We Need to Talk About… promoting books to teens #Discussion

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We Need to Talk About…is my new discussion post where I ask the blogosphere (that’s you guys) for opinions/advice/rants on anything from ‘how do some bloggers read so many books?’ to ‘how do you rate books?’. 

This week I want your thoughts on teen magazines and why they don’t seem to have book review sections…

A few weeks ago I was in my local large newsagents and decided to have a look through the teen magazines to see if any of them featured book reviews, and I didn’t find one. I was completely shocked! Sure, some of them promote good body image and safe sex practices which is good, but not one of them promoted reading. Considering how huge the YA market is, that really confuses me.

Many of you will know by now that I work in a prison library. Part of my job is to promote reading to reluctant readers and I get to see first-hand the undeniably strong links between crime and illiteracy. So many of the guys in prison that can read, read only non-fiction and when I ask them why they don’t like fiction, the general consensus is because ‘it’s not real’, ‘too unbelievable’ and they ‘can’t follow it’. I wonder why they’ve never enjoyed a good fiction book and why they can’t see what a great escape (pun intended) from prison life it could be. 

There seems to be a lot of focus on reading to babies and children which is vital too, but where do teens get their love of reading from if it hasn’t already been passed on? I’m not knocking schools at all, but I never wanted to read anything the school set me, and reading definitely wasn’t seen as cool. I went through a good few years of not reading because I thought my friends would think I was sad or a geek or whatever. 

One thing sticks in my mind though. I remember that one of the popular girl magazines that me and my friends read religiously often had a free book attached. I still have my copy of Secret Vampire by L.J Smith from that. And that one little freebie made reading cool again. 

Looking at today’s teen (11+) magazines, it saddens me that they don’t seem to promote all the amazing things going on in the YA book industry. 

Is it simply because the internet has taken over and is a better place to promote reading and bring fangirls (and boys!) together? Or are magazines missing a trick here? Maybe they think reading isn’t cool but endless make-up ads are. It’s sad if that’s all that sells. 

What do you think? Should books be featured in teen magazines more? Or do you think they are and I’ve just not seen the right ones? Do any of you write YA reviews for magazines?

Lazy Saturday Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira #YAreview

I started doing ‘lazy Saturday reviews’ as a way of getting reviews done in just 30 mins, and they proved to be quite popular. They are quick and snappy, and concentrate less on the plot and writing and more on my general feelings about said book. They generally end up being a bit of a rant. My fave!

bookishlyTitle: Bookishly Ever After
Author: Isabel Bandeira
Series: Ever After #1
Format: Digital ARC, 416 pages
Publication Details: January 12th 2016 by Spencer Hill Contemporary
Genre(s): YA Contemporary
Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.

Goodreads // Purchase

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Review

Oh, this book!

I was totally into it at first. I think any book-lover would find it hard to resist the premise of Bookishly Ever After, but unfortunately my initial love for it was short lived.

I liked that Phoebe is flying the flag for ‘kooky’ introverts. I liked that she’s a geek and OK with that. What I didn’t like was the painfully drawn-out he likes me, he likes me not… OMG he text me and so on and so on.

On one hand I had totally lost interest by about half way through, but for some reason I couldn’t stop. I did feel compelled to find out the outcome of all the will-they-won’t-they whiny teen angst, so I guess it was successful in that way, but I’m sorry to say that I didn’t enjoy the journey, or where the journey led. It was very bland for me.

I would like to say however, that I’m not really the target audience and I do have a love/hate relationship with contemporary YA at best. If I’d read this when I was in school, I probably would have empathised with the characters a lot more. It also didn’t help that the advanced readers copy I received was really distracting with missing words, jumbled up sentences and ADVANCE COPY plastered all over it. I really tried not to let that influence my feelings towards the book, but it made what was, for me, a slow-paced book even more tedious.

This won’t put me off reading other books by Bandeira in future; I enjoyed her fluid writing style, but not the story.

unicorn rating 2

 

 

Friday Feature: James Frey and the Goodreads Trolls

I am really starting to get annoyed about the Goodreads trolls. I’m a book blogger so I guess I take reading and reviewing books seriously to a degree, but man, some people need to chill the fcuk out.

I’ve personally been involved in two incidents thus far. Firstly, I said in a review that a book was ‘vampire erotica’ and someone felt the need to tell me that it was in fact paranormal romance. I didn’t particularly take offence to the correction, but it was worded in a way which annoyed me. And I just thought why bother!?

The second incident, however, really ignited the rage in me. I requested a book from Netgalley without realising it was the second book in a series. We’ve all done it, right? I didn’t enjoy the book very much, but I put it down to that fact, and made that clear in my review. I even made a point of saying that people shouldn’t be put off by my 2/5 rating.

Someone took offence to this and decided to leave this lovely comment:

I also received this book as a giveaway. Knowing it was a SECOND book, I bought the FIRST book and read it BEFORE I received the other book. It is NOT FAIR to rate the SECOND book so low because YOU did not take it on yourself to READ THE FIRST BOOK BEFOREHAND!!! It is NOT the author’s fault that you walked into the mist in the middle!!!”

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Alright Sarah, Jeeze. Funnily enough, once I pointed out exactly what I’d said in the review I didn’t hear another peep out of Sarah. And the best thing was that the author got in touch and asked if I’d like her to send me the first book to find out how the story began. She obviously didn’t have as many issues with my review as Sarah did.

What does this have to do with James Frey? I hear you cry. I’m getting to it, bear with me.

The other thing I hate about Goodreads is when people leave ‘reviews’ or comments on books BEFORE THEY’VE EVEN READ THEM. I mean, why? You can’t have an opinion until you’ve at least started the book, right?

And that’s what brings me to James Frey.

Oh James Frey, I do love you. I know that a lot of people don’t though, for various reasons, and that’s fine. But is there really any need to fill the Goodreads page for his upcoming book with such vileness. Go take a look.

So it sounds a bit like The Hunger Games? What doesn’t. And while we’re on the subject do these people really think THG was an original idea? REALLY? Battle Royale, anyone? The Long Walk? The Running Man? Gah.

And no one seems to mention the whole concept of this series, probably because they have no idea about it. Each book is a piece of a puzzle that will link up to a Google map, incorporating social media into a global treaure hunt. Kind of a modern version of the Masquerade hunt. It’s explained better here.

I think it sounds awesome, but whatever.

So to sum up: I love Goodreads, BUT CAN YOU JUST STOP. You know who you are.

An Unfortunate Series of Events….AKA Fangirling Fail

Regular readers will know how excited I was to get my hands on The One (The Selection #3). Excited might be a bit of an understatement. I was gagging for it, fangirling over it, waiting for Maxon to arrive at my door, AND I’M STILL WAITING.

Let me tell you the story…

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The One, was due to be released on May 6th. I pre-ordered it from Amazon, mainly for ease and because I knew it would be cheaper than if I went to Waterstones (the only bookshop in town). Oh, and also because you could send off for a The One keyring with your pre-order receipt. Yes, I am 12 years old (I’m not really).

I knew it wouldn’t arrive on the day it was released. I expected that. But I did expect it the week later, at the latest. It did not arrive. I was sad.

I was even more sad that EVERYONE WAS POSTING REVIEWS OF IT (not that it’s you lovely people’s fault of course) and I had failed to even get a copy.

So I tracked my order.

Not Yet Dispatched, it said.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT! I said.

Expected Arrival Date: 17th June, it said.

WTAF, I yelled.

Cancel, I pressed. It will be in the shop, I thought. Amazon is clearly just being rubbish.

It was now about 10 days since The One was supposed to have been released. So I ventured into Waterstones. Nothing. I tried not to sound too distraught when I asked the nice Waterstones girl if they knew why it wasn’t in stock yet. She looked at me a bit weird when she typed it in, can’t blame her. I could pretend it’s for my imaginary 8 year old girl, I thought – it’s plausible – but I resisted.

It’s been pushed back, she said. It’s not out until June.

Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, I wailed inside. I probably shouldn’t have cancelled my Amazon order, I thought.

I was not happy. But what can you do.

So, America (the country, not the character!) and who ever else managed to get a copy, I hate you all. And I haven’t read any of your reviews in case there are spoilers.

But, you know what? IT’S ALL OK, because we are also getting a prequel!!! Eeeek. It’s not due until December, but clearly, I’m getting used to waiting for things!

There’s always a silver lining. Let the fangirling commence.

PrintBefore America Singer’s story began, another girl came to the palace to compete for the hand of a different prince….

Don’t miss this digital original novella set in the captivating world of Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series. This prequel story takes place before the events of The Selection and is told from the point of view of Prince Maxon’s mother, Amberly. Discover a whole new Selection with this inside look at how Maxon’s parents met—and how an ordinary girl named Amberly became a beloved queen.

Dear Netgalley….

…You have been an invaluable service to me and my blog. You have allowed me read an abundance of books before their release date. You are extremely easy to use, and have asked for little in return – a review.

However, if you ‘archive’ one more book BEFORE the publication date so I can no longer download it, and therefore can not read and review it, we are going to have words. This has been the second time in as many months that a book when originally requested, had no archive date set. And then, at least one week BEFORE the publication date you have suddenly archived it, making it redundant.

It’s not just the missing out on reading the book itself, it’s more what it is doing to my NetGalley profile. I now only have a 60% feedback to approval ratio. That can’t be good can it? Can I dispute it?

Answer me, Netgalley Gods!

Sincerely Annoyed,

Lipsy

Divergent, The Movie: A Rant

I famously hate all of the movie adaptations of books I love, so don’t let this put you off seeing it…

 
Divergent_film_poster
I’ll keep it brief:

  1. NO HOT MAKE-OUT SCENE ON TRAIN
  2. What was wrong with Four’s voice (and he totally wasn’t hot enough)?
  3. NO HOT MAKE-OUT SCENE ON TRAIN
  4. All the Dauntless transfer boys looked the same. It was confusing
  5. Worst tattoos ever
  6. The fighting was lame
  7. SERIOUSLY, THERE WERE NO HOT MAKE-OUT SCENES

But other than that it was OK I guess…

 

*I thought Shailene Woodley was actually pretty good, and I liked the music.

 

Friday Feature: We Need to Talk About…

…reviewing books in a series.

What happened to #1???

What happened to #1???

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. In a similar way to how I find reviewing 5-star (or in my case 5-Unicorn) books difficult, I find reviewing individual books from a series just as difficult.

I’m wondering this as I try to write a coherent review of Monsters of Men, the final book in Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy. But I’m not even talking about trilogies here. They are hard enough, but what about say a book #6 or #10 in a series? How do you, as reviewers, tackle those? I tend to get vaguer with every sequel I talk about!

Here are the obstacles as I see them:

1. Spoilers: It’s pretty much impossible to review one of the books with enough depth without giving away any spoilers from any of the previous books. Depending on the complexity of the series of course, but it can be impossible to mention anything plot-wise that will not give away something that you wouldn’t want to know if you hadn’t read the previous books.

2. Content: And then there’s the actual content of the review. Do you give an overview of the story so far each time, or do you just concentrate on that one book? If you don’t give any background, will what you say even make any sense?

3. Audience: Which brings me to wonder if only people who have read, or at least started the series, will want to read the review? I must admit – I do it. If bloggers put one of those handy ‘about’ bits at the start of their review and it says ‘Series so and so’ #4′ I probably wouldn’t bother reading the review. I might see if it gives the name of the first book to check out, but 9 times out of 10 I wouldn’t read the main body of the post. Don’t get me wrong, blog stats are not the be all and end all for me at all. But what’s the point of spending time writing something and posting it on a public outlet for no one to read it. That’s why we blog right? Especially if you do that for 8 books that the majority of your readers won’t read.

Luckily for me, I am pretty rubbish at sticking to series. I have to be really engrossed by them read every book just because I don’t like to read the same kind of things back to back, and when I take a break from a series to read something else I usually forget to go back to them…and by the time I do remember I don’t feel the same need to read the next book any more. Madness, I know.

One I do want to continue with though are the Vampire Academy books by Richelle Mead. I really enjoyed the first book and I’m waiting for the next one to arrive. Early days yet, but if I do end up reading the whole series I’m wondering how to tackle it. I know I won’t read them all in one go so it could be forever until I finish them if I wanted to review the series as a whole. Or do I just do mini-reviews (I think I like this idea the most – anything to save a bit of time)…?

So I ask you lovely blogosphere…have you come across any of these obstacles? And, if so, do you have any tips to share?

Di & Lipsy do…Divergent

For those of you that don’t already know, Di is my YA BFF and when we get together we get a bit carried away ranting and/or swooning over our latest reads. We are not allowed to discuss The Hunger Games in public, or watch Twilight in the cinema because we get into trouble. A lot.

Our latest joint YA adventure was DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth.

If you want to read an actual review of Divergent, you might want to go elsewhere…but this is pretty much everything you need to know! Oh, and if you haven’t read Divergent, there aren’t any huge spoilers here, but continue at your own risk.

DIV

Did you have any preconceptions/expectations of Divergent before you started it?

DT: I was given my copy by a friend who sold it to me as “The Hunger Games but with guns and stuff” so this is pretty much what I was expecting. I’m still not sure if that was my take-away from it though.

L: I saw so many bloggers rave about it but I never really thought it would be that good. I knew it was Dystopian so expected it to be like THG, because everything is these days!

What do you think of the cover? (It’s sooooo much better than The Hunger Games & TMI covers, I think)

DT: I think it’s shit, but it might just be the version I have. Why is it holographic!?

L: What is wrong with you, what’s not to like about a holographic cover!?? It’s better than these atrocities:

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Overall concept:

L: I thought it was imaginative in places (the fear simulation for one) but too similar to other recent dystopian YA. Factions/Districts/Casts…enough already!

DT: The fear simulation bits were pretty good. I am not sure what I make of the idea of “factions” I think this reminded me more of The Selection than The Hunger Games, [yeah me too!] I think it’s interesting that a lot of books are starting to sort us into categories in our dystopian, shitty futures, in different ways. I think I quite liked the way it was done in this book but I basically think the Dauntless were obviously set up to be “the cool kids” right? Ooh they all wear black and jump off trains they are so DANGEROUS.

L: Yeah I think the idea behind Dauntless was a bit thin. Their Manifesto was pretty ridiculous. I think Roth just really wanted a reason for people to be tattooed & pierced. But I’m OK with that, it was hot.

DT: The Erudite made me think of FRINGE. You know the bald guys, they were well Erudite. [HAHAHAHA yes, THE OBSERVERS!] I also like that I have no idea how to say any of the names of the factions out loud and I also had to look them up online because I couldn’t remember any of them. Nice one.

L: I can only remember Abnegation, Erudite and Dauntless, what were the others….

At one point I was kind of expecting President Snow to pop up and start sending Mutts into the simulation tests….


DT: Let it go, it’s not the Hunger Games!

😦

What Faction….

A) Do you think you are most suited to?
DT: DAUNTLESS OBVIOUSLY BECAUSE I AM AWESOME AND WEAR BLACK ALL OF THE TIME AND HAVE TATTOOS.
L: Naturally! I think I would be a bit rubbish at being Dauntless, but it’s still the one that appeals the most. They hang out wearing black and getting drunk. That is already my life.

B) Would you want to choose?
DT: Weirdly I did find myself thinking this while reading the book which is something I didn’t do with The Selection or The Hunger Games (although for the record in The Hunger Games I would choose district 12 because even though they are starving and stuff they have the best clothes, I really love the whole coal miner/lumberjack look (read: Hemsworth). I think I would probably choose Amity because then I could have a pony. Except I’m not sure how I feel about being happy ALL OF THE TIME.

L: AMITY…I’d forgotten about that one. Are they just really nice? No offence Di, but you couldn’t be Amity. Being happy all the time? Hahahaha as if! And while we’re talking about clothes, why does the Divergent poster have them in Hunger Games wetsuits? Just wrong. IT IS NOT THE HUNGER GAMES.

HGPosters

Divergent-poster
 

 

Characters:

What did you think about Tris? (I hate that she called herself Tris btw. I don’t like it)
DT: Tris is a shit name. At first I really hated her and I thought I was going to give up like I did with Uglies, but it turned out to be OK, we made peace. There was some pretty H.O.T making out on a train segments I totally spaffed over, and she was pretty great towards the end.
L: Yeah it took me a while to warm to her too, but she was pretty badass in the end.

We obviously have to talk about Four:

L: I thought he was a great love interest for Tris, but I only found him hot until he started calling himself Tobias. (What’s wrong with me?) I have a pretty sexy-in-my-pants image of him. Obviously, I have casting rage where the film is concerned.

DT: I TOTALLY ONLY THOUGHT HE WAS HOT AT THE END AS WELL!!![No! I thought he was hotter BEFORE we found out his name is Tobias. That really put me off!] Do you think it was when he took his shirt off and the hot tattoos etc, whatttt![That was pretty fit though] In the film he is hilariously being played by the guy that died in series 1 of Downton Abbey – MR PAMUK hahaha, he is not hot at all. Sad times! I quite liked him as a character as well but thought his whole story line was pretty obvious. NO SPOILERS.

L: It was really obvious, but I was OK with that. He’s damaged. That’s hot. I have no idea who that actor is, but he’s deffo not how I pictured Four.

Christina: What happened to her!? Oh, she’s going to be heartbroken when she finds out about Will. Sigh.

DT: I DON’T REMEMBER ANY OF THIS I was way too jetlagged and really should have read it again before answering these questions, but I am trapped forever reading THE HOST which is THE MOST DULL BOOK EVER.

L: Take that back!!!

Caleb?
I’m hoping he will have a bigger part in the next one too. I think he’s gonna end up being pretty awesome.

DT: WHO THE FUCK IS CALEB?
L: You are RUBBISH.

Favourite Part/Scene?

DT: Hot make out scene on the train, blates.
L: Blates.

What do you want from the next book?

L: I’m scared to read it in case it is rubbish.
DT: Yeah I’ve heard loads of really bad things and I really don’t know if I want to read it. Except that I obviously do, and obviously will.
L: I’m not going to buy or anything, but you are clearly going to lend it to me, right. RIGHT???

I give Divergent all the Unicorns. Take them all!

unicorn rating

Di has an awesome photography blog called Icefloe. You should it check it out!

Related: Di & Lipsy do…The Selection

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Premiere!

Thanks to two awesome friends of mine (LOVE YOU GUYS!) I was able to go to the World Premiere of Catching Fire and the aftershow party on Monday, and IT WAS AWESOME.

I was famously not a huge fan of the first film, but who’s gonna turn down an opportunity to walk down the red carpet?? Err no one, obviously. And I must say, the film was soooooooooo much better than the first one and now I feel like I was maybe a bit harsh about it, but the book is just so perfect!

A few things that happened:

  • We decided to walk around the red carpet twice and it was in no way because we went the wrong way. Honest.
  • The J-Law looked beautiful in a long red coat…not huge on the short hair though.
  • I actually enjoyed the film. Hurrah!
  • The aftershow party was at The Royal Court of Justice which is STUNNING. I have never been plied with so much free booze and food before in my entire life. We only meant to stay for a little while. I got home at 4am.
  • I had to try really hard to not lose my shit over McFly/ McBusted. Especially Dougie, even if he did look stupid in his hat.
  • I may or may not have ‘accidentally’ brushed past Danny McFly on my way to the toilet. I did not need the toilet.
  • GALE WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND 😦 But Finnick was EVERYWHERE.
  • I spotted the geeky guy From Atlantis, no one else had any idea who he was.
  • Too much Champagne.
  • All in all, a successful night of fangirling was had. And we somehow managed to not embarrass ourselves…I think.

The night in pictures:
I didn’t want to be *that* person so I didn’t take many photos but here are some I managed to snap.

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Leicester Square

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The Royal Court of Justice Aftershow Party. In trying not to be *that* person, I basically just took some blurry photos of the building and myself and Di.

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I’m sure I was trying to sneakily take a picture of a Famous here but I don’t know who. #TooMuchChampagne

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Yes, I stole the menu, and what!?

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There was a pretty awesome photobooth!

The Night in Tweets:

So usually I would do a post ranting about the how film is not as good as the book. But I’m not going to this time. I’m going to try and embrace it. See, I can grow as a person! That, or I’m just too hungover.

Festive Recommendations Needed!

I am still in my book funk. I’m finding it really hard to concentrate on anything at all. I am still reading The Wolves of Midwinter and don’t want to give up on it but I’ve never read a book so slowly in my life!!!!

It is however getting me in the mood for Christmas (I know, I know, it’s too early) and I spent all of yesterday watching awful (but good!) made-for-TV Christmas films.

I need motivation to get through the ARCs I have lined up to review, so I figured I could enlist your help. Surely having some books that are the perfect Christmastime reads will spur me on to get through the next 4 books or so in time for the festive period, yes!?

So what are your favourite festive reads? Are you excited about any new Christmassey books this year?

Here is one that I’ve read the last two years in a row:

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Christmas has always been a sad time for young widow Holly Brown, so when she’s asked to look after a remote house on the Lancashire moors, the opportunity to hide herself away is irresistible – the perfect excuse to forget about the festivities.

Sculptor, Jude Martland, is determined that this year there will be no Christmas after his brother runs off with his fiancée and he is keen to avoid the family home. However, he will have to return by Twelfth Night, when the hamlet of Little Mumming hold their historic festivities and all of his family are required to attend.

Meanwhile, Holly is finding that if she wants to avoid Christmas, she has come to the wrong place. When Jude unexpectedly returns on Christmas Eve he is far from delighted to discover that Holly seems to be holding the very family party he had hoped to avoid.

Suddenly, the blizzards come out of nowhere and the whole village is snowed in. With no escape, Holly and Jude get much more than they bargained for – it looks like the twelve days of Christmas are going to be very interesting indeed!