goal posts

Every Book I Owned In 2017 — Force Me to Read These!

Hey guys! So with the ending of this year and my reading of Libba Bray’s The Diviners, I have officially read every book I bought before 2017. Except for one because I was waiting to binge the series, and one or two maybe from Dec 2016. But anyway, what does this mean? That I want to do the same for this year! Especially since I actually hate owning lots of books that I haven’t read.

So in order to accomplish this goal: I’m making this list of every book I owned at the end of 2017. We’re going to be either reading or getting rid of every book on this list by the end of the year. All the ones I read will get ✅ marks, and all my unhauls with ❌!

Continue reading “Every Book I Owned In 2017 — Force Me to Read These!”

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non-book posts

Elise Has Crappy Mental Health: The Squeakquel — LET’S CHAT about February Goals

SO! January has been a far busier month than I could’ve guessed and I’ve spent 98% of my time doing homework. Or occasionally reading. So with my horrible mental health, my personality outside of that has been in sharp decline. And I’ve decided to make these former January Faves posts into combo self-care-and-my-things posts.

And I want to hear from you about how you’re doing on self care! If the answer is “shitty” you are definitely not alone. But should probably still improve.

Continue reading “Elise Has Crappy Mental Health: The Squeakquel — LET’S CHAT about February Goals”

book chat

Please Stop Killing Me — Let’s Talk About #BuryYourGays

So I found out something horrible about a book I was planning on reading the other day. I had been planning on reading this book a week from the day I found out, an experience that would have been incredibly uncomfortable for me. And as a result, I have decided to talk! To discuss. To discuss a trope I really hate that just will not die.

It keeps coming back. Like mold. Or like the Maze Runner movies.

I’m sure someone is going to comment below and be a dick about this — YOU CAN’T KNOW IT’S PROBLEMATIC TILL YOU’VE READ IT!! — but jesus, I have made a vow to myself to avoid books where this occurs. Why? Because every time I read them it feels like crap. Have fun trying to excuse this trope in the comments, but it feels. like. crap.

So let’s talk about why.

Continue reading “Please Stop Killing Me — Let’s Talk About #BuryYourGays”

book chat, non-book posts

quoting authors: Adam Silvera, Sabaa Tahir, Alex Bracken, Stephanie Perkins

Hey guys!! I’ve been to so many great author events in the past few weeks that I really just wanted to show some of the best things I’ve written on here. Some of you might know about good experiences from my earlier Authors I’ve Met post, which I’m not linking because it’s not live as of when I’m scheduling! Check it out in either Non-Book Posts or Book Chat. Do I know? Probably not.

Adam Silvera and Sabaa Tahir

“Place you’d go if you were invisible?”
“I’m trying to look for the non-pervy answer. Otherwise I’d just say… Andrew Garfield’s house.”
—Adam Silvera

“Mint tea. That’s so… interesting.”
—Sabaa Tahir

“Favorite book as a teen?”
“I’m going to exclude… no, I’m not, Harry Potter.”
“Favorite book as an adult?”
“Harry Potter.”
—Sabaa and Adam

Alex Bracken and Tamara Ireland Stone

“I didn’t want to write a story about coding – I wanted to write a story about friendship featuring a girl coder.”
—Tamara Ireland Stone

“Ally… Ally and I clicked early.”
—Tamara Ireland Stone

“You know I love sad things… and dark things… and people suffering… This book is actually not that tragic! Well, Prosper’s social life is kind of tragic.”
—Alex Bracken

“Chapter 13 is my favorite.”
“Did you try really hard for that to happen?”
“I’m dedicated to my craft, Tamara.”
—Alex and Tamara

“Prosper’ grandmother might, allegedly, be based off my grandmother, of whom a psychic once said “her heart is made of ice– evil people never die.” If you tweet this, be sure to add allegedly, because she’s still alive. As she has gotten older, she has basically become Gollum.”
—Alex Bracken

“Bridge to Terabithia was my villain origin story!!” “And it all happened beside the produce section!!”
—Alex Bracken and Tamara

Marie Lu

“How do you write such good torture scenes?”
—question for Marie Lu

Stephanie Perkins

“Why do I like this so much it’s so disgusting…”
—Stephanie Perkins

“I wanted to give everyone a voice before I killed them… I wanted them to be as whole as possible.”
—Stephanie Perkins

“I met him and I saw the future.”
—Stephanie Perkins

“I get fanart of Etienne as this super tall guy and I’m like… aww, I see what you’re doing.”
—Stephanie Perkins

“Scream is a comfort film to me.”
—Stephanie Perkins

“When the twist is like oh, it was Satan all along I’m like… awwwwwwwww”
—Stephanie Perkins

A super short post, but I hope y’all enjoyed this!!

book chat

author meeting experiences!!

Hey guys! Today I’m bringing a post about all the authors I’ve met and how it was to meet them :’)

Leigh Bardugo – oh my god I was so awkward?? I was trying to make a joke about how non-tropey Leigh’s characters were but I’m pretty sure I accidentally called Kaz Brekker a stereotypical bad boy. I WAS TRYING TO SAY HE WAS A SUBVERSION OF THAT TROPE. I FAILED. This was also the signing where I read all of Crooked Kingdom in a single day. YUP.

M.G. Hennessy, author of The Other Boy, Brie Spangler, author of Beast, Kristin Elizabeth Clarke, author of Freakboy, and Tim Floreen, author of Tattoo Atlas – uhhhhh. Idk, I think I should mention that this was an lgbtq+ panel where 3/4 of the authors were straight. I don’t think that was appropriate. I especially think there were a few comments made by certain members of the panel that seemed really… uh… privileged?? Like, there’s just something about going to an lgbtq+ panel and hearing that the author’s life difficult because you’re being “stereotyped as a trans fiction author.” That’s just… tone deaf. I did like all the authors as people a fair amount – Brie Spangler was sort of quiet but funny and Tim Floreen talked really frankly about growing up without gay fiction, which was nice. But uh… as a panel, this should not have been all cisgender and heterosexual people.

Stephanie Garber – I don’t actually remember exactly what I said!! But she was there with Stacey Lee and she was. ugh. hilarious. Very into romance, which… unrelatable, but super funny. I’d love to have a drink with her. I’m aware that isn’t legal, thanks.

Parker Peevyhouse – She actually came to give a talk at my school about scifi, totally separate from her book, but I ADORE her debut Where Futures End. So yeah, I got it signed and talked to her. She’s awesome and a total sci-fi nerd.

Laini Taylor – I believe she was visiting with Jandy Nelson? Anyway, I read around 25% of an old free eBook of DoSaB before she came to see if I wanted to get it signed. And the answer was a firm yes. I actually got a copy of every one of her books except for Lips Touch, which was not carried by the store. And loved all of them. Of course.

Mackenzi Lee – She was so funny. I loved everything she said about diversity and about her love for Dan Stevens. I can’t remember what I said to her!! I think something about loving Monty and Percy and her book breaking my reading slump. I do remember there was a “we hate Richard” button which had famously run out at the previous signing, and my friend Candela managed to find the LAST. ONE.

Anna Marie McLemore – She was wearing a pink mermaid tale Mackenzi Lee had given her the whole time!! I loved her comments about being queer and latinx and how that influenced her experience. Also, she follows me on twitter now. And I love her. Ugh.

Adam Silvera – Ugh, so good. I told him how much I related to his first book, More Happy Than Not. He was really sweet about it and said he hoped I love They Both Die as well. I said I was sure I’d love the characters, if nothing else, because his character writing is so consistently perfect. He said he’s not quite feeling the character work on his next book yet and I said I was sure he’d get there because his character work was so consistently good and at that point I think he teared up a little bit?? I love him.

Sabaa Tahir – I actually don’t love Ember in the Ashes but I still got to tell her that I loved her twitter thread about the new covers and I loved the new covers way more than the original ones. Come on, fight me – the new covers are way better. She agreed, by the way 🙂 She’s also just hilarious in person.

Evelyn Skye – I’ve actually never read any of her books, and I didn’t realize she was another author for a few minutes – I thought we were both bloggers. But then I kept hearing the name Evelyn and made the connection in my head!! She was really nice.

Tamara Ireland Stone – I went to her signing to get two copies of Every Last Word signed for my friends, since it’s their favorite book. AND SHE WROTE REALLY LONG MESSAGES FOR THEM. In mine she wrote “I hope you cry” which was lovely.

Alexandra Bracken – I got to tell her that I loved the diversity in Passenger!! I haven’t gotten very far into it yet, but I think it might actually turn out an underrated fave.

Other Authors I’ve Gotten To Meet But Don’t Really Remember

  • I actually got all my books signed by V.E. Schwab!! But I was on vacation and didn’t get to meet her. Want to make this worse? She came to the place where I was vacationing THE. NEXT. DAY. But I’d just flown home. THAT. DAY.
  • Roxane Gay – didn’t get to meet her, but did get to hear her talk, and she was HILARIOUS.
  • Simon Curtis, author of Boy Robot, and Elizabeth Fama, author of Monstrous Beauty, both of whom came to Keplers to sign books.

This was a super random post, but idk, I get so excited about all the authors I’ve met sometimes.

book chat

How To Write a Good Review

Today I’m going to be writing a post about how to write good reviews!! Again, these are all just my opinions and my thoughts on how to write reviews. Other users might disagree, but I hope these will help.

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Say your basic opinion before you start the review. Don’t summarize the entire plot first – I’ll be scrolling or closing out of your review. The first sentences should be to sum up the book in some meaningful way. You have to make your reader want to continue with the review, or at least to click on it.

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For five star reviews, don’t pretend the entire book is flawless – tell me the one or two elements that formed your deep emotional connection to this book. Find a main theme. For me, five star reads are usually that way due to characters. So I’ll spend a lot of time emphasizing “these characters are built fantastically.”

For one star reviews, emphasize what about the book was so terrible. Rant about everything, but stick to some kind of main theme of What Sucked About This – was it the absurdity of the plot? The annoying characters? The tropes? Pick one of those things to make the focus, or possibly two if you really feel you have to. Again, stick to a theme. If all the flaws fall into one category, as if often true, make that one category of flaws your theme.

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As an extension, cut your plot summary short. I usually read synopsis before I even read reviews, anyway, but either way, you’re not trying to summarize the book – you’re trying to tell me why you feel the way you feel and why I should agree.

A lot of readers won’t really care about much beyond the basic concept. Two sentences is enough for lots of books. For example, if I’m summarizing The Abyss Surrounds Us, I’m not going to use that whole blurb – I’m simply going to start off with “this book is about pirates, sea monsters, f/f enemies to lovers, and environmentalism.” If you’re talking about a creepy or weird book, just don’t summarize much at all. Just mentions the parts of the blurb you think will interest readers. Skip irrelevant detail.

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Mention who the main characters are somewhere so your review will be comprehensible to people who haven’t read the book. Please don’t just assume your reader knows!! They might not. Your review needs to appeal to people who haven’t read the book and people who have read the book. Write for the non-readers.

If you’re looking for more information to put in your review, mentally break it down into characters, plot, setting, worldbuilding, etc. If one of those elements seems fairly irrelevant, either skip it or mention it as something the book failed on.

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Here’s something that’s super important – Be unapologetic. If you dislike a book, you don’t have to say “I’m sorry I didn’t like this don’t kill me :/ you might like it!!” every time. If you didn’t like it, there’s probably a reason for your dislike. Don’t be wishy-washy. If you truly do have mixed feelings, say that, but don’t pretend sympathy when it’s not what you feel.

A big thing is simply allowing yourself to hate books. People won’t hate you if you post unpopular opinions sometimes – in fact, they’ll give your opinion more credit. Ranting about your fave books is trusted a lot more if you hated a book last week.

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Use the return button. No one wants to read a wall of text. I guarantee this is not an unpopular opinion.

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Vary how you do sections!! If you’re writing a super long review with three paragraphs about character development, three paragraphs about worldbuilding, three about writing – use sections. Also feel free to skip a section if you don’t need it – if the writing is basically mediocre, dedicate one sentence to it in your “miscellaneous section” – don’t try to stretch it out.

But here’s the thing – if it’s a short book, don’t feel the need to write sections. Just write a full review if you feel like you need one!!

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Comparing a book to super popular books can be both a blessing and a curse. Want to make a comparison to ACoTaR? Fine, but know that a lot of people are going to be turned off by that comparison. I’d recommend comparing to multiple books and making it clear you don’t have to like that to like this.

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On a related topic – market to the right people. Don’t market a swoony NA romance as a great fantasy read – make it clear that this is for fans of romance, not fans of fantasy.

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Sometimes, it can help to think about why something stands out from its genre. Dystopia? Emphasize how it subverts tropes or has a very different main character than usual. Suspense? Emphasize the depth of psychology. Romance? Maybe the healthiness of the relationship. Contemporary? Maybe the lack of slutshaming.

And if something was a lot of fun, but doesn’t quite stand out from its genre: admit that. It will give you far more credibility as a reader and as a reviewer.

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On the topic of ratings – use a system that works for you. I think rating most things in the two-four range is the best bet, personally.

Probably the most important tip is to use five stars sparingly. Someone who rates 98% of books five is not going to be trusted when they’re writing their reviews. That doesn’t mean pretend you didn’t love it – just rate things four stars occasionally.

And on a related topic, don’t be afraid to rate down if it just wasn’t for you. Anything that I appreciated but never personally enjoyed gets a two, or a three on a good day. Be honest. And also don’t be afraid to change your ratings – we change as people, our rating systems change, our review style changes, and it’s completely fine.

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Anyway, guys, these are my feelings on the how to review. Feel free to comment below any thoughts or feelings on reviewing!!