Announcements, Random Book Discussions

Looking Ahead to 2015

2014 hasn’t been too bad of a reading year for me. It started out pretty good and then I lost steam somewhere along the way. Actually I lost steam about the time I found out I was pregnant AND moving out of state (which was in the same month) … so can you really blame me?

But here’s something I discovered as I was living with my parents during the 3 weeks that we were between houses and technically homeless.

It had been entirely too long since I had picked up a book on a whim at a bookstore and just read it.

So this really got me thinking about 2015 and what I wanted to “accomplish” with my reading. I know it’s going to be a tough year. I still have a gazillion things to do with this house (boxes are everywhere). And let’s not forget the fact that almost mid-way through we will be welcoming another child into this world. So to say that 2015 will be insane .. yeah, that’s a pretty good description!

So …. I am taking back my reading in 2015. I am not going to accept review copies (I have three more previous commitments left, one scheduled for later this week, one at the end of December and one in January – after that, I’m done for a while). I am going to read my books. I’m going to read what I want when I want to. I’m not going to worry about how many books I read, how many pages I read, how many books fit challenges that I’ve signed up for. Nope, nope and nope.

I am reading for me and me alone.

I am not officially signing up for any challenges at this point. There have been a couple of TBR centered challenges that have seriously caught my eye. But I tend to feel bogged down when I sign up for those things. So I may or may not be participating in any challenges. And if I do, it will more than likely be unofficially and something that I keep off the blog.

2015 is going to be a year of reading for me.

And I’m sooooo excited to start!!

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Random Book Discussions

Discussing Why My Reviews Are Always Positive…

So a few weeks ago Jessi over at Novel Heartbeat, posted about whether or not book blogging had made her too critical. I responded with a comment saying that I didn’t think I had become too critical, but that I had learned to choose my books more carefully.

That got me thinking about how come it always seems as if I am writing glowing reviews and rating every single book at least a 4/5.

Which led me to want to start this discussion post.

Does it make you as a blog reader more suspicious when you only see positive reviews on a certain blog?

I’m stumped on this, to be completely honest. Here’s the deal. If I’m not liking a book I’m reading, I don’t finish it. End of story. I simply put it aside. Sometimes if I feel like it could work for me in the future, I’ll hang on to it. But most of the time, I just abandon it completely. So you might see a DNF post every once in a while from me. This is more for my personal book journal than anything else.

However, let me tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, I was a newbie book blogger in 2008. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I’m actually very embarrassed by what my “reviews” consisted of back then. They were pitiful, to be completely honest with you. But what I also didn’t understand at the time was the sheer reach my little book blog could have on the internet.

I read a book that I didn’t like (this was before I gave myself permission to DNF books with no regrets). Okay. I reviewed said book. And I ripped it up one side and down the other.

No big deal, right? It’s my blog. My opinion. Who cares?!

Sure … until the author stopped by and responded to my very negative review. (I should also add that this was the first time I actually had an author comment on my blog, ever!) This could have been very bad for me. He could have ripped me up one side and down the other. He could have blasted me trying to end my blogging career before it even started. But he didn’t. He took the high road. He was very gracious and thanked me for reading his book and hoped that I would give him another shot in the future.

Open mouth. Insert foot.

I felt like a fool. Completely and utterly embarrassed. I made it my motto right then and there that I would watch very carefully how I presented things on my blog. Obviously, I’m not going to lie about my feelings on a book. But there is a huge difference between what I did and constructive criticism. I learned about that fine line that day.

So what does all this have to do with my comment on Novel Heartbeat?

Well, like I said. It really got me thinking. As I was painstakingly handwriting all of my previous books read into my new paper book journal (yep, I went all the way back to 2007 when I started keeping track), I realized that so many of my reviews were being rated 4/5!

Isn’t that a little suspicious? What do my readers think? Do they feel that they can rely on me for honest reviews? 

This is honestly why last year I wanted to throw away my rating system entirely. I sometimes find it hard to put a numerical or alphabetical rating on a book. Let’s not even discuss the fact that rating systems are entirely subjective just because everyone has completely different parameters.

But let me be 100% honest with you. I have learned over the years to understand exactly what I like in a book. Because of this knack, I am able to enjoy almost every single book that I read. Sure, some are obviously better than others. But for the most part, I love everything I read. And as I stated above, years ago I gave myself permission to give up on any book for any reason after 50 pages.

When I pose myself the question that I’m posing to you, I think back at all the times I have read a negative review on some other blogs. Truthfully, I can’t think of all that many. One blogger in particular sticks out for being a very outspoken (ok, I’ll just say it .. she was a bitch sometimes) reviewer. But she has since closed up shop (and no, I’m not naming names here). But to be honest, it seemed like every review she posted was negative … maybe she was just a negative person in general? I know of another blogger who shared with me that she didn’t actually post a review to her blog for every single book she read. I never questioned her further regarding this, but maybe she only posts reviews for the outstanding books and skips reviewing the “eh” ones?

I have it very plainly stated in my review policy that I do not like writing negative reviews (because of my experience with the above-mentioned, but not named, author).  There have been many times I have “passed” on a formal review (and my NetGalley review ratio reflects that…) because it was best for me not to write one. But is that the wrong way of looking at things? Am I handling this the way I should be?

So, dear readers. I have to ask you, does it bother you that you are only seeing positive reviews here at Tales of a Book Addict? Does this make my credibility with you any less? Please be honest with me on this, for I want to make sure that I am not doing my readers a disservice.

Random Book Discussions

Discussion: What do you do…

What do you do when you cannot finish a review book that you have requested?

I honestly have never had this problem before in my time blogging. Sure, I’ve set aside books that I didn’t like – but they were always my own books. This is the first time that I have not been able to get through a review book. This is why I am so particular about what books I accept for review – I only pick books that I KNOW I will enjoy.

I’m conflicted as to what to do. It’s a book that I requested on NetGalley. I waited patiently and got approved just a couple of days before they archived it. I was super duper excited about it – I knew for sure it was a book I would love.

But the problem is that I got 30 pages into it. And I cannot make myself go any farther. I even set it aside for a couple of days and started reading something else in the hopes that maybe it just wasn’t the right time for this particular book. So when I picked my Nook back up I tried to get back into it … and couldn’t.

I don’t want this to reflect poorly on my NetGalley account. I don’t want this publisher to never want to approve me for another book. Yet I don’t quite know what to do.

So I’m asking my readers: how do you handle a situation like this? Do you ignore the “send feedback” feature or do you send something through along the lines of “sorry, this book wasn’t for me and I’m taking a pass on a review”??

I look forward to seeing what you recommend 🙂

Random Book Discussions

Thinking About 2013

Wow … I can’t believe that I actually just typed “2013” into the title of this post! It seems unreal. It seems like just yesterday it was turning into 2012. It also doesn’t feel like I have a 6 month old son – but I do 🙂

It’s always this time of year when I start reflecting back on what I have accomplished in the current year and trying to figure out what I want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

So … as of today, I sit at 31 books read for the year. That’s not too shabby in my opinion. I mean, I did give birth in May. And honestly, I have actually read more books after Garrett was born than I did while I was waiting for him to arrive! Crazy, right? Not really when I think about it – I had a really bad case of pregnancy brain! I couldn’t concentrate on anything!

In 2012 I signed up for 3 reading challenges. Only one of them (Mystery & Suspense) I was able to successfully complete. The other two I made good progress, but I won’t be able to finish them completely. That’s okay though, I’m pleased as to where I am overall.

So what is it that I want to do with my reading next year? Well, I need to read off my shelves. I have been seriously contemplating putting my Bookmooch and Paperbackswap accounts on vacation for the first quarter of 2013. I have a gazillion books on my shelves simply because I cannot keep myself from requesting more books from those sites. I think what I will do is put my accounts on hold and only open them back up to send out books that I know are on other people’s wish lists. I need a serious break from bringing books into this house!

I have already seen quite a few reading challenges that I am really interested in signing up for next year. I need to control myself on that front as well. And I’ve taken on more than a few review books for next year as well. I’m going to have to reign myself in on those requests too so that I don’t get too overwhelmed on review books.

So what do I really want to accomplish? Well, obviously I really want to concentrate on books that I have on my shelves. I’d really like to concentrate on getting some of my series’ caught up. I only have a ton of series that I follow and I hate not being able to read the latest one because I’m so far behind in the series. If only I weren’t so addicted to book series, lol.

There have been many times in the past year that I have seriously considered hanging up the blog. January 1st, 2013 will see me into my 5th year of blogging. I don’t have near the time to commit to it anymore. I very rarely even turn my computer on, and it’s challenging to update with my iPad. I’m also not reading as much as I used to. I was posting anywhere between 1 and 3 book reviews a week. Now I’m lucky to finish 3 books in a month! I sometimes feel as if my blog is full of nothing but memes – and that’s not what I want for this blog, I want it to have meaning – not just posts to have a post up. The blogging community has changed so much lately – things are so competitive and petty. It’s like high school all over again – and trust me, I so do not want to go back there again. It’s just not the same as it was. Either that or I’m just starting to outgrow it. It probably also doesn’t help that for the past 4 years I have kept this blog a secret from everyone I know except my husband. No one else in my real life even knows I have this – I’ve always been to shy/embarrassed about it. It’s not something that I want to share with people I know in real life. And that upsets me, it makes me feel as if it might not be something I should really be doing. However, I worked hard to get the followers that I have and the contacts that I have with various publicists. I would almost hate to throw it all away, but really, my interest is dwindling quickly. I thought that when I bought my own domain name this year I would feel more energized and confident in my blog. And it helped – and actually, I’ve gotten a lot more interest in review requests since doing it – but, I’m still not where I really want to be with everything. I think where I’m going with this is that I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be keeping up with this blog. Sometimes I just want to take it all offline and keep a paper journal. I miss things like paper and pens. For a while I tinkered with the idea of keeping both, but I’m just not sure that I would have the time to do both of them.

I’m just so unsure as to where I really want to go with this blog. I know I will miss a lot of good people who I’ve met through this blog if I do indeed decide to close up shop. But my faithful readers know that I’m so fickle in two months time I might be back on the bandwagon and having a blast with it again, lol. Don’t delete me off your Google reader just yet 🙂

Either way – my ultimate goal in 2013 is to just have fun and read some good books.

How about you – what are your 2013 goals?

Miscellaneous Ramblings, Random Book Discussions

2012 Reading Goals

Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s when I sit down and start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the next year.

So here’s the deal. I didn’t do very well on my challenges this year. I don’t really care though. I have enjoyed what I have read thus far for the challenges. So what if I only *successfully* completed 1 out of the 6 I signed up for? I still had fun. I knew I was taking on too many that I had to go searching for books to fit. At the time I didn’t care. But when it started to get down to the nitty-gritty (August/September/October), I started to pull away from those challenges. I started reading books that I wanted to read. I do this every single time I start to feel the crunch of a challenge deadline looming. But like I said, I don’t care. I have still enjoyed what I have read for the challenges, and for the most part I’m pleased with how I’m going to end the year in the challenge area.

But this post is supposed to be all about next year. 2012. (Think the world will end, lol!?) And here’s the deal. Those of you who follow my blog pretty regularly know that 2012 is going to be an insane year for my husband and I. Why is that? Well, if you haven’t already seen this post … it’s because in June we are expecting our first child. So most of next year is going to be focused on getting the house ready (we want new carpet upstairs) as well as the nursery (paint, furniture, decorations, etc.). Oh and then let’s not forget that when the actual baby comes I’m not going to be doing much reading, heck I will be lucky to get any sleep for a while!

So in 2012 don’t expect to see me as regularly as I would hope. I’m already starting to fall behind. My reading is already hitting a slump. Most of that is due to the fact that I’m either so tired I can’t keep my eyes open or I’m laying perfectly still trying to keep the nausea at bay. Although that latter part, it’s starting to (slowly) disappear. YAY!!

I would like to think that my reading is going to pick up a little bit here in the next few weeks, but the truth is, it’s only just getting started around here for us. See the abovementioned sentences about preparing for the baby.

I may sign up for a few challenges in 2012. There are a few that have already caught my eye. But I’m not entirely sure I want to commit to something officially when I know that I will have trouble completing it. However, I also know that it might help me get back into the swing of things after the baby and once somewhat of a schedule has been established. I’m still on the fence regarding this. But probably look to see some challenge sign-up posts from me in the coming weeks. I just can’t help myself, haha!

I also think I will be stepping back from accepting review books. The fact of the matter is that I just don’t enjoy it like I used to. It takes the spontaneity out of my reading and I tend to rebel against that. I have 2 review books that I need to get to ASAP and I’m just dragging my feet about getting them read. And I know I am going to love one of them.

So reading back through this it sounds so rambling and non-sensical in places. I apologize for that. I’m kind of writing it on the fly. But I wanted to put some of my thoughts to paper (so to speak) about what I wanted out of my reading in 2012. I’m not going to put a number on how many books I hope to read. I just know that after June I hope to read at least 1 book per month. I don’t think that’s too much of a stretch for me.

Oh and I also need to lay off the Paperbackswap and Bookmooch. Stay out of the bookstores. And get my grandmother to read slower, haha! Like any of that will ever happen 🙂

Random Book Discussions

In A Bit of a Conundrum

I don’t even really know where to begin, honestly. I didn’t want to have to even discuss this but it seems I’m going to have to. As part of the September batch on the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program, there was a book called Assassin of Secrets by Q.R. Markham. I was lucky and snagged a review copy. My copy came in the mail this week … the same week that it came to light there was a plagiarism issue and that the publisher was pulling all the books. Fun, right? Of course I hopped online and dug into what was really going on. Apparently there were some espionage fans who have found out that there was blatantly obvious plagiarism. And apparently I’m not talking an idea or a few sentences. Apparently there are entire passages. (You can read more about that here) Wow. I don’t even know what to say about this. So here I am with my review copy in hand … and I’m disappointed. Majorly disappointed because I was soooo looking forward to reading this book. Out of the September batch this was honestly the book I wanted to win the most. I was overjoyed when I found that I was going to be getting a copy! And then this happens.

In a way, I can empathize with the author. When I was still in college I was in an English lit class with a pretty tough professor. He was nice enough, but very tough. He sent me an email one day asking me to stop by during his office hours one day that week. I was a little concerned, but not overly. I knew that I had just turned in my rough draft on the big paper we had to do, but I felt as if my writing and research was solid. Let’s just say that I was blindsided when I got into the meeting only to have him tell me that I was facing borderline plagiarism and that he might have to report me. Whoa. My world was rocked that day. I thought my entire college career was over, and I was only a freshman! But I got lucky. It was only my rough draft and when I told him my side of things we both realized that it was a misunderstanding and that I had failed to cite my sources thoroughly enough. He let me re-work my rough draft and when I turned it back in, with sources out the wazoo, all was okay. I learned a lot from that experience. After that, every paper I wrote was cited to the ninth degree. My teachers loved it, my fellow peer reviewers hated it. But I was determined never to let that happen again.

Now, as I stated earlier, I can kind of empathize with the author a little bit. However, my experience was unintentional. And it was not a work of fiction. I have always marveled at how so many authors can come up with so many creative ways to write novels. Book after book published by authors and each one feels so different. So when I learned that there was a plagiarism issue with a book I had received to review, well I was shocked. And disappointed. And angry. Needless to say, LibraryThing’s powers that be have contacted the publisher who has stated that we do not need to return the book, but that we do not need to review it either. And I’m not going to review the book. As much as I am curious to see what the book reads like (since I know that I am not familiar enough with James Bond to find the plagiarized passages), I am determined not to give this “author” a moment of my time.

I also feel as if some editor somewhere has egg on their face. Who reads these books? Who checks for this sort of thing? In the world of the internet and computers, you can’t possibly tell me that there isn’t a quick check on these things. In fact I know there is. My abovementioned professor had access to a database that allowed him to electronically submit every paper he received for a plagiarism check. You cannot tell me that there isn’t some sort of system in the publishing world.

Someone failed. And it’s not just Q.R. Markham. In my opinion, Markham is a disgrace to all the other honest, hard-working authors.

Have any of my other fellow bloggers received this book to review? If so, had you read it before this all came to light? If not, are you still planning on reading this? What do you plan on doing with your copy now? I have seen where interest in this book has gone up because of this scandal. For me, I have no interest in reading this book anymore. But I’m curious how others feel about all of this.

4/5, 87th Precinct, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, Random Book Discussions, Read in 2011, READING CHALLENGES 2011, SERIES

2011.36 REVIEW – Cop Hater by Ed McBain

Cop Hater
by Ed McBain

Copyright: 1956, renewed 1984
Pages: 236
Rating: 4/5
Read: July 17 – July 20, 2011
Challenge:  TwentyEleven Challenge
Yearly Count: 36
Format: Print
Source: PaperBackSwap point

Blurb: Swift, silent, and deadly – someone is knocking off the 87th Precinct’s finest, one by one. The how of the killings is obvious: three .45 shots from the dark add up to one, two, three very dead detectives. The why and the who are the Precinct’s headaches now. When Detective Reardon is found dead, motive is a big question mark. But when his partner becomes victim number two, it looks like open-and-shut grudge killings. That is, until a third detective buys it. With one meager clue, Detective Steve Carella begins his grim search for the killer, a search that takes him into the city’s underworld to a notorious brothel, to the apartment of a beautiful and dangerous widow, and finally to a .45 automatic aimed straight at his head.

Review: This is the first book in the 87th Precinct series. I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it is definitely a different read than what I’m used to. I don’t read a lot of books that are this old, some of the slang terminology was a little difficult to follow and the police procedures are way different from anything that goes on today. For example, a person being “heeled” was (as best as I could figure) akin to “packing heat”. Little things like that made the book a little different for me. The storyline was interesting, and the bad guy in this book, well I had it completely wrong. I enjoyed this one and I will more than likely read the next book eventually.

Miscellaneous Ramblings, Random Book Discussions

Looking Forward to 2011

2010 is almost over. Unbelievable! Either way, this time of year is always fun for book bloggers. We get to look at the new challenges. We get to think about what we want to accomplish in the coming year. We get to look back at what we have accomplished over the past year. Can you tell that I LOVE this time of year when it comes to my reading? I’m a planner. I’m a list maker. I just eat up this kind of stuff 🙂

Anyways, I have already over-extended myself on the challenge front. I took a step back from challenges in 2010; I still participated, but I really only chose those challenges that were open ended. By that I mean there was no set lists, there was no categories to find books to fit into. I thought that that would open up my reading and really let me get back to what I enjoyed. And it did. I have had a great reading year this year, even though my quantity of not where I would like it to be, my quality has been over the moon this year.

I have already been signing up for challenges for 2011. I had made myself swear that I would only sign up for 5. Well, I’ve already failed on that. This morning I signed up for my 6th (and last!) challenge. Looking over the challenges that I have signed up for 2011, I noticed that I have gotten back into the kind that require you to find books that fit into certain categories. That’s what I wanted to get away from in 2010. But I’ve gone right back to it. I don’t care, I enjoy the hunt of finding the perfect books. It seems to me that I am going to have to step out of my comfort zone (crime fiction) quite a bit in 2011. I like that, I want to challenge myself in that manner.

I still hope to work on the book series that I have going. I always have to resist signing up for the First in a Series Challenge because I already have SO MANY series that I am very far behind in! In 2010, I have really taken a look at the book series that I had been working on. Some of them I still love and will NEVER give up on. However, I didn’t feel so guilty when I decided to step away from a few (Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone; Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar; Janet Evanvoich’s Stephanie Plum) I don’t feel bad whatsoever. In fact, I felt a little bit relieved when I made the decision. I also decided that I would read Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series, but not necessarily every book in the entire series – just those that sounded good to me. I have come to the realization that life is way too short to read books that I don’t like just because they are part of a series that I want to finish. It’s simply not worth the effort.

In 2010 I have had 7 DNF books. This is something that I never would have done a few years ago. But when a book is taking me 2-3 weeks and I’m still under the 150 page mark – it’s time to put it aside. And I feel absolutely no guilt about doing this whatsoever. As stated above, life is too short to read books I don’t like! Although I did have two books on my DNF list that really disappointed me (Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol and Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – I wanted to enjoy those books SO MUCH and I just didn’t….).

In 2010, I became a lot more selective about which review books I would take on. I decided that it wasn’t doing me any good to accept books for review that I would end up not liking for one reason or another. I have become a lot more selective, I have done a lot more research when I’m first pitched a book. And because of that, I have read some really great books that I NEVER would have found otherwise. I’m very pleased with that.

I’m not very well-known throughout the blog-o-sphere. I want to change that in 2011. I want to come out of my shell and start commenting more on people’s blogs. I want people to become aware of me. I want to hold more giveaways (and have more than 4 people sign up….). I’m considering participation in the Bloggiesta coming up in January (although, I have to double check on the dates and make sure that it’s not scheduled for when I have to go to the World of Concrete in Vegas for work.) ETA: Yep, it is indeed scheduled for the weekend I will be gone…GRRR, oh well, maybe next time.

Anyways, I don’t know where my reading will take me in 2011. I don’t want to plan it out too much. I just want to let it take me where it takes me. I hope 2011 is a great year for us; we have some big plans for 2011. And I don’t want to feel too tied down to my reading. I hope to just be able to read what I want, when I want to. And most of all – I want to have FUN!

Random Book Discussions

Why Do I Even Go to the Library?

So at the beginning of 2010, I kind of made a resolution that I would read more books off of my shelves than the ones at the library. And for the most part, I have done really good at sticking to that. But here recently, I have been wanting to read books that are new releases. And I absolutely refuse to buy hardback books since I can devour a book in a few days’ time, wasting the money that I shelled out for the book. So I went to the library on Saturday (my husband was out of town and was not there to keep me from going to the library, haha!). I came home with two books. The first one I finished within 24 hours of going to the library, the second one I am reading right now. But here’s the deal: I have close to probably 300 books on my bookshelves to be read! So why do I continually feel the need to go to the library? I guess it’s the fact that there are books out there that I don’t have and yet I want to read them. But I’ll never be able to own every book that I ever want to read – that would be unrealistic. But as I read the posts in my Google Reader and follow people’s blogs to other new blogs that I have yet to discover, I find more and more books that look intriguing. It’s like an unending circle. I don’t get a lot of books for review, and to be honest, I don’t really want to anymore. So most of my new release have to come from the library. But however you look at it, it still comes back to the fact that I have so many books on my personal shelves unread, I have absolutely no business setting foot inside a library. As I was perusing the Mailbox Monday posts yesterday, I realized how pitiful my post probably looked to others: sure, I had probably more books than most normal people get in 4 weeks’ time, but none of them were new. They weren’t shiny new review books, ARCs, or new releases pre-ordered from various sites. They were books from PBS and Powell’s that have been out quite a few years that will probably sit on my shelves for ages anyway. It’s like a vicious circle for me: get new-to-me books off of PBS, Powell’s or from my grandmother, for them to sit on my shelves while library book after library book is put ahead of them. Why do I do it to myself? I will probably never change my ways, I already have 6 other books on hold at the library that I for sure want to read as soon as they become available for me. But it still makes me scratch my head in amazement that I can have so many books on my shelves and still go to the library!