Random Chat: Where Do You Read?

Where Do You Read?

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Besides snuggling up at home, my favourite places to read…

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… are definitely…

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… near nature.

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But the fact is I will read anywhere.

And I mean anywhere

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Regardless of whether there are people around or not, I always take my book with me.

Do you do this as well or is there any situation you can think of that you will not take your book along?

And where do you prefer to read?

Random Chat: Samplers

What makes a good blurb?

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Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!

So I noticed sometimes Netgalley has samplers up for grabs and I am sure other sites do as well.

I wondered if this is something you do – read samplers, or otherwise read the first chapters in a book.

Does this influence if you buy the book or not?

Since the large majority of the books I get are ARC from Netgalley I prefer to read the entire book but I would love to hear your thoughts!

Random Chat: YA and NA

What makes a good blurb?

Step up, take a seat, make yourself at home and let’s chat!

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!
I came across this article a few days ago while browsing facebook and it prompted me to post something I have been mulling over for ages now:

Author Claims YA Does Not Exist

It links to the following article: There Is No Such Thing as the Young Adult Novel.

I am not sure if any of you have noticed, but I don’t have YA as a book genre in my blog. Quite frankly, the notion still baffles me. I am not even sure if I fully understand it, because I have seen it defined accordingly to the characters age and also to the audience’s age. It seems that the latter prevails, or at the very least a mixture of the two.

While I can understand that it may make books easier to find, defining a book by age categories seems extremely restrictive and I have found that the same formulas get used over and over again.
Ever since the YA genre came out, I cannot seem to find, for instance, a fantasy book I enjoy. Sure, there is New Adult now as well, but I cannot seem to relate to either the writing or the topics in books classified as such. On the other hand, if I pick up a YA book I am usually faced with much of the same teenage dramas, romance and, at times, tantrums.

I thoroughly miss a solid fantasy novel with characters I can relate to and which does not necessarily include romance. Something that presents a new world, one that is unique but makes sense and utterly enthrals me in the story. I cannot seem to find that anymore and I am convinced it has gotten worse since these categories were released to public.

What do you think? Have the YA and NA categories done more good or harm to the book industry, in terms of quality of books, not marketability?
Do you find any of the points I made make sense?
Tell me everything!

Random Chat: On Kindle Cases & Reading Habits

On Watching TV

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Wow, it has been a while since I did one of these, huh? Actually, exactly 6 months to the day! What a coincidence.

So, I confess I am one of the numerous women whose bag is much too heavy. I have been getting some nasty back pain and my posture has actually been affected, so I figured it was time to do something about it. I took loads of stuff off and still, it weighed a ton!

I tried taking my Kindle out and the change was dramatic.

So what could I do about this?
Buy a new, lighter case, of course!

To me it is very important that I am able to read without using my hands, which means the device needs to stay in a vertical position. Cases that allow that and which can be shipped to Portugal are more difficult to find than you’d think.

Also, they are pretty expensive, especially with shipping costs added. So I figured I would go to this site which has pretty cheap stuff and free delivery, and from which I had ordered before and was pretty happy with what I got.
I searched for quite a while and the closest thing I could find was this origami case:

It wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I had seen them around and figured the material would be as flimsy and not last long. Also, it looked sort of unstable.

Well, I bought it, got it about a week ago and I was right. The cover already does not close properly. Actually, it never did from day 1:

Worst of all, my Kindle does not go into sleep mode when I close it!!

It just stays there wasting battery unless I manually put it into sleep mode and it isn’t really completely protected…

So, what I am wondering and what I would like to chat with you about is:

Do you figure there are better origami cases out there and should I have gone for a more expensive/brand one?

Do you know of other alternatives to origami cases that will allow my Kindle Paperwhite to stay vertical?

Do you have similar reading habits or do you find it just plain weird that it is this important to me for the E-Reader to stay up?

Personally, I love reading while I eat and also while in bed. My third favourite place is the garden where one of those pictures was taken, it’s near my workplace and I get to go there during my lunch hour.

What are your favourite places to read and how do you read? Do you do other stuff while reading, are you always holding your book/device, etc?

Random Chat: X-Files Comeback

On Watching TV

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The X-Files were one of my favourite series of all time.

I still remember a couple of scenes and the way they made me feel. I could not wait for the next episode and, at the same time, I was frightened.
Mulder and Scully made one hell of a team, that’s for sure.

I did not watch all the seasons so I still have no idea about all the mystery and especially what happened to Mulder’s sister, but the mystery and conspiracy theories were definitely part of the series’ charm for me, not just the horror and investigative bits, which rocked.

Now it appears they are being brought back. The new X-Files premiers on Tuesday here in Portugal, not sure when elsewhere in the globe.

Are you intending to watch this new series? Or do you think it has had its time?

I have to admit, I am curious. At the same time, I don’t think it will be the same.
The last episodes I watched and one movie (I believe there were more) felt forced.

I am pretty sure I will at least watch the first episode if I am able to.

Feel free to check out the article below, from someone who has watched the first three episodes:

‘X-Files’ Reboot Brings Back Mulder, Scully And The Search For Truth

Random Chat: On ARC Quality

What makes a good blurb?

Step up, take a seat, make yourself at home and let’s chat!

If you follow my blog fairly often, you know I am a big fan of Netgalley. I am extremely grateful that so many publishers showed interest in my reviews and allowed me to read and write about their books.

That said, I have to ask…

What the heck is up with Netgalley ARCs these days???

The last half a dozen books I requested have come up without table of contents, no separation whatsoever between chapters, weird spacing between lines and paragraphs and now even random numbers in between and broken words:

1

So today’s random chat is:
HOW DOES THE QUALITY OF AN ARC AFFECT YOUR READING?

I have to admit I find this sort of thing extremely distracting and have trouble focusing on the story.

I have even postponed reading books which look like this, prioritizing ones with proper formatting, where I can read the text easily and navigate the book quickly.

Are you having as much bad luck as I am? Any idea why the quality of ARCs has declined?

Have you had other experiences of the sort outside Netgalley?
I have had a few of these from authors as well, so it is not just Netgalley. It is just more noticeable there because the quality of their books used to be great.

Does it influence your enjoyment of the book?
Tell me everything!

Random Chat: What Is a Good Review?

What makes a good blurb?

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Thanks to Chris, I came across this post. The author of it writes about what it is like to be on the other side when dealing with a review – as an author instead of a reader. I have often wondered what that would be like, so figured it was time to post about it and see what you fine folks think.

Today’s random chat is:
WHAT IS A GOOD REVIEW?

First of all, regarding the post I linked, I agree with most of what the author wrote, except for his ‘golden rule’:

One last thing (and this is a “Golden Rule,” as far as I am concerned): If you can’t give at least a 3-star rating for a book, on a scale of 1 through 5 (or, in academic parlance, a C), then it’s best not to post a review at all. My rationale for that is that anyone who devotes anywhere from six months to a couple of years writing a book, deserves, at a minimum, a passing grade of C, or a 3-star rating for their effort alone. Anything less is an insult, and that violates the “no personal attacks” thing.

I have to say that, as a reviewer, I found it difficult not to take offence when reading this. As far as I am concerned, everyone is entitled to share their opinion as long as it is done in a civilized manner, with no intent to offend or hurt anyone. Every single time I have given a 1 or 2 star review, I can honestly say that is what I have done. At least tried my best to; obviously I will be annoyed at wasting my time, but it is never personal. To me, reviewing a book is exactly the same as reviewing any other product. I will state what I liked, what I did not like, and why – period.
So reading that what I take such care to do – so thoroughly explaining why I did not like a book -, putting me in the same bag as all those This book sucks!!! sort of opinions and whatnot is insulting and constitutes as a personal attack is incredibly disappointing, to say the least. I can honestly say I have never tried to hurt an author’s feelings – on the contrary, more often than not I will say that just because this book did not work for me that does not mean other people won’t like it -, and I can surely say the same for the incredible amount of fine reviewers I have met since I started reviewing the books I read.

Now I would like to stress that I am not posting this with any intent of bashing this author; as I said, I did agree with most of his post and I think he makes great points. It’s just that I believe several people may agree with the part I quoted, and so I wanted to both have my say and find out what other people think about this.

While I can understand why an author would say something like this, as far as I am concerned, two main things:

1) Not everyone that takes 6 months to a couple of years to write a book should have done it. Not everyone can be a writer. Just because you put a lot of effort into something does not mean it is good. If it’s your passion, fine, go ahead and do it, and always try your best, but you should have no expectations. That goes for pretty much anything in life, in my opinion.

2) You are never going to please everyone. While another person loved a certain thing, someone else will hate it. That happens with every single thing in life! I am not going to feel offended because, say, someone did not like my cooking. Should I make it personal just because I put so much time and effort in it? Hell no. I may be disappointed, but so what? I know some people will say that is not the same, and they will be right, but the principle is the same: take it and move on. That’s life.

Let me start with the obvious: Personal attacks are pointless and only speak ill of the reviewer. However, a low rating does not mean that a review is bad, if it is well explained and justified. As far as I am concerned, all authors need to be prepared to receive 1 and 2 star ratings as much as 3, 4 and 5 ones. Giving a low rating is not a matter of rudeness or lack of respect, but of honesty. If we didn’t like the book, then we will not give it 3 or more stars just for the sake of not hurting the author’s feelings. It is a matter of respect towards the other authors whose work we have read and thoroughly enjoyed.

Now, onto what makes a good review.
Again, this is a matter of personal opinion so, if you think differently, please don’t be offended.

I see a lot of reviews where roughly 80% of the text describes in detail what happens in the book. That is not a good review in my book. I don’t want to know what happens in the book, I want to discover it as I go. If the blurb does not give a good idea of the book, then summarize it. Briefly. Only enough to get a clear picture of what one can expect from it.

I do, however, want to know what feelings and thoughts the book awoke in the reader. Did he or she like it? If so, why? What did they think of the writing? Was it easy to follow the story, did it flow well? Were the characters multi-dimensional, and could you see them grow throughout the narrative? Is the world well-developed? Were the plot twists predictable? Did the reader experience any emotions? If so, which?
I want to know those things in detail so that I can know if I would enjoy the book or not. Often times, the issues that the reviewer had with the book are things I would find annoying myself, so that’s when I know if I would like it or not and that is what will ultimately help me decide if I will get the book – not because I know the story beforehand.

Something that should be obvious – NO SPOILERS!!. The very least people can do is clearly tag them (I do that by changing font and background colour, so people who want to view spoilers will have to highlight the text). Please, don’t give away major plot twists. It totally ruins the experience.

And that’s about it, other than not writing something too big, but I am guilty of that myself. I do proofread and edit my texts several times before posting, but everything seems important for one reason or the other. Because of what I wrote above, I think some things will appeal to one reader more, other things to different readers.
I guess low rating reviews will naturally be longer, since I try my best to explain why I am giving it.

Anyway, I try to do these things in my reviews, though I will be the first to admit I may not always succeed. Not on purpose, though!


With which points of this post do you agree and disagree with?
What do you feel makes a good review?
What do you think I should do differently in my own reviews?

Please share your thoughts in the box below!

Random Chat: Grammar Nerd Issues

Grammar Nerd Issues

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Hey, folks!

I was browsing through the internet and came across this article:

Correcting People’s Grammar: Just Don’t Do It

It made me wonder how you can tell whether someone wants to be corrected.

I, for one, always want to be corrected. I love grammar, both portuguese and english, and although I have some pet peeves that I refuse to bend on (for instance, right now proofread is telling me to capitalize the words portuguese and english and I am not gonna :P), generally speaking I do want to know when I write something incorrectly, because I always want to learn and better myself.

It pains me to see that, these days, people in my country (and others, I am sure) don’t really know how to write or even speak properly, as in how to correctly pronunciate the words.
I cringe when I see some most common mistakes and have to exert some serious self-control to keep from correcting them.

On the other hand, I feel bad because I am sure some – if not most – people view this passion of mine as snobbish.

Do you have this issue?
Do you care about grammar at all?
Have you noticed any particular mistakes in my posts?

Tell me everything!

Random Chat: E-Readers

What Is Your E-Reader of Choice?

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Hey, folks!

I found this article regarding an upgrade on the only E-reader I have ever tried and cannot imagine myself living without, and figured I might chat with you about it, and e-readers in general:

Kindle Paperwhite

And so, today’s Random Chat question is…
What Is Your E-Reader of Choice?

The article above linked, as well as this one and this one, supply all sorts of valuable information on the new version of the Kindle Paperwhite. The latter in particular states clearly information the other two didn’t mention, like the yellow tinge to the screen and reduce battery life. But the new Kindle Paperwhite has better resolution and faster performance due to the increased RAM, and best of all, the same price as the previous version.

Alas, regarding this new version, I will have to wait to get it, but I am still fangirling a bit about it.
Ok, enough with the gushing.
So… E-readers.

It took me a while to surrender to the awesomeness of an e-reader. I thought that, no matter how practical, it could never compare to the feeling of a physical copy. And it can’t. But there are so many advantages to it that, these days, the large majority of books I read are on my KP.

My book journey began on GoodReads, which apparently has some sort of agreement with Amazon, which was the first site of the sort I came in contact with. I did browse some of the other similar sites, but found that Amazon had the most free books and even variety, and that, living in Portugal, they would be able to provide good customer support, so went for one of their products. Besides, most of the sites which provide free book e-copies seem to favour Amazon files (mobi), so another plus.

Why the Kindle Paperwhite specifically? I have mentioned this in a previous post about book formats; some of my favourite features include:

Free books.
Search function.
Adjustable font size.
Highlighting and notes function.
Minimal eye strain, considering it’s a screen.
Ability to comfortably read both indoors and outdoors.
Dictionary incorporated, which I can use for words I don’t know.
Hundreds of books inside such thin and light device which I can take everywhere with me.
Ability to buy pretty much any book I want with one click and have it delivered in seconds.

And thanks to this article I finally figured out what the X-Ray feature is for, woohoo!

So yes, I am very happy with my Kindle Paperwhite. It may not have automatically adjustable screen light, audiobook compatibility or be waterproof, but it serves my needs just perfectly.


Are you as excited about the new KP as I am?
What is your current e-reader?
Have you tried any other models?
Which one is your favourite and why?
Or have you still not surrendered to the wonders of an e-reader?

Tell me everything!

Random Chat: To finish or not to finish

What makes a good blurb?

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I posted previously about this topic and would like to elaborate on it now.

So today’s random chat is:
TO FINISH OR NOT TO FINISH A BOOK YOU ARE JUST NOT INTO?

Ever since I started writing reviews of the books I read, I have never left a book unfinished.
Before that, I can probably count by the fingers on one hand the amount of books I dropped before finishing.
Why? Let’s see.

1) I hate leaving anything unfinished.
Quitting on something, be it a book or something else, always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
I never feel closure and this dreadful feeling will usually keep gnawing on my mind long after the deed is done. Or rather, not done.
Telling myself I will get to it later also does not help, since leaving things pending puts an insane amount of pressure on me.
Weird, I know. Been like that my whole life, though.

2) Guilt.
Most of the books I get these days are free from authors or sites like Netgalley. That means I will feel obligated to read the whole thing because a review is expected, or rather, required. Which gets us to point 3:

3) Not fair to rate.
If I don’t finish a book, how can I rate it? How will I ever know if the pages I have not read don’t turn my opinion around, even if just by one star? Granted, some sites allow people to only write reviews and not rate, but that does not really matter to me because of problem #2.

4) I already spent time reading it, might as well finish.
If I don’t finish it, then it won’t count to my read books count – not that I worry about it too much. But if I have already wasted time reading a chunk, why not finish? Because as far as I can see, you need to read quite a bit before realizing you don’t like it, right?

5) I will never know if the book will grow on me.
On more than one occasion, I started by not enjoying a book and then it completely turned on me and my opinion changed and actually did feel engaged by the story.


So these are the main reasons why I don’t leave a book unfinished.

Now I realize this is probably not the best attitude to have towards the situation. Why?

1) Since I try to be fair in my reviews, especially the negative ones, I don’t skim. If I do not like a book, I try to include specific examples of what and why, and even citations. Obviously, that means it will take me even longer to finish the book.

2) Taking so long to finish a book I am not enjoying often leads to reading slumps.
Reading for obligation is the worst. It takes the joy out of an act that is supposed to bring relaxation to one’s life.

3) Sure, I may have wasted a bit of time reading the beginning of the book, but that doesn’t mean I need to keep wasting more time, right? I should probably pick up something I know I will enjoy reading, to avoid a creeping slump.


So I keep weighing the pros and cons and have not really been able to reach a conclusion. Ultimately, what keeps me from dropping a book unfinished is the commitment I took to the writer or publisher to rate and review it.

At the end of the day, time is precious, and so is keeping such an amazing activity enjoyable, so I do wonder if I should change my attitude.

What do you think of all this?
Have you ever had similar issues?
What is your method for leaving a book unfinished? As in, how do you decide to drop it? And do you write a review? What about posting a rating?

Tell me everything!

Random Chat: Banned Books

What makes a good blurb?

Step up, take a seat, make yourself at home and let’s chat!

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen!
I came across this article a few days ago:

7 banned books that everyone should read

And it got me thinking… In today’s society, is it feasible that a book be banned?
Are people throughout the globe yet not allowed to form their own decisions to read a book or not, and respective opinions?

Have I even read any banned books? I have to admit I am not sure. I have not read any of the ones listed in the article.

Have you knowingly read a banned book and know the story behind its ban?
I would really like to know, please post below!