Showing posts with label bookish problems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bookish problems. Show all posts

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

1/2 Year Resolutions Update

It's the end of June!

So I guess, given that half the year is gone already, it's time to look at where I am with those pesky bookish New Year's resolutions I made.

(Damn you attempts to improve myself!)

Reading Resolutions

  • To read 200 books (Goodreads Challenge)

Well on-target for this - I've read 110 books so far, 13 books ahead of schedule, and 55% through!

Yeah... don't think this one's gonna happen. Seeing as how I've read a grand total of... 1 book for this challenge.

I think it's because all the e-books and library books and new books keep distracting me.

So I'm revising my target down to 10 books. I can always put it back up again if I've got the chance.

  • To read widely

Welp. This one seems to be going quite well if the range of genres I've read this year is anything to go by (and that's a lot of different genres - I think I have a problem.)

I also wrote a post entitled '6 Ways To Read More Widely' in order to help others - because I'm nice like that.

  • To read at least 5 books in Welsh

Yeah... I haven't started this one.

I only mean to read like, really easy kids books, but I still haven't got around to it. Welsh is hard! ...So I kind of keep putting it off.

Even though I really want to learn more because hell, it's yr iaith (the language) of y gwlad (the land,) and it does mean a lot to me - but dude, it's a tough language to learn!

  • To never, ever, stop reading in print

Still reading a lot in print, as well as reading on the e-reader. Love print!

Blogging Resolutions

  • To blog regularly.

I blog almost every day - so this one is going well. Just have to keep it up!

  • To always be open, honest, and genuine in my blogging and my reviewing.

I hope you all agree that I definitely keep this in mind when blogging. To the extent where sometimes I probably tell you a little more than you wanted to know!

  • To never lose sight of why I started this blog - which was to have fun, feel a bit more like a person again, enjoy reading, and encourage others to do the same.

Hopefully still doing that!

  • Try to find ways to promote reading

As a Book Nerd On A Mission, I've been trying to read out in public (the big wide world!) at least once a week, even if it's only waiting for The Bestie to reach our table at the coffee shop.

People definitely seem to find this weird - particularly in Pizza Hut. I think they were about two minutes away from calling the men with the white coats.

I've also been adding non-bookish blogging hashtags, and tagging non-bookish blogging accounts for retweets, on Twitter. That way it's not just the bookish who are exposed to my all-out zaniness.


I want to spread reading to the world! But for that, my dear nerdlets, I will need your help.

Any ideas of how to spread reading like a plague will be most welcome! AND GET OUT THERE AND READ IN PUBLIC!

  • To not get stressed! - If I don't finish a post by a certain time, it doesn't matter! This is my blog, and I shouldn't be stressing about it.

Ha, yeah... working on this one. It's hard sometimes when you're trying to run your own business (most ninja assassin princesses are self-employed,) and sort out the normal life sh** and blog.

But blogging is definitely good for me mental-health-wise - hence the amount of posts I write on a weekly basis, and the amount of faffing about and bugging all of you that I do in general :)

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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Case For Fanfiction

You know me, I luuurve fanfiction (I even provide a ficrec every Friday with 'Friday Fics Fix' - yes, I'm shamelessly plugging my own posts,) but I'm aware that to many people it's a divisive issue.

Last week, two of my girls - the bloggers that are in the metaphorical 'inner circle' of my blogging life (that probably makes it sound more like a cult than it is - oops!) - made their points for and against fanfiction.

The lovely Emily @ The Paperback Princess argued against, and the sweet Sierra @ The Nerdgirl Review argued for.

Both made great points, and you should definitely check out their posts. :)

Not content with writing epically long comments on their blogposts, I decided that I'm going to throw my opinions out there in technicolour for all of you to read.

And who wouldn't enjoy that?

A warning before we start: for some reason I use really big words and/or fancy sentence structures when discussing fanfiction.

...So I might end up coming across as pretentious, but I honestly believe every word; I just become weirdly eloquent when talking about fanfiction.

(The irony of this, given the grammatical standard of a butt-load of fanfiction, is not lost on me.)

Also, this post might get quite long. You have my permission to take breaks to go to the loo or get a cuppa if necessary.

You can even skim-read, if you really must ;)

Although obviously I'd love it if you were to read and cherish every word ;)

Fanfiction is about, at it's very heart, passion.

(Yes, I can hear you giggling - it does often include that sort of passion. So much smut. *Mind flashes back to...images.*)

Fanfiction is the expression of our fundamental love for the things we're passionate about - the TV shows, the books, the films, whatever.

Basically it's the fans engaging with the material in the deepest of ways - saying, we loved this so very much that we want MORE!

And you know what that should mean to the people who produce the original material? A lot.

Because it means you've really meant something to people - it means people are carrying a piece of your creative endeavour in their hearts.

Fanfiction gives characters life - actual moving, in-flux, living, life. Because they're no longer confined to their original media, their original stories.

Fanfiction sets characters free (yes, I know that sounds a bit new-age-y, blame my parents, I do.)

They're able to become more than just a story - they enter our collective consciousness as myths, legends, symbols.

Through fanfiction, characters can transcend their original medium; they can spread and gain a greater understanding - a greater following.

Do you think that when storytellers sat around the fire they used to tell the same version of the story every time? Of course not.

Even someone with a fabulous memory will miss out a detail here, use a different word there. And over time the story changes, inch by inch, into something else.

And that is the same beautiful, morphing, fluidity of narrative, that we now have in fanfiction.

That spark of interpretation that means a reader never truly reads the same words twice has been captured and magnified. We are making the stories our stories.

And fanfiction can be a force for improving literacy (no, really, bare with me on this one.)

Yes, there's plenty of truly atrocious grammar, plot-holes galore, and a wonky grasp of spelling; but it's spreading reading and writing to the world.

People who would normally not consider themselves readers, or writers, are a part of the fanfiction scene, tapping on their keyboards, or reading anxiously on their phones.

And that? Truly amazing.

Fic-writers are brave. They are not afraid to tackle any topic in any way.

(The anonymity helps - but this was, originally at least, primarily a way to not end up getting sued by Disney. I'm sure there are other companies. But it's Disney that the primal part of every fic-writer fears.)

Granted, a lot of the time this means a lot of very graphic sex between... well pretty much anyone on two legs (and some with more or less than two legs *cue brain flashing on disturbing fic images.*)

Male/male pairings dominate the medium - partly because major companies, publishers, studios, etc. are too afraid to give the big-money characters a same-sex partner, but also partly because a lot of people find two men having sex very hot (fans self.)

It's not all sex though - you're just as likely to find your favourite characters struggling to deal with relationships, family, mental health, and the everyday domesticity of supermarket runs.

(I've read so many supermarket stories - what is it about the supermarket guys? Does anyone know??? I really don't get the fascination with this trope.)

The porn is everywhere though. I'm not going to lie to you. There are some things that I really wish I could un-read, and that make me worry about humanity in general.

And sometimes you're just reading what you assume is non-sexy-times fic and... Oh! Look! Much graphic porn!

(Things tend to escalate quickly. Very quickly. And in a weird and usually unexpected direction. Sometimes the unexpectedness isn't even sexual - just random as all hell, because collectively, fangirls/boys have no inhibitions. At all.)

But usually fic-writers leave tags and/or warnings to stop the unaware from falling too far.

It doesn't always work, but if you don't pay attention to the tags IT WILL NOT WORK.

YOU WILL BE LOST. *Cue more fanfiction images flashing through my mind.*

If someone's given warnings for heavyweight subjects, or just the obligatory 'I'M SORRY - WHAT DID I WRITE?' (you'll find this a lot,) then please tread carefully.

It ain't gonna be rainbows and bunnies (and if it is you're probably not going to look at rainbows and bunnies the same way ever again.)

I personally don't agree with fanfiction that uses real people as characters, instead of characters who were fictional to begin with - I think it's more than slightly creepy, in all honesty.

I don't like the whole writing-about-celebrities-doing-it thing because, well, would you want someone to write about you having sex? Eww, no. Exactly.

Fanfiction also definitely warps your perspective. I no longer find MPreg (male pregnancy) that weird.

I should definitely find it exceptionally weird... I don't. I just kind of accept it and move on.

And that's probably not the worst of it... far from it, actually (*yet more images of disturbing fics - I really can't explain, it's not repeatable in polite company.*)

But, despite the many times I wished I hadn't read a particular fic, or even just a particular chapter, I still love fanfiction.

It's wish-fulfilment. It's a safe place to explore sex and relationships. It's somewhere where you can read about characters feeling just like you do - and going through the things that you 're going through.

It's unfiltered feels (strong and indescribable feelings to the non-fandom-speakers.) It has it's own genres - family, hurt/comfort, angst, fluff...

It's the mood of the fans, and what speaks to them, in the purest of forms.

And real writers emerge from the depths of it - E L James and Cassandra Clare, no matter your personal feelings on either of them, are hugely successful authors. And both were fic writers.

It's the perfect ground for newbie writers, who need to get all the writing practice they can. How better to start than with characters who are all ready existent, and just waiting for you?

Well-written, character-driven fanfiction? (And it does exist.) It's the best feeling in the world.

A distillation of humanity's imagination, its hopes and fears, just waiting for you.

So, what do you think? Ready to give it a try, and hear the voices of millions as together they transform beloved characters into something... alive? ;)

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

6 Ways To Read More Widely

Lots of people want to read more widely.

But, as creatures of habit, we tend to get stuck in one genre, niche, or whatever. Here then are some handy-dandy tips for reading more widely.

I'm here to serve, after all :) (and entertain, and be totally random, and possibly scare you.)

1. Confuse the f**k outta Goodreads.

If you're generally bookish, you will already know of Goodreads.

If not, then welcome to bookishness! Let me take your coat and strap you to the table! (That was a joke - please don't run off.)

Goodreads is basically social-networking for books. It's addictive and demands your soul as a blood-price :) I'm currently about three souls in debt.

I have generally succeeded in f**king up my Goodreads recs. This was done by a combination of random reading habits, and adding pretty much every major genre to 'favourites.'

As a result, Goodreads now throws me recs for pretty much every book on the planet.

The downside to this, unfortunately, is that there is no rhyme or reason to my recs. This can be irritating and unhelpful sometimes - like, when I'm in a certain mood and none of these books fit that!

But, I have also found some randomly awesome stuff this way.

2. Explore a new genre.

I wasn't a fan of YA contemporary novels, but my fellow book bloggers infected me with their never-ending enthusiasm for the genre, and I'm currently on a bit of a YA contemporary binge.

And you know what? I'm actually enjoying it.

So don't be afraid to leap head-first out of your comfort zone.

If there's a genre that you want to give a try, try looking up lists of recommended titles on Goodreads or do a Google search, and see what catches your eye.

3. Explore a new author.

You've heard absolutely loads about [insert flavour-of-the-month author here] but you don't think they've written anything you'll enjoy.

Don't force yourself to read something if it patently isn't for you, but also take a look at the author's back-catalogue, and read the synopses of some of their books.

I thought I wouldn't like Rainbow Rowell, but tried out Carry On because it looked most like the sort of stuff I enjoyed. Ditto with Jodi Picoult and Salem Falls.

And you might end up actually finding an author you click with as a result, or at the very least an interesting read.

4. Browse.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's still worth a shot.

Go into your local library or bookshop and just browse. Pick up books at random and look at their synopses.

Buy/borrow (dependent on whether it's a library or a shop, obviously,) any that aren't too expensive and you like the look of.

Be brave and don't be afraid to give something new a try - you might find a gem.

5. Indulge your guilty pleasures.


If you enjoy something - enjoy it. And people who claim to be 'well-read' but poke their noses up at 'lesser' or genre books?

They aren't well-read. They're just jerks :)

I used to feel uber-self-conscious at reading things that were seen as trashy etc. But I've decided I'm not going to feel guilty any more.


6. Take recommendations from a variety of sources.

If you listen to the bookish interweb chatter, or just your friend who's raving about the latest bestseller, you're likely to come across something you haven't heard of before.

And you might just be tempted to give it a whirl ;)

What about you guys? Any tips for reading more widely?

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Monday, 9 May 2016

How to Deal With Book Amnesia

'Have I read this before? Maybe. Seems familiar... argh, a generic title! A well-known author! A vague blurb! HAVE I READ THIS OR HAVEN'T I?!'

'Ooh, I've read that series! Which book am I on? Ummm... I wanna say the fourth? Maybe the fifth? The third? The one where thingummy comes into to it...'

'Yeah, I've read that book. I wanna say vampires? Werewolves? Oh, of course, assassins - no, I have read it. I must have... I've marked it as 'read' and rated it on Goodreads.'

'No, I don't think I've read that... I reviewed it?!?! Man, I really don't remember this at all.'

Does any of this seem familiar? If so, my fellow book-amnesiacs, you are not alone, much as I wish you were.

The problem is, I read so much that the boundary-lines tend to become a bit blurred. I mix up details, titles, series, or just plain can't remember the damned thing.

Plus, I've asked everyone I know, and no-one can remember what happens at the end of Oliver Twist. No-one. On this planet. I'm certain of this.

After (spoiler) Nancy goes to the big wh*re-house in the sky, everyone just has white-noise about the rest of the details.

But help, my dear nerdlets, is at hand! Here are some slightly-sarcastic tips on dealing with book amnesia!

  • Look back over your Goodreads - you might have marked the book or series as 'read' or 'to-read,' (or if you have a blog, you might have actually reviewed it... oops.) Checking the details may spring-board your memory. Or not. Whatever.

  • Ask someone else. My mother asks me whether she's read books from the library before. I tend to remember them better than she does. I think this is possibly because she's not paying attention.

  • Find a list of the series online and work out what happens when and where. You'll then be able to figure out which books you've read. Probably. Being honest, this doesn't always work. I can never remember which Kathy Reichs books I've read, no matter how much I love them or how many times I read the blurbs.

  • Just re-read it. Sometimes it's easier. If you remember it half-way through, you can always stop.

  • Look at different versions of the cover - maybe you can't remember because it looked different?!?! Right?!?!

  • Ban authors from naming books generic titles like 'Blood' or formulaic titles like 'City of...' - it makes it much harder to tell the damned things apart, and really, you're authors - come up with a different title before I mix your book up with the other guy's. Please.

  • Ban authors from naming books different titles in different same-language countries. Dudes, I get if it if it's a translation, but giving a book two English titles? Just confusing.

  • Also ban them from releasing a new edition of the same book with a different title. (What did I ever do to you?)

  • Look up the ending to Oliver Twist. Re-write it a hundred times. Stick it on post-it notes around the house. And then forget it anyway. BECAUSE NO-ONE KNOWS WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF OLIVER TWIST.

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Saturday, 20 February 2016

Pleasure, Not Guilt


No more guilty pleasures.

I refuse to feel guilty about what I read.

The other day, I stopped, I stalled, I hesitated. I didn't want to record books I'd read on my Goodreads - even though that would've upped the number-count on my challenge.

Because, putting it frankly... it was m/m werewolf porn.

Felt the need to put a full moon in here... just because.
So I hesitated - I didn't want family and friends seeing what I'd read, because I didn't want them thinking I was weird (well... ship has probably sailed on that one... weird-er.)

(By the way, the reason that I don't share my Goodreads profile with you lovely people is that it's linked to personal social media accounts, and, knowing my luck, I'll be the one who the crazy mad-axe-murdering stalker decides to fixate on. It's just inevitable.)

So, did I actually add those books to my account?

Damn right I did!

I suddenly realised that I had to - because otherwise I'm sending a message that some types of books are 'worthier' than others. And you know what? That's simply not true.

Those books (Omega Beloved by Aiden Bates and Omega in Heat by Heather Silver - you can tell that I usually read a lot of fanfiction, right?) while short, and not what many would consider 'literature,' still had things to say.

And, actually, Omega Beloved in particular was very well-written, and gave a lot of scope for development in the further books of the series.

books on bedTo further fan the flames of controversy -

I've tried to read Possession by A S Byatt not once, but twice. This is a 'literary' and 'worthy' book that a lot of people flap on about and are over the moon for.

I couldn't finish it. I couldn't get on with it. I just couldn't connect; I found it too pretentious and wooden.

Would I say that, to me, the time spent reading Omega Beloved was time better spent than the time I spent trying to force my way through Possession? Completely and utterly.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't read things held in critical regard.

Quite the opposite. I'm saying people should be accepting of both.

I didn't like Possession - a lot of people did. To those who genuinely enjoyed it - good on you. It wasn't my cup of tea, so what?

And if m/m romance isn't your cup of tea? Fine. I don't mind. But please don't think there's anything wrong with reading it - or anything else, for that matter, just because other people don't.

Reading is the key part - and then, you can judge the book on its own merits, instead of on preconceptions of genre or style.

No more guilty pleasures! We shouldn't have to feel guilty about reading what we enjoy.

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Friday, 1 January 2016

I Got Ninety-Nine Problems, and Sonja Ain't One

You know me, yeah? The bookish rebel with a penchant for all things nerdy.

I appreciate a good graphic novel. I don't even mind the odd naked lady (I have little shame left at this point.) So when I'm complaining about over-sexualisation, it's for a reason.

What am I blathering on about? Well my erstwhile readers, as a measure of how well, or not so well, my blog is doing, I sometimes Google it. (I know, I know, but really - the search engine is right there and it's not like I'm googling my name; it's for research... *hoping you believe that.)

So, I'm there, googling away, and come across a link to my Red Sonja: Black Tower review on a Facebook group. And at first I'm like, yay! Someone knows I exist! And then I read the first comment...

facebook comment

I was like... hang on, did this guy just completely dismiss my opinions... purely on the grounds that I'm a young woman?
And did this guy even read my review?
Firstly, it was the degradation involved, not the realism. If I wanted to criticise realism, then the mad as a box of frogs storyline would've been in the firing line... though as I mentioned in the review, I was kind of loving the bonkers aspects.
Also, I think my problem was more with the lack of outfit, rather than the outfit itself. But eh, potato/potahto. If you want to ramble on about bikinis then don't let me stop you (am I bovvered? - sorry, Catherine Tate moment.)
Last time I checked, strange though it may seem, characters were an integral part of story; funny that. Therefore, anything that bugs me enough to move me to write about it, is fair game my dears. Otherwise it would be dishonest. And I don't do that.
'Why state the obvious?' he asks. Because I don't like what that obvious implies - that Sonja needs to be nearly naked, butt and boobs to the wind, in order to be popular, powerful, successful, and worth-while. That somehow all her other qualities aren't enough.
I really love Sonja. She herself is not my problem. It's people who can't see past the bikini, and never draw her in actual clothing, that annoy me.
And despite the flaws, I do like the book. Strange that, a 'female reader' - who clearly could never be the target audience of anything and therefore has no relevant opinions *rolls eyes sarcastically* - liking a graphic novel, and having things she both likes and dislikes about it.
It's almost as if I had a mind of my own or something... but maybe I'm just confused. I thought I was 20-something, not 20. You might not think the 'something' matters, but as someone who gets ID'd for things all the damned time, it kind of matters to me. Personal niggle that.
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Friday, 11 December 2015

But With A Whimper

We are losing our libraries.

dream libraryInch by inch, building by building, government cut by government cut, we are losing the buildings at the heart of our communities - the places where we can invest in our present and our futures, regardless of background or income. The magical rooms filled with books.

(Beware, political opinions ahead.)

Of course, I cannot speak for other countries. But in the UK, the place where the problem lies is pretty obvious to me - the Tory government.

Yes, libraries are run by local authorities (councils) and with local authority money, but the cuts that councils have to make are dictated by the trickling-down of funds (or, in this case, cuts,) from Westminster.

Yes, that goes for Wales too - how is the Welsh Assembly supposed to give councils enough money, when they themselves are woefully underfunded?

The list of collateral library casualties to the war on the welfare state is frighteningly large.

Each one of these is not just a library - it's a kid who'll never know the joy of a room of books, a grandmother who can't manage the trip to the next town for a cup of tea and a chat somewhere warm and inexpensive, an unemployed single mother who can't afford internet access to apply for jobs, and her child who can't get the information needed for a homework assignment.

Every blow to our libraries is a blow to ourselves.

In some ways, we can't blame the Conservatives - how could a cartel of spoilt little rich boys ever understand that there are people who can't afford a world-class education, who struggle to buy the books they need for school, and who value a safe, warm, place to do some homework, have a chat, apply for jobs... how could they understand that?

We can't let them take our future.

It's hard to prioritise libraries when people are struggling to feed themselves, or pay the bills, or the rent. But in ignoring each building as it slowly slips away, we are letting the world split itself into the haves and the have-nots.

We need places like libraries: for community, for education, for the equality that only a free public resource can bring. We need libraries for the hope that they bring.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Goodreads Challenge 2015 - One Month Left

Goodreads challenge progress

There's a month left of Goodreads' 2015 challenge. I have 20 books left to read. I can do this!

If, like me, you need to get your ever-loving butt in gear and sprint to the finish line, here's my plan for kicking this challenge's arse. Hopefully, it'll help you out with your challenge-arse-kicking-plan too.

Book polygamy

This is the part of the plan that I have the least trouble with (he he!) - I am always reading more than one book at a time - and I'm pretty sure this is the way to continue!

Short books are your friends

There is no shame in short books. In fact, some of the best books you can read are also some of the quickest. You can get through multiple books at a faster pace - handy for if you need to make up the numbers.

You might want to try the aptly named Quick Reads, and a good dash of comics (or at least, the ones listed on Goodreads,) and graphic novels.

Become surgically attached to your book

...figuratively, of course. Please do not actually surgically attach yourself to a book.

If you have a book with you at all times then you reclaim the lost minutes - in a queue, over a cup of coffee, while trying to avoid a neighbour you don't like (I don't do that! It's just an example!) etc. etc.

Read, read, read, and then read some more!

This is the bite-the-bullet part of the plan I'm afraid. In order to have read your target number of books, you just have to keep reading!

And one more thing...

There's an edit button on your challenge page. Don't be afraid to use it. Seriously, if you're less than 50% through your challenge (for example,) then you may want to consider revising the number down. There's no shame in it, it's just being realistic.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Nerd Church - Where Do We Go From Here?

Are we too old, too bitter, too disenchanted, for happily ever after? Do we believe that the princess lived a happy life, after she and the prince rode into the sunset together? Are we able to believe that everything, from the moment the book ends, is sunshine and rainbows?
True, a lot of books do not end happily - and/or don't end with the characters actually living - but is this our fault? Do we, as fans and readers, not want the ra-ra happy ending, but instead the dark, the ambiguous, the uncertain?
Obviously, it's difficult to talk about endings without wandering into spoilerific territory - and that is not something I really want to do - but if you think of a lot of popular books and series, do they end in happiness?
Those that do go for the fairy-tale style ending are often ridiculed and lambasted for being too unbelievable. That, in a way, is kind of sad; happiness and good fortune is no longer something that we believe we can have - so we don't want the characters in the books we read to have it either.
But then, despite the happy endings (though not for the villains,) fairy tales were originally quite violent. There was torture. There was death. There were beheadings and all sorts of random magical crap. (If you're interested in some good quality retellings of original fairy tales then I'd go for Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales: For Young and Old - I utterly love that book.)
My dear lovely nerds, I honestly wish you to find some hope in your lives - it's ok to be realistic, and often it's quite frankly beautiful to err on the gothic side of life (I certainly do!) - but sometimes you have to look to the brighter things. Even if that means a splash of the unreal.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Are Target Audiences Holding Books Back?

It plays to the favour of the folks in the publishing industry, as well as, of course, the retailers and the authors, to have a definite audience in mind when they're busy flogging the latest bestseller. But does this favour the reader? Or does it limit the sort of book we end up buying, reading, and, ultimately, enjoying?

The Covers

We've all heard the saying 'you can't judge a book by its cover.' But we do, don't we? Because a lot of the time, you can.

If the cover is bright pink, has a bit of glitter, and some sort of fashion accessory or woman's silhouette, then it's likely to be chick-lit. If the people on the cover have no or very little clothing (and this is particularly true of books where the man has a shirtless torso and/or no face,) there is likely to be a lot of sex. If there's a foreboding mountain and a tank, then it's about soldiers and/or war, and likely to be aimed primarily at middle-aged men.

I can think of absolutely tons of books that take advantage of their attractive covers to reel in readers (Twilight, anyone?) A popular book instantly spawns a flurry of copycat covers, and slogans like 'if you liked x you'll love y!'

And all of this is designed to control our spending habits - with the knock-on effect, of course, of controlling our reading habits.

The Internet Recommendations

We're used to the Internet choosing our books for us: Goodreads, Amazon, even the targeted ad banners. As soon as we let the all-seeing net know what books we've enjoyed in the past, we're bombarded by suggestions from hungry publishers and book-sellers.

But does that narrow our reading? If we're only given suggestions based on what we've already read, surely there's a chance that we'll fall into the trap of only reading books of a particular type or genre.

How are we going to read widely, and experience all that the written word has to offer, if we aren't aware of what books are out there?

The Stereotyping/Social Pressure

Where is it written that a straight man can't enjoy reading Jilly Cooper or Sophie Kinsella? Yet I honestly wish well any such person who has the gall to read chick-lit books - frilly covers and all - on the train (or any other public place.) If I were in their position, I'm not sure I'd be brave enough.

Because, while we shouldn't give a sh** about what people think, you can't help but notice when people are judging you. I should know, some of the looks I get at my esoteric library selections are quite unnerving.

But I love Wolverine. If there is a f**king Wolverine graphic novel that I want to read, I will add it to my selection of crime, historical fiction, paranormal romances, and whatever else has caught my eye that day - regardless of the snooty looks I get when I'm checking out.

And the not-so-confident reader? How are they feeling, as they clutch something that is considered inappropriate for their age group, gender, sexual orientation, race, class, or any other factor?

But, I hear you cry, Cee, what has this to do with the marketing of the book? Surely that's society's fault, not the marketers?

Well, yes and no. Sure, there's a hell of a lot to blame society for here. But there's also a lot to blame the marketers and retailers etc. for. They perpetuate stereotypes to the point where they end up creating the stereotypes. They manipulate consumer behaviour to produce sales, with little concern as to where that behaviour leads. But narrow-minded marketing, in the end, can only lead to people staying in the boxes pre-established for them - and both individuals and society miss out on the benefits of a wide range of books in the process.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Bookish Rebel

Hey, I can be a rebel* too, y'know? Let me show you:
*Well... depends on your definition of rebel
I am a clutz. As such the likelihood that I'll accidentally bend or tear pages, spill coffee, or otherwise damage books is high. And I don't care. That's right, check me out! Told'ya I was dangerous ;)
I lend my books out to others... and I don't  mind if they come back in less than perfect condition. Although, I draw the line at marbles embedded in the pages (actually happened to my copy of HP:OotP,) then I will have to verbally kick your a**. Because c'mon, a freaking marble?

Sometimes I start a book series in the middle or just, y'know, dart around them from like, book 5 to book 7, and then back to book 3. I just roll with it - come on people, live a little! Read dangerously!

I'm a book polygamist; I read like 5 or 6 books at once. Because I clearly have a problem. On the plus side, I'm usually in the middle of reading a book that matches my mood perfectly... if I can remember where the hell I put it down... coffee table? Under my bed? Sofa?

I wanna jailbreak reading. Graphic novels are books. Comics are books. Fan-fiction still counts as reading (and will definitely change your views on a few things... ah, my lost innocence...) Magazines and newspapers count as reading. And reading is awesome. I'm going to get an e-reader! I know! Me! The anti-technology chick! It won't, however, be an Amazon k-device. Because I still can't even bring myself to say/type the word. I just don't like them, so will be going with a different manufacturer - but if you do like them, then good for you; I got nothing against you.

I read random assortments of cr*p. This year, I've read things that are as far apart as Quick Reads and James Joyce. And I'm f**king lovin' it! I will not be a slave to genre! I will not be a slave to length! I will try to cut down on the coffee!

So maybe rebel is stretching it... but I had an excuse to use that song... and I regret nothing!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Writer Diaries (Or, I Blog From the Heart, How 'Bout You?)

There are a lot of blogs out there. So very many blogs are out there. Some like to wow with the flashy-flash, some like to use gifs until your eyes bleed, some feel very club-y and exclusive, some very welcoming.

I try to blog from the heart - as random-a** and batty as my heart is. I also try not to worry about chasing followers and views - you chase them, and they'll run away. Wait for them to come to you, grasshopper (man, I haven't watched Kung-Fu in ages...) Anywho, believe me or disbelieve me if you wish, but I try to just be really open and genuine with what I blog, and my reviews. If I enjoy it, and I really think it's worthy of praise, then praise is what it will get. If I dislike it, then I will say so.

I also have to admit that I'm not particularly good at being a part of either the Blogsphere or the Booksphere - you know, the social stuff, and what it's 'cool' to blog about at any particular time. And I'm OK with that. I'm a bit older than a lot of the girls out there blogging (granted, I'm also younger than many other book bloggers,) I have different interests, different life experience, and different tastes (I am nerd girl, hear me Squee!) I don't read things if they don't interest me, no matter how much buzz there is about them. I have my own, sometimes quirky, opinions, about a variety of subjects - and hopefully the people who actually do read this blog appreciate that.

So, I have no idea what spurred this post - something that was brewing in my fangirling heart, clearly. I will write what I mean though guys - always and forever (sorry, I've been watching too much of The Originals,) so I promise that I will do my best (honestly, you can tell I was a Guide,) to be an honest, quirky, and non-bandwagon-jumping blogger. Hope that's ok with all of you :)

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Nerd Church! - 5 Things Characters Do That You Shouldn't

Characters can be awesome inspirations - leading the way through the dark into the light. But they're flawed - and while we love them for it, there's some things they do which you just shouldn't.

1. He wants to kill me? How sexy!

If a dude admits that he is actually fantasising, or having serious thoughts about killing you, you get the hell away from him. No excuses. No 'Oh he's so troubled, he needs me,'  (Nancy in Oliver Twist had that attitude, and look how that turned out,) and no offering yourself up like a sacrificial virgin a la Bella Swan.

You leave him, and possibly consider a restraining order. That way your ass stays alive and you don't have to survive on blood smoothies for all of eternity. And if a dude ever physically hurts you, you up and leave. I mean it - you get out of there: go to a shelter, a friend's, a family member's, a hotel - just leave. Obviously, this also applies to gender reversal, same-sex couples, and any other relationship under the sun. If your partner is abusive, you leave. Your safety comes first guys, and unfortunately there are a lot of YA heroines (in particular,) that you really shouldn't look up to when it comes to healthy relationships.

2. I did the thing

Sometimes there is a reason why people are telling you not to do the thing. Fans of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle will know my pain; I love you, Eragon, but you were told - repeatedly - that you shouldn't do whatever it is that you just did. That is essentially four big books worth of cleaning up your sh**. The lesson here is that doing the thing is not always a good plan.

That's not to say that none of your ideas are any good - a lot of them sure as hell will be! But you need to take advice into consideration, think about the consequences, and weigh up the pros and cons. Then, if you still want to do the thing, do it - but at least you'll have thought it through and not made a decision based on poor information, heat of the moment emotion, and plain stupidity.

3. What we have here is a failure to communicate

So many characters are guilty of this that it actually hurts (Shakespeare, anyone?) Honestly, the amount of crossed-wires leading to tragic results is painful. Talk to each other. Before I bash your freaking heads in. Explain things. And do try not to keep secrets, especially if it's something that effects the person you're keeping it from.

4. I'll let someone else fix it

This is something that adults in YA novels are the most guilty of. There's a war against (delete as appropriate:) evil wizards/demons/the government/another nation? Get some teenagers to deal with it! Like dude, really?!?!

This reminds me of the original (Mighty Morphin') Power Rangers series (which I'm old enough to remember the first time round - albeit I was very, very, small at the time,) where Zordon's response to an evil alien chick trying to take over the world is to assemble a team of 'teenagers... with attitude!' It sounds about as impressive as you think it would.

Dumbledore is very much of the Zordon school of saving the world. Evil army? Deadly mission? I'll get this emotionally unstable teenage boy to do it!

5. Jumping to conclusions

This is not dissimilar to some of my other points. If you leap in willie-nillie then you're going to make mistakes (Eragon, Harry Potter, I'm lookin' at you!) Jumping to conclusions might mean you end up getting someone hurt or worse. And, if you're a book character, you jump to conclusions a lot. You don't trust people you should trust, and trust people you shouldn't, all while your poor, long-suffering, reader is screaming "No! You dipstick!!!!" You've done this, you know you have.

A lot of the jumping to conclusions in books tends to avoid trust in some capacity - and, let's face it, it's not easy sometimes to figure out who's on your side. My advice? Slow down, think things through. At the very least you're less likely to make a horrendous mistake, and that has to be a good thing.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Reading Slump

Normally I'm not bothered by reading slumps - but I think I may've got caught in one at the moment. It seems like I'm reading and not finishing anything - which is doing no good for my current Goodreads challenge target of 200 books (I'm at 135 - which is apparently two books behind schedule.)

Oh well, the important part is to enjoy the reading - and to just keep reading. Which is what I'm off to do!

Monday, 13 July 2015

Reading Addict vs Reality

OK, so we're currently having the bathrooms refurbished, and it feels like the ceiling is going to come down on my freaking head! It's driving me completely bugf**k! I can barely hear myself think - how's a girl s'posed to read in these conditions!

I wish I could dive into a book world for a bit to avoid all the noise - like Hogwarts. Except, Hogwarts doesn't exactly have the most calm of environments...or the best record when it comes to bathrooms...

This is my poorly drawn snake btw; he has sunglasses. Yeah. Sunglasses.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Reading Addict having a Minor Freakout!

Why the hell is Goodreads down! Now what am I supposed to do! I need to add to my challenge and faff around the new releases! How can they do this to me?!?!

Yes, I have a problem.

Yes, I'll calm down now, make a cup of coffee, and try to refresh the page later.

Happy reading everyone!

Friday, 26 June 2015

True Confessions of a Reading Addict

So, I'm reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King at the moment (which if you've read The Shining, I highly recommend, and if you haven't read The Shining then I suggest you read that first, and then read Doctor Sleep,) and there's some stuff in there about alcoholism.

So that got me to thinking about addictions and all that jazz, and I thought about how our (because I assume the vast majority of you reading this post are in the same boat as me and long may it continue,) addiction actually is  an addiction - just not one that requires much intervention unless you combine it too aggressively with book-hoarding and can't find your furniture. In which case you probably need more shelves and the occasional trip with a big box to the local charity shop, or else general help with hoarding.

Anyway, back on point (sorry, too much coffee,) we are kind of addicted - or at least, I am (and not just to the coffee.) Let's think for a sec. - if there were no books left in the world (I know, calm, deep breaths,) then I'm pretty sure I would go into something which very very closely resembled withdrawal. I read every single day. I'm the person who inadvertently reads the cereal packet when preparing breakfast (I know it's a cliché, but it's actually true.)

Last night, I decided to read a page or two of Doctor Sleep before bed - twenty or so pages later there was a musical interlude (OK, not musical, but still,) before Part Two so I could finally stop and get some sleep. (No matter how much I want to, it's not a good plan to read all night. I need my sleep or I have limited resources to beat back depression with. It senses your fuzzy thinking and drowsy mood and pounces when you don't have the energy to fight it. Plus, it makes you tired all on its own, without adding sleep deprivation to the mix.)

But if there were a bookaholics anonymous then it would make for some pretty interesting meetings...hmm...a theme for a future post maybe.

It's a much safer addiction than many we could have though - it's not drink or drugs, it won't take our money as quickly as gambling, won't destroy our relationships and lead to as many lewd jokes as sex addiction, won't make our environment as unstable as hoarding, won't get us in debt as much as shopping (providing we be careful about the amount we're spending on books,) won't be as life-threatening as extreme sports, and won't be as all-consuming and violence-promoting as video games (I mean excessive video-gaming, all things in moderation!) If we have to have a thing, books are about the best we could have: in fact, it's an addiction which, if anything, is good for us and for our general well-being.

So, I guess when they were handing out addictions and obsessions we were the lucky ones; after all, the reader lives a thousand lives...

Monday, 15 June 2015

Do you read an audiobook?

I'm wondering how you describe audiobooks - do you read an audiobook? Or just listen to it? But then, I like to count audiobooks towards my Goodreads total - so isn't that reading? But somehow my brain won't accept "Oh, I read that audiobook before and..." as valid. Is it just me?

I know a lot of people can be a little sniffy about audiobooks in general - and certainly, I (read? - you see my problem!) audiobooks less than I read printed books with all their word-y-ful wonderment which allows me to actually touch the print (I know, but don't judge me!) But I still kind of like the odd audiobook (by which I mean occasionally listening to an audiobook rather than the audiobooks I listen to are slightly odd - which may also be true, but wasn't what I was getting at.) I think that, maybe weirdly, maybe not, listening to classics in particular in an audiobook format works really well.

Hear me out here! - a lot of classics were published in instalments in magazines and newspapers etc., still more were designed to be read out by one member of the family to the others, or to be read at a formal reading by the others. As such, they were practically made to be listened to and/or read out loud. There was no TV in the 19th Century, so lord knows you had to follow the dramas somehow. Someone in the family would read a chapter or two out loud in the evening as pretty much the only form of at-home entertainment, save playing music or games of cards - so trust me, classics in audiobook format work. (And, if you're skint, try LibriVox - all classics, all free.) And, as ever, if it gets people interested in reading and books, then why ever the hell not? #ShameTheShamers

Friday, 29 May 2015

True Confessions of a Reading Addict - The Dangers of Goodreads

I thought I could control myself. I thought I could keep it recreational. Then I started the Goodreads challenge.

I find myself reading things just to put them onto my count. I thrill at the prospect of putting my target up again and again. I spend an inappropriately large amount of time per day looking at the covers, displayed in thumbnail format for my pleasure, of the books that have already gone towards it. There's something truly lecherous about the way I gaze upon my conquests (*creepy voice* my pretties.)

Oh, where will it end? Before you know it I'll be selling all I own just to have the money for one more book - just one more book.

I already flirt my way through reams of pages - I'm unfaithful, sometimes reading whole stacks of books without the others knowing. I don't even insist that they all have dust-jackets - that's right, unprotected reading.

And when I found that many of ComiXology free books counted for the Goodreads challenge, did I tell myself you need to go slow? That there's only so many words you can take before the inevitable overdose? No, I just plough ahead - just one more book, one more page, one more chapter. Then I'll quit. Except I know I don't mean it.

The thing is I don't wanna quit! Happy reading :)