Five features I would love to see on Goodreads!!!

I have been quite active on Goodreads for a while now. There is so much to love about this site – all the options for shelving, the giveaways, integrations with online stores, and just being able to share your opinions as quick reviews without the pressure of putting together a “well-constructed” review.

But, hey, I have been using it for over three years, and there have been times when I have thought “Hmm, it would be nice if …. was available”

So, here are some features I would love to see being implemented on GR in the near future:

  1. The Half-Star ratings: I think this comes up as a common gripe among the users because it is just so frustrating when you have to round off a 3 and a half stars to a 4 or a 3. Or pretty much, any half-star rating. Especially, when you have those “The book was sooo good… but that ending tho..” kind of books when you really don’t want to take off an entire rating star icon .
  2. Amazon integration for reviews: It would be great if reviews from GR are posted directly on Amazon! While I don’t mind posting it twice (it takes only a second or two to copy-paste!!), I feel this would be a pretty, uh, logical feature to implement. Goodreads is used as much as a publicity medium, as it is for sharing bookish convo and recs. Unlike Amazon, Goodreads allows you to post reviews as soon as the book is listed on the site. This allows all the readers who have got hold of ARC copies to post reviews and recommend the book. But, the downside is that there is a huge difference in the number of reviews posted on Amazon on Goodreads. It isn’t that people don’t have accounts on both sites. But the ARCs are sent out in advance – sometimes almost a year before its release. People read and post reviews on their blogs and GR but aren’t able to do the same on Amazon till the book releases. So, quite a few end up forgetting to copy-paste the review on Amazon a few months later. I am assuming this is, on some level, frustrating for the authors too because, finally, it is the number of Amazon reviews that tangibly reflects on the book’s prospects (?)
  3. Shelving: Yes, I know we can create shelves but it would be nice if GR considers adding two more shelves to the existing (three) default shelves:  a) DNF shelf- because there are so many books that we readers give up on halfway through and would want to just take a note of it and review it anyways or maybe go through the list of DNFed books later. It is not a genre-specific “shelf-type” so I think that itself makes it a good case to consider for a default shelf . b) Giveaways shelf: because, well, it is something GR recommends when you win a giveaway so I have wondered why doesn’t GR create it automatically on winning your first GR giveaway? Or, present the user with a prompt window asking them whether they want a shelf to be created? (so that they have a choice to decline). goodreadsmail
  4. WYSIWYG Editor: Well, I am not talking about hundreds of font colors and styles; but, how about one with the options that are currently available? – the five main ones would do : Bold, Italics, Underline, Blockquote and (since we are talking about reviews and GR-enabled options) Spoilers.
  5. Review order: This is always a bit of a mess!! When I want to see reviews in the order of the date when they are posted, I mean REVIEWS and not RATINGS!!!! I wish there was a way to filter and sort them separately!

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Well, these are some features I would love to see on GR! I am sure a lot more have crept into my mind in the past year that I am not able recall right now… Is it just me or have you guys wished to see any of these features on the site? I know the half-star rating is a pretty popular request and has been discussed about plenty of times so far!!!

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Book Marketing Blurbs that Need to Disappear

I read a couple of books this past week, and while I didn’t find them terrible, I didn’t find them aligning with my expectations either. Expectations set because of the marketing blurbs.

Now, I understand the need of using snippets of early “professional reviews” and author blurbs. But some of them are just so.. overused these days that I wish they would just .. disappear.

Note: I am talking only about the bylines used to publicize the book before its release. It is different than readers forming their own opinions later (which can be them agreeing to whatever the book was pitched as before release). 

  1. The WidowThe Next Gone Girl. This is at the top of my list because literally every psych thriller is pitched as the Next Gone Girl these days. Or the “Next Gone Girl and The Next Girl on the Train” (The GotT was probably pitched as the The Next Gone Girl in the first place). Not every thriller featuring a lonely woman in a dysfunctional marriage has to be similar to the next GG. What made GG stand out was a twisted marital relationship set against the backdrop of a “typical” case of a missing person. Amy and Nick were interesting to read about because it was a constant battle of wits between them . They fought nasty. Didn’t matter that the outcome was always one-sided. But the bottomline is – they were never passive characters. I expected The Widow to be something along those lines (and I don’t mean a similar story)… While the book itself was quite engrossing, Jean and Glen just made for a dull couple to read about.
  2. Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles, #1)<Book 1> meets <Book 2> or <Classic 1> meets <Classic 2> Comparing a book with two books – that by itself is enough pressure to live upto. But, what if you are calling your book as a blend of two well known classics from different genres? For example, Song of Blood and Stone is described as “Romeo and Juliet meets Return of the King” .  WHYYY??? I enjoyed the book but it is neither an epic romance nor does it have a world as fleshed out as one would expect from a high fantasy. I would love it if this kind of marketing – calling it a cross between two well-known popular books – has more thought put into it. It is great if the book actually fits the description, but otherwise pretty disappointing for the readers.
  3. “….world reminiscent of Harry Potter” – Or a “Middle Grade Harry Potter” Or a     “<insert country name> Harry Potter” –  I love Harry Potter and I do get the temptation of labeling every book featuring a 11 or 12 year old discovering magic as the Next Harry Potter. But I feel, it kind of holds the book to a very, “recognizable standard” of what the general fantasy world should contain? I mean, what if it is a much different book despite some similar elements. And, maybe, a better book in its own right? As such, I find it very difficult NOT to compare fantasy books with HP.  This just makes it even harder to “move on”.
  4.  “Fans of John Green” or “Fans of TFIOS” for every “Cancer Story” .  I loved TFIOS despite its flaws. I am not a fan of some of the similar stories (pitched for “fans of TFIOS”) that followed though. Showing a couple in love and romanticizing cancer isn’t the sum total of TFIOS.
  5. One Word Blurbs – Stupendous! Fabulous! Fantastic! Fantabulous! Stupendofabulous!!!

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Is there any kind of book blurb you are fed up of? Or have you always had positive reading experiences after picking a book based on the blurb? Do let me know in the comments!!!

All the mildly irritating aspects about picking fantasies for your TBR list!!!!

I really like fantasies, but over the years I seem to have accumulated lots of unfinished books and series. I thought, instead of just listing them, it would be interesting to list them with reasons for ditching so many of them mid-way.

So here are some of the reasons devoting time to fantasies ends up being frustrating:Gold Divider Badass Book Reviews Ohoybc Clipart
1) When it feels like the authors went through plotting fatigue by the time they get to the penultimate book in the series! 

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I felt that way when I read Brisingr. I just thought it opened up too many plots and meandering directions, so I wasn’t too interested in reading the final one.  But this is a series I would like to re-read someday and hopefully finish!

2) When you search for, and read a standalone. But, it ends up being a series!

The Diabolic (The Diabolic, #1)The Empress (The Diabolic, #2)

So, I search for and pick a standalone to read (which is like a Unicorn in fantasies these days). I love it and…. then go online and discover that the author has announced a second book. My initial reaction is positive, but then I wonder, why can’t a standalone stay that way???? Over time, I have realized I don’t do the whole “waiting for the next book in the series to read” thing too well.. because:

3) When, by the time the next book comes out, I forget the events of the previous book .

Buy from: Amazon, B&N, BAM, iBooks, Indiebound, Indigo, TargetBuy from: Amazon, B&N, BAM, iBooks, Indiebound, Indigo, Target

I feel like so much time has passed, and it is hard to invest time and re-read a 400+ page book just to refresh memory. And sometimes, it takes longer to get the next book.. especially if you are relying on your library (and you are in some gazillionth position in the Holds queue). Well, I did end up buying Wayfarer (through a B&N card gifted by a friend <3)  , and it is still lying on my bookshelf…. I loved Passenger, and so, I want to get back to the series this year.. Moreover, I think I must have forgotten most of Passenger by now, so it would be like reading a new book all over.

4) When fantasy demands uniterrupted reading time, especially if it is too rich in world-building (almost info-dumpy)

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And it is not always possible to devote such time. I find it harder to get back to fantasies, if I keep taking breaks of  a few days at a time … With the huge cast, places, timelines, magic systems… It is overwhelming trying to recollect what happened the last time I read. In comparison it is easier to get back to half-read books from most of the other genres.

Maybe I have just lost touch with… getting through heavy fantasy reads? To get past this, I have decided to set my primary reading goal this year as to: High fantasy – especially Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss books .

I don’t think I am ever going to get back to Nevernight though.

5) When it is hard to find a fantasy book that does: 1) Not classify as dystopian in Amazon/Goodreads 2) Not comprise of a female badass teenage MC who is a special snowflake 3) Not have a Chosen One trope 4) Not have a friend-zoned best friend.

Now, I know all genres have tropes, stereotypes ‘n all, and TBH I don’t even mind these tropes most of the time.. as long as it does not have most of them in every book!!! To some extent, I feel it is also because I have stopped looking past the usual and oft-repeated “popular” recommendations on social media. So, this year, I have decided to read some of the “older” books and look into more adult fantasy recommendations in the blogosphere. Let’s see how that goes!

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So, what is your favorite genre? Do you read lot of fantasies? Is there any genre that you had given up on but want to try with renewed enthusiasm in 2018? Hit me up with some recommendations in the comments below!!!

My Top 7 Favorite Reads in 2017

Well, I am glad I got this post up while it is still 2017…

(Click on the image to open the Goodreads page)

1)  StarfishLoved: Anxiety rep, the art, Kiko & Jaime, and the pretty brutal depiction of emotional abuse.

Read my review here. And check out my favorite quotes from the book here.

 

 

 

2) Nemesis (Project Nemesis, #1) Genesis (Project Nemesis #2)With bodies dropping left, right and center, this series has been great so far.. Makes me wanna pick up Lord of the Flies. (Genesis releases in 2018, but I was lucky to win the book in a giveaway hosted by Amanda. I might post a review sometime next year.)

 

 

3) My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies, #1)So silly and so… effortlessly humorous!!! This was a lot of fun to read! Didn’t realize how quickly the almost-500 pages just flew by! Can’t believe it was co-authored by three people… It really felt like a single “voice” behind the book.. it was that seamless….

 

 

 

4)The Sun Is Also a Star I wasn’t a huge fan of Everything Everything… and I am not too big on the Love-at-first-sight romances (or romances in general) … so I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this book. And all the cheesy and dreamy conversations..

 

 

 

 

5) The Storied Life of A.J. FikryA grumpy, widowed bookstore owner in an island whose life changes one day with an unexpected package arriving at his bookstore… It is hard to not love a book with such a premise!

 

 

 

 

6)A Man Called Ove Anndddd…. it is hard not to love a book about grieving curmudgeons who learn to love life again … If you loved A Storied Life of A.J Fikry, I think you will love this one too!

 

 

 

 

7) Sita: Warrior of Mithila (Ram Chandra #2)Liked this a lot more than the first book (Scion of Ikshvaku). This is the first time I am reading a series with a multi-linear narrative, and I definitely enjoyed Sita’s version better (maybe, because, I was less overwhelmed by all the world-building this time.. I could grasp it better as I was already acquainted with it..and it helps that Sita is a lot more proactive and less idealistic than Ram.. I mean, I liked Ram too, but as a reader, it was kind of hard to plough through some of the dormancy in the first book…. ) .. I have actually not read the Shiva trilogy.. so this is my first time reading Tripathi’s books… and I love what he has done with the Ramayana … especially the way he completely flipped the backstories of some characters.. while retaining most of the core ideas… I can’t wait for the next one, I am sure Raavan’s PoV is going to be the best of the lot!!!

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What has been your favorite reads this year? Have you read any of the books in the list? Do let me know in the comments below!

This is my genre, tell me yours! (Book Tag)

I have been on a hiatus for the past few weeks and though I have been reading, it wasn’t enough to shrug off the blogging slump.

I thought, what better way to get back to it than doing a book tag. Thank you Liz@CoverToCover for tagging me and Drew for creating the tag. Both of their blogs are amazing so do check them out, especially for great horror and fantasy recommendations!

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The Rules:

  • Credit Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek as the creator of the tag, either use the created tag name graphic or create your own and link back to my blog.
  • Answer the questions
  • Tag as many people as you want

What is your favorite genre?

Well, I don’t stick much to any genre in particular these days – I mostly read books that are YA/New Adult fic (which are mis-genred so much that I don’t even know anymore, hehe) , but if I have to choose, I think it is going to be those historical fics or messy family dramas (icing on the cake – business rivalries) spanning decades..

Who’s your favorite author from the genre?

So, borrowing from Liz, I am going to say, I have had three different “reading timelines”. The first was during my primary school where I used to love Enid Blytons, Sweet Valley series, Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys and Perry Masons. So I guess I really liked mysteries. The second was my middle school phase, when I read a lot of books from what is still my favorite genre – the Jeffrey Archers and Sidney Sheldons.. I used to think Jeffrey Archer was like the best author ever :p .. and well, his books are really popular in India.. I still loved mysteries and “graduated” to reading and picking them based on genre – like medical and legal mysteries.. So lots of Michael Palmers, Robin Cooks and John Grishams.. After that, my love for historicals and family dramas  continued.. and I just read a whole lot of them.. Tbh, I don’t even remember some of the books and authors…. It was just that phase when I picked a lot of books from the library shelves and read them one after the other without thinking or analyzing much.. So some of my favorites that I actually remember are classics like East of Eden and Pillars of the  Earth.

What’s the book that started your love for your favorite genre?

Must be one of those Jeffrey Archers, maybe Kane and Abel..

If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Why do you read?

It is my favorite way to spend those quiet, lazy afternoons.. My attention-span is just very less when it comes to TV shows, so I am actually terrible at binge-watching unless I have company… so yea, reading anytime!! Moreover, I just feel that reading when you are older is completely different than when you had just started out in school… Your perspective about a lot of things are different than it used to be, and your takeaways from certain books are also different.. I mean, there is a reason why some books that you thought were the best books ever written a few years ago later turn into “guilty pleasures”. So I guess I just find all that self-awareness and the evolving nature of book preferences quite fascinating.. hehe. So thats another reason I read and will continue to do so.

I tag:

Tiana@TheBookRaven

Sylvia@SerialBibliophile

Cleo@CleopatraLovesBooks

Tizzymatic

and anyone else who wants to do the tag! Feel free to skip this if you have already done it or don’t feel like doing it!

 

 

In the month of Feb (a quick monthly wrap-up)…

I BOUGHT… Wayfarer (Passenger, #2)   I finally used my B&N birthday gift card for this one .. I really liked Passenger, so I thought this would be a good book to acquire.. And I absolutely love the cover ..All the purple hues ❤ ..

I REVIEWEDThe House that Spoke  Lovely writing!! Would recommend it despite some pacing and plot issues.

I READ… A List of Cages  I liked the neurodiversity rep, both dyslexia and ADHD; I never felt like it was forcefully plugged into the story. So props for that. However, I wish I could have raved about this book. If I had to review this one, I would have probably given it 3.5/5. I think I was slightly put off by how much the book relied on the depiction of physical abuse for its plotting, and sort of just neglected everything else. I think a better way to put it is – there really isn’t much happening, really. It is too… cyclic and predictable. But Julian and Adam were so likeable and easy to connect with as MCs, and that’s what saved the book for me. It was enough to bump my ratings to a 4 on GR.

The Sun Is Also a Star  Gaaahh …. ❤ .. This one made an insta-love convert out of me.  Swoonworthylicious ( #ifthatisaword) . An easy 5/5.

Tell Me Something Real (Sort-of-spoilery mention… so skip the next paragraph if you plan on reading the book)

TMSR depicts an MI which is usually used as a dramatic twist in the final pages of a book. This book sort of does it too (and well, I guessed it.. again…), except that it is not at the end of the book. This is probably the first story I have read which deals with the aftermath and ramifications of the revelation on the entire family. So I really appreciated that the author wasn’t tempted to push the *big revelation* to the end and stuck to what she wanted the book to actually be about.

I RECEIVED… Under a Painted Sky  via Shenwei’s giveaway.. (thank you!!) .. Heard so much about this one, so can’t wait to read it!!

I DNF’ed… Into the Darkest Corner   .. I went through more than 1/3rd of the book, but it just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere..

 Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle, #1)   I gave up after the first few chapters, but I might try it again sometime in the future.. I think I picked this up at a time when I wanted an “easy read”, but this had a lot of confusing info-dump to keep up with.

 

 

When Three’s Not a Crowd!!! My top reads of 2016

Sooo, when I was picking some of my favorite reads in 2016, I realized I can call them out in groups of three:

MY TOP 3:

  1. New-to-me authors:

A Monster Calls This was perfection ❤ and my only 5-star read this year.

Fangirl  I loved – Cath!! The way Rowell portrayed her struggle with social anxiety was so relatable. I disliked – The abrupt ending to the Simon Snow show after all the extended page-time.

Speak Check out my Teaser Tuesday post here.

2) Standalone fantasy/paranormal

The Diabolic An inter-galactic fantasy replete with themes of loyalty, political coups and revenge. Check out my review here.

Holding Smoke I honestly didn’t think I would end up liking this one so much because – A) I totally judge books with people on the cover. B) I have been sandbagged in the past with “soul-themes” turning into religious fiction. But I had nothing to worry about. Read my review here.

The Infinity of You & Me My first brush with multiverse fantasy. Read my review here.

     3) Author debuts

Shelter A story of an estranged son and his Korean immigrant parents. Read my review here.

Sometimes We Tell the Truth A retelling of the Canterbury Tales, SWTtT was a delightful read. This had a large, diverse cast with respectful representation of gay and intersex characters. Read my review here.

Phantom Limbs  Definitely my favorite book release of 2016!! With sensitive portrayals of  depression, PTSD, disability, bisexuality and one of my favorite male teen YA narrators in Otis, this book, along with SWTtT, deserves more appreciation. Read my review here.

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So what are some of your favorite reads in 2016? Do let me know in the comments! If you have a blog post up with your top picks, do link me up!!

This would probably be my last post for 2016, so happy holidays and wish y’all a very happy New Year in advance!!!

Take 5 – Most disappointing reads of 2016

This has been a great reading year for me – the sort of year where I found something to appreciate even in the books that were otherwise major disappointments. Here are some books that I really wanted to fall in love with but couldn’t :

(Click on the images to go to their Goodreads page)

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The Selection (#1 and #2)

The Selection (The Selection, #1)  The Elite (The Selection, #2)

 

 

 

I stopped at #2 because of the feeble dystopian world-building elements and the overwrought love triangle.

Finding Audrey 

Finding Audrey

 

 

 

 

 

Needed more focused and believable social anxiety and GAD representation.

Furthermore

Furthermore

 

 

 

 

Lovely writing but it was difficult to read a wafer-thin plot stretched over 400 pages.

 

Everything Everything

Everything, Everything

 

 

 

Relies too much on the shock value over a big plot twist which I guessed pretty early on. I wasn’t a fan of the twist itself because.. well I guess I didn’t like health issues being used in such a way. Read my review here.

A Little Life 

A Little Life

 

 

 

 

The most disappointing of the lot. Maybe because this was something that was on my TBR since my pre-blogging days. Oh well, I have ranted quite a bit about it here.

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So, this was my list of disappointing 2016 reads. Have you guys read any of these books? Were there any books this year that you were really looking forward to reading but were seriously let down by it? Do let me know in the comments!

Emotional manipulation in fiction

Well, let me start by saying that all fiction does have some degree of manipulation. Heck, fiction itself starts from authors creating settings, characters and atmosphere and I think sub-consciously they do aim for a certain kind of reaction from the readers. But, what if you come across a book with content that is just blatantly and excessively manipulative – the kind where you feel like you are being “told” how you are supposed to feel?

A Little Life is always going to be one of my most unforgettable two-star reads. It pushed, no, tore the envelope of emotional manipulation into a million pieces by inserting scenes, plot “twists” and laborious descriptive paragraphs of both extremes – the goodness of friendship amongst wealthy men with insanely successful professional lives and the relentless violence against the human body and soul. A few days after reviewing the book, I was searching for the author’s interviews online and .. I don’t know what I was hoping to find, but I guess I just wanted to read Yanagihara’s thoughts about her own book. I just read a few of her statements and what struck me is her admission that the negative extremes (related to abuse) was intentional. I was taken aback because “manipulation” is usually seen as a negative opinion in book reviews.

Which brings me to my next question:

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For me, it doesn’t. At least not while we are on the topic of this discussion post. Knowing intent doesn’t nullify the judgment I might have already made based on the content of the book. If I had judged the author, then yes, having an insight helps to know where the author was coming from and maybe I would change my opinion about the author. But NOT my thoughts on the book.

So, is saying that a book is being overtly manipulative a constructive point of criticism in book reviews? Is it something that plagues any particular genre(s) of fiction? I have grown up reading literary fiction, so it is one of my favorite genres. There is a lot I love about them, but one thing I found quite annoying, especially in books dealing with “heavy” topics, is the lazy scene placements or descriptions which are cues for me to start crying.

This brings me to:

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  1. Well, it just feels disingenuous. If the characters are all well-developed with a personality that sings “Original”, we will connect with their journey THROUGH the story’s progression. There is no need for any other “extra effort”.
  1. Sometimes, less is more. I just feel like in some stories, especially the “issue-based” books, too much of “explaining” or “dwelling” causes desensitization towards the issue, thereby doing a disservice to the cause.
  1. I feel like sometimes, this is just used to cover other basic shortcomings of the book. I also feel that narrative humor is sometimes undervalued in favor of dense moments of drama because there is a perception that the latter is more likely to get critical acclaim (?)

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So, what do you think? Is this something that is more common in “issue-based” book than, say, the funny and lighthearted reads? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

(Note: Image credit: https://www.brusheezy.com/backgrounds)

 

Reading and other bookish updates

Last week was pretty eventful, in terms of book hauls, giveaways, and gifts (it was my birthday 🙂 )

What am I currently reading?

A Little Life This has been in my TBR ever since I started blogging but never got around to reading it. I have a little over a hundred pages left, and I am still not sure how I feel about the book. I am also not sure whether I will be reviewing, not because I have nothing to say, but because I don’t know how am I going to coherently condense everything into a lucid, spoiler-free review. I will just say this though – the synopsis is pretty misleading, and I almost DNFed it at around 300 pages.

Book hauls:

I attended a book fair last week, and picked up a few:

The Help  The Devil Wears Prada  The Kitchen God's Wife

I also downloaded a couple of kindle reads (I really liked the covers and synopsis and there were free for a limited time):

The Other Side of the Stars  Sense of Touch

I also received a B&N gift card on my birthday (yaaayyy!!!!!) , and I am having a hard time trying to decide what to buy, because I rarely go on a book-buying spree. I think that was one reason I just bought three books at the book sale, because I was so confused and kept putting in and removing books from my cart.

Expected bookmail:

I won signed copies of ACOMAF, (via. Twitter giveaway hosted by Sierra) and dots by Angie M. Brashears

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)   Dots

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So, what are your latest book hauls? What are you currently reading? Have you read A Little Life? Do let me know your thoughts on it!