Sunday, 26 February 2017

Weekly Round Up #21 : Floods and power cuts - just another week in my 2017

Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


Please leave a link to your blog (if you have one) in your comment or make sure your Disqus profile has your address so that I can visit you back! 

This week has been CRAZY. The rain has almost seemed well-nigh apocalyptic at times and we've had power cuts galore. Not only that my not so busy week turned into... well, busy and therefore I haven't been getting around to visiting all the blogs I want to visit! We've been luckier than some as I know some parts that have had no electricity for days on end...


I've had the strangest reading week - I think I've been in a reading slump... Nothing looks good and I haven't been able to pick up anything I'm excited for - even Rebel of the Sands!!! Book burn out? I hope not! Hopefully I can get out of this funk soon! I think it's a weird hangover after reading and thoroughly enjoying The Wrath and the Dawn and then The Rose and the Dagger and then An Ember in the Ashes! I'm trying to hold off buying A Torch Against the Night because my schedule really can't handle it right now... 

What I read last week:

An Ember In The Ashes

I finished this one early in the week and I loved this book. I can't wait to pick up the sequel but as I mentioned, I'm trying not to even buy it yet because my will power is awful. 

What I am currently reading:

Black SnowSecond TwinRebel Of The Sands

I'm supposed to be reading all of these and yet I've only managed one page of Rebel of the Sands (I think it's the book hangover and I can't imagine investing myself in another world yet), I haven't been able to get back into Black Snow (for some reason even something I was enjoying isn't even appealing). The Second Twin is the fourth book in a children's fantasy series I've been reading for review and finally I've found something I can read. Hopefully once I finish that one I'll be reset.

Up Next:

Six of CrowsBlack Lotus

I've been excited for Six of Crows for a long time and I still want to read the Grisha trilogy. The Black Lotus is a review copy that I have two books of and need to read soon soon soon! 
New Arrivals:

Nothing new for review this week - which is great since my reading has been so slow! Now just to keep myself from making any more requests until I catch up a bit!

Around the Blogosphere:

Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog talks about Why She Hates Starting New Books
The Blog Squad published Part III of our collaborative discussion posts:

And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 24 February 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part III

We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


Di says....

Book Blogging is actually a huge responsibility all in itself - you’re putting your opinion out there for the public to see. Not only that, it’s your opinion on something that someone has spent a lot of time creating. If you’ve accepted ARCs or review copies from publishers and authors you have a responsibility to get a review out there. There’s post scheduling, there’s cross posting reviews, there’s actually writing a review worthy of someone’s time to read! It’s a lot to think about! Yet none of that would be possible or worthwhile without the readers, the followers, the commenters.

As a blogger you want to say that your numbers (followers) don’t mean anything but … THEY DO!!!! Followers matter, pageviews matter, number of comments matter! Not only do all of these things help our credibility as bloggers and they help us get the books we request from publisher: It’s sustenance for our book blogging addiction hobby passion.

When I first started my blog I didn’t realise just how much time and effort would go into it and without the people that I interact with, it wouldn’t be worth it. I love the conversations that I have and the friendships that have sprung up. So while the numbers do matter, for me it’s the interaction that counts the most.

Uma says...

Oookaay...Tricky question.

I love interaction. There are two main reasons why I started my blog are (A) I NEED to gush about books and share my super intelligent thoughts with everyone (B) I NEED to converse and interact with my bookish friends.

I don’t just want to tell you why I loved a book; I also want you to tell me why you did/did not love the same book. Everytime I see a new comment on one of my posts, I jump for joy (Thank you amazing people who comment on my blog. Here are some kisses!) I think I wouldn’t enjoy writing about the stuff I love if there’s no one to read it!

So yes, I’ll go with smaller number but more interactive followers (BUT) I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about the number of followers I have. Everytime I see that my blog has a new follower, I jump for joy too! But when it comes down to either this or that, I’d go with “small number, more interaction” any day.

Amy says...

That’s a really hard question! (Thanks…...Di?!)

I love blogging interaction. I find that interacting with other people on the blogosphere is literally the best thing about having a blog, and, to be honest, I would feel so sad and disheartened if no one ever commented on my blog or replied to my comments on their blogs. Interaction is a huge part of blogging - obviously - and I would seriously miss it if it never happened.
So if I had 200 people following my blog and none of them ever - or at least very rarely - commented on my posts? Yes, I would miss it. Heck, I would miss it. I would probably want to stop blogging. Of course, having a lot of followers helps with getting review copies and ARCs, but I honestly think that I would lose all motivation for blogging if I never interacted with other bloggers. Actually, I know I would.
Interaction with fewer followers is better than having a ton of followers who never interact. That’s what I think.
And so THANK YOU to everyone who comments on my blog :) I wouldn’t want to blog without you <3

Di says....

A lot of bloggers don’t do this, but a lot of bloggers do and there’s some pretty huge bloggers out there that always seem to make the effort. Alyssa @ The Eater of Books and Cait @ Paper Fury come to mind…

Commenting back is actually a pretty hot topic and while I love getting a comment back it’s not something that you can actually rightfully EXPECT. Blogging is time consuming and not everyone has the time to get around to your blog.

Personally I always make the effort to comment back and I am on the Bloggers Commenting Back list because I feel that it’s important to not only spread the commenting love, but to participate in the community. The only way to build a relationship with people is to comment on their stuff and have them come back and comment on yours. You get to know people and establish a rappor that can turn into a real friendship. It all goes back to the reward of interaction. If I visit your blog and comment and never hear back from you…. Well then I may not keep coming back - that’s just the natural course of things I think?

Uma says...

That’s actually hard to explain. I LOVE getting a comment back but I don’t EXPECT it. (Does that even make sense?) I blog hop all the time. I make it a point to visit the blogs of all the people who comment on my blog and leave some love :) But I do understand it’s not possible for everyone! They probably have a lot of people commenting on their blog to blog hop everywhere or maybe they’re busy... So I don’t EXPECT anyone to comment back! I understand it’s different for everyone.

Amy says...

Not at all. Of course I love it when it happens, but I don’t expect it. I absolutely love comments and I love getting them, but whether they come from a “Bloggers Commenting Back” policy or simply because the blogger saw my post and wanted to comment, doesn’t matter to me.  I’m certainly not going to hold anyone to anything or expect them to be as active with commenting as some bloggers might be.   

Di says....

If I’ve taken the time to comment on your blog then I think that it’s only polite for you to take the time to respond - even if it’s only a ‘thank-you’! Some comments, especially on older posts can slip through the cracks (I’m guilty of this myself!) and I understand that not everyone has the time to put into responding to comments, but again, if I don’t get the interaction from a blogger then there’s nothing pulling me back to that blog over and over…

I do know that some people prefer to spend their time visiting other blogs and commenting back over there which is a totally different beast - that’s the same as replying and you’re establishing your interaction in a different manner.

I don’t know - answering these questions seems to be solidifying something in my brain - bloggers should be doing all of the engaging and interacting! Maybe the long and the short of it is that yes, I do expect you to visit me or at the very least respond to me and recognise that I’m commenting on your blog. Is that bad of me? Who knows… But what I do know is that if you make the effort and engage me in a conversation I’m going to meet you halfway…

P.S. I have just read all the other responses and we’ve all mentioned the same bloggers who always interact with their followers/commenters!!!

Uma says...

Like I said, I LOVE interaction. I think it’s good to reply to the comments on one’s blog ‘cause it’s only then that the ‘interact and converse’ part happens.

But again like I also said, I understand replying to all the comments on your blog- especially if you’re a huge blogger with a large following- is really hard! A huge shoutout to Cait @ Paper Fury for being THE most amazing person when it comes to replying to comments. She gets like hundreds of comments on every post and yet replies to them all!

So yes, again while I don’t EXPECT a reply, I’d LOVE one :)

Amy says...

I personally think it’s part of your commitment as a blogger to engage with your readers, and thus reply to every comment you receive on your posts. Of course, this is really hard if you have tons of comments from your “millions” of followers,  and due to school and work and studying and LIFE, not replying to comments is naturally understandable. It takes a lot of time.

That said, I do *swallows and cowers* think bloggers should reply to the comments they get on their posts. And I have HUGE respect for the big bloggers like Alyssa @ The Eater of Books and Cait @ Paper Fury who reply to every comment they receive, despite getting like a hundred per post. I mean, that’s crazy!  It’s just amazing.  

That's all for this week! I hope you will check out the other collaborative posts too!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion post! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

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Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Review: The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

The Hidden Oracle
The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
Series : The Trials of Apollo
My rating: {★★★★☆} 

MiddleGrade Fantasy Adventure
Published May 3rd 2016 by Disney-Hyperion

Source: Borrowed

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus's favour.

But Apollo has many enemies—gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go... an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.

I've always enjoyed Riordan's books and this one did not disappoint me in any way. It was full of adventure, action, diversity, humour and also a depth of emotion that is rare to find in books such as these.

I loved seeing some old favourite characters, although not as many as I would have liked (though the next book promises more on that front) and I loved getting to know Apollo. Riordan has done a marvellous job of portraying a Greek God who has been cast down to Earth by his father, Zeus. I've only ever read Riordan's Percy Jackson universe books, but I love his unique twist on the mythology and the personality that he gives to each of his characters.

The plot felt fresh (yes, even after completing the previous two series!!) and left me wanting more, more, more! I actually loved Apollo and his character development through out the book - he was completely narcissistic and annoying and terribly flawed, but all these things just made his character that much more appealing.

Exercise is nothing more than a depressing reminder that one is not a god.

I loved Meg and the fact that she's such a tough little cookie as well as being a total kick-ass daughter of Demeter (the goddess of grains and fertility). It's not only the hunters of Artemis or daughters of Athena that get to be awesome here in this world.

Now here I was—a servant to Meg McCaffrey, the most ragamuffin daughter of Demeter ever to swing a sickle.

I mentioned diversity but I want to go into that a little more seeing as I read this book as a part of my #FantasticallyDiverse read-a-thon.

  • Cultural Diversity

There are characters of all cultural backgrounds featured in this book (and most of Riordan's books: He's always been wonderfully diverse).

  • Canon Gay Couple

Nico and Will are (still) in a relationship and this is featured nicely in this book

  • Openly Bisexual Protagonist

Apollo openly recognises his bisexuality and mentions how this wasn't controversial at all and that 'we Gods are not hung up about such things'.

We gods are not hung up about such things. I myself have had…let’s see, thirty-three mortal girlfriends and eleven mortal boyfriends? I’ve lost count.

Overall I completely enjoyed this most recent installment of the PJ universe and Camp Half Blood. It was snarky, funny and touching and something I think everyone should have a chance to read.

"When one is a god, the world hangs on your every word. When one is sixteen…not so much."
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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Weekly Round Up #20

Here's my weekly roundup. I'm linking to The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and #IMWAYR hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.


Please leave a link to your blog (if you have one) in your comment or make sure your Disqus profile has your address so that I can visit you back! 

This month has been a pretty terrible month for my 'free time' in which I read and blog... I will endeavour NOT to still be answering comments and visiting back for a week AFTER this post... but no promises. Seriously I will try though! Work has been crazy and then there was the small one's birthday party planning happening and then a bit of impromptu travelling (for work) so overall it's just been a super busy February.

On Friday's I've been posting with 'The Blog Squad' where we are doing collaborative posts about book blogging in general. If you're interested have a look at our first two posts:

What I read last week:

Buzz Books YA 2017

The only book I actually managed to shelve as read this week was the Buzz Books 2017 YA Spring Summer edition. This is a fantastic collection with excerpts from a lot of upcoming YA titles being released at the moment. It's available on NetGalley as a 'Read Now' or if you aren't on NetGalley you can download it from the Buzz Books website. There's also a regular, non-YA edition available. It's obviously going to be terrible for your TBR, but it's well worth a peek!

What I am currently reading:

Black SnowAn Ember In The Ashes

Hopefully I get to finish one of these this week.... 

Up Next:

Rebel Of The Sands

Really looking forward to this one and hopefully I get a good reading week and even finish this one! 

New Arrivals:

The Last MagicianIsland of Exhiles

Guys!!! I got my first ever book from Edelweiss! I'm so excited! The Last Magician is one I've been excited about since I heard about it from Alyssa over at The Eater of Books. SOMEHOW (I don't even know how) S&S granted my Edelweiss DRC request!!!!!! Soooo thrilled.

Island of Exiles was also a surprise 'Wish Granted' from NetGalley. I first heard about this from Danya at Fine Print and I'm really excited to check that one out soon!

And that's my week! How did yours go?
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Friday, 17 February 2017

The Blog Squad: A Blogger Collaboration - Part II

We are a group of three book bloggers situated on different continents but brought together by our love for books and a penchant for talking about them. We’ve joined our forces to create a collaborative series of posts about book blogging and we hope you’ll enjoy the discussions.


Di says....

Absolutely NOT!! In fact, I’ve visited blogs that don’t accept (or request) any ARCs at all - they are totally dedicated to the backlist.

In my opinion if you have a blog and you talk about books for the majority of your posts then you are a ‘proper’ book blogger. It does also help to have a mildly serious book acquisition problem - you borrow, buy or get books thrown at you left, right and center but let me just tell you that if you START a blog you’re going to have an even bigger problem than the one you have now. I acquire WAAAAY more books now than before I had a blog, which is saying something….

Uma says...

Absolutely not! Like Di says, I’ve seen blogs who don’t accept or request ARCs. I think a ‘proper’ book blogger is one who talks about books for the most of their blog posts.

That being said, I do understand it feels ‘important’ or ‘cool’ to be reading and reviewing an ARC. I’m guilty of that feeling. Everytime I get approved for ARCs on NetGalley it just feels so awesome but it’s because of this feeling that I now have tons of ARCs piled up and no time! An advice to new (and old) bloggers, kindly exercise caution and control while using Netgalley or you might just find yourself buried in a mountain of ARCs!

Amy says...

Definitely not! Clue’s in the name ;) If you love books, blog about them; whether you receive them for review or not. I still get library books and blog about them, even when I do receive review copies (or ARCs). As Di says, if the majority of your posts are about books, then you’re  a book blogger. It doesn’t matter where you get the books from.

Since I blog about movies too, I guess I’m not strictly a book blogger. I call myself that because I accept review copies and the majority of my posts about about books, but I use the term loosely. Movies are just as important as books on my blog, so I guess I’m half-half :)   

Di says....

In general I will take a few notes while I read a book (if I remember!!) and I also try to pick out the quotes that mean the most to me while I’m reading and save those away for later too.

I always try to rate a book as soon as I finish it so that I’m rating it on ‘feel’. I might note glaring technical errors in my review, but I don’t want the writing of the review to affect my rating which is based on how the book made me feel and the overall enjoyment factor at the end.

Due to my less than stellar organization skills at the moment AND lack of spare time (in which I do my reading and blogging) I have been totally failing at writing my reviews timeously. I always try to get them out as soon as possible (before I forget any of the details) but sometimes I’ll have to flick back through the book while I’m doing the review.

Uma says...

Alright! Confession time. I don’t take notes while reading. I tried a couple of times but decided that I couldn’t treat the process of reading a book like a job. Having to take notes distracts me from the joy of just reading. I try to do my reviews as soon as I finish reading to capture exactly what I think and feel as I close the book.

I know I’m currently a bit behind on my reviews. I blame the thousand and hundred assignments and tests my Professors at college are throwing at me. But I’ve come up with a new time management plan and will hopefully have all my missed reviews up by the end of the month.

Anyways, while I write a review I focus on three main aspects of the book - Characters. Plot, and Writing. I also make a list of things I liked and didn’t like about the book (I’ve had people tell me they find the list really helpful) and then I conclude by mentioning what I thought of the book in a maximum of 3-4 sentences.

Amy says...

*coughs* I may or may not but totally do OCD about my blog schedule and review process ;) I’m a freak when it comes to organising, and blogging and reviewing just takes that a huge step further.
I take a lot of notes when I’m reading. Always. I have a folder with review notes, and I also write down the dates I started and finished the book. Then, when I’m finished it, I’ll mark it as read on Goodreads with a short “review to come” as the review.  After that, I’ll look in my diary and fit the review in, so I always know at least three days before when I’m going to type the review out and post it on my blog. I try not to hold off longer than two weeks.
Confession: I never write a review as soon as I’ve finished the book. Never. It’s just never worked like that for me. And personally, I don’t find  the review changes because I’ve waited - as soon as I start the review (notes in front of me) all the feeling comes back, so I’m able to type from the heart. (Hopefully).

As for the review itself, I usually do the same as Uma does: divide it into sections of Character, Plot, and Writing.  And occasionally, depending on the book (or movie), I’ll do a “Liked” and “Disliked” list, although I think that can sometimes make the review seem too impersonal and “lazy”. Thus I try to avoid doing that.  

Like Uma, I also provide a three sentence (give or take) concise summary of my overall thoughts, at the end of my review.  

Di says....

I mostly do - even if it’s going to be a horribly negative review. I do this for a number of reasons:
  • Publishers and authors NEED honest feedback - if you have no constructive criticism from your audience it is very difficult to improve. In my reviews I’m not going to attack the author or just say that ‘This book is AWFUL: don’t read it’ and leave it at that - I will back up my reasoning and I will EXPLAIN why I didn’t enjoy something. No matter what, an author has worked on their book a heck of a lot longer than I will work on my review and I will respect that.
  • A lot of readers that first want to check out the reviews of a book will not trust a book that only has highly rated reviews (myself included).
  • I have pretty high standards in a lot of cases and I don’t want to fool any people that read my reviews into thinking that I will rate everything highly - I will not. I am an honest reviewer and I think that’s so important to have any sort of credibility.

At the end of the day, reading is so subjective and no reader will enjoy everything. Publicity is important for a book and I still want to put it out there for other people to hear about something that they might like to read. If a publisher or author asked me to pull a book from my blog - I would do it - but I would still leave the review on my Goodreads because that’s just who I am.

Uma says...

YES! (Please let it slide that I’m currently behind on writing reviews and so technically, I haven’t written reviews for all the books I’ve read. I promise to get to them soon.) But as for whether I write negative reviews or not, I DEFINITELY DO. I’ve written reviews for book I gave 2 stars or almost DNFed.

I think negative reviews are important for readers ,authors and publishers. Authors and publishers are looking for honest feedback and readers are looking for reasons why they might or might not like a book. A a reader, before I begin reading a book (especially a hyped book), I go onto Goodreads and look for spoiler free positive AND negative reviews.

As a reviewer, I make my negative reviews as detailed as I would a positive one. I explain why I didn’t like certain aspects of the book. I also mention the positive aspects about every book I review. I understand that as an author it’s scary to put your book out there and let people judge it so I never just say “OMG, the book was horrible guys. Skip it.” That’s not fair. I never tell people in my reviews not to read a book just because it wasn’t my cup of tea and also I give concrete reasons as to why I didn’t enjoy the book.

Amy says...

Yes and no. If it’s a school book, then no. But if it’s a library book or review copy or simply a book I’ve bought myself, then yes.
Negative reviews are really hard - and awkward - to do, especially if you’ve received the book for review. In that case, I try to focus on the positives while still being honest. I’m also much more aware of what I’m saying and I try not to rant.  
In short, having to write a negative review doesn’t stop me from reviewing the book. But I’ll try not to rant (even when it’s REALLY hard!) and, if it’s a review copy, I’ll be a lot more “gentle” - while still being honest.

So I do review every book I read, unless it’s a school book.

That's all for this week! I hope you will check out the other collaborative posts too!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our discussion post! Please talk to us and let us know YOUR answers below. What do you think of our responses? If you have any specific questions you’d like us to address in the future, please let us know in the comments section below. Stay tuned for next week’s questions!

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