the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

Us book reviewers love to joke about our out of control ToBeRead piles. We post photos of our TBRs online, we have the “priority” stack, the “read later” stack, the “these are the books I want to read when I have time” stack, which we never get to, because ARCs  keep the first two stacks a few feet high.  We enjoy discussing how many books we want to read, need to read, hope to find time to read. In the blogosphere, this is a thing.

 

I think we joke about it so much, because deciding what book to read next can be paralyzing. And what better way to deal with that stress than to laugh about it?  There are so many choices, so many obligations, it’s easy to get analysis paralysis.  Will you pick up the book you promised the publicist you’d review? Will you pick up the book from your favorite author? Will you pick up the book that your best friend said “hey, I think you’d like this, read it so we can talk about it”. Will you pick up a comfort read that you’ve read a million times but it’s the only thing you feel like reading right now?

 

Fellow Book Bloggers, how do you decide what book to read next?  How do you get past the analysis paralysis? Do you choose your next book based on what you want to read, what you should be reading, what you think other people want you to read?

 

To tell the truth, I’m jealous of organized book bloggers. They are organized. they have a system. they have spreadsheets, and a review publishing schedule. They read books in a particular order, and if they deviate from that order, they don’t tell anyone.

 

Organization is like broccoli, or getting up at the same time every day. I know it’s good for me, I know i should make it part of my life, and sometimes I do for a few weeks at a time. And then I realize that shit is not for me.

 

Don’t get me wrong, i love the excitement of all the TBR photos online, the Mailbox Monday posts, i’m just not organized enough, or committed enough to actually follow through on it.  All those posts I’ve done where I say “Look at all these books I’m going to review soon!” Yep, I’m lucky if I review a third of them in the next few months.

 

I am not organized when it comes to deciding what book to read next.  Nope.  But I am organic.

 

My To Be Read pile is the living room coffee table, and the stacks of book that are underneath it. The corner of the kitchen table, too.

Next to the bed, is what I call the “book graveyard”. Books I picked up, started reading before bed, put down, and didn’t care enough about to ever pick up again.

 

But how do I decide what to read next?

I read next whatever strikes my fancy. Maybe it’s something that caught my eye at a used bookstore.  Maybe it’s something a friend lent or gave me, maybe I got talking to the author at a book event, maybe a bookseller friend or librarian friend recommended the book to me, maybe the cover art got my attention. Maybe it’s the newest book from my favorite author, maybe it’s an ARC that just arrived, maybe it’s an ARC that’s been sitting under the table for 6 months and hit bookstore shelves 3 months ago, maybe it’s a random older title I’m finally getting around to, maybe it’s something a friend recommended. Maybe it’s  a comfort read I’m re-reading for the 2nd or 10th time.  There is no logic to any of this.

 

My decisions about what to read next are completely random, organic, and unorganized.  If I really liked the book I just finished, I will often look for something similar to read next. If I DNF’d a book, I will often look for something completely different as a palette cleanser. Except for the ARCs that are floating around, I choose what to read next with not a care in the world that I have a book review blog.

 

Your turn. How do you decide what to read next?

 

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Hey blogger buddies – do you write negative reviews? And what I mean by a negative review isn’t “this book sucks”, it’s “this book didn’t work for me and let me tell you why”. A well written negative review tells you just as much information about the book about a positive review. When I write critical / negative reviews, it’s mostly to talk about why I bounced off a book, or why I though the book was problematic. Oftentimes, it’s a book that the majority of readers really enjoyed, perhaps the book even won a ton of awards, but really, really didn’t work for me. Any of my friends will tell you I’m not the kind of person to sugar coat. If I think something didn’t work on some level, I’m going to say so. If I was offended by something, or thought it was boring, or thought the POV switches weren’t clear, I’m going to say so. If a book made me, personally, feel like the world of that book is not a world I would be welcome in, I’m going to say that too.

 

I do not write negative reviews to dig at an author, or to convince others not to read that author’s books. I need to make that clear: it is a negative review of a book, not of an author or of their career. In fact, I’ve had people respond to my negative reviews with “that sounds like a book I’d like!”

I’m interested to know if my peers write negative reviews, and how you think about those reviews, because I’m in the process of writing a negative review right now. Many people have praised this particular new-ish novel, but I’m finding it predictable, and with a plot that moves forward solely by the power of “because of course it is” combined with characters that do willfully dumb things. (which will be further explained in the review)

Ok, so sound off in the comments, because I wanna know:

Bloggers: Do you write negative reviews? It that a different reviewing process than when you write a glowing review?

Writers: how do you react when you become aware of a negative review of your work?

It’s extra fun being me, because not only do I write negative reviews, but I then run into those authors at SFF Conventions! Fun! And by fun I mean quite awkward.  Should “I’m going to meet this person!” affect how I review their books? Nope.

Some books are really easy to write a review for.

Others, not so much.

Some books fight me every step of the way when I’m trying to write the review. it’s like they do not want to be reviewed.  Maybe they are shy, and don’t want to be talked about? Maybe they don’t like to be the center of attention? Maybe I should stop personifying a stack of paper and ink.

When the book fights me, sometimes I’ll fight back with instrumental music. Maybe classical stuff, maybe modern stuff or a movie soundtrack. I’ve been on an Escala kick lately. This is music I can get lost in, a musical current that pulls me along to who knows where.  I don’t know where I’ll end up. It’s the same as “getting lost in” a book.

Those books that fight me when I’m trying to review them? It’s not the book that’s fighting, it’s me. If the book had an emotional effect on me, I want my review to reflect that journey, that being pulled along by the current, not knowing where I’ll end up. If the book broke my heart, I want the act of writing the review to rebreak it.  If the book filled me with joy, I want the act of writing the review to add even more joy to my life. If the book took me somewhere new, I want the review to do the same. I want my reviews to be a mirror of what I experienced while reading the book.

And I sure as hell do not wake up every day with that kind of writing chops.  Being able to create that mirror is a psychological state of mind for me.  Sometimes I’m in a rush, or I’m tired, or I feel obligated to get the damn review up. Sometimes the book didn’t put up a fight. But because sometimes I can’t do anything less than write a review that’s worthy of the book, I’m willing to wait for that state of mind, or take steps to trigger it.

If the book fights me, that’s a good sign. It means I had something to fucking say that I wanted said in just the right way.

That’s why this sometimes takes so damn long.

 

I’ve done my favorite books of the year.

I’ve announced Vintage SciFi Month.  See the bottom of this post for an important message*. (I’ve even started reading ahead of time for Vintage Month! never done that before!)

not much else to do but publish some boring statistics of my blogging year.

I reviewed 91 books. about 10 of those reviews were over at SFSignal.

I conducted around 40 interviews, here, at Apex Magazine, and also at SFSignal.

I got to attend some really fun conventions: ConFusion, AnimeMidwest, Context, and Grand Rapids ComicCon.

I learned how to use Netgalley. I am *not* an early adopter, so this was a huge deal for me. Files magically showing up on the kindle is sorcery, i tell you!

Including book (and a few movie, manga and tv show) reviews and a few commentary columns about geeky stuff, I wrote approximately 104,000 words.  That’s slightly more words than Ender’s Game, and slightly fewer words than Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. nice.

The happiest of Happy New Years to everyone, and a huge thank you for goofing off with me on twitter, commenting on my posts, telling me about your favorite books and authors,  and putting up with me when I  simply would not shut up books I was excited about and geeky events I attended.

I’ll see everyone in January! when it’s time to turn back the clock!

Happy-New-Year

 

* regarding Vintage SciFi Month radio silence: I am a jerk and didn’t e-mail back a lot of people who voiced interest in writing guest posts. I still would love to have you write something. Can be anything scifi-ish or fantasy-ish that is from 1979 or earlier: books, author bios, tv shows,  movies, book cover art galleries, radio shows,  award winners, geeky events, a short list of suggested books and/or short stories, etc. Send your guest post to me at redhead5318 at the gmail place. comment below or tweet me if you have questions.

 

 

The other day I posed a random question on twitter, aimed towards book bloggers. it was:

how much time does “content creation” for your blog take? how many hours per week?

Responses ranged from “4-5 hours per week”, to “up to 8 hours per week”, to “it varies”.   But if you are a book reviewer, you’ve got to read the darn book before you can review it, right? so maybe 8-10 hours to read the book, and then 2-3 hours working on a review?

It takes me at least a few days to read the book, sometimes I’m lucky enough that the review practically writes itself in an hour, other times I agonize over a review for days.  So for me, let’s call it 8-20 hours per week. sometimes the book is a fast read, sometimes it takes forever, sometimes I even get two reviews done in a week!  twenty hours a week? Labor of love indeed.

So, to everyone else, on twitter and not, all kinds of bloggers – food/recipe bloggers, webcomic bloggers, TV/movie/anime bloggers, photo bloggers, parenting bloggers, people who  blog about their lives and adventures, people who blog about anything and everything, it’s your turn, and I do honestly want to know.

how much time do you spend, per week, creating content for your blog?

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I recently had the opportunity to get to know Matt, from 52 Book Reviews, a little better. Father, scifi/fantasy fan, and all around cool guy, Matt is pretty new to the blogging community.  This is his first year blogging, but he’s been on GoodReads for ages, and I think he has more Goodreads reviews up than the number of books I own.   Matt has recently reviewed the newest short story collection from Saladin Ahmed, Wool by Hugh Howey, and has a very in-depth interview with Ken Scholes as well. have you bookmarked 52 Book Reviews yet? It’s cool, I’ll wait.

Here’s my interview with Matt:

 
LRR: your blog is fairly new, what made you decide to start blogging about books?

52BR: Obviously, I read a lot. I can’t think of a time when I haven’t had at least one or two books in process in the last ten years or so. What is not so obvious is that I have always dreamed of being a writer. After two abortive attempts at a novel, I decided to channel my need to write in a slightly different direction, and writing about books seemed the best fit. I already volunteer book recommendations to my family, friends, and strangers in the bookstore, so I thought why not do it online to a bigger audience of strangers. At least they won’t look at me funny, like some of the folks in the bookstore.

LRR: Your blog might be new, but you’ve got hundreds of books on Goodreads, going back years! I’m not on Goodreads, do you recommend it an online community that book bloggers should all be involved with?

52BR: To be honest, up until now I’ve only used Goodreads to keep a record of what I read. No one was more shocked than me to find out just how many books I’ve read. These days I’m posting my reviews on the site and have seen a small uptick in hits since then. But nothing beats networking with other bloggers in my experience.

LRR: What are your favorite genres to read and review?

Read the rest of this entry »

Hi Everyone!  This week is Bookblogger Appreciate Week!  They do a ton of themed activities, but the one I mostly participate in is the blogger interview swap.  Each blogger is randomly paired with another blogger, and you ask each other some fun questions, make some new friends, and the best part is that i get to discover a new blog that truly, I would have never found on my own. It’s like getting a random penpal. this is my third year doing Interview Swap, and I’m still in contact with the bloggers I was partnered with in previous years. How cool is that?

This year, I got lucky enough to get paired with Allison from On My Bookshelf. She runs the blog with her friend Holly, and they have all sorts of fun, reviewing novels of many genres, cookbooks, some crafty books, and children literature as tested by their young children. You might know Allison from the Stainless Steel Droppings R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) challenge a few years ago too. Make sure to visit On My Bookshelf for Allison’s interview with me. We talk e-books, vampires, and  scifi in pop culture!

here’s my interview with the super-cool Allison:

You run On my Bookshelf with Holly. How did you two meet? How did you two  decide to start a blog?

Holly’s husband and my husband went to high school together, so Holly and I met through them and found a mutual love (obsession) with books.  Our book blog actually started as a book club with a few other members, but Holly and I were the only ones who always read the book, and eventually, the blog was born.

 You review a lot of non-fiction too, like memoirs, cookbooks, and books on  crafts. How is reviewing a non-fiction book different than reviewing  fiction?

Reviewing memoirs is pretty much the same as reviewing fiction for me.  I’m looking primarily at the story being told, and how successful the author is at telling that story.  Even though memoirs are based on actual events, the art to choosing what to include, what light to cast, and what boring bits to skip is still the core for me. Cookbooks and craft books, on the other hand, are all about how well they convey instructions.  Although I read these books for enjoyment and inspiration as well, I’m reviewing them first based on utility, then noting beauty and style.

You review a lot of children’s books, often by seeing if your kids like  them.  How has your blogging (and being obsessed with books!) influenced  your kids?

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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