We Need to Talk About…how to choose a new blog layout! #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?’. 

Lately I’ve been thinking about changing my blog layout…

But there are so many to choose from. How do I decide? I’ve only changed my layout once in three years and it feels like a big deal to change it so please excuse my neurosis!

I want a simple layout, but one with a wider body of text and less space on the sidebars and stuff. Any suggestions?

Also, if I change it (I don’t have WP premium btw) is it easy to change back if it doesn’t work? It’s been so long I’ve forgotten how it went down last time. 

I’m also interested to know how often you change your layout, and why?

We Need to Talk About…backing up blogs! #blogging #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?’. 

Today, I’m interested to know if you have your blog backed up… 

OK, so… despite running this blog I’m not very good with computers. I’m good at certain programmes and know some basic HTML but on the security side of things I’m pretty lacking. 

I’m the kind of person that doesn’t think about things until it all goes wrong. I’m reckless with paperwork, passwords, saving things. I ignore signs of viruses. My computer is really unorganised and I don’t understand this whole iCloud business. 

The other day I logged into WordPress (actually, I didn’t have to log in because I have all my passwords saved – see, reckless) and when I went to view all posts, there were no posts. Zilch, nothing, nada. I was pretty panicked. But when I logged out and in again it was fine. Phewwwww. 

Obviously, this is made me wonder if I should be backing my blog up somewhere. I mean, it’s just a silly blog, but I’d be really sad if I lost three years of hard work. What if WordPress collapses? What if it’s just gone and you have to start all over again…? It’s possible, right? 

So I ask you, Blogosphere…do you back up your blog? If so, how/where/how much and is it easy? And no, I don’t have any kind of external hard-drive thingy if one needs such a thing….lend me your thoughts below!

 

We Need to Talk About… ARCs #Discussion #BookBloggers

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

When I first started blogging -over three years ago( !)- I used to do a lot of discussion posts, and I never meant to stop, but somehow it just happened. Hopefully, with the introduction of this regular post I’ll get back into the habit. I have so many burning questions and ideas to get opinions on, so please get involved!

This time, I want to talk about ARCs

There are two very different things that have been bothering me about ARCs:

  1. Do You Count ARCs as books you own?
  2. Why are some ARCs formtted so badly?

1. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. In my monthly round-up posts I do a breakdown of the books I’ve read into books I own or have borrowed, as well as which format I read – paperback, hardback, or digital, and I never know whether to include ARCs as books I own or not.

What do you think? Do you count ARCs as books you own? 

I kind of feel like ARCs should only ever be ‘owned’ by the author & publisher, and that we as bloggers get a sneak peak before anyone else can own that book. So going on that theory I guess I should include them in the borrowed books bracket. But that would just confuse people, right?

2. Bad formatting of ARCs can seriously dampen the reader’s enjoyment of it, I’m sure a lot of you will agree with me. I always try my very best to not let it affect my opinion of the book, but sometimes ARCs are so bad they’re impossible to read…why are they released like that?

I mean, I understand spacing issues and typos and all of those things that might not have been picked up on on early edits, but for example, I recently read one where there were no capital letters at the start of sentences, or hardly any punctuation which made it really hard to read.

At first I wondered if maybe that was a style choice by the author because surely the original manuscript would have had capitals and full-stops? But it really wasn’t the kind of book that would do that on purpose.

So what I don’t get is what happens to manuscripts that alters them so much when converted into an e-book format? Insights, anyone?

What bothers you about ARCs? Let’s rant….

 

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?

Friday Feature: Why are good reviews so hard to write?

For my first proper Friday Feature– a weekly post in which I’ve decided that basically anything goes – I want to get something off my chest.

Why is it so hard to write good reviews?

I don’t know why, but when I LOVE a book, like seriously love it, I find it really hard to construct a decent review.

Is it just me? Is it because I’d rather slag something off than think about what I liked about it?

It’s easy to have a rant, whether it’s a good rant or bad one, but to seriously review a book you’ve loved is pretty daunting. Take Twilight for example (yes, you’re allowed to snort in derision), I love it and I’ve read it a really embarrassing amount of times, yet I completely agree that it’s trashy, often derivative and full of really unattractive character traits.

I might agree with a lot of the bad press it gets but I still love it and I have no idea why. So I’ve never written a review of it. (It is however one of the books on my Rereads Challenge so you can laugh at my attempt at some point!)

So guys, I’m opening it up for discussion, feel free to tell me if I’m just weird:

Do you prefer to write good or bad reviews (I’m guessing most of you will say good reviews, because you’re all so lovely), and which do you find easiest to tackle?

Blog Talk: The average time-span of a Book Blogger?

Rosie_The_Blogger

I’ve been doing this blogging thing since May, so just under 7 months, and I still consider myself pretty new to it. I’m constantly coming across things that I feel I should be including on my blog, and spotting things that I can improve on, such as the quality and volume of reviews, keeping more up to date in the book world, and ways of making my blog look better. For me, it’s a work in progress (as is trying to read quicker!!). Some things work, and some don’t, but I’m just enjoying sharing my book-geek, fangirling ways with the blogosphere.

Because I still feel like a Newb at this, I always just assumed that most of the blogs I follow and love have been around for much longer than mine, and are more established, experienced sites. But more and more lately I’ve been seeing ‘6 months’ or ‘1 year’ anniversary posts or ‘I hit 100 followers’ posts and I’m always surprised that those blogs haven’t actually been going for very long. Which led me to wonder two things:

1. How long is the average time-span for a book blogger?

There’s no doubt about it, book blogging is a lot of work. A lot more work than I was expecting, so I guess it’s not surprising that people would start them up and realise that they just don’t have the time, or will to continue.

2. What is the key to longevity?

Like I said, I’ve been enjoying blogging a lot, and quite soon after I began it just became part of my life. But it is hard to keep motivated sometimes. With working full-time, blogging, and trying to have a social life, my own writing has well and truly taken a back-seat so I do sometimes think what is the point? I just hope the pros (free books, writing practice…) continue to outweigh the cons (too many hours in front of a computer, lack of sleep…).

So I ask you, lovely Bloggers: How long have you been blogging/ How long do you think the average time-span for a book blogger is? And what keeps you going?

And go!