Discussion: My Rating System

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Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about my rating system!

Every book blogger has their own way of rating books, so today, I want to talk about the way that I personally rate books. I start with the typical five-star rating system. I never do half-stars (mostly because they aren’t compatible on Goodreads). Although I sometimes feel like I should give a book a half-star, I typically will round downwards anyway. Here’s the breakdown of the way that I look at a book when picking it’s rating:

5 Stars – Unlike most reviewers, for me, a five star book doesn’t not have to be perfect or even a new favorite. I have plenty of 5 star books that aren’t favorites and some four star books that are. For me, a 5 star rating is given to books that make me really involved within the whole world without doing anything that pulls me out of the novel. If I always want to read the book, constantly think about it, or lose track of time while reading, these are signs that I will probably rate the book 5 stars. I’m trying to limit the amount of 5 stars that I give this year because I honestly didn’t remember some of my 5 star books from last year. However, I’m hoping to be more picky this year, while still holding on to the idea of FEELING the book.

4 Stars – For this, I’m looking for books that are really close to getting to perfection, but maybe had a couple minor issues or one major one. Some major issues that I will take a star off for include plot inconsistencies, if something doesn’t make sense, insta-love, or writing that distracts from the book. Minor issues have to combine together, so having one or more issues such as annoying characters, an underdeveloped romance, an underdeveloped world, or something that pulls me out of the book. This is more of a feeling that I don’t quite want to give it 5, but it was still an above average read.

3 Stars – This is just an average book. I didn’t really feel anything about it. This is actually the average rating that I give books which seems to be about fair. There’s not a lot to say here, mostly because it’s just an average feeling. I’m pretty ‘meh’ about these.

2 Stars – I didn’t like these books. I struggled to finish them, it had multiple major issues, or it was just bad. I often will not continue on with books in these series. These books are the ones I have big problems with and it’s the lowest rating I will give any book I finish.

1 Star – Finally, these are all the books that I have DNFed (did not finish). I DNF rather easily and it’s nothing too particular why, mostly just a feeling again. I also tend to DNF early on in the book, although I have done it at 80% before. For me, I DNF books if I’m really struggling, want to read other books, or never have a desire to pick it up again. Some books I will consider re-reading, however others I have totally given up on.

So, that’s it! A breakdown of my rating system. It’s not perfect and doesn’t cover every circumstance, but this is generally the way that I think about the books while rating them. Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of how I review when looking at my ratings here or on Goodreads.

How do you rate books?

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Discussion: My Perfect Historical Fantasy Book

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Today continues in my new feature, talking about what makes my perfect book in a particular genre! I did fantasy one a while ago and this past month, followed it up with supernatural. Going in line with this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, I am now talking about what my perfect historical fiction book just HAS to have.

  1. A new take on a time period. I’m all up for some time periods (give me WW2 for days!), but I want to see different perspectives from them. This includes different sides of the war, different social classes, different genders. Whatever it might be, I want it to be distinctive from all the other books in that time period. Or, taking on a whole new one!
  2. Being grounded in a LOT of history. I tend to prefer my history with gobbles of history. In fact, my preferred way is if the book is actually a retelling of some sort or a little-known story from a time period. Seeing the research that went into building the character is really fun, especially if I know that it is realistic. Nothing worse than an unrealistic setting.
  3. Characters that fit into their time period. If anything messes these books up, it’s characters that don’t really fit into their time period. And I’m not saying they all have to fall into the gender/society rules for their period, but some phrases of dialogue maybe didn’t exist yet. Or a romance moves WAY too quickly than would have been socially acceptable.
  4. A world that doesn’t get TOO big. There’s so much history! And it gets crazy when they jump around time periods in time travel books, especially too often. It’s crazy – focus on something! Or, even without that, just a little small town thing could be fine. I feel like it should be really narrowed in onto a certain place or time..
  5. A good plot. Obviously, critical for any story. But especially so here. Otherwise, it reads like a nonfiction book! I see a lot of romance/contemporary issues or mysteries in historical fiction and those are really fun. But I still want it to hold up against other plots.

So that’s it! The five things that I want to see in the perfect historical fiction book. Here are a few of my personal favorites that rank pretty close to this:

The Book Thief   Elephant Run   The Help   Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)   Between Shades of Gray

And now, a couple on my TBR list that I want to live up to my perfect historical fiction novels:

Vengeance Road   Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)    The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)   The Luxe (Luxe, #1)   Out of the Easy

What makes up your perfect historical fiction novel? Any recommendations?

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Discussion: My Perfect Supernatural Book

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FOREVER ago, I did a really fun discussion post all about my favorite fantasy books and what exactly makes up the perfect fantasy book in my mind. I always meant to continue this with different genres of books and it is finally time to talk about another genre, maybe even a subset of fantasy – supernatural.

For some reason, every time I start thinking about supernatural books, my mind immediately jumps to Twilight. Vampires and werewolves are the two featured there, but there are so many other types of supernatural creatures. Just a few that I have read include wizards, faeries, mermaids, and more. I think that this genre is really fascinating because it continues to grow in many ways. There are endless options to look at these creatures and integrate them into our world or a whole new one.

What are some of the aspects that I am looking for in the perfect supernatural book?

  1. A system that makes sense! This is critical because it is the backbone of the entire story. If I don’t understand the creature or the rules they live by, it will ruin the entire book for me. I am pretty easy to convince of something (which may or may not be a good thing) and finding plotholes is not something I try to do, but if it is really obvious, I have a big issue with that!
  2. A relationship with humans or the non-paranormal that also makes sense. In most cases, this is just their inability to be seen and I am okay with that. But it really shouldn’t be obvious that they exist if it is supposed to be a secret. For example, the Twilight vampires! How has no one but Bella made the connection before? Especially if there are some really damaging action scenes, I need a real world explanation for all of us mundanes out here.
  3. Some really interesting plot/conflict! Of course, this is the perfect key to most books, but here it is really essential. I get pretty bored by books that are JUST about supernatural creatures doing their thing, so having some type of conflict is great. It can be between humans and the supernatural, but I really prefer when they aren’t!
  4. Characters who already know about their powers. I really enjoy reading about characters who already know the supernatural world and the system, instead of focusing on the characters discovering their powers. There’s nothing wrong with it, as it seems to be the focus of most supernatural books, but I would love to see some from people established within their abilities!

These are just four of the parts of supernatural books that I look forward to reading in these types of books. Some of my favorites that exemplify some of these qualities include:

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)      The Iron King (The Iron Fey, #1)      Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1)      Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles, #1)      The Host (The Host, #1)

And a couple on my TBR that I hope can becoming a new favorite supernatural book:

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)     The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)     The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1)    Half-Blood (Covenant, #1)      The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

What do you think makes a good supernatural book? And what are some of your favorites?

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Discussion: Read a Thons

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Today, we are talking all about read-a-thons! I know Bout of Books just wrapped up for a lot of people, so I figured that it would be the perfect time to talk about them, having finished one and going into the new year.

Personally, I am a GIANT fan of readathons! I think that they are a really fun way to push myself to read more. It’s not like I don’t read enough already, but sometimes, I find myself distracted by Netflix or YouTube. I generally sign up for readathons when I need an extra push to get back into reading, especially if I am in a slump during that time. Having a big group of people all trying to read more than they normally would is really empowering and encourages me too.

Another of my favorite things about readathons is the social aspect. I almost always come out of a readathon with at least a couple brand new bookish friends, or at least some new conversations on Twitter. It’s also great when there are dedicated Twitter chats or hashtags to encourage other people and to find out about new books. When the book community can come together to do anything, I will always want to be a part of that! It, like reading, can refresh my feelings about book blogging and help me realize why I started when it sometimes gets harder.

During readathons, I typically read more during parts of the day that I would normally waste on social media or watching something. Instead, I will read in short breaks, before bed, or when I wake up. It makes me think about my time more critically and what I can get done by being more active and intentional. I really like relaxed readathons that take place over a long time period, typically a week or so. I feel like day-long readathons aren’t enough time for me to accomplish a lot and live my normal life and weekends are generally more busy for me than the workweek. Plus, I can read more and catch up if I get behind on my personal goals for a particular day.

Overall, I love readathons! Here is a list of some upcoming ones in case any of you are thinking about doing any. I also keep track of all of mine over the years here and here, and it’s really interesting for me to look at those update posts even afterwards! I wish any of you doing readathons this year lots of luck!

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Discussion: Mid Series Cover Changes

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One of my goals for my blog in this upcoming year is to post more discussions! Today, I decided to jump onto a recent hot spot: mid series cover changes.

For those of you who were unaware, the covers of the popular Winner’s Crime trilogy by Marie Rutkoski got brand new covers. This topic is summarized here, but pretty much – they had GORGEOUS covers and then were all changed with only one book left to be released in the trilogy.

Personally, mid series cover changes don’t really impact me that much. 

I very rarely buy books at all, and I also very rarely buy books in a series before they are finished. Over the years, the only two book series that I have bought as they have released are the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and the Selection by Kiera Cass. Thinking about both of those two, if the covers had changed in the middle, I would probably be decently upset.

However, I would definitely still buy the books in the series! 

Ultimately, the covers don’t really matter that much. I have bought some pretty ugly book covers before just to get to the words underneath which I know I will love much more than any cover. And on the other hand, I have never bought physical copies of some of my favorite covers. I would still want to finish the series, of course. As for looking at them on the shelf, I might be a little upset if they don’t really look the same (or if they are different sizes), but I own a variety of different books with different covers. For example, my copies of the Legend trilogy are in the original hardback, the paperback, and the redesigned hardback. Each book in the trilogy I have printed in a different edition. It doesn’t really bother me that much, but I understand that some people really do care about that design and the look of their bookshelf as well.

But that doesn’t mean I support publishers doing this either.

During all of these Twitter conversations, I saw one Tweet from a school teacher who wouldn’t buy the last book because her students wouldn’t recognize it as being in the same series with the different covers on the shelf. For that – I totally agree! I think that it makes them look more equal on the shelf and that is a big plus. Also, readers identify a lot with the covers. I know before I started book blogging, sharing a similar look was how I recognized a continuing series. I am totally okay if they change the covers when rereleasing the books or in a different edition, but for the first release, they should really all try to match!

What do you think about this topic? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!

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My #NaNoWriMo Update #1

Hello everyone! Today, I just wanted to update you a little bit on my progress for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I decided to join this year and talked about it a little bit in this post, but I wanted to give a recap of my experience so far as we are a little over a week through at this point.

First of all, I am really excited that I have been able to keep on the word count for each day! Well, for the most part. I have had a really busy and tiring week the past three or so days, so I haven’t written anything. I am hoping to catch up today and this weekend, especially now that I am starting to get into the meat of the story without as much world building. I ordered some really cute stickers from this Etsy shop that I put in my planner to remind me the number of words I should have at the end of the day. I am trying to stick with that, so that I can write a little every day. Sometimes, I write more the day before and then have less to do the next day, but I am pretty much always on track with that number for the most part..

Anyway – plot wise this book has really been different that what I was going into. In general, I am a pantser (I have a very loose outline without much detail) and this attempt has been no different. In fact, I did not plan to have two alternating perspectives, but it happened! Everything just kind of fell into the tone of the book and it is all working out well now. So I have two main characters, which I think will make more sense in the end. I do see some plot concerns coming up already. I have a problem with info-dumping and world building, partly because this book is in space. And I see some parts that need to be fleshed out and edited, but I haven’t gone back to anything yet! That shall be a task for another day.

Time management has been the hardest part of NaNo so far. My original plan at the beginning of the month was to wake up early and write, but that just has not been happening. I think it has happened once so far. Now, I find myself writing right before bed and doing a whole bunch of Twitter sprints. Those have helped me to focus for a certain period of time and sometimes will include a fun challenge to incorporate into my story. However, looking forward into my calendar, I can see times that this will get very stressful and intimidating as we get into Thanksgiving and preparing for finals. Wish me luck!

How has your NaNo progress been? Any advice?

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TV Shows I Watch (1)

Today, I wanted to switch things up a little from all the bookish posts and talk about one of my other loves – television. I watch a lot of TV and it’s one of my favorite things to do! Anyway, I watch a combo of live TV and Netflix. This first post will just be the TV shows that I am fully caught up on.

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Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – This is my favorite show on TV right now. I’m a huge Marvel fan, so I love seeing all the tie ins. My favorite characters are Fitz and Bobbi, but there are so many twists that I always have a new favorite!

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Modern Family – I love this show! I was sick earlier this year, so I just watched all these seasons right in a row. It’s really funny, but also realistic.

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Dancing with the Stars – I’ve been watching this show for a while, and even though it’s not up to the point it once was, I still enjoy the competition. My favorite couple of all time has to be Meryl Davis & Maks a few seasons ago. Ever since them, no one has been able to catch my attention like they have!

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Shark Tank – This is another fun show. I like seeing all the different types of businesses and it is a very uplifting show and great family fun.

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So You Think You Can Dance – I love dance shows and I love to dance! This is like every dancer’s dream. I’ve been watching the last few seasons. I don’t really like the Stage vs. Street format, but the dancers have been really good. I just miss the chemistry between the couples over time. My favorites this season are Megz, Neptune, and Derek.

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Masterchef – I really like cooking shows too! I’ve watched this show since the beginning. My favorite this season is Derrick.

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New Girl – This show is great for some fun comedy. The cast has a really great chemistry (and it’s all on Netflix!). I love seeing their relationships develop over time.

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – This is a Netflix original, so I binge watched all the episodes when it first came out. It’s not my favorite or the funniest comedy, but it provides good entertainment and I think it has real potential when the cast starts to jive together a little bit more.

What are some of your favorite shows? I don’t have a lot currently on TV right now, so I’m hoping the fall season will have a lot to offer me.

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