Category: Discussion

A Discussion on Book Blogging Safety

Posted July 24, 2012 by Jana in Discussion / 15 Comments

The Internet has never been a safe place, and we book bloggers are not above those online dangers. Just because a person is an author, it does not mean that they are a good person. And just because a person claims to be an author, it does not mean they actually are. These days anyone can publish a book. They can be a terrible person offline, and an amazingly likable author online. How do you know which one you’re talking to?

Visualize this with me. You’re out late at night on a dark street all alone. You hear a noise behind you, and you speed up in the direction of your car. You glance behind, and there’s an ominous looking person following you that you know you want absolutely nothing to do with. You break into a run, jump in your car, lock the doors, and drive off. Hours later, that person turns their computer on and adds the finishing touches to their new young adult novel, presses the publish button on whichever online publisher they use, and begins to contact bloggers for reviews, asking if they can send them a complimentary copy to their book. Come to think of it, there might not even be a book! But now they have a bunch of addresses of people they can go after. And if they searched for bloggers in a certain area (I’ve seen a lot of “About Me” pages that give out way too much info), you might be really close by. Would you give that nighttime stalker your address? No! Would you give your address to a random person online who thinks you’re amazing? I doubt it. So why would you give your address out to an author you’ve never heard of, who might not even be an author at all?

And of course, this does not just go for authors. This goes for our fellow bloggers as well. How do you know that the blogger you’ve been tweeting back and forth with is not someone with less than honorable intentions? How do you know if they really want to send you a birthday present, or if they just want to get your address out of you? I see so many bloggers throwing their addresses around like beads during a Mardi Gras parade, and it scares me so much.

I adore all of my blogging friends, and I would just die if any of them got hurt as a result of being too trusting. I’ve seen friends give out personal information to people who they have no reason to trust. So, I’ve thought up a list of things you can do in order to have a safer experience blogging about books.

Top Ten Ways to be a Safe Book Blogger

1. Don’t accept physical books from self-published authors unless they go through a professional publicity company with a good reputation. Go for eBooks instead. I’m not saying self-published authors are bad people, I’m saying that they usually have nobody to vouch for their credibility. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Some of my greatest friends in the blogging world are self published authors, and I love many of them. It only takes one person with malicious intentions to raise the needed for extra precautions, though. I’d definitely still accept physical books from the major publishing houses, though. They are trustworthy, and it’s their job to get the word out.

2. Don’t link your personal blog to your book blog. Register with a separate e-mail address, or remove your personal blog from your blogging profile. You don’t want just anyone in the world reading about your personal life!

3. Don’t include your location or last name in your “About Me” page or Goodreads profile.

4. If you have a Facebook page for your blog, don’t “Like” that page. If people search the blog fans on that page and recognize your picture, all of a sudden they’ve got your last name.

5. Utilize Facebook privacy settings and don’t allow your location to be shown to people who are not your friends.

6. Don’t include your last name in your e-mail address or signatures.

7. Don’t enter giveaways that require you to enter your full name upfront. Use your blog’s name instead of your last name. I doubt there is someone out there with your exact blog name, as well as your exact first name. The giveaway host does not need your last name in order to tell you apart from other entrants with the same first name.

8. Don’t enter giveaways that require your home address upfront. Why do they need every single person’s address anyway? They only need the winner’s. Some giveaways I’ve tried to enter mention that it eliminates the extra step of e-mailing the winner and waiting for their response. I think that’s kind of a lame reason. I’m assuming they can wait a day before sending you your book, especially since most people do not mail out the book the day of/after the giveaway results are drawn.

9. Don’t take on extra blog contributors without really knowing and trusting them first. You could lose everything.

10. The ARC tours are kind of scary… Anyone can be a part of those, and you have no control over who has your home address. These books will be released one day, so don’t risk your safety for the opportunity to read a book a few months early. It’s not worth it.

All in all, minimize how many people you give your personal information to. No book or bookish opportunity is worth risking your safety for. I care about you. Yes, you. I’m pointing at you now. Please be safe. :)

So, let’s discuss this. What do you think? Do you have any ideas for how to be safe, yet still enjoy the bookish community? Have you learned anything through your own experiences?


Again… that’s Totally the Same Cover! (#2)

Posted May 24, 2012 by Jana in Cover Talk, Discussion / 9 Comments

So, in March I talked about my opinion of copycat covers and showed off some of them (click here to see!). I have found more! Which do you like better? How do you feel about covers with the same images? Yes, they are stock photos… but this can be avoided if a publisher hires a photographer and copyrights the image. Of course, it costs more money, but I’d rather do that than have my book show up to a party in the same dress as someone else’s. Sometimes they both look good in the same dress… but still. I’d want my cover to be completely unique. :) What do you think?

Chosen by Sarah Swan

The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long
The Hedgewitch Queen by Lilith Saintgrow

The artist who did Treachery of Beautiful Things did a great job with this one! You can hardly tell! The other two are pretty similar.

 

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black

No, this is not the same book! We have twins here! Wow… Same fonts, same dots, same everything! To give them credit, we’re dealing with two different countries… and I seriously love this cover. But wow! Do they sell pre-made covers anywhere?

 

Evermore by Alyson Noel
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Selena Penaluna by Jan Page


How do YOU Review a Memoir?

Posted April 30, 2012 by Jana in Discussion / 8 Comments

 

Recently, I reviewed a memoir that I really disliked. I do my very best to not attack the author when I review their book, but with memoirs… the main character is the author. Because I disagreed with this main character’s behavior, I also disagreed with the author’s behavior. The author’s feelings were hurt, and they attacked my opinions publicly on a social media network.

It’s very hard to review a memoir, because it is so much more personal to the author than a fictitious story. It takes a lot of courage to publish a story about an important part of your life, because people will rip it apart and judge you. I do admire authors who do that. However, in doing so people will critique their ways. I feel it is my job and responsibility to share my opinions with my readers, who have gotten to know me and my reviews. I do my best to always explain the things I liked in addition to things I did not. Even if I hate a book, I can come up with one or two redeeming qualities for it. Shouldn’t that matter more than my opinion of the author? I mean, if I state that I took a lot away from the book and learned a lot about myself, isn’t that more important than my opinion of what the author chose to do or not do?

So I guess what I’m asking is this: If you receive a memoir or biography, how do you go about reviewing it? Do you critique the writing only, or do you discuss the “characters” (who are real-life people) too? It’s a tricky situation, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. If this has never happened to you, what would you do?


That’s Totally the Same Cover! (#1)

Posted March 29, 2012 by Jana in Discussion / 26 Comments

Hi! So, I’m kind of a book cover person. I remember covers, which is usually how I can tell if I’ve read a book or not. Haha. And it’s always funny to me when I come across two book covers that are either identical or very similar. Of all the images and photographs in the world, why use the same one for two different books, right? Especially if one is super popular and nobody has even heard of the other one. Yeah… I know… stock images. I’m a graphic designer, and use stock images too. But with a book cover, you need to be super careful! I always feel bad for the worse of the two covers. It’s like being an ugly stepsister, or something.

 

 

Mermaids of Venice by Silas Knight
Breathless by Cole Gibsen (The better cover)

 

 

 

Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison (The better cover)
For Pete’s Sake by Linda Windsor

 

 

 

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Bewitching Love Potions & Charms by Raven Tempest

Which covers do you like better? Do you ever notice copy cat covers in bookstores or online? How do you feel about cover images being reused, especially on really popular books?

(This blog post is the first of several that will appear over the next few months!)

When Good Covers Get Wasted on Not-so-Good Books

Posted February 13, 2012 by Jana in Cover Talk, Discussion / 9 Comments

So, this post is a companion to my earlier post, When Good Books Get Lost Behind Not-so-Good Covers. Have you ever been walking through a book store, stopped dead in your tracks, and drooled a little over the latest eye candy on the book displays? Have you ever bought a book without even caring what it’s about, just because the cover is drop-dead amazing? Have you ever gone home and read that book, and then thrown it against the wall because its was a major disappointment? I have! This post is dedicated to all those books I didn’t necessarily hate, but had higher hopes for because of their deceptive book covers.

 

Halo by Alexandra Adornetto – This cover is gorgeous. GORGEOUS, I tell you! *Sigh* Just read my review.

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble – I love the typography and the swish ornamentation. The book was just weird, though. I love Anastasia, but I did not like this author’s take on it. I don’t even wish to read the sequel. :(

Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess by Jerramy Fine – Look how adorable that cover is! I read this because of that cover. I just didn’t love the story, though. I reviewed it at The Broke and The Bookish, if you’re interested in seeing what I thought.

Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler – This book was CREEPY, but look at the glorious, ominous vector imagery on that cover! Blast! Really, the book was just weird. This guy is “not of this world” and he stalks her… walking down a snowy lanes, and not talking… and they make a point of saying that she sees him naked and he has no male body parts! I mean… WEIRD. Why do we care? I bought this for the cover, and did not consult my fellow Goodreaders. My mistake. *shudder*

Glimmerglass by Jenna Black – PEOPLE. This book is sparkly! Like, those dots are actually shiny foil dots! And her skin is impeccable. I wanted to love this SO bad, but the sequels have come out and I have no desire to read them… The plot was weak, with everything happening over and over again. It was so lack-luster that I didn’t even review it. It was just “meh.”

Sailing to Capri by Elizabeth Adler – Ahhhhh…. Italy. Yacht. Yum. I want to go there. But it was kind of boring with not much of a story line, just a list of characters. No suspense. No real substance. Grar.

Caribbean Cruising by Rachel Hawthorne – Darling cover, and I SO wanted to love it! I read this while on a cruise, though, and the book is SO WRONG (nobody her age would be allowed to have her own cabin, for one thing.). And all the girl wanted was to lose her virginity. That’s all she talked about the whole time! Read my review.

Seduction by Brenda Joyce – That cover looks so romantic! But no, the romance in this book takes a backseat to the politics surrounding the French Revolution. I was so bored!

A Hopeless Romantic by Harriet Evans – I didn’t even finish this one… So much swearing and crap going on. I couldn’t take it any longer! But how cute is that cover? I want to play in the fountain with an umbrella! And the title?? I thought for sure I’d love it, but I was so disappointed. Drat!

Home in Time for Christmas by Heather Graham – This cover is my idea of the perfect Christmas scene! I want to jump in that cover and live there forever!!!!! The book was just ok…I mean, I liked it. I just wanted it to live up to the cover. You know how it is.

Ok, guys… Which covers have deceived you? I need to know where the wolves in sheeps’ clothing are hiding! I don’t want to be fooled again. And if you loved any of these stories, don’t be upset at me! I still think you’re cool. :)


When Good Books Get Lost Behind Not-So-Good Covers

Posted January 20, 2012 by Jana in Cover Talk, Discussion / 16 Comments

Discussion time! You know how pretty much everyone judges a book by its cover, even though they say they don’t? I know I do. It’s really hard not to, especially since I’m an artist and expect the art to reflect the content. If a cover is bad (or lacking in good design, or design at all), I usually assume the book is so bad it’s not worth spending the money on a really great cover. Of course, this is not always the case. We’ve all been deceived by a beautiful cover before, haven’t we? (By the way, this will be the topic of my next discussion. Just you wait!) Here are some books I’ve read that ended up being good, despite the cover! It’s what’s on the inside that counts, right?

If you click on this montage, it will expand so you can see all the cover details better!

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater – These books are so much better than the cover! A plain black background with some clip art stuck on is no fun!

The Host by Stephenie Meyer – Yes, the silver ring in the eye is cool, but the gunky make-up in the corner of the eye is not. The story is SO long, with so much going on. I’m sure more inspiration could have been stirred up for a better cover.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller – Nothing says drama, magic, and the Salem Witch Trials better than the back of a head…

Nightshade (The Poison Diaries #2) by Maryrose Wood – There’s just too much going on here. A face with pink cotton candy stuck to it and a forest with sunbeams growing out of her chin. “The Poison Diaries” logo is well done, but then they just slapped “Nightshade” on there all non-typographically pleasing. I bet they could have incorporated it somehow.

Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll – Ugh. I’ve read this, and there is nothing in the story that looks like this.

Most Historical Romance (Like Master of Seduction by Kinley MacGregor) – I think more people would read historical romance (and romance in general) if we didn’t have half-dressed Fabios staring at us! I love this genre, but please. We’ve got a naked man, a flowery font, and “Master of Seduction” HUGE with an innuendo of a catch phrase on there. Thank goodness I have a Kindle. Covers like these embarrass me, and I’m terrified of being seen reading a book with one!

Hush, Hush be Becca Fitzpatrick – Honestly, this dude looks like he is being murdered with a feather (the red feathers above don’t help much). Yes, he is falling from Heaven, but that pose is just unnatural and painful looking.

The Giver by Lois Lowry – Hello, old man. Yes, it works with the story, but there’s no ingenuity at work here!

Loves Music, Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark – Guess who wrote this one? I hope you can read it, seeing as how the name is so small. WHY must an author’s name take up 2/3rds of a cover? It’s not like it’s a really cool name, or a really cool font. Seriously.

Ok! So, you’ve got my picks! What are yours? What other books out there have I been avoiding for years because of the cover? Or do you like these covers? Tell me what you think!


Bookish Bad Habits

Posted December 15, 2011 by Jana in About Me, Discussion / 15 Comments

So, since I’ve been “professionally” reviewing books now for over a year and a half, I’ve come to notice quite a few bookish habits that aren’t necessarily good ones. Haha! As I spent more and more time compiling this list, the more things I noticed! Perhaps in 2012 I can turn some of these habits around. Consider this post a list of my 2012 Bookish New Year’s Resolutions.

– I’m a cover snob.
– All the books in a series must be in the same format. I do not have room for the hardback of Crossed by Ally Condie, but since Matched is hardback I can’t buy the Kindle version of Crossed. This is a curse.
– I spend too much time looking at how far along I am in a book, and how much I have left to read. I should just enjoy the ride and quit worrying about whether or not the book is too long or too short.
I can’t take a break from a book until I’m at a chapter break. That sucks if I’m exhausted and in the middle of a REALLY long chapter. I end up not even remembering some things because of this.
– I don’t give myself enough time to reflect on a book before I start a new one.
– Sometimes I wait months to write a review, which makes it REALLY hard. I need to start writing it the next day.
– I accept too many books to review at a time, and spend weeks reading books that are planned out. Sometimes I like to be spontaneous in my reading choices and grab a book off the shelf because it’s what I want at that very moment.
– Sometimes I judge a book too quickly, and it taints my opinion of the book before I’ve given it a chance.
– If I don’t like a book, I still make myself finish it. I need to learn that it’s ok to abandon a book for good. Reading is not a job, and I can quit anytime I want to without penalty.
– Sometimes I read too fast and don’t take the time to savor a book. This happens with books I have been anticipating for a LONG time.
– I buy more books, even though I have stacks of unread ones. I need to read what I have first!
– I stay up way too late, and end up reading the ending of a book when I’m so tired that I barely remember it.
– I have a hard time being objective if a book discusses or is centered around something I totally disagree with.
– If I get tired of a book, I set it aside and start something new. I always plan to return to the other one, but I rarely do. I’ve got 3-4 books I’m partway through that are just waiting to be finished, but now I can’t remember them!
– If I don’t read a book pretty soon after buying it, it gets mixed in with my other unreads and gets forgotten. I really should make up a list and read in that order. But again, that takes my spontaneity away from me.
– OH. If I really want to read a book, but don’t know what, I’ll go to my shelves and look for something. As I try to decide, sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the MANY choices I have, that I give up and watch a movie instead.

So what about you? Do you share some of these bad habits with me? If so, do you consider them bad ones, or should I be grateful I “suffer” with them? What are some of your bookish bad habits, and goals for 2012? Please leave a link to your blog post, and I’ll come visit you! Or comment here and join the discussion!