insanely popular, and those authors reaching the bestsellers list with any new books they come out with? Why are bookstagrammers, book bloggers and booktubers those who suffer the most in the fallout? For such a small community, we should be uplifting others, instead of bringing them down. We should be making sure that our voices are heard by the authors doing wrong things and their teams and their publishers. And we should let those authors apologise and give time to do better. And lastly… we need to respect people’s boundaries. No, not everyone has the privilege to be comfortable at all times, and there are situations in which we need to step out of that comfort zone to have important conversations. But it’s no one’s right to impose on other’s comfort zone, as in can do more harm than good.

This post is really long, and I’m not sure if in the end I made myself clear. The subject is very broad, and this is just one side of it. And anyone who knows me knows I get rambly all the time. It’s probably not good enough for many as I haven’t called out authors on anything, but, like I said I am not the authority on the issues and no one needs another white person getting outraged on the Internet.

If you’ve read up to this point – thank you. I’d love to know your thoughts, if you’re willing to share them in the comments.

Talk soon.

The Darkest Bloom by P.M. Freestone – A “Review” aka why I hate YA fantasy

Hi! I was meant to post a review today and I started writing one for The Darkest Bloom – a book I finished recently. But apparently I was feeling quite ranty instead. Big disclaimer! I don’t actually hate YA fantasy, don’t come for me, please, I’m just being overly dramatic. Okay, now that everything is cleared up…

The Darkest Bloom by P.M. Freestone
  • Publication date: February 7th 2019
  • Publisher: Scholastic
  • Genre: Fantasy

In the empire of Aramtesh, scent has power.

When disaster strikes and the crown prince lies poisoned, long suppressed rivalries threaten to blow the empire apart. It’s up to a poor village girl with a talent for fragrances and the prince’s loyal bodyguard to find an antidote.

To succeed, the pair must uncover secrets – cryptic, ancient tales as well as buried truths from their own pasts – in an adventure that will ignite your senses. 

I am tired of reading the same YA fantasy over and over again. I thought this book would be different considering I thought it had a magic system based on different scents, but alas…

The scent based magic would be a great and fresh idea, if that’s what the author decided to do. But the problem here is… there isn’t much magic in it at all. Think of the Rebel of the Sands, except while that book was low on magic, it gave us heaps and heaps of world building and really introduced us to the characters.

The Darkest Bloom failed to do either. The first line of the synopsis mentions an empire and I think it gave me grand ideas. After finishing the book I can’t tell you a single thing about said empire and I am quite a careful reader. The only politics we get are the precious little that concerns our crown prince. The world building beyond the fact that “scent has power” is nonexistent. We’re thrown into a story with little to no explanation of why things that are happening are important, and we’re given nothing to care about. Maybe after spending time writing about these characters, the author got so familiar with them, they forgot we weren’t and we wouldn’t care if a prince we’ve met for 3 seconds was poisoned.

There is a formula in YA fantasy and many of the recent books I’ve read in the genre follow it.

There is a world A which has all these things that make it unique and interesting, but instead of developing it and delving into it, the author decided to just name drop them and never explain the significance and meaning of them. Enter mentioned “long suppressed rivalries”.

There’s a character B, that has a personal mission they absolutely have to embark on and they’re really good at (insert a skill here), but because of that, they get roped into helping someone else with an issue that’s so much bigger. Enter the second character C. They’re not someone character B wants to work with or trust, but they have to make do. Add some magic-non-magic into the equation – lucky dip, really, anything that has not been used in a different book recently, in this case scent. Sounds cool, right? But I still don’t know how scent is in any way magical in this world. Add a bare minimum to the story to tie in that element, and to make it sound like it’s part of the world, change some common sayings to mention said not-magic-system (this being one of my absolute biggest pet peeves EVER). Oh, and have character B and C fall in love in the end, or almost fall in love. Ta-daaa! There you have it – that’s Shadowscent and many more current YA fantasies.

Needless to say…

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This might not be the greatest review OR discussion post, but I had to get it off my chest.

Please recommend me some good YA fantasies in the comments, I’m begging you.

Until next time.

Should Reviewers Charge For Their Reviews – A Discussion

Hi! It’s been a while since I’ve come on here to ramble, rather than review books or tell you about what I read or plan on reading. I think of myself as a very opinionated person, so these discussion posts are very fun to write, so let’s just get into this. As you can tell from the title, we’re talking about paid reviews!

Sometime last week I’ve seen an Instagram story from a person telling book reviewers who charge for reviews they “should be ashamed!” and it didn’t sit right with me at all. There are many reasons as to why one should or shouldn’t charge for reviews, and I think there’s a lot more to consider here before labeling these bloggers and reviewers greedy and ungrateful.

The argument against charging for reviews mentioned things like, authors don’t get paid enough for their work as it is, and it’s not right to on top of receiving a free copy of their book, to also charge them for it. The person who posted said story/post said a free copy of a book should be payment enough; that we, as readers, enjoy books and it’s our hobby rather than a paid gig, so we shouldn’t expect to get paid for our opinions. And in most cases, sure, I agree that someone who reads and reviews for fun only shouldn’t get paid for the reviews. But there is a difference between people like me, who have a small reach – probably less than 2k people following on Instagram and here, altogether – and people with a successful accounts on either platform (or both, and YouTube!), with 20k plus follows, lots of engagement and therefore influence.

While it’s not true in all of those cases, most of these people take book blogging seriously – they post multiple times a day, their pictures are immaculate, they go live or update their stories daily AND still review the books they get. They’ve built up their following through hard work, and they write coherent, detailed reviews of each and every book they read. Yes, they love reading, and they probably receive lots of books for free, most times unsolicited, too. It’s apparent especially in the BookTube world, that those bloggers do not ask for all of these books, and most of them don’t even get featured on their channel, but reading review copies means the blogger has less time to spend on reading what they want and enjoy. Reading a book takes time. Reading critically and trying to digest a book to then write about it in detail takes even more time. While treating blogging as a full time job, I think those people deserve to get paid for their time.

Of course, there’s doubt when it comes to paid reviews. Are they honest, or did the blogger only rate it 5 stars because they got paid to do so? I think there’s always doubt, even with NetGalley reviews. You never know if the person is being honest, but in the end, I think the quality of the review can tell you whether the reader enjoyed it. If you thought a book was meh, it’d be hard to praise it for paragraphs and paragraphs on end.

In the end, our Bookstagram accounts, or blogs, or Booktube channels are perfect for advertising. In the past week I’ve had my picture being shared on a different Instagram account to promote a book, which post then got reposted AGAIN by the author. And although they’ve both sort of credited me, no one asked me if it’s okay to repost that photo in the first place. No, I don’t want to be paid for it, but asking permission would be nice, especially since it wasn’t a shoutout kind of a post, I was just tagged at the bottom of it with no indication what for. The photo was screenshotted and zoomed in and lost all of its quality, too, which is a shame. These photos and posts are free advertising. People in marketing get paid to source these free things. So why should we, the people who actually do the work, not get paid? It doesn’t make any sense. I’ve put effort into something, and if the publisher thinks it’s good enough for them to repost and use it in their advertising campaign, then it’s good enough to be paid for.

That being said, I am very against book bloggers approaching self published authors asking if they would like their book reviewed, and then demand to get paid for it. But I’m also against authors reaching out to bloggers regardless what their review policy is, spamming them with messages to review their book. I’ve been approached a few times with a link to their book on Amazon, saying that they think it’s something I’d enjoy and they want me to review it and it’s only 1.99 on Kindle so I should also pay for it. Now, that’s something to be ashamed about.

That concludes my little ramble about book reviewers and whether or not they should get paid for their work. I think in a lot of cases, it’s up to the publisher to if they want to invest in that kind of advertisement, or waste money on sending out review and finished copies to people who are unlikely to read them. I definitely think getting paid for reviews in not an outrageous idea, especially for people who spend a lot of time reading and reviewing books full time. I don’t think those reviewers should be shamed. I’d never dream of charging for reviews myself because I don’t think I have that kind of influence over my followers and it wouldn’t seem fair, as I definitely blog in my spare time only and have not made the commitment to do it full time. But there are people out there who deserve to be paid.

What do you think? Do you think all book reviewers should treat it as a hobby and accept a free copy of a book as a “payment”? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on this matter.

If you’ve read through all this and are still here – thank you!

Talk soon, and until then please take care and stay safe.

2020 Reading Stats

Hi, everyone.

It’s been a while. I tend to say it in every post, but it really HAS been a while. The last months of the year have been a big struggle in every aspect of life, though I’m sure I’m not the only person who experienced that, and I got way too overwhelmed to read and post.

This might not be a post for everyone. We’ll be looking at all my reading stats from last year. At the end of 2019 I also posted all my favourites, least favourites, most surprising and disappointing books, but since we’re already 11 days into the new year, I will include some of the info here instead of posting separately.

Okay, let’s get to it!

In 2020 I’ve read… 92 books. It’s the most I’ve read in a single year probably ever. I’ve been a reader most of my life, but I’ve also been a library user until I got a job and was able to afford books – so, my choices were fewer.

Here’s a look at the stats in my bullet journal.

The total number of pages I read is 35 692! That includes the 7 DNFs from the year, most of which I gave until around 40% in before I put them down.

I have read 27 physical books, 30 audio books and 35 ebooks. Out of those 35 ebooks 12 were ARCs. I also DNFed 2 ARCs and read 2 physical review copies. My reading slowed down in October, as you can see, and the only thing that saved me were audio books. Anyone who says audio books don’t count as reading… you’re wrong!

My most read genre was unsurprisingly fantasy. It accounted for 47% of all the books I read. Other genres I read multiple books of were sci-fi, contemporary, mystery and horror. I even managed 3 non-fiction, which is usually not my genre of choice. A discovery I made this year that surprised me is that I like horror books. I am not a horror movie fan, but the few books I read in the genre I really enjoyed!

As for star ratings – my overall rating for the year is 3.78 stars, which is quite high in my opinion. Although the numbers don’t reflect this I feel like from September onwards I wasn’t reading many books I really enjoyed, and it’s probably because I felt very slumpish and unmotivated. In reality, all my favourite, least favourite, most surprising and disappointing books were mixed evenly throughout the year.

Favourites

Least Favourite

Most Surprising

Most Disappointing

Now, that last one definitely has some controversial titles.

To wrap it all up before I head away – I’ve had a really good year number wise, fairly good year rating wise, although quite a disappointing one when it comes to some big books I was very excited to read. Here’s to doing better in 2021!

How many books have you read in 2020? Did you have a good reading year? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

Highest rated books I’ve read

Hi! Happy Easter.

I’ve seen people a few people talk about the highest rated books on Goodreads that they’ve read, so I decided to do my own post about it. Ground rules before I get into it – if the same series pops up in the top 10, I’ll only count one book from it, as it can get pretty repetitive. Okay, let’s go.

My top 10 highest rated books on Goodreads:

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Number one on the list, with a star rating of 4.79 is the first book in the Stormlight Archive series (though, part 2 of it) by Brandon Sanderson. Am I surprised? Not really. Actually, the whole top 5 is various books from that series, which is INSANE but also understandable. As you probably already know, I love Sanderson and his writing, and so I think this is a well deserved first spot.

My rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

In second place, with a 4.6 star rating, we have Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. The Six of Crows duology is one of my absolute favourites, it has everything I love in fantasy and I’m not at all surprised it’s rated so high. It’s such a beloved series.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Clockwork Princess, the final book in The Infernal Devices trilogy, ranks at number 3 with a 4.58 star rating. I can honestly say The Infernal Devices is Clare’s best series (I thought maybe The Dark Artifices would beat it, but Queen of Air and Darkness ruined EVERYTHING) and I remember absolutely loving all the books in it. Though I’m not too clear on the details, I’m pretty sure I cried my eyes out reading this one.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I don’t think anyone is surprised that there’s a Harry Potter book on this list. Half-Blood Prince comes in at number 4 with a 4.57 star rating. Coincidentally, I think it’s actually my favourite Harry Potter book – it gives so much insight into the magical world and Voldemort’s life, while still keeping the school setting, which I adore. Not at all surprised it’s been rated this high.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

Number five belongs to Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff – rated 4.56 stars. I’ve had some issues with the pacing of this one, and found it hard to get into the story at the very beginning. I also skipped over the smutty bits and I stopped reading the footnotes altogether. Nevernight is a well known and loved fantasy series and I get why, as it’s really well crafted. Some things in it work for me more than others, but overall I did enjoy this book.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Maus by Art Spiegelman

At number six and 4.55 star rating is Maus, a graphic novel. I read it back in 2015 and I didn’t love it as much as other people did. Maybe it was the mix of the format, the fact it is nonfiction and historical as well (though I used to enjoy historical books back then), but it just didn’t work for me.

My rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Number seven shouldn’t surprise anyone. I read The Name of the Wind this year and really enjoyed it. It’s one of those books everyone loves, so I’m not surprised it’s rated 4.54 stars. It’s not quite my favourite fantasy, but it’s a great book and I think it deserves the spot on the list.

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I couldn’t be more excited this series made it onto the list! Obsidio ranked at number eight, with a star rating of 4.54, but in my heart it deserves a whole universe of stars. The Illuminae Files is one of my favourite series in the world. Thinking about it now… I might reread it soon.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The only contemporary on this list lands at number nine with a 4.51 star rating. I think it’s one of those books everyone should read. It explores a lot of important subjects and is a very poignant story. I loved it and I’m glad many people did, too.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Last, but not least, we have Lord of Shadows. Cassandra Clare managed to land another book on the list. It has a rating of 4.5 stars and I agree wholeheartedly. I loved this book, hence why I mentioned I thought this series had the potential to be better than the Infernal Devices. Clare’s writing improved in this one so much, the story was so complex and the ending killed me. Sadly, what followed was just a steaming pile of garbage.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As you can see, this list is 80% fantasy. It really reflects on my reading habits. It turns out I’ve mostly popular opinions on popular books.

I won’t ask if you’ve read any of these, because chances are you have, but do you agree with the ratings? Or did you rate these books lower? Let me know down below.

Thanks for reading.

How I rate books – A Discussion

Hey, lovelies! I’m back to talk about my rating system and discuss how I come up with the ratings I give. I’ve been struggling recently with rating some books, especially those in the 4/5 star bracket, so I decided to rethink my whole system and I came up with one conclusion only – I started being ruthlessly strict and it’s damn hard to impress me.

Let’s start with 1 star and work our way up, shall we? (oh my god, I just discovered the possibility of marking a half star on the little rating below and I’m freaking out!)

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I give those out very rarely. The book needs to be painfully bad, but have something in it to fuel my anger, so I actually finish it, and not chuck it into my slowly growing DNF pile – at least in the recent years. I love ranting, and 1 star rating is reserved for books that made me rant an ungodly amount. Currently I have 5 books on my Goodreads which I rated 1 star, and some of them are more of a 1.5 star.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Eragon and Throne of Glass belong in this category – books I thought were terrible and atrocious but had 1 tiny thing that had a potential to be good. I honestly don’t remember what it was for Eragon, as I have vague and bad memories when it comes to that book, but Throne of Glass had and ending that wouldn’t be half bad if the whole book before that didn’t suck, so I raised the rating a bit. I don’t know if you see the point I’m trying to make, so let’s just move on.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

This category is much more populated. A 2 star book is a book that I liked the plot of, or the characters, and on the whole it could be a good story, but every other aspect fell a bit flat. It could also be the fact that it was an absolute snoozefest, even though the world building was quite good and the characters didn’t annoy the shit out of me. 2 star books don’t usually make me rage (with the exception of Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare), but if you asked me if I enjoyed them I would most definitely say no.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

2.5 stars books are very nearly passable, yet they’re not. They have a potential and it’s quite sizable, but they don’t quite reach it. In case of those books, there’s more than one thing I like about them but those aren’t enough for me to say I enjoyed the book. 2.5 stars are the most disappointing books, they’re the ones I COULD like, if done a bit differently.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

We have reached the “middle of the road” rating. Books I rate 3 stars are those I like just fine, but they have nothing that sets them apart. They’re not bad, but also not great and the most eloquent word I can think of to describe them right now is “meh” (I have a great vocabulary, y’all). If the first book in a series is a 3 star book, I will give other books a try, if I ever come across them. I also pull a lot of recommendations from this little section – more often than not, the books in this category have an element that doesn’t work for me but might work for others.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

3.5 star books are ones I genuinely like and that are slightly above average. They’re not quite great, but the good outweigh the bad, big time. A lot of these are books I fly through, but have no profound thoughts about after finishing them. They’re the hardest to review, because they’re ones I enjoy but not have much to say about – they don’t have elements I can give constructive criticism on, as they’re just enjoyable and fun.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I rate A LOT of books 4 stars. They’re books I really like, the ones I praise quite often. They have minor things that make the reading experience lack a certain something, it might be a pacing issue, or one character that is a pain to read from or about; or it can be the writing. Whatever it is, those books sit super close to my favouite books of all time and I rave about them a lot.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Similarly to the 4 star books, 4.5 star books are ones I really, really, REALLY like. Some I even love and make it to my favourites list. They’re smart and they keep me invested to the very last page. I get attached to the characters so much, I might briefly mistake them for real people (yes, I’m THAT person). Why aren’t they 5 star, so? That’s the catch! Compared to books I would literally carve my heart out for, they don’t quite get there. It’s not due to anything specific anymore – it’s not the writing, it’s not the characters, it’s not the plot – it’s more of a feeling.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 star reads are my absolute favourite. They are perfection. They are the most precious things ever. They’re the books that make me speechless when I turn the last page. Worlds I love with all my heart. Characters that feel like family. There’s nothing more to say here.

That is all I have for you today. How do you rate your books? Do you use the 5 star rating system, or maybe something different? Let me know down in the comments, I’d love to know.

Until the next time!

Best Books of 2019

Hi! We’ve finally reached the last wrap up post of my 2019 reading year and it’s the best one. My favourite books of 2019! I’m excited for this one. I feel like I’ve had a poor year rating wise – I didn’t read as many books as I usually do that I absolutely LOVED, but there’s been a good few that deserve the mention. Let’s get into them.

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

She’s done it again! Many might’ve not believed she could, I mean, it’s hard to imagine a book blowing up more than THUG, but On The Come Up is just as powerful, meaningful, important novel. I loved the family dynamic in this one, I loved Bri as a main character, I basically loved everything about this book. Angie Thomas is definitely one of those authors I’ll read everything from, no matter what she comes out with next.

Full review here.

The Dire King by William Ritter

This was truly a stellar ending to a great series. If you haven’t read Jackaby yet and you enjoy fun, paranormal mysteries (that’s overly specific – I realise) you should definitely pick it up. It’s basically Sherlock Holmes with paranormal creatures. I won’t say much more, because it is the conclusion to the series, but the last page killed me.

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Another continuation to the series on the list (you can see I tried to focus on finishing series I’ve started in the last couple of years in 2019), another book I can’t discuss without spoiling the plot. While I enjoyed the previous two, this one blew me away. The pacing really picked up, the characters got more fleshed out. There was so much at stake! I was floored by the ending and quite frankly I need more (don’t ask me why I still haven’t read the last book, then… I’m going to get to it. I will.)

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I know people have mixed feelings about this one, but honestly I loved it so, so much, it’s hard to describe. It was dark and atmospheric, the writing was glorious. I enjoyed the mystery, I enjoyed the world building, I enjoyed Alex as the main character. It was a badass book, and I want more. Leigh Bardugo is a queen, and she’s proven it once again.

King of Fools by Amanda Foody

UNDOUBTEDLY my favourite book of the year. I laughed, I cried, I bit my nails, I was stressed reading it. It’s 600 pages of pure greatness. If you liked Ace of Shades, you will love this. If you haven’t read Ace of Shades… what are you still doing here? Go and read it. Thank me later. It’s a really fresh series with a crazy interesting world building, casions, crime lords… The characters are great and loveable, yet very morally grey, you root for them, you get attached to them, you want them to succeed. I loved every second of it.

And that is it. All of my favourite books of the year. I would like to give an honour mention to One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence which almost made onto the list.

I’ll be back soon with more posts. I’m dying with a cold, so if any of what I wrote above doesn’t make sense, you know what to blame it on.

Thanks for reading!

Most Surprising Books of 2019

Hi! It’s been a while. Sorry, I was on holidays and even though I planned to draft and schedule posts to go up while I was away, that hasn’t happened. I know it’s a bit late for the 2019 wrap up posts, but bear with me.

Today’s list is my most surprising books of 2019, books that for some reason exceeded my expectations. In no particular order, here they are.

Scythe by Neal Schusterman

This book has been so hyped since it came out and so not to my taste (being a dystopian novel), I avoided it like the plague. I honestly don’t know why I gave in in the end and picked it up but I’m definitely glad I did. I loved the main characters and how different they were. I really enjoyed how morally ambiguous the scythdom, their rules and methods are. It was a really interesting read and a series I would love to continue with this year.

Perfectly Preventable Deaths by Deirdre Sullivan

I didn’t have great expectations starting this one. I didn’t see many people talk about this one, some reviews on Goodreads really made me feel like I might not enjoy it. I gave it a go because it was Halloween and I wanted a witchy, spooky story. Also, it’s by an Irish author and I would like to read more locally, so it was an easy choice. The book was honestly everything I wanted at the time. Extremely atmospheric and somehow familiar, with a very “spoken Irish” writing style. I wish it was a series, because I would love to read more about the characters, and it’s what made me dock a half star. Overall, as you already know, because it’s the sole reason for this post – it was a really delightful surprise.

IT by Stephen King

IT was my first Stephen King book and I’ve heard such mixed reviews on the story and the writing, and to be perfectly honest, Stephen King himself (by the way, what do you think about this current shitstorm feat. King tweeting about diversity?), I didn’t know what to expect. I loved the movies and that’s mostly the reason why I picked up the book and oh, boy, was it good? I skipped the infamous scene at the end of the book (if you know, you know), as by then I was enjoying it SO MUCH I didn’t want my experience ruined. It was creepy, funny, vulgar and even heartwarming at times. I don’t know what I expected going into it, but IT exceeded any expectations I could’ve had.

The Devil’s Apprentice by Kenneth B. Andersen

I’ve been part of the tour for this book, my first one ever, and I agreed to it without expecting too much. I mean, the book has been out for a long time and it didn’t explode the Internet. I know there are hidden gems out there and the popularity of the book should not reflect on how good/bad it is, but it definitely sets some sort of expectations. I won’t go into details here, because I have a full review on here somewhere (link, if you wanna read it), but it really took me by surprise how much I ended up enjoying it. It’s a fun, fast paced MG novel with a quirky setting. I wouldn’t have picked it up on my own so I’m really glad I got to read it through the tour I took part in.

Lumberjanes Vol.1 by Noelle Stevenson

I’m not big on graphic novels and I haven’t read many of them. But I got a free trial of Kindle Unlimited and it had that and a couple of other graphic novels on it for free, so I decided to try them out for myself. I loved Lumberjanes. I loved every single character. I loved their dynamic. I loved the humour in it. Everything about it was perfect and I’m definitely gonna continue with it when I get a chance. It’s a great palate cleanser in between longer books, I think.

And that would be it for my most surprising books of 2019. Have you read any of these?

I will be back tomorrow with my Best Books of 2019 post, so keep an eye out for that, if you’re interested. Thanks for reading.

Goodreads Awards – Just a popularity contest? – A Discussion

Hi! I’m back with another discussion post, although I’m a couple days late. So, let’s talk Goodreads Awards!

Before I get into the topic of the awards, I want to explain my relationship with Goodreads in general. I use the website and the app to track my reading and write reviews. I think in concept it’s a great way of finding out what your friends/people you follow are reading and get recommendations, know what’s popular nowadays and what’s coming out when. In practice, the website and app suck, but there is no alternative I know of being used on the same scale – so I roll with it.

Now – I think the awards are a great idea in concept, too. I love when my favourite books are recognised, and although there’s no price, I think authors feel very appreciated when they win the award. I think the rules should be stricter, though, as most of the times it’s not the best book, but the most popular book of the year winning.

I know I’m not the first person saying it, nor will I be the last, but in my opinion Goodreads Awards are just a popularity contest and it is painfully visible in the numbers. Take, for example, this year’s Fantasy winner – Ninth House. Don’t get me wrong – I’m over the moon Ninth House won, as it was my pick for the category, but when you look at the numbers, something just doesn’t add up… Over 53 thousand people voted for it, while only 22 thousand people rated it on Goodreads. That’s a huge difference in numbers and, quite frankly, it’s not very fair.

That being said… does it really matter? There is no prize for winning and it’s not a prestigious award. Having the book on your “read” shelf is not a requirement while voting (but if it was, people would find a way around it, anyway, and add the book as read for the duration of the competition, even if they haven’t read it), nominees have to have an above 3.5 average rating (which is quite low for “the best books of the year”) there are no real rules to it, and though, yes, people get angry when they think a book that should’ve won – didn’t, but the anger is short lived.

I’ve stopped taking the awards seriously a long time ago.

As for this year’s awards – only 2 of my picks ended up winning. I have voted for Ninth House and Daisy Jones and the Six. I’ve only voted in 6 categories (Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-fi, YA Fantasy, YA Fiction and Debut Novel), as I haven’t read any or any books deserving my votes in the remaining categories, though I know I also voted in MG, but apparently my vote didn’t cast.

What do you think about Goodreads Awards? Do you vote in them? Do you like them? Please share your thoughts down below.

I’ll be posting all about my favourite (and least favourite) books of the year in the next week or so!

Favourite Book Tropes – A Discussion

Hey! It’s been a while.

I’m back today with a follow up to my second most recent post of my least favourite tropes in books. I thought it’s time to be a bit more positive, so here are some of my favourite tropes ever. Enjoy! (Again, these are in no particular order).

  • The Chosen One

I know this trope has been done to death, but I’m just not over it yet. It works great in Middle Grade and YA adventure stories. It’s not very realistic, I’ll admit that, but it’s so entertaining and makes for a great story. It adds drama, it adds uncertainty. There’s always a sense of urgency when one person needs to save the world from evil. Love that shit.

  • Anti-hero

As much as I love the Chosen One trope, with the perfect hero who’s gonna save the world, I also love me some anti-heroes. Gimme a morally grey character, someone who doesn’t do the right thing, who’s selfish or has ulterior motives and I’ll eat it up. The Villains series by V.E. Schwab does it really well – pick it up if you haven’t (there’s superpowers involved, you WANT to read it).

  • A makeshift family

I love, love this trope! It’s when a group of characters who are unlikely to get along have to do something together and grow to love and care about each other like they’re family. It’s a popular trope, but one I love seeing. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is the PERFECT example.

  • Heists

I don’t know what it is about heists that has me literally shaking from excitement but I just love them. It’s one of my buzzwords – I see it, I pick up the book. Not all of the heists I’ve read worked for me (The Thief for example), but I don’t ever get discouraged. If the book has a heist in it – I’ll read it.

  • Kingdoms

This one is pretty broad. I love fantasy – it’s my favourite genre (as if that’s a surprise for anyone) and I LOVE fantasy worlds with kingdoms and politics and all that good stuff. Those are very common, thankfully for me. I especially love reading about Queens of any sort (something that blew up in YA a few years back). I don’t necessarily like historical fiction, but in a medieval fantasy setting (or what seems like it, with castles, royalty, court politics, intrigue, conflict and brewing war) it is PERFECT. I want to read them all.

And that would be all for my favourite tropes in books. Are any of those on your list? Or do you hate them?

I’ll be back soon with a monthly wrap up.

Thanks for reading!