Archive for the ‘bookish ramblings’ Category

Bookish Ramblings: Book Recommendations – Who Influences You the Most?

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest pros of running a book blog and being part of the book blogging community is being among those select few who hear about upcoming titles a long time before the actual release date. By having access to NetGalley, visiting other people’s blogs, reading about their highly anticipated books and interacting with them on social media on a daily basis, one is guaranteed to come across at least one or two new titles each week. Not to mention the amount of book reviews one may read in one week. However, for whatever reasons, not all these titles make it onto our never ending wishlists or to-be-read piles. Which made me think.

When it comes to book recommendations,who do you usually turn to and how do you tend to find your next read? Who influences you the most? Do you regularly browse publishers’ catalogues and websites and see if there’s anything that might interest you? Do you listen to your “real life” friends’ advice, do you judge a book based on the reviews you read online or do you simply read each and every hyped book simply because that’s what everyone else is reading?

After pondering about this for a while I realized only two of these apply to me. I don’t know which one is more frequent so I’d say I depend on these two sources equally. And these two sources are publishers’ catalogues and book reviews.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you may have noticed that I have quite an eclectic taste in books and I don’t tend to review the most hyped up books out there. I haven’t read the Hunger Games or The Mortal Instruments series, for example, or anything by John Green or Julie Kagawa, or any of today’s popular YA books. I will read a few of them at some point but I’m not in a hurry to do so. So I think it’s safe to say that popularity doesn’t usually convince or affect me. And neither do my real life friends’ recommendations. Mostly because they read half as much as I do and from genres I’m not really keen on myself and it’s usually me who recommends books to them, not the other way round. That leaves me with publishers’ catalogues and reviews.

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Bookish Ramblings: Audio Books – Love Them or Hate Them?


To be frank, I’ve never been into audio books. My daily commute doesn’t take more than 10 minutes each way, I don’t normally drive and even if I do, it’s never for great distances and I’m never alone. Ever since I’ve been blogging I kept saying audio books are not for me. I once listened to the first few minutes of an Agatha Christie audio book on a friend’s computer and I didn’t like it. At all. I found the reader’s voice slightly irritating, she talked too fast for my liking – or at least faster than what my reading speed would have been – and even in that short time, my thoughts sort of just… drifted away from the story. So how is it that here I am a little more than a year later, listening to one of Lindsay Barclay’s thrillers, just for fun?

I had an English literature exam the other day, for which I had to read a huge amount of books. Most of them I’ve already read a few years ago but obviously, I can’t remember all the details about them and while I needed them for the exam, I didn’t have time to re-read all of them. And that’s when I decided to give audio books a try one more time – and that was when I realised they are actually really good.

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Bookish Ramblings: Should bloggers charge authors for reviews?

Hello and welcome to this week’s Bookish Ramblings here on Books, Biscuits, and Tea. Today’s post is a short response to this insanity that I keep seeing on my Twitter timeline today, namely this article. If you know me then you will also know that I try to do my best to stay out of any kind of blogger drama that is going on. Today, however, I really am in shock and I just couldn’t let it go.

Long story short, author Michele Gorman sent an email to a group of bloggers called ChickLitGirls to consider reviewing her book, Misfortune Cookie. In their reply, the Chick Lit girls stated that they’re very selective when it comes to review copies and they always make sure they’re interested in the story before they accept such a request. Fair enough, that’s what all of us do, right? There’s no point in accepting review books that are not your cup of tea, since you couldn’t do them justice anyway. This is all very well, until we get to the following part:

“Currently, we have so many requests for book reviews and promotion help, that we do have about a 3-4 week wait list. Because we have such a large amount of book review requests, we have had to start charging for them . So now we are now charging a fee of $95.00 per review and subsequent postings. That includes a nice review with the short synopsis that comes with your book, a picture of the book with a link to purchase it from Amazon.”

And this is where I literally buried my face in my hands. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming them. I’m sure there are a lot more blogs out there who charge authors for their reviews – it just makes me really, really sad that there are people who are actually willing to pay for this. Why?

1, Because this is not what blogging is about. You -hopefully- started your blog because you want to keep track of the books you read, because you love books and you like talking about them, not because you want to make money. As a book blogger you might be contacted by authors and publishers who might offer you review copies for free. And if they do, you should be grateful and consider yourself very, very lucky. Not everyone has the opportunity to work with these publishers, not to mention review copies and the fact that you’re reading them months before they’re actually released.

2, Because as a reader, I want to know what you really think about the book and not how flattering you can be. Everyone can say nice things about a book but what’s the point in lying? I’d rather read mixed reviews of a book that are true and built on constructive criticism than a bunch of 5 star reviews that are completely made up. I usually read other people’s blogs because I’m looking for book recommendations – but why would I care if I know that your reviews are all made up anyway? I don’t know about you, but I just hope this is not going to be the new trend.

What do you think about bloggers charging authors for favourable reviews?

Bookish Ramblings: Blogging / Reading Slumps?

Hello and welcome to this week’s Bookish Ramblings here on Books, Biscuits, and Tea. This week’s post is going to be unique in the sense that rather than giving advice or rambling about something blogging/reading related issue, I’d like to ask you to help me and fellow bloggers who are in the same boat and give us  advice. :)

Have you ever had blogging or reading slumps? How did you deal with them? Do you have any tips for fellow bloggers that might help them overcome -or prevent- these situations?

The idea for today’s topic actually came into my mind a few hours ago when I was chatting to Celine from Nyx Book Reviews on Twitter. I was just saying how lazy I’ve felt lately but at the same time, I feel guilty for not blogging, reading, preparing for my upcoming exams or doing anything productive, for that matter. Don’t stress yourself, I’d hate to see you get a blogging burnout, says Celine. And that’s when I realized that I’m actually right in the middle of one! Oh the excruciating SHAME!

I’ve been blogging for 8 months and I managed to survive my blogging “career” without any major burnouts or blogging slumps – so far. I’m no expert but my theory is that you’re likely to experience such a thing when, for some reason, life gets in the way of blogging. Take me, for example. I have two exams coming up in June and I know I should start studying (i.e. I’m not doing anything productive and I’m feeling guilty 24 hours a day). At the same time, I should be doing at least 4 different things and again, I feel guilty for neglecting all these responsibilities. On top of that, stress and anxiety don’t really help much either. So here I am, wondering about what other bloggers do in such a terrible scenario.

If you ask me, overcoming reading slumps sounds quite straightforward.

  • Don’t read. Take some time out – go out with friends, sleep, travel, you name it. But don’t stress about reading or thinking about how many books you still need to read. Give yourself a break – you deserve it.
  • If you must read, read your own books. Putting your review books aside for a while won’t hurt anyone. Try reading something from your favourite author, your favourite genre – something you’ve wanted to pick up for a while but never got round to actually reading it.
  • Take it slow. You really don’t have to read 300 pages in one day. Read as much as you can, even if it’s just one chapter or a few pages before going to bed.

Now here comes the tricky part. What do you when you’re in the middle of a blogging slump? I suppose the obvious answer would be to take some time out and stop blogging for a while – get your life back on track and then return to the blogging world in full force when you’re ready. But how do you do all this without letting your readers down? Is that even possible?

How do you deal with blogging slumps? Have you ever had such a burnout? What did you do to get rid of it?

Bookish Ramblings: Who/What Books Got You Into Reading?

I know there was a point in all of our lives when we picked up a book (not expecting too much) and simply could not put it down. I know many people say they have loved reading ever since they were little but for me, that’s not the case. Which made me think and wonder how everyone else got hooked and fell in love with the literary world. Therefore, today’s ramblings topic is:

What book(s) or which author(s) got you into reading? Have you loved reading from an early age or is it something you got into during your teens? Or even later?

Lots of people will be tut-tutting when they read this, but whenever I hear someone say “I’ve loved reading ever since I was little”, I’m always a bit sceptical.  It may be just a cultural difference but I’ve seriously never heard of or known anyone in my previous schools or in my neighbourhood who has been a bookworm all his/her life.In fact, many people still don’t read at all, but that’s a thought for another time.

As for me, well… I wasn’t keen on reading when I was little. Don’t get me wrong, I did read books occasionally (Winnie the Pooh and that sort of thing) but it wasn’t something that I particularly loved doing. Then it got even worse. During my primary school years, I simply loathed it. And I blame school for that. We had so many books we were forced to read that I lost all interest and needless to say, I associated reading with a tedious chore that needed to be done once in a while. And for this reason, I didn’t start reading for fun right until my first secondary school years.

I think for me there were two authors and two book series that got me interested in reading for the first time in my life: Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Girly choice I know, but I was 13 so I’ve no regrets. *snickers* I started reading the Harry Potter series a bit later than most people but once I picked it up, I just devoured the whole thing. And the same applies to the Princess Diaries series. I loved them both for different reasons (I still do) and I’m very grateful for both authors. Of course there have been several other authors who influenced me and inspired me since then but Rowling and Meg Cabot were those who gave me the first push. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t fallen in love with reading? I might not have been a bookworm all my life but honestly, I don’t even care. I’m happy with the way things turned out.

What books or which authors made you fall in love with reading? Do you still like them or read their books?

Bookish Ramblings: Is Blogging Becoming a Popularity Contest?

Hello and welcome to another Bookish Ramblings, a weekly discussion here on Books, Biscuits, and Tea. I usually post Bookish Ramblings on Mondays but I was really busy, hence the change in my schedule. The idea for today’s discussion topic hit me last week when… well, I was a little bit taken aback. This week’s post is going to be rather a rant then an actual question but I hope you’ll enjoy it and join in the discussion all the same.

Have you ever felt like more experienced bloggers don’t respect you or your opinion just because you’re a relatively new reviewer? Have you ever felt that people don’t take you seriously just because your blog is not as popular or because you don’t get as many books as them?

Well, that’s what I want to talk about this week. If I think about it, I pretty much belong to the underdogs when it comes to blogging and reviewing because of many things. To start with, English is not my first language. I live in Eastern Europe (a place which doesn’t really have a good reputation, if you ask me) in the middle of nowhere. I read and blog in English but naturally, it’s a bit more difficult to express myself in a foreign language and I make mistakes. I don’t have any bookish friends from this country. Or any publishing contacts from around here. None of the publishers -except the ones who are based in the UK and whose support I’m incredibly grateful for- deal with international bloggers like myself. I don’t get invited to blogger events or book expos for the exact same reasons I listed here. And the list could go on.

Why am I saying all these? Because sometimes I feel like some people don’t realize how privileged they are, and more importantly, blogging is becoming a popularity contest and it shouldn’t be. Have you ever felt like more experienced bloggers don’t care about you or your opinion about certain things because you’re a relatively new blogger? Or have you ever felt pitied or insignificant in the blogging word because you don’t receive as many ARCs -or books in general – as some other people?

I’ve been blogging for 8 months but I still feel that way. And all I can say is… seriously, people?! Seriously? What makes you better than any other person who might not be as popular as you, or might not get any ARCs or as many books as you? Nothing. Just because you get 30 books each week doesn’t mean you’re superior to anyone else. Just because you’ve been blogging for 2 years doesn’t mean other people’s opinion doesn’t count. Consider yourself lucky, be grateful for what you have and stop being arrogant and treating new bloggers or anyone else like second class citizens because blogging is not a freaking popularity contest.

Bookish Ramblings: Is Your Blog Genre-Specific?

Hello and welcome to my sixth Bookish Ramblings post! Lovely to see you again :) This week I’m going to talk about the following idea:

Is your blog genre-specific? Do you review everything you read or is your blog and/or your reading taste restricted to 1,2 or 3 genres only?

The reason why I decided on this topic is that a blogger interview I recently took part in made me think. The interviewer, Bex from Kindle Fever, asked me to describe my blog and tell her what my blog is about, what genres it covers, what genres I usually read. Judging from previous blogger interviews, I gathered that the most common answers to this question are either a, YA or b, a whole bunch of different genres. I belong to the latter category.

And needless to say, this issue has been constantly on my mind ever since. I started wondering: is it a good thing to restrict yourself and your blog to just a few genres? Or is it better to read a greater variety of books and thus accepting the fact that your blog might not appeal to as many people as a strictly YA blog, for example?

Well, here’s my take on this issue. If you only ever read, for example, paranormal books and your blog is strictly about paranormal novels, good for you. I know several bloggers out there who focus on one or maybe two genres only and it works for them. The tricky part is to find readers who are interested in the same genre/s as you. On the other hand, I know some people who read a greater variety of books but still, they only blog about one or two genres. They read different genres, they just don’t review them all. What I like here is that they know what they want to do with their blogs – they know that they want to have a YA only, or fantasy only blog -and it’s a conscious decision on their part. However, it doesn’t always work out. I know several people who, after blogging about a certain genre for a given amount of time, simply got bored of being restricted to such few options. And they started thinking, ‘I read a lot of different books – then why shouldn’t I blog about them, why should I restrict myself’?

Well, you shouldn’t. If you ask me what genre(s) my blog covers, I’ll give you a list of about 5 different genres. I read and blog about a mixture of different type of books and I’ve never wanted to run my blog any other way. I don’t want to restrict myself to a YA only blog because I read a lot of adult fiction books as well and vice versa. I don’t want to blog about mysteries only because I love chick lit as well, and so on. My blog may not be as popular as some of the YA only blogs out there but do you know what? I don’t care because I’m blogging about what I like. So my tip for new bloggers would be: don’t put yourself in a box just to be popular or just to fit in. Blogging should be fun. You should write about what you like, what you feel passionate about. If you’re happy with your blog and you like what you’re doing, readers will keep coming back to your blog no matter how many genres you cover.

Is your blog restricted to a certain genre or is it rather a “mixture”?  Have you thought about blogging about different genres or are you happy with the way your blog works?