#LetsDiscuss2018: Am I becoming as grumpy as my characters

Gossiping WomenRecently, I have been feeling a bit grumpy when it comes to reading.  I can’t say it’s a slump because I’m still reading books at pretty much the same rate I always have.  But, picking those books up just isn’t giving me the thrill it once did, even with some of my favourite authors.

I’ve been scratching my head as to the why a fair bit and I think I’ve come to a conclusion that too many of the people in the pages are grumpy, ornery or just down-right angry and it’s beginning to rub off on me.

#LetsDiscuss2018 – Is Variety The Spice of Blogging Life?

Gossiping Women

Last year around this time I was struggling with how I follow blogs.  I was using Google+, Bloglovin’, WordPress Reader, and email plus Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  Some bloggers I followed in every which way, others only one.  Because of that, I was missing out on some great posts but seeing others two, three or four times.

It was more than a little frustrating and, as a result, I made the decision that, social media aside, I was going to use Bloglovin’ as my main blog following tool.  For the most part it’s worked.  Recently, though, I’ve started to feel overwhelmed again and I think it’s because I’m following too many people.  If I add everything up, it is close to 300 individual blogs yet I probably only visit 30 or 40 on a regular basis.  

When is a discussion a discussion (or not?)

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This year, I am taking part in Feed Your Fiction Addiction’s discussion challenge.  I’d like to say I’m doing well, though I’m not really.  Just doing an update of where I was for this last quarter of the year, though, I started to wonder if maybe I was doing better than I thought and if some of the posts I had written, that I hadn’t classed as discussions really were.  Confused?  Yes, me too!

So, last month for example, I wrote two non-review, non-linky related posts.  One, Crime series I’m officially given up on catching up on…, I tagged as the discussion challenge.  The other, Rarely read genres – suggestions please…, I didn’t.  Why was one tagged and not the other?  The first had a question at the end that asked whether people had series they had given up on or would never get rund to finishing either; the second asked for suggested books I could read. This month, I talked about my favourite female detectives and tagged that too. Again, there was a question at the end.  

Book blogger hop: the fun side of blogging

book-blogger-hop-finalThis week, I’m once again joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…


What is the most fun part/aspect of being a book blogger?    

So despite the fact that I have to admit that these last few weeks finding time to be a blogger has been hard, it is something I really look forward to doing and think about for more hours a day than I probably should.  Why?  Because it’s FUN…and I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t.  There are lots of things about it I find fun, and which I could put down here but time is short so here is my top three…

1. Meeting other bloggers, even if only virtually.  I have met some really nice people and found book bloggers to be such a thoughtful, supportive group.  Whilst I do talk about books with family and friends and am in a book club, it never seems enough. Being able to engage with people who love books as much as I do every day is the best.

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2. Continually adding to my to read list.  I know a lot of people find their TBRs overwhelming and I know I have little if any chance of ever reading all the books that are on mine but I don’t worry much about that.  I just know that it’s rare I can’t think of or find a book I don’t want to read nowadays, which makes me happy when I look on my bookshelves or wander round the library.

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3. Free books, because who wouldn’t love that if they love books? When I first started, I didn’t request any ARCs at all, then I requested too many, now I feel (like goldilocks) my request level is “just right” and I have a nice stack of books I can’t wait to read and which I’m fairly confident for the most part I will enjoy because I have gone for authors I know/love or books I have seen recommended.  It might not be daring but it works for me.

What about you?  What makes blogging fun for you?

Emma x

Note: images Designed by Freepik (clicking on image takes you to site)

Simplifying my blog following ways

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Many moons ago, when I first started following blogs, I didn’t follow many at all – you could probably count them on the fingers of one hand (o.k., maybe two). Depending on how I came across them would depend how I ended up following them.  So, if I had seen a link on Facebook, I followed them on Facebook, if I saw them on twitter, it was twitter and, if I came across them whilst randomly surfing the web, I usually subscribed by email, possibly following them on twitter and / or Facebook too.

Over time, the number of social media sites I signed up for grew, as did the number of ways I might follow someone (see Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram …).  Then, as I started to blog myself and because I was using WordPress, I started following people through their Reader feature, occasionally automatically signing up for email following as well without necessarily meaning to but also never unsubscribing.

By now, my inbox was starting to get a little full, so I tried Bloglovin’ which kind of worked only I didn’t always remember to go on it for days.  The same could be said for Facebook, which I am rubbish at, and Google+, which I got because I got a gmail account and rather randomly started following people through to.

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As you can probably tell from my rambling paragraphs above, the way I follow blogs is pretty messy as well as confusing (at times) and time consuming at others – with me often seeing the same post two or three times in two or three different ways whilst at the same time completely missing other posts I wish I had read when I eventually happen to see them in an update post or someone else does me the favour of retweeting them and I realise what I was missing.

 

Recently, I tried to add up all the blogs I follow and I couldn’t keep track.  It wasn’t necessarily a huge amount but so much duplication.  Along the way I discovered blogs that no longer blogged and blogs I no longer read or comment on.  So, I’ve decided to do something about it.  Starting this week I am going to reform my messy ways and get a system in place that works for me.  I did ask about what other people do on twitter but it seems there are as many ways as there are bloggers so (to quote Frank Sinatra) I’m going to have to do it my way.

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My plan is to use Bloglovin’ as my primary following “tool” and stop using WordPress or Google+.  Everything will be in one place and if I get the settings right I think I should be able to get alerts when people post, which is what I need.  I’m going to go through each site and stop following anyone who hasn’t posted in six months (sorry!) and also stop following anyone whose site I haven’t visited in six months (sorry again!).  The number should be much more manageable then and I’m less likely to miss things.  For the blogs I just can’t miss I’ll use email too, just to be on the safe side till I know my system works.

Along the way, I’m going to use it as an excuse to make sure I’m following everyone on twitter and liking their pages on Facebook (if they have accounts); I might useless at Facebook but I do find it’s a good way to talk to people during challenges and things so I don’t want to get rid of it entirely and Twitter is such a good way of sharing people’s posts but I don’t always know their twitter names when I click on the icon on their post and if it doesn’t come up, I don’t end up tweeting it.

And that’s it, my plan of action.  I hope it works – if it does, you might hear from me more (possibly not a good thing but sorry about that).  What do you think – will it, or is it a flawed plan? What do you do that I might want to steal instead or do you have the same problems I do?

Emma

I am linking this post to Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight’s Discussion Challenge – clink on the button below to find out what other bloggers have had on their mind this month.

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Book Blogger Hop: Comments and commenting

imageI’m joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop again this week, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…

Do you reply to every comment on your post?

The answer is yes, always – even if it takes me a little while to do so. I reply because I think it’s the right and polite thing to do – if someone spoke to me at work or in passing on the street I would always respond and comments I see as the same in a way, a virtual way of speaking to me.

Everyone who comments has gone out of their way to spend time on my blog, read my post, and then say something about it, what I’ve said or the book I’ve reviewed. They don’t have to – there are so many blogs out there and I know I am (fairly) new and a little fish in a big pool. To not respond would seem rude.

I also reply because I love comments – blogging would feel very lonely without them – and, I could be wrong, but responding seems like a good way of encouraging people to keep commenting, and coming back to my blog.

Comments are my way of engaging with other people who love what I love – books – and that’s one of the reasons I decided to give blogging a go – to engage with a community I had previously “lurked” around by reading blogs but not actively participating (before I had my blog, I rarely commented because I didn’t feel like I could, silly I know but true nonetheless).

For everyone who comments I also try to make an effort to visit their blogs and post a comment in return. For blogs I already follow I don’t do it every time because I normally visit them when I see they’ve posted something new but for new bloggers to my site, I try and do it straight away. I’ve discovered some great new blogs this way, not all book related, and I see that as an added bonus of comments.

What about you, do you respond to comments – leave one, letting me know.

Emma

 

Book Blogger Hop: Exploring New Genres

Iimage‘m joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop again this week, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…

Have you ever ventured out of your comfort zone in terms of reading a genre you have never read? If so, did you get hooked on that new genre?

For me, the answer is a big yes on going outside my comfort zone – though I don’t do it as often as I should. It’s often thanks to my book club, because we each take turns picking a book and none of us have same tastes, but I also try to purposely pick books that don’t “fit” with my normal reading patterns.

This last year that has included romance (with Colleen Hoover’s November 9) and young adult (with Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here). I enjoyed both and I’d definitely pick up books by both authors again. BUT I don’t think it converted me to either genre.  Being able to test books out is one of the reasons I love using my library…there is no risk and no cost.  I think I’d be less willing if I had to pay for books in genres I may not like.

Where I struggle more is that when I have a choice I nearly always go for authors I already know because there are too many books by my favourite writers I still haven’t read or – when I come across a new author I like – I become slightly obsessed with reading their back catalogue. This year, to counter that, I’ve been making a conscious effort to read debut novels. So far this has gone really well and I’ve discovered some authors I hope to read for years to come.

What about you, do you stick to one genre or is it anything goes?

emma

To Rate or Not to Rate

imageI’ve been blogging now for almost a year and, since I started, I’ve never been quite sure or felt quite right about how I rate the books I read. I know, as someone who reads a fair few book blogs myself, that ratings help me decide if I want to read a book, especially once I’ve come to trust a blogger’s recommendations. The same is true for reviews in magazines and newspapers. At the same time, I often find myself agonising over ratings for my own reviews and what to “score” books.

Early on, I tried to solve the problem by giving books 1/2 or 3/4 ratings but pretty soon gave up on this as just too complicated. Plus, they still didn’t properly express how I felt about a book, especially when it got to the three star rating. To me, this suggested average when I saw it on other sites but I sometimes rated a book 3 out of 5 because of one or two little things that had bugged me…and might not bug anyone else. I wondered if I was being fair to these books but also couldn’t give them a higher rating because that didn’t feel right either.

I also had a bit of an issue with consistency as I don’t score the books I read for the Classics Club or other challenges like Play On! or the books I’ve been revisiting. These, I just give my opinions on. Don’t as me why as I’m not sure – because they are older definitely but also because, in my head, they weren’t reviews. Except they are because my writing about them tends to follow the same format as books I’ve been rating. 

In January, I started adding an opinion along with my ratings, saying whether I loved a book or liked it a lot. That felt better. More in line with how I would share a book with family or friends and with how I wanted to express my opinion on what I read.  As with my fractionalised scoring system though, I think I was just making things more complicated for myself (I like to do that in most parts of my life – again, don’t ask me why – so no surprise I did it here).

Which brings me to today and this post, which is a very round-a-bout way of formalising something I have been working through and  towards for a while and actually started last week with my review of Dead Wake when I decided not to give it a rating. I have to say it felt good and so it’s how I think I’ll go along for a while at least. What do you think – do you prefer ratings or not? Or do you not mind either way as long as the review tells you what you need to know?

Emma

[Photo credit: Got Credit]

Blogging and the Books I Read

This week, I’m linking in again with Billy from Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer, who posts a weekly question on his Blog. This week, the question is…

As you grow in your blogging experience, have you become more particular in terms of what you will post on your blog or what books you will read for review on your blog?

When I started blogging, a year or so ago, I had a blog that was quite broad. I had this idea that I’d write about all aspects of my life. I realised pretty quickly though that I wasn’t actually that comfortable sharing so much information. The majority of blogs I read were book blogs and the posts I looked forward to writing most were about the books I read. So, I decided to change the focus of my blog to books with a few other bits thrown in as and when it felt right.