Blog-Life Crisis: To Blog or Not to Blog? #Discussion #Blogging #Bloglifecrisis

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Lipsyy Lost & Found is coming up to its fifth anniversary (in May). Which is a bit mad! It’s mostly been a joy, but it’s also felt like a burden at times and I’ve just emerged from what appears to be my annual slump/crisis/blog-meltdown.

I always like to take some time off at the end of each year and start of the next but every time I do I have this sudden feeling of relief and freedom which leads me to wonder if I want/need to keep the blog going.

Does anyone else have these melt-downs?

I’m completely aware that the pressure I feel is all self-induced but that doesn’t make it any easier. This year has been my biggest slump yet, and I was very seriously considering not coming back for so many reasons which I’m sure will resonate with many of you too…

The grand ole issue of time: 

This has always been a problem and always will be for those of us with full time jobs & commitments. I started the blog when I had a very boring office job and could work on it during the day. I haven’t had that luxury for three years now so all of my blogging (including reading/commenting on other blogs) takes place in the evenings and at weekends.

Also the more I blog, the less I can read and the less I can read the less I can blog…and I won’t even get started on writing – which leads me to…

What am I really achieving apart from unnecessary stress? Sure, getting free & advanced books is nice and all the other little perks that come along with book blogging but I really started the blog because I wanted to take reading more seriously. I was in desperate need to get a job I was passionate about, so I thought having a book blog would look good when looking for publishing/bookselling/library jobs (and I was right – it did, and I did and…see full circle!?)

But that wasn’t my only aim. I also wanted the structure of writing every day. I dreamed of being a journalist for years, then, whilst studying, I decided I preferred creative writing. After years of trying my hand at a few stories here and there it became obvious that I needed to improve on a myriad of things to ever hope of getting published. I hoped that reviewing books would force me to think about what makes a good story and why, and improve my awareness of story structure and language. I think that maybe it did at first. Back when I put a lot of thought into reviews and what I was reading. But I feel like I’ve just been churning them out lately, trying to get through as many books as possible and rushing through reviews.

This is my main issue at the moment. A lot of the joy has been stripped away. I feel like I’ve created a monster and lost sight of what I wanted to achieve. Before I knew it a hobby turned into a second job, and without the outcome I was hoping for. The all-important time issue has meant that I’ve been posting without editing, reviewing without thought and reading without enjoyment. Which is all a bit pointless really….

However, after a month of really thinking about it and weighing up the pros and cons I realise that I don’t want to give up my little blog, or give up on what I wanted it to achieve. I do think my writing style has improved, and will continue to improve with this blog. I would also miss all of you fellow bloggers who I am forever inspired and entertained by.

And so, the conclusion I’ve (finally) come to is to carry on blogging, but a little bit differently. 

  1. Restrict ARCs/ review requests to one a month leaving time to read what I want to read when I want to read them.
  2. Only reviewing a book when I have something to say: There’s nothing worse than trying to frantically get reviews done when you don’t really have anything to say about it anyway. I may do a summary of books that didn’t warrant a comprehensive review but I won’t be forcing myself to write them for everything I read.
  3. Quality not quantity: This is the big one. I mean it as far as reading and posting goes. No more power-reading! And posts will be written in advance and edited.
  4. No more self-imposed pressure: It’s hard not to get click-happy on Netgalley and to say no to review requests when you like the sound of the book but NO is my new friend. And if a book doesn’t get reviewed on time? Tough!
  5. Introducing new content: I have a lot of other things going on in my life that I love, such as my vintage bookshop on Etsy, my work in the prison library and my own writing (which I hope to do more of with this new approach to life- LOL) so I would like to include those on my blog more instead of just posting memes and book reviews.

What do you think, can it be done?

 

Join the discussion, leave a comment…

Why do you blog about books and what keeps you going?

Do you ever want to give it up?

Do you have any advice for bloggers like me who love blogging but find it difficult to fit into a busy life schedule? 

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?

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?

Friday Feature: It’s all about the Bass Thrones & Thorns!

Do you ever get the feeling you’ve heard that title before, seen that cover a million times, or get déjá vu when reading a synopsis? It seems like we see a different book trend every month lately, whether it’s a hot new sub-genre, a cover style or even a title trend.

I thought it would be fun to explore book trends in more detail, and for this first post on the subject I’m going to look at two words that have been continuously cropping up in book titles for what seems like forever, and they just keep on coming.

It’s impossible to know were it all really began, but for me these two trends began with George R.R Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns. Since then it’s been pretty hard to look at any physical or virtual bookshelf in the fantasy section without being bombarded with both thrones and thorns.

Let’s take a look…

Thrones

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Overview: Tales of claims to the throne and everything that comes with it – war, murder, romance –  have always been popular in both Historical Fiction and Fantasy. But A Game of Thrones definitely seems to have been the game changer here. The ever popular series and accompanying TV show seems to have set in motion a whole new wave of old-world-new-world fantasy.

  • The Throne of Bones  by Brian McNaughton – 1997: I had to include this one just for the hilarious title. It’s not quite on trend with the rest as this is an anthology of Horror shorts.

    “Imagine earthy Tolkienesque characters in a setting full of cemeteries, graverobbers, necromancers, corpse-eaters–even a huge labyrinthine necropolis”.

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  • The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan – 2008: Now this is more like it. The synopsis sounds like a million other throne books that emerged between 2008 and now – but y’ know…still good.
  • The Lost Throne by Chris Kuzneski – 2008: Slight reprieve here as we head more into The Da Vinci Code territory (by the sounds of it). There isn’t even mention of a throne in the synopsis. Band wagon much!
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Mass – 2012: And we have lift off. As much as I love this title and the series in general, I did always wonder why she called it that. The throne in question plays a very little part in the book which makes me wonder if the choice of title was marketing genius over anything else.
  • Assassin’s Gambit (Hearts & Thrones #1) by Amy Raby – 2013: You could be forgiven for thinking this is the exact same plot of ToG from the synopsis. A beautiful assassin, a powerful emperor…that damned déjá vu again!

Thorns

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Overview: I always associate the use of thorns in literature with the Grimm’s fairy tale Little Briar Rose, and many of these books appear to have been inspired by that too. These are stories of broken princes, powerful sorcerers and abandoned castles. We’ve seen a steady resurgence of fairy-tale retellings in the past twenty years, but only recently have so many focused on the thorns element.

  • The Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead – 2008: Richelle Mead is always pretty ahead of her game. She brought us Vampire Academy before the whole Twilight thing went mental, and here she’s at it again.
  • Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – 2011: This was when I first noticed the emerging trend of thorns and it seems to have paved the way for the anti-hero too.
  • Thorn by Intisar Khanani – 2012
  • The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge – 2011: Not to be confused with the iron throne in Game of Thrones…are you getting confused yet?
  • Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman – 2013: This is another one that has been popular in the YA world of fantasy.
  • Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay – 2014: Woah. Double whammy or what. This book is actually described as:

    Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.’

    Why have one trend when you can have two? Mind blown. I also really want to read it now!

Final Thoughts: So there we have it. This is just a snap-shot of the books out there that seem to be following these trends. If this were a battle though, I’d say that the thrones trend may be coming to an end, and the thorns are taking over.

It’s also interesting how much fire, ice and bones are mentioned in both trends. The two themes seem pretty incestuous actually – nearly all of the thorn books also mention thrones, however the same can not be said the other way around. But whether you’re in to Iron Thrones or Iron Thorns, you’re not going to run out of reading material any time soon!

What do you think about these two trends…do you have a favourite??