Tag: book-blogger

Discussion Post – Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

Choosing to pick up a book outside of your comfort zone can be scary. What if you don’t like it?

Well, I suppose you can say that you’ll never know if you don’t try it! Today’s discussion post is all about trying to encourage anyone to try reading something out of their comfort zone now and again. I read a lot, and I read the vast majority of genres. That wasn’t always the case though. However, there are genres and topics that I consider myself ‘not to read’. That’s not to say I don’t pick them up once in a while! How do you know you don’t like something unless you take the plunge and give it a go?

If you want to try something new, but don’t quite know how to do it, you can find some suggestions below that might help you on the right track… Or prove to you that your judgement was right in the first place. Who knows? You win some and you lose some!

 

Try a new genre/sub-genre/combination

With such a wide variety of books out there, there is no way you have tried every single possibility. It may be that you have never tried one of the main genres before. Before I started my blog, I wouldn’t pick up horror books. It wasn’t something I thought I’d enjoy.

As a first step, I decided to pick one of the most prominent authors in that genre – Stephen King, and give one of his books a try. My first ever read was The Green Mile. Not only is he an iconic author of the genre, but I picked this book because I was familiar with some the story. I hadn’t ever watched the film in full, but I’ve seen enough snippets of it that I had a rough idea of what was going on. That helped immensely! Having some sense of familiarity helped me gel with the story, and let the new experience of the author and his writing style (and the genre) shine through. I’ve gone on to read a number of King’s books, with plenty more still on my TBR.

Sometimes it isn’t as easy as that though. Maybe you don’t know or recognise a prominent author to start with. In which case, I would recommend picking up a book that ties into multiple genres… or is of an audience you relate to. For example, if you want to try to read a book aimed at a younger audience as opposed to an adult book, choose one in a genre you already know and like. Likewise, if you want to try and branch out into another genre, find a book where that genre overlaps with one you already know you get on with. There are so many combinations nowadays that I think you can find something to get you started.

 

Book Clubs/Buddy Reads and Readalongs

If you need a push to pick up something new, then joining a book club or a readalong can be a great way of encouraging you to do so. A group may be able to vote on the book chosen, but ultimately, it’s the overall result from the group that decides what book gets picked up.

And sometimes, that’s not the one you want.

There is nothing wrong with this; in fact, I’d argue that this is a great thing. Not only does it give you the encouragement to try something you wouldn’t pick up on your own, but it also gives you the opportunity to talk about why you come to like it (or don’t – that bit’s up to you). It makes you think about your reading tastes and really define what works for you and what doesn’t. You can then take that forward and try new books with that element that you have found you liked. And who knows, by reading other books that have the same, you may find another topic/theme/genre that you haven’t come across before and also enjoy. And so it snowballs.

If you don’t have the confidence to be a part of a group, then having a trusted friend instead could be a solution. It will be a lot easier to read the book together and pace yourselves in such a way that you can have a more structured discussion every few chapters, if you wish, or even just be able to meet up more regularly to talk about it and have more detailed/meaningful conversations!

 

Recommendations

We can only read so many books in our lifetime, but one of the most valuable resources we can use when it comes to sharing the book love and recommendations is each other! We all have our own slightly different tastes, but we can also have a lot in common with others. If you have a trusted person or a group of individuals with which you have a lot in common, they can give you some really good recommendations that align really well with your tastes. Maybe you already take them up on some of them.

But, it is also true that they can recommend great books that don’t necessarily fit in to your idea of ‘your kind of book’. If you already trust this person’s opinion regarding your similarities, then it’s a reasonably safe bet to trust them on your differences too. They are the best people equipped to give you a recommendation, so why not take a chance and take them up on it?

 

If in doubt, don’t wig out – understand you reading tastes

You aren’t going to love every single book on the planet. For most of them, there’ll be things you like and things you don’t. I have a pretty good idea of what I like and what I don’t like based on my diversity of reading. That is something that comes with experience… and pushing the boundaries now and then.

For example, I don’t really enjoy romance as a genre. However, I will occasionally pick one up (I read The Duke & I by Julia Quinn in May), or read a book where this overlaps with another genre, such as historical romance or fantasy romance. I read The Duke & I, and overall I neither loved nor hated it. There were bits I didn’t like, and unless you read books like that, you don’t really understand what it is you don’t like about them.

My biggest problem with this book is that it flaunted how characters are treated differently based on gender. Men are deemed attractive if they are roguish and rakish, but women couldn’t possibly put a foot out of line or be seen doing anything inappropriate lest they ruined theirs and their family’s reputation. That is what I don’t like… and that’s not necessarily a reflection on the book.

Another example; I have previous experience where I have not enjoyed a book that was not written in traditional prose. Yet, I’m currently reading The Appeal by Janice Hallett, and the story is told through the written communications between characters (text messages, emails, letters etc). Just because I didn’t enjoy the writing style of Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to enjoy The Appeal either. Neither are written in traditional prose, but they are both very different from each other too.

Another example of this is Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. The story of this book is told through interviews of characters after the events of the book have happened, and one of the characters (the interviewer), we don’t know at all. These are all completely different styles, but all testament to the fact that you shouldn’t dismiss one because they have a loose similarity to another. Of the three books, I disliked one but enjoyed the other two.

Instead, define more precisely what you don’t like about a book. The thing I didn’t enjoy about Girl, Woman, Other is that it was written like prose, but it lacked the traditional grammatical structure we expect.

You can see in both of these examples that I have read books out of my comfort zone, and from that experience I’ve been able to take away exactly what I liked and didn’t like. Yes, I didn’t like the gender differences in The Duke & I, but I liked the narrative style. It was easy to read and despite my niggles, it didn’t stop me finishing the book.

On the other hand, I couldn’t finish Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. One of the biggest factors for me is a book’s writing style, and if I really can’t get on with it then it doesn’t matter how good the story is – I can’t finish it. Again, this is something that I’ve learned through experience. I’ve picked up books that haven’t worked out for me, and that’s fine. You don’t have to love everything you read. And if you are concerned about spending money on books to then not enjoy them, then there are ways around this too. If you have an e-reader, you can download a sample to try the book before you buy. Many people will probably have access to a library, or at least an e-library. So, if you’re really not sure, try and borrow it!

 

Conclusion

Try to push your boundaries now and again. You don’t have to do it very often, you don’t have to do it very much. How far you want to take it is entirely up to you, as is the means in which you do so. All I can say is that I have learned a lot about my reading preferences by trying something out of the box.

There are times when it doesn’t work, and that’s fine. You’ve learned from it. There have been many more times where I have found something that I’ve really enjoyed and gone back to again; the experience has broadened my horizons. And I will continue to do so. Once upon a time I was a teenage girl who almost exclusively read fantasy books. Look where I am now… still a predominant fantasy reader, but I also read a wide variety of genres around that. All because I pushed my boundaries.

As with everything, reading taste evolves. I’ve already established that mine has changed significantly in the last 10 years. But just because I’ve pushed the boat out before, it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading out of my comfort zone. I want to pick up new and different books. One of the biggest changes I would like to make is incorporating more non-fiction into my TBR.

Dare I say it, I want to try my hand at romance books that tackle difficult topics. I really enjoyed Me Before You, which centres around a character who wishes to end his own life. That was a romance and I really enjoyed it, even though it was upsetting to read. There are romance books that centre around abuse and other less savoury elements of life rather than just mushy plot lines. Who’s to say I won’t enjoy those? I can’t… until I’ve read them at least. 

If I can push myself, I have every faith that you can too, and I hope this post gives you some inspiration to do so and how to go about it if you’re not sure!

When was the last time you tried something out of your comfort zone?

 

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Discussion Post – How I Manage my Blog

How does someone like me manage my blog, as well as all the reading that goes along with it and day-to-day life in general?

That is the subject of today’s post. If you want a blogger and you’re looking for some insight (maybe you are considering becoming a blogger yourself), or even if you do and you curious about how I manage things compared to you, then you’re in the right place! There is always something to learn and I hope today’s post can give you some insight into what it’s like to be a book blogger.

 

Time

The first piece of advice I can give anyone considering starting a blog is that you have to really enjoy your subject. Having the knowledge to share in the first place is going to take time to learn. Even if you are already well-versed in a subject, there’s always going to be changes that you have to keep on top of.

From a book blogging perspective, it means that you’re going to spend a lot of time reading. If you enjoy it and already partake in the hobby then it’s okay – it doesn’t feel like a chore. If, however, your subject is not that familiar you could end up spending a lot more time on it. If you don’t enjoy it that much then it’s definitely going to be boring. What is the point in spending your time on something you don’t enjoy? The answer is none.

Aside from reading, you also have to manage a blog and draft content on a regular basis (note that by regular I don’t necessarily mean frequency – the emphasis is more on consistency rather than how many times you post a day/week/month). That of course takes time. To give you an indication, I typically post three times a week. I would say on average I spend around an hour to an hour and a half per post. This includes drafting, compiling any relevant information, editing and finally publishing it. That in itself is a decent amount of time to be spending on one post, never mind any pre-requisite reading/research etc. It’s not a ‘quick’ hobby, per se, but it’s very rewarding.

Personally, the speed in which I can create a blog post has increased over the last year. Previously, I drafted each blog post by typing it out on my laptop. Combining the time taken to do this with the rest, I would usually spend between two and 2 1/2 hours on a blog post. Things got a little bit quicker for me when I invested in a tablet. Instead of typing out a post manually, I have employed the use of the dictation function on my tablet to be able to draft my post instead. This makes drafting a lot quicker, but there is a trade-off that a slightly heavier hand is needed on the editing side. I didn’t think I had a weird accent, but some of the word combinations my tablet comes out with suggests otherwise!

If the prospect of spending an hour to an hour and a half on a blog post was already daunting, then you should know that in certain circumstances it can take longer! Honestly, the best advice I can give to anybody is to invest in a device or software that can make use of dictation and then learn to be able to use it. It didn’t come naturally to me when I first started creating posts this way. I often had to spend a lot of time thinking about each sentence before I dictated it. There wasn’t any kind of natural flow. This is something I’ve developed over time, so realistically I can dictate a post now in about 15 minutes tops. It used to take me a LOT longer.

Being organised helps. Having a scheduling plan, even if it’s just a loose one, can help you plan out your posts effectively. Readers know when to expect content from you and it can also help your statistics, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

However, sometimes life does just get in the way. I was originally planning on sharing this post early on Wednesday evening this week. However, we had a brief power cut that ate into the free time I had and put an end to that plan. It just goes to show you can’t control everything; but doing everything in your power will help you manage your time and blog effectively.

 

Resources

Time is probably the most important consideration, but there are other factors at play that need to be considered when you start a blog. In particular reference to having a book blog, you need to have access to books! Sounds obvious I know, but this is the most basic example. Another is having access to the tools to share a blog. There are plenty of websites online that you can use for free to start a blog, but there are other options available, such as self-hosting. You will need to look into and consider in-depth if it’s something you’re interested in. There is little bit more to it than just using an online site, but at the same time I operate a self-hosted site and I’m no expert. I’ve got it set up and it works. I try not to touch any of the settings or play around with it beyond that.

Sometimes the resources you need to run a blog cost money. Whilst you can have a free blog run from a website such as WordPress, and you can access books from the library, there may be some costs need to take on. Self-hosting a blog costs money; the antispam protection costs money. And obviously, buying books cost money. What I’m saying here is that sometimes you have to be prepared to invest in your hobby; if you ask yourself that question and the answer is no, then I would really suggest you consider taking it on at all.

I hope I’ve been able to share something of interest with you and that you have learned something from today’s post. Are you considering setting up a blog? Do you have any further questions that I can help you with? Equally, are you already a blogger and have you got any tips you would like to share with others?

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Book Review: Individutopia – Joss Sheldon

Individutopia is enjoyable to read, whether you read it at face value or consider the political/dystopian elements of the plot. Now, I’m not much of a politician, so don’t expect too much rambling from me on that side of the fence. I do think some of the ideas, although extreme, are interesting though. I’ll discuss that in more detail later.

 

*** I was kindly provided with a copy of Individutopia by the author in exchange for a review. All the opinions stated are my own***

Individutopia

Goodreads – Individutopia

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SOCIETY

Beloved friend,

The year is 2084, and that famous Margaret Thatcher quote has become a reality: There really is no such thing as society. No one speaks to anyone else. No one looks at anyone else. People don’t collaborate, they only compete.

I hate to admit it, but this has had tragic consequences. Unable to satisfy their social urges, the population has fallen into a pit of depression and anxiety. Suicide has become the norm.

It all sounds rather morbid, does it not? But please don’t despair, there is hope, and it comes in the form of our hero: Renee Ann Blanca. Wishing to fill the society-shaped hole in her life, our Renee does the unthinkable: She goes in search of human company! It’s a radical act and an enormous challenge. But that, I suppose, is why her tale’s worth recounting. It’s as gripping as it is touching, and I think you’re going to love it…

Your trusty narrator,

PP

 

My Thoughts…

Our narrator is a consistent 3rd person, following the life of Renee Ann Blanca quite intimately. Born into a world with scarcely any human contact, she is raised by a robot until she is old enough to fend for herself. She lives in a pod she cannot even stand in and surrounds herself with virtual avatars to make up for the lack of human company. Renee is stuck in a monotonous, desperate lifestyle of competing against others… until she breaks free.

Individutopia is a nice length – not so short that you don’t have time to get into the narrative but equally it isn’t repetitive, or slow. The light, conversational tone makes the topic less formal and therefore more approachable to the potential reader. In an informal fashion, the novel portrays the differences in the two parallels – society and individualism. I find the tone of the book to help in achieving this without being rigid, forced, or dull.

The time period the narrative takes place in is some years into our future. The social (or lack of) environment is completely alien and to an extent, a degree of world building is required to set the scene. Joss achieves this well, by introducing the reader to various aspects of the “alternative world” (for want of a phrase) gradually and consistently. Clearly, a lot of time and effort has gone into developing this novel. It pays off.

There are a few elements of Invidutopia’s narrative that are a little closer to home than we may like to think. Everything is a competition. Renee is constantly ranked against others. The mindset Renee grows up with is to work, constantly. Those that do not are shamed for it… practically spat upon, if they could see each other to do it, that is.

 

Individutopia today?

Are we pitted against each other? Are we pressured to be the best or look the best now, never mind in this dystopian world? Absolutely! Magazines, television and social media have proven to be huge catalysts to this ideology. Social media has also proven a nasty culprit for isolation – isn’t that ironic.

And here is another thought, ladies, and gents. Be honest, how many of you opt to put your headphones and listen to music privately in your downtime?

I do. I’m guilty. Once upon a time, our forebears couldn’t get out of that awkward chat on public transport by putting headphones in, or spend their lunch hour avoiding as many people as possible. Are we already setting ourselves up for an individualistic world in the future? I hope that nothing as extreme as that in Individutopia comes to pass. It’s an interesting question though.

 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 29th July 2018

I look forward to writing my Sunday Summary post every week. I know it’s hard to believe, but the art of committing my week to paper a blog post JUST pips the prospect of looking forward to a 6:40am start the following day.

I’m weird, right?!

This week I have been back to the early starts and long days. I already wish I have another holiday to look forward to. Getting back into the blogging routine has been both joyously familiar and hard work. It’s easy to get out the habit, I think. Not only that, I don’t exactly do things by halves. This will be my fourth blog post this week, which is a rarity.

I posted my first Top Ten Tuesday for a while, and this time I focussed on the books I am looking forward to re-reading at some point. Most of them are either books read in my childhood/teenage years, or influential books that cover difficult topics.

On Friday, I was a part of the cover reveal for book four of the Gemeta Stone series by Donna Migliaccio, Ragis. As a part of that cover reveal, there is currently a giveaway for a chance to win a necklace just like the Gemeta Stone itself. Don’t leave it too late to get your entry in!

Then, yesterday, (slightly later than billed, sorry) I shared my review for A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. I originally intended to read this book earlier on in the year, but as usual, things get in the way. Anyway, I finally got there!

 

Books Read

Children of Blood & Bone

Not only have I been busy at work and generally getting back into the daily grind – ahem… routine, I’ve also been catching up with friends and family since coming back from my trip. The yarn I am setting up here is that I didn’t get to read as much as I had hoped. This week, I have made progress with reading Children of Blood & Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, but that’s all. Usually I have at least two books listed here – but, as I said, I’ve been busy. I’ll be better I promise!!

 

Books Discovered

I added one book to the list this week, which is pretty restrained for me. I have enjoyed reading a couple of historical fiction novels based around Ancient Egypt. With that in mind, I’ve added The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt to the list!

Whilst not strictly an addition to the list (because it’s already on there), I purchased a copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak this week. I originally added The Book Thief to my TBR in June last year, but as the opportunity came up to get hold of a copy – I did!

 

Coming Up…

I feel like I say this EVERY SINGLE TIME, but its August next week. I’m just going to let that sink in. AUGUST!!! It barely feels like two minutes ago since I was saying that about March. Anyone who says time doesn’t run away from you faster the older you get is a liar.

A new month means a new reading list! Tuesday’s are a great day for me to post, so if you want to check out which books I’ll be reading (and maaaaayybe carrying over from this month – oops!), stay tuned. I am determined to get the first book on the list read because I have been trying to read it for ages and ages! I’ll be so disappointed if I don’t enjoy it now! Mind you, it is a recommendation from a friend and I think she has read the whole series. I trust her taste in books. I’m sure I’ll like it.

 

For my post on Friday, I want to write something a little different. My plan is still subject to change – maybe the feature topic in itself will change, but I want to write a discussion post. Once published, I would love some feedback if you can spare a moment or two.

 

 

Lastly, as ever, I’ll be rounding up the week in the usual manner.

 I hope you have a great week and I look forward to seeing you around! 

Sunday Summary: 1 October 2017

Good morning, from a very dreary, windy and rainy Sunday here!!
Another week comes and goes, and this one ends with the realisation that my holiday is over and I have to go back to work tomorrow…
I would much rather talk of the week of freedom I have had as opposed to the week ahead, so I’ll get straight on with it!
 

Books Read


On account of having the week pretty much to myself and only odd jobs to do around the house, I managed to get a fair bit of reading done! I started reading Dunstan last Sunday and at the point of writing my last Sunday summary, I was about 25% of the way through it. Well, I managed to finish this book on Wednesday this week and following on from finishing it, I picked up Making History by Stephen Fry. It was the first time I had ever read one of his books and I didn’t know what to expect. I actually picked this up as it was recommended to me by a work colleague and I wasn’t disappointed! I finished this book on Friday!
 

Books Discovered


I haven’t spent a single penny on books this week… *faints* I must be all shopped out from last week!! That being said, I have added books to the TBR, being Invictus by Ryan Graudin, Before It’s Too Late by Sara Driscoll, The Weight of Shadows by Karl Holton and That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E. K. Johnston.
I also noticed this week that a few of my blogging peers (yes you guys!) have been reviewing the latest novel by Allison Pearson, How Hard Can It Be? which was published last month. It got me thinking back to my school days and I remember starting to read the first book of this now series, I Don’t Know How She Does It. Regrettably I never finished the book, but I loved what I had read… so I’ve decided I am going to pick it up again. It also got me thinking about another quite different series I started reading back at school, being The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. I’m as far as the fifth book of the series, being Soul of the Fire.
I have been paying a lot of attention to some of the books going around the blogosphere lately and I have added one final book that has a lot of discussion lately… A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab!
A Darker Shade of Magic
 

Coming Up…

Tuesday is review day – as always, and this week I am reviewing The Maze Runner by James Dashner. This is one of the exceptions to the rule in that I actually watched the film of this first. I still preferred the book though. More about that on Tuesday!!
On Friday I am taking part in a book tag. Technically I wasn’t tagged, it was kind of an open for all, but I decided to give it a go as it will let you all get to know me better. Hopefully…
Lastly, as ever, I will follow up the week with another post just like this one!!
If you have any thoughts I would love to hear from you! Have you read any of the books mentioned?
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