Thoughts

Thoughts #63: I Am A Bad Blogger!

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I am officially a bad blogger.

Not only have I been really awful at keeping things updated and writing new posts, but I’ve also let my review copy pile get a little bit out of control. This has always been a problem – when I started blogging I went a bit crazy on Netgalley, and it was only at the end of last year (after four and a half years of blogging) that I reached the recommended 80% requested books reviewed.

Now it’s my physical review copy pile that’s the problem – I have about five books read and still waiting to be reviewed, and AT LEAST 20 other books waiting for me. I try to decline all review requests now because the guilt is really building up, but I still get a lot of unsolicited copies, and sometimes I just can’t pass up the chance when something amazing comes along, or I’m offered a book I’ve had my eye on for a while.

I think my main problem is that I am a mood reader. If I piled up the review copies and told myself that they were all I could read until I was done, I would either really start to resent those books and read veeeerrrry slowly, or do anything else but read. I need to pick and choose what I want to read in that moment. Maybe my best solution is to look at those books first, and if nothing takes my fancy at that point then choose from all the others.

How do you deal with a review copy backlog?

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Thoughts

Thoughts #62: An ARC Related Conundrum

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Recently, I received an unsolicited review copy from a publisher, that was the third book in a science fiction series. Whilst I have read the first book, I haven’t read the second.

This has happened a couple of times – I’ve been sent books that are halfway through a series, or I receive the first and then a later installment. And this got me thinking: what do my fellow reviewers do when they receive a book that’s part of a series, and they haven’t yet read the previous installments?

I’m a bit torn about this. Firstly, it was an unsolicited review copy, not one I’d asked for, so I don’t feel there’s as much pressure to review it. But I also really love this particular publisher, and appreciate the crazy amount of books they’ve sent me over the past (almost) five years. I suppose I would have a few options here:

  • do not read the book
  • offer the book to a fellow blogger who has read books one and two, so that they can provide the publicity I cannot
  • buy or borrow the second book in the series as soon as possible, so that I can catch up before reading the third
  • just read the third as it is and review it, but then chances are I won’t enjoy it as much as I’ll have missed out a whole chunk of the story
  • read the third book after reading a detailed plot synopsis of the second book – but I don’t like the idea of this because what if I have a chance to read the second book later on? And it kind of feels like cheating
  • keep the book, read the second if I can get round to it but do not rush or prioritise it, as it was an unsolicited review copy

To be honest, the last option feels like the best one for me. I’m already quite behind on reviewing books I requested (story of my life), so this doesn’t feel like a big priority. It still leaves me feeling a bit guilty though!

Have you ever been in this situation? What did you do, or what would you do in my shoes?

Thoughts

Thoughts #61: The State of the Blog

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Hello, lovely followers! I am sorry that I have abandoned you for so long. As you may now, in March I moved to a new city and began a new job. I have my own little flat (which I love!), really enjoy the job (working in university admissions), and I’m living in a gorgeous city.

And whilst I’ve read quite a bit, thanks to my commute and lunch break, I’ve not really been sharing my thoughts so much. Over the past year or so, my love and passion for book blogging has waned. If that wasn’t already obvious. And I know it’s the same story for many of you bloggers out there, in fact a lot of the bloggers I met when I first started blogging nearly six (!) years ago no longer seem to be around.

Now, this is not a ‘this is the end’ post. This is more of a ‘things are going to be a little slower around here’ post. I don’t like the thought of giving up on the blog; it’s a huge part of my identity (I feel like ‘book blogger’ is one of my big defining characteristics, and it’s actually also a pretty nice ice-breaker!) and I am way too proud of it to just give it up. But I put unnecessary pressure on myself to get things done, even when I don’t want to.

So it’s time for a change. If I want to post, I post. If I don’t feel like it for a few weeks, I won’t. Simple. I just wanted to let you know, as so many of you have been following me for nearly my entire journey, and I don’t want you to think I’ve just disappeared.

I’ll start off with catching up on reviews (five or six review copies read since March and not reviewed oops), and then move onto other posts when I feel like it. Maybe I could even start posting more about comparisons between The Lord of the Rings Online and Tolkien’s works, since I’ve starting playing it again – and we’re getting Mordor this summer. 😀

See you around, lovelies!

Are you also a fellow blogger who is struggling to stay motivated? What do you do in these situations?
Thoughts

Thoughts #60: Book Sources

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Recently I’ve been thinking about where all my books come from. According to my last count (last month, so it has most likely changed since then), I own 520 books (excluding e-books). And I normally get these in a variety of ways:

  • Gifted: of course my friends and family know I’m a bibliophile, so books are – or rather were – frequent birthday and Christmas presents. Now though, it’s a bit of a risk as chances are I might already have the book, so people are more likely to give me book tokens than actual books.
  • Brand new: I don’t tend to buy my books brand new unless I’m really treating myself, they’re part of a special offer that I just can’t resist (3 for £10 on paperbacks!), or I REALLY want the book and don’t think I’ll find it second-hand very easily.
  • Second hand: this is how I get most of my books. My local charity shops are excellent, my favourite selling books for as little as £0.50 each. I’m not bothered about buying second-hand – as long as the book isn’t falling apart. Why spend £8.99 on one book when I could buy 18 for that price second-hand??
  • ARCs and finished review copies: as a book blogger, I get sent books from publishers on a regular basis – some ARCs, some finished copies.

As I was so confident about how my book buying would break down, I wanted to look into my collection to see just how many books come under each of these categories – and here are the results:

What surprised me is that I own nearly the same amount of brand new books as second-hand ones – and I think this is entirely down to book blogging. I’m much more aware of new releases since starting this blog, and in a way I guess I feel more pressure to read them sooner rather than later, because of all the hype.

For such an avid book buyer, I’m also pretty good at getting rid of books, mostly due to available space. I happily send ARCs that I’ve read on to friends for them to enjoy, if I don’t think I will re-read the book, and donate back to the charity shop from which I get many of my books. I’m also more likely to donate second-hand books than new ones, which might be why my new book collection is larger than I thought it would be.

Where does your book collection come from? Do you tend to buy new books over second-hand, or vice versa?

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My Bookish New Year’s Resolutions 2017

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First of all, a big Happy New Year to my readers! Thank you to everyone for sticking around, whether you’ve been reading my blog since it started, or have just joined us. As has become a bit of a tradition in the New Year, I like to start by sharing my bookish New Year’s Resolutions on the blog – so here they are for 2017.

  • 2017 will be the year that I finally conquer Netgalley! In 2016, I vowed that I’d get my rating to 80%. It’s currently at 81%. I need to read 36 more books – or at least be honest whether or not I am going to read them – to reach 100%. After that, I will feel happy using Netgalley again, but right now I don’t feel I can request anything from there, and haven’t in about a year.
  • Make more use of my local library system. As I started doing towards the end of 2016. Even if my local library doesn’t have much, I can order books in from around the county and pick them up from down the road, which is really handy.
  • But also read from my own shelves. At my last count, I owned 190 unread books, many of which I was desperate to read at time of purchase, yet still haven’t touched. Oops.
  • Write more reviews. I think part of my problem with reviews is that I’ve only been reviewing review copies – so I have this association with deadlines, time pressure etc. I have occasionally reviewed books when I’ve really wanted to express how they’ve made me feel, but not that often. So from now on, I’m trying to review books that make me feel strongly – whether positive or negative – no matter where they’ve come from.
  • Continue to be decisive about which books I accept for review. Maybe a contrast to the above point – but I don’t want to read and review everything. I simply don’t have time, especially when there’s so much out there that appeals to me. Over the past year I’ve become more and more confident about turning down books for review that just don’t appeal to me, or if I’m just not feeling in the mood, or if I’m feeling a little pressured. My blog, my time, my decision.
  • Bring Fantasy Friday back! I miss that feature.
  • Become more active within the blogosphere again. I think I probably say this every year, but I used to be so good at commenting on other people’s blogs. Now, not so much. I’d like to be able to do that again.

Do you have any resolutions for 2017, whether bookish or non-bookish? 🙂

Thoughts

Thoughts #56: What Do You Do With Your ARCs?

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This is something I was thinking about recently, and also probably something that has caused a little bit of a stir in the book blogging community, because not everyone agrees on what the current thing to do is. So, here is the big question:

When you have finished reading an Advanced Review Copy of a book, what do you do with it?

For me, it really depends on the situation, including what I thought of the book, what it means to me, if I think I will re-read it and (sometimes) how pretty the cover is. Mmm, pretty books, my favourite.

  • If I enjoyed the book a lot, then chances are I will keep the book, especially if it has a gorgeous cover.
  • If I liked the book, then I might keep it, depending on shelf space, or I might pass it on to a friend who I think would enjoy it.
  • If I disliked the book, then I’ll most likely get rid of it after reading – either donated to charity or sent to a friend who I think would enjoy it.
  • Occasionally, if there’s a book I’ve really enjoyed but don’t see myself re-reading, I’ll send it to one of several friends (including Claire from Bitches With Books).

I would never, ever sell an ARC. It seems wrong. I will happily trade them for other books, send them to friends or donate them to charity for others to read – but I’ll never sell them. Publishers have entrusted me with these books, and I don’t want to profit off that.

What do you think? What do you do with your finished ARCs?

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Misc.

The Book Blogger Toolkit

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This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time: a comprehensive look into the tools that are super useful for any book blogger. All of these have been invaluable in running my blog and creating new posts, and I want to share them with others. I would also love to hear if you have any recommendations too! 🙂

Websites

  • Tweetdeck – I wish the desktop version still existed but I find this a lot more awkward to use in my browser, but it is still 100 times better than doing everything via the Twitter website. Much much easier for scheduling Tweets, following hashtags and controlling several accounts at once.
  • Goodreads – Well, duh. I’m pretty sure every book blogger uses this website for all their book information, as well as hunting down new releases and meeting fellow-minded people.
  • Pixabay – A really great stock image site that’s completely free to use. Perhaps not the biggest variety of images out there, but again, it’s free and the images can be edited.
  • Creative Market – I love this website so much. It’s a marketplace for designers to sell images, vectors, fonts etc – but if you sign up to their newsletter, you get six free goodies every Monday. Totally worth it.
  • Trello – A ‘to do list’ type website that lets you create ‘boards’. I have different boards for each of my features, and ideas pinned underneath, plus one for general blog admin. A great place to list ideas for future posts.
  • DaFont – I have been using this website for years and years, goodness knows how many different fonts I’ve downloaded from here.

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Software & Applications

  • Ultimate Book Blogger Plug-in – AN ABSOLUTE GODSEND. This was created by my wonderful host, Ashley, and makes the organisation of book blogs so much easier. Once you set up your system, so much is automatic. I don’t know how I managed without it before, and it is absolutely worth your money.
  • Google Keep – Handy for noting down blog ideas on my phone whilst I’m on the go. I’ve tried a couple of ‘to do list’ apps, and this has been my favourite so far.
  • Google Drive – I love Google Drive a lot for being so easy to share documents with others. I’ve used it to write several collaborative posts in the past, and it makes organisation for Sci-Fi Month so much easier.
  • Evernote – I am actually using Evernote to write this post right now… I don’t particularly like writing in the HTML editor in WordPress, it’s rather uninspiring. But the Text Editor is worse. So I like to write things in Evernote, then copy them over and add in the HTML where needed. It’s also handy for when I want to write posts in bed – I’m a bit odd in that I don’t particularly like using my laptop for things like writing posts, because I really need a bigger screen. So I’ll write them in Evernote on my laptop, which then syncs to my desktop, and I can format them from there later.
  • Image editing software – I use an old version of Paint Shop Pro (8), which I’ve had for years, but you could use anything. Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop, Picmonkey… got to make those pretty graphics and headers somehow! 🙂

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Offline

  • Several notebooks – One for review notes, one for general planning purposes. I like to keep them separate so it’s easier to find certain things.
  • A paper planner – I blogged about my paper planner before, but I really prefer to use a paper planner over a digital one for planning out my posts. It’s always there when I need it and somehow much easier to read, at least for me.

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What tools would you recommend to help other bloggers? Do you use many of these yourself? Let me know in the comments! 🙂