reading – thegrammariansreviews.com

My Bookmas list: 2012.

Dec
10

10 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

 

 

 

  • Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
  • Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
  • The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  • Deadly Little Lessons by Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • The Essence by Kimberly Derting
  • Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver

Despite making progress in finishing my TBR pile, that’s going to change come the new year. I’m excited to get back into all of these stories! ..Except for the one stand-alone and cook book. Obviously. Speaking of which, cooking is something I also hope to do more of come the new year.

What about you?

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On falling behind on blogging.

Oct
14

19 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

As many of you already know, I’m a college student (tackling senior year!). This probably means nothing to you.

But it means everything to me. They tell you college is what you make of it, and well…I’m making the most of it. My schedule is jam-packed. Between classes, work, homework and thesis-writing, I have little spare time in which I feel like doing anything productive. Seriously. I’m all about putting aside the computer and just…not thinking or worrying about stuff.

Because of this, I severely slack on my personal reading and blogging.

But this isn’t one of my typical apologetic, I’ll Be Back Soon! posts.

I was inspired to write this after reading Amanda’s post on the entitlement mentality.

Every winter break and summer, I put a lot of my time into blogging and reading. Not because I have to, but because I want to. After going months estranged from the community, I begin to crave that normalcy and friendship again. In short: I miss you guys! So I throw myself out there. I participate in read-a-thons, try new projects, become a Twitter-holic. In return, I get visitors here. I meet new bloggers. I expand my blog reading list.

Every time I go back to school, I lose visitors. With no new content to draw them in, TGR sits abandoned. The best I can do is offer occasional posts and comments, which is enough to stay in touch with those I’ve grown closer to, but not nearly enough to build and maintain new blogging relationships. Even knowing this, I still, at times, get that nagging entitlement feeling – the one that says, “They know you’re busy. They don’t expect posts. Surely they’ll keep tweeting you as if you’re still around.” Or, “Don’t worry about it. You’ve established a small following of readers. They’ll be here when you return.”

But the truth of the matter is…they’re not. You’re not. You don’t keep visiting a blog that isn’t putting out new content, no matter how often you used to visit. What’s the point in visiting a somewhat-deserted blog?

It’s not that I enjoy feeling entitled. It’s not even like I truly feel entitled. For me, it’s more about knowing I’ve put in so much work, and the thought of it going to waste really bothers me. No one wants their blog or presence to be forgotten, do they?

I don’t know how to manage my time. I have calendar plugins and personal notes to get myself to read and post, but I can’t get myself to ever sit down and do it during the school year.

Is there a way to fix this? Is there something I could be doing to get back on track, to keep blogging while at school? Help!

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When blogging gets personal.

Oct
04

14 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

This post was inspired by Jamie’s story about the collision of her blogging and personal life.

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This site, although comprised of posts about books, memes and other ramblings, is personal. It’s my space that I choose to share. My posts may not be specifically about me, but they are me nonetheless.  I take the time to read and review the books posted on here.  I read and react and post my thoughts to issues happening in the community or publishing world. This post is personal, too.

But, as personal as this all may be, it’s an estranged, or detached, form of personal. Blogger friends, authors and publishers, while easy to talk to, are not necessarily the same as family or friends you see every day (in person).

For me, The Grammarian’s Reviews is a sort of separate personal life. Yes, my family and some of my friends know about it. But they don’t actively read it, search for it, talk to me about it. It’s more of a “Hey, did you post this on your blog?” or “Hey, you can write about this on your blog!” type of relationship. So when people “in real life” ask about my blog, or find out about it, I’m totally unprepared. And, in all honesty, I become defensive and nervous.

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At the beginning of this semester, on the first day of my media writing class, I had to introduce myself to the class and explain why I’m interested in media (and what aspects of it). Naturally, I blurted out that I’m an advocate of blogging because I run my own website.

“Oh, really? What sort?”

Again, naturally, I said, “A book review site.”

“Oh. Well, you can have a plug. What’s it called?”

I blinked. I shrugged. I stuttered. Then, in a much quieter voice, I said, “It’s called The Grammarian’s Reviews.”

I hoped – I prayed – no one would write it down and find it later. As soon as I got back from work, I logged on and checked my site stats. Sure enough, there was a miniature spike in page views. (What looked like a spike was pretty much just paranoia. But still.) I wondered if I’d receive an anonymous comment, if someone would mention it to me before the next class.

They didn’t.

But what if they had? Why was I so afraid? It’s not like I have anything to be ashamed of. I’m proud of my work, and I’m proud of the YA and book blogging community.  But that’s the thing.

In my world, when people initially discover I’m a blogger, they want to know what kind. “A book blogger,” I’ll tell them. That’s inevitably followed by the question “Oh, what kind of books?”

Which is when it all goes to hell.

“Young Adult,” I’ll say.

“Oh,” they’ll reply. “Like younger books?” Or, sometimes, “Like Harry Potter?”

“No. That’s middle grade.”

I already know it’s a waste of breath because they don’t understand and have already lobbed me into a stereotype.

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Jamie’s story made me not only reflect upon this, but also realize that there’s a major difference. Being thrown into the book blogging community, there’s already an established understanding.  We may not blog about the same genres or same books or same issues, but we all have a mutual respect for what each other reads and thinks about those reads.

“In real life,” there’s no established understanding. When someone stumbles across my blog, they don’t already have a respect for the fact that I read or for what I read or for why I blog. It’s like I have to sell myself using my blog, without warning. It puts me on the spot. Every time. I don’t like it, but I’ll never deny being a book blogger and YA book reader.

I just need to work on my confidence when put on the spot.

Do you ever feel embarrassed talking about your blog “in real life”? How can you overcome it?

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Bout of Books mini challenge: relocate!

Aug
14

80 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Bout of Books challenge is all about relocating.

 

I’m currently finishing up The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa, a story that takes place primarily in the mythical locations of the Nevernever, where all the fey and other mythical creatures reside.

….But not anymore!

Because I am officially relocating this cast to the Andes mountain range. And you know what that means. High altitudes. Cold temperatures. Uneven, thrilling landscapes. And snow!

How are these characters going to fare? Well, I think a lot less easier than they have it now. (Except maybe for the Winter Court. Watch your back.) I know the Iron Fey books tend to already be action-packed, but I think this relocation would only add to the suspense and drama. The Courts would be more chaotic than ever. Situations would be dire; there wouldn’t be nearly as much time to waste.

And really… who wouldn’t want to see Grimalkin have to traipse through the snow/cold? Plus, I sense the oncoming of an epic Ash/Puck snowball fight.

 

What book are you reading, where does it take place, and where is it going to relocate?

Leave a link or leave a comment!

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How to prep for a read-a-thon.

Aug
09

19 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

With the start of Bout of Books 5.0 just around the corner, I figured this would be entirely appropriate. Especially because I’m horrible at read-a-thon prepping. (Procrastinator alert!)

 

 

 

1. Wake up early. Or late, depending on how you want to tackle this. I prefer to wake up early in order to start early. But I have known some to sleep late and start in the afternoon/evening.

2. Set aside a few hours of time, even if you have to do it in shifts. Just one hour won’t do it. If you’re really good, you’ll go all Harry Potter and block off an entire eight or so hours. (Of course I say this in reference to when the Harry Potter books were still being released and everyone would set aside an entire day for reading the latest release nonstop until they finished.)

3. Keep your books handy! If you finish one book and don’t have the next one all ready to go, you’re going to get up to look for it, get side-tracked, and end up…you know…not reading.

4. Have snacks and drinks handy! It’s no fun when you look up from the page of your book, snap out of your own little world/reading zone, and hear your stomach grumbling and feel like you haven’t had anything to drink for days.

5. Put your computer on lock-down because you will check Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and all the internet has to offer. Only go on when you want/need to update/track your read-a-thon progress or participate in scheduled read-a-thon chats.

6. Alternate between e-books and actual paper/hardbacks, if possible. Your eyes will thank you.

7. Don’t forget advil. Sounds crazy, right? But, if you’re anything like me, reading for hours on end and straining your eyes sometimes results in major headaches (or worse, migraines) that throw off your entire groove and pacing.

8. Don’t forget bookmarks. If you end up having to leave your reading spot while in the middle of a book, you’re going to need to mark your place. Even if you think you’ll remember the page number. (You’ll thank me when you end up being dragged away for a significant amount of time.)

9. Get comfortable. If you’re going to be reading for hours on end, you won’t want to be in a stiff, back breaking chair. Claim a spot and stay there. Or multiple spots and switch it up!

10. Most importantly, have fun! No stressing allowed. Read-a-thons are meant to be fun, not competitions. If you don’t meet your own goals, no biggie! If you end up chatting more than reading, who cares? It’s all about what you get out of it. Maybe you’ll read two, five, ten books – that’s good! Maybe you’ll meet two, five, ten new blogger/reader friends – that’s good, too! There’s no way to lose. You can only win.

 

 

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TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!

Jul
26

14 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion, News

 

It’s TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!

It really doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging and managing a site for two full years. It still feels like I started just yesterday. To think that I’ve come this far, and gotten through all the ups and downs I’ve encountered, I’m proud. TGR may be young, but it’s not that  young.

In the past year, TGR has really grown:

It made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. (Guide here.)

It introduced a new feature.

Of course, as the sole operator of TGR, I’ve grown too in the past year:

I pursued a new project.

I took the time to appreciate what TGR has done for me, and thanked all of you in this wonderful community. (We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for each other.)

I met Sarah Dessen at my first-ever author signing.

And I’ve read some really  awesome books.

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The thing about book blogging is that it isn’t solely about the books. In fact, a lot of book blogging is about the book bloggers. And this past year has been very kind to me in that department. I’ve not only met new bloggers, but also grown closer to those I met two years ago. Yes, blogging is a lot of work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. And the friendships I’ve formed are irreplaceable. I don’t view those that I’ve met or gotten to know only as book bloggers; I view them as friends.We may live all over the world, but we’re still there for each other. They make blogging worthwhile.

So thank you, my lovely friends. I hope to read and share many more books with all of you.

One of the most important things I’ve learned this past year about blogging is that blogging is about giving back. And I don’t mean through giveaways. It’s about giving back to all the authors who consistently aid our never ending reading needs. It’s about treating each other with respect, and passing along good books. It’s about coming together and sharing knowledge.

It’s not about sacrificing your personal life, your job, or having fun. Book blogging isn’t simply what you make of it, but also who you make it with.

Happy birthday, TGR!

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How to overcome a reading slump.

Jul
12

10 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion

1. Don’t hate yourself for being in a reading slump.

2. Seek comfort, sympathy and similar reactions from others on Twitter.

3. Don’t browse NetGalley or Goodreads.

4. Don’t look at your growing TBR list.

5. Don’t try a book out of your comfort zone.

6. If you tried a book out of your comfort zone and disliked it… refer to #5.

7. Don’t worry about not having any reviews to post.

8. Don’t post meaningless filler content just because you don’t have reviews to post.

9. Get off the computer and try a non-reading activity to give yourself a break.

10. Take a break. Your body and mind will thank you.

11. Ask friends with VERY similar reading tastes for book recommendations.

12. Choose a book that’s relatively short – around 200 pages is ideal.

13. If it doesn’t immediately grab your attention by the first sentence and/or paragraph, save it for later.

14. Repeat #s 11 and/or 12 until your attention is seized.

15. Remember reading isn’t a race. Don’t feel pressured into finishing the new book really quickly. Savor it.

16. Don’t force yourself to enjoy the new book.

17. When you finally finish the new book, start another.

18. Don’t immediately write a review for the first book.

19. Finish the second book and decide whether you want to review them.

20. Remember that you always have the choice to both review and just read for fun. Now celebrate on Twitter!

 

Then get back to reading.

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My reading comfort zone.

Jul
07

7 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

What do you do when a book takes you by surprise? Do you keep reading to see what happens? Or do you surrender and tuck it away in a DNF pile?

I ask you this because, as I keep edging away from my reading comfort zone of contemporary reads, I find myself more and more surprised (sometimes unpleasantly) by new reads. Abandoning my comfort zone has been an ongoing project for myself. Reading used to be black-and-white to me: good reads versus bad reads, genres I like versus genres I dislike. But as I became more involved in reading reviews, and scouring Goodreads for upcoming titles, I realized reading isn’t always so black-and-white. Sometimes it’s worth going out on a limb and picking up a book that you never thought you’d read, no matter whether, in the end, you like or dislike the book.

So what do you do when you try something new and don’t enjoy it as much as you’d hoped you would? As much as you thought you should? Do you give up, or do you plow through?

Lately, I’ve been plowing through. And while this method has been allowing me to experience new genres, writing styles, and authors, it’s also left me unsatisfied. I wonder if I’m pushing myself, if I’m forcing expectations. When it comes to writing reviews for these out-of-the-box reads, a wave of writer’s block hits me. It hits me hard. I wonder if the lack of satisfaction I personally felt doesn’t do the book justice. I wonder if it would be an excuse to outright claim I’m no experienced reader in Genre X, Y or Z. I wonder if I’m turning reading into work, or keeping it as discovery.

I’m still unsure of the answers.

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I couldn’t help but notice, as I was perusing Goodreads, that a lot of the books I’ve read recently have featured much younger characters than I typically go for. Being that I’m no longer in my teens, I’ve found that the older I get, the less I’m able to tolerate and/or relate to younger protagonists (usually from ages 12-16). It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that I can’t stand their pettiness, drama, and immaturity all the time.

I prefer a more mature read, and in the YA circuit, that usually means the novel takes place the summer before college, or in the Junior and Senior years of high school. But I’m starting to find that I can still enjoy YA books with younger characters – that, if done in a truthful way, rather than overdone and making a spectacle of everything, it’s not so bad.

Books like The Fault in Our Stars, Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters, The Fine Art of Truth or Dare, and Try Not to Breathe are examples of recent reads that I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the characters’ young ages. With none of them being older than sixteen, I expected nothing short of mood swings, chat speak and first kisses. But what I got was so much more than that. While an innocence is maintained, explored, or broken in each, it’s their ability to push beyond the stereotypes and immaturity that makes them stand apart. None of these younger teenage characters are exceptionally special (like, say, Harry Potter) but they capture your attention anyway; they bring you down to their level of understanding, then show you what they can become.

They transcend their given ages. And that, I think, is the magic of a good YA book with YA characters.

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Writing and Reading: a discussion.

Apr
11

5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized

“Good” versus “Bad,” Making and Breaking Stories, and Workshops

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately – what makes and breaks a story, for me.  Between blogging, engaging in literature-based discussions in my classes, and going through the Hell known as the writers’ workshop, well, it’s easy for me to begin thinking and then talking about these kinds of things.

Just earlier tonight I had a discussion with a friend about the misconception writers and readers may have about “good” and “bad” stories and “good” and “bad” writing. Both my friend and I feel that there are clear distinctions between the two. For instance, just because I don’t like the Hunger Games, it doesn’t mean I think it’s a “bad” book, or “bad” writing. I don’t like the Hunger Games because I have issues with the characters, dialogue and some plot points. Meaning, I have issue with how the story is conveyed to me, not its literal make-up.

In a workshop setting, I think this sometimes becomes misconstrued, or a little too black-and-white. In my workshop experiences, if the other writers did not like a particular piece, they dubbed it “bad” writing, or equated it to not being able to write well. But I don’t think this is always the case. To be a writer, you must also be a storyteller. And I think sometimes the roles of storyteller and writer become blurred together, though I feel that they’re separate. I think you can have a great story to tell, but, at the same time, be unable to convey it well. Likewise, I think you can construct a very eloquent piece of work, but have it lacking in its actual content, or story. Because of this, I don’t think you can simply label a book “good” or “bad.” There are too many factors – most of them based upon opinion.

When it comes down to it, what makes and breaks a story for me are the characters. If there’s any disconnect between me and the characters in a story (presumably a majority of them, depending on how many are involved), I begin to lack the will to continue reading. I want the character to be a person to me – as real as they can be, whether they’re admirable or despicable. If they simply seem like a cookie cutter (without that being their intention), or uninteresting (again, without that being their intention), then I don’t see the point in me learning about them.

Going along with that, I also place importance on dialogue. The characters may appear to be as real as real can get, but if a disbelieving or ridiculous or lacking or cliched line of dialogue is tied to them, I start to become wary. They can’t just seem real; I need them to sound real as well. What they’re saying has to matter to me, on some level. If it doesn’t, then I know I’m not very emotionally invested, and possibly even interested, in the story.

Characters are what hold my attention – they’re what I cling to when I read. This unfortunately means they can both make or break it for me.

What about you? What makes or breaks a story for you? How do you view “good” versus “bad” writing? What have your workshop experiences been like?

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