Friday, November 27, 2015

The Lunar Ball Recap

Last Friday, my friend Liz and I made the long 2 1/2 trek up to Petoskey for Marissa Meyer’s last stop on her Winter tour! It was an incredible night, and I’m so glad I got to share it with one of my best friends. I think she was even more excited about it than I was! Haha. I’m super happy I got her hooked on the series, and that she was willing to drive us up there. The car ride was long, but it went by fast because we just talked the whole time. And we honestly haven’t really hard a chance to do that since we roomed together sophomore year, so it was nice and felt easy. But we had left later than we meant to, and we ended up getting to Petoskey with 15 minutes to spare (the event started at 7 technically, but luckily Marissa wasn’t actually talking until 7:15). We grabbed a quick dinner and changed into our dresses. And then it took us a bit to find a place to park and get to the bookstore!

Once we got there, the place was PACKED! This is a pretty tiny store (though it’s two floors), and so we were all crowded in this tight space downstairs, but there weren’t many people (had to be less than 50), so it was a lot better. We couldn’t really see Marissa upfront, but we could still hear everything. She said a little bit about her writing process regarding Winter, and then she actually read us the Grimm Brothers’ version of Snow White (which is really dark and creepy, way to go Grimm boys). Oh, and then they did a costume contest for someone to win a manuscript of Winter (!!!) and there was a DAD there who cosplayed as Dr. Ekland (father of the year award, amirite?). After (or before, I can't remember) there was only time for a few questions, and then the hosts set up the signing table.

Some highlights from Marissa’s talk (in my paraphrasing way):
  • With Winter, she just kept going and going. She kept crossing the line and writing, and it ended up taking two years to finally finish the book, which was longer than any of the others.
  • There are days where she misses the characters. It was a bittersweet ending for her. And she knew she wasn’t finished, so Stars Above happened.
  • She’s obsessed with pre-Disney fairytales. It started when she was a kid, after reading the Grimms'The Little Mermaid.
  • Question: which character does she relate to the most? Cress! She mentioned being a totally awkward fangirl, like this girl. And that she also uses her imagination to escape real life. Also, after her mom read Cress, she even asked if Cress’ spacing out thing was what Marissa did as a kid.
  • Question: her favorite character? She didn’t really have one. She called them all her best friends, but not. BUT she did say that Thorne was the most fun to write.
  • Question: which character did she have the most trouble with while writing? Again, she didn’t have an answer because the characters reveal themselves slowly, and she gets to know them through revisions. So they’re all a little difficult to write, in a sense. But she did mention Jacin being a tough cookie. With his defense mechanisms and shutting off his emotions, she said it was hard for her to uncover his character throughout the process.

Afterward, Liz and I hung around. We weren’t in a rush to meet Marissa and have her sign our books. Because there wasn’t a lot of people there, we had PLENTY of time and the hosts mentioned before that we would all get our facetime with Marissa. Plus, we’d driven over 2 hours to get there, so why not stay the whole time? We mostly talked and freaked out about what we’d say to her once we met her. Finally, we got in line once it was dying down, and then it was OUR TURN. omg I was SO nervous. I don’t even remember all of what I said to her. But she was so sweet (as she was when I met her at BEA this past summer), and I had 4 books for her to sign so I had time to talk if I’d stopped being so socially awkward. And, well.  But I did get a picture with us both smiling at the camera this time! :D


Once we got done, Liz and I wandered through the shelves a bit, talking about our favorite books and checking out the pretty covers for some of the classic fiction (I want so many of them). Then we finally decided to ask someone (er, well, Liz did) to take a picture of us with the photo booth they’d set up. Because OF COURSE we had to do that too! Haha. By the time we left, it was around 9 (which was when the event would end). After like two months of planning, it was over in a heartbeat, which was sad! But I’m so freaking happy we got to do this together! As I said, it had been so long since we really had a chance to just sit down and talk outside of work. It was a really fun mini road trip, and I definitely need to get her hooked on more YA books so that she can drive me we can go to more book events. ;) And of course, it was super great seeing Marissa again! (Even though she doesn’t remember me. Haha). Also I was not expecting questions about my tote bag (my Gansey & Blue one), so that was weird. And I was supposed to meet up with Sheridan, but I completely forgot after getting there late and being nervous around everyone. NEXT TIME! Last thing, this bookstore is the CUTEST and I wish I could visit more often.

*****

Have you guys ever been to a book event? Who did you meet and how was it? :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Contemporary Mini Review Session

Over the summer, my review writing suffered a lot. And so I read a lot of books I never reviewed until recently, and I'm FINALLY sharing them with y'all! And I'm especially excited because as I was rating them, I realized they were all at least 3.5 stars or higher. I enjoyed them all!

*****

Devoted
Ever since I read and loved Jennifer Mathieu’s debut, I have been waiting to read this book. And it did not disappoint! Devoted was a wonderful, empowering story about one young woman’s journey to standing up for her beliefs and taking control of her life.“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I’ll tell you what Rachel Walker does. She finds herself. She starts thinking for herself, starts questioning her beliefs, and why she feels so different from her family. She is curious, and that is not something a woman should be in the eyes of God (according to Calvary Christian Church). But she is strong in her convictions and her beliefs, and she changes the future that was laid out before her. That took incredible courage and strength, and I admired Rachel so much for what she did and how she fought for herself. And I’m so, SO glad she realized how very wild and precious life is and that you should live it how YOU want to. This was a truly inspirational story that I hope EVERYONE reads, and I loved the religious aspects of it as well (which I don’t find often enough in YA, or any category/genre really).
RATING: 4.5 Paw Prints!


Everything, Everything
*Minor spoilery!
Here’s the thing about this book: it is cute, adorable, and utterly full of shippy banter that made my heart soar. But here’s another thing: I hated the twist. Like when I first finished this book, I was still like ASDFJKL; I JUST READ SOMETHING SO AMAZING, and then the more I thought about it, the more I wished it hadn’t happened like that. I feel like it just basically said “disregard everything, everything about the whole book because it’s all a joke.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed this book and I adored the romance and felt it was very realistic to the story. And the MC was pretty cool, and I could understand her need to explore and rebel and just live; I loved the portrayal of Maddy’s life. But I kinda wish it had ended differently and there had been no twist.
RATING: 4 Paw Prints!


The Anatomical Shape of a Heart
This book was super wonderful!! A friend let me borrow it so I could read it early, and I’m so happy she did. It was the only book I managed to read in September, after getting into the worst slump ever. It was fluffy, full of bantery goodness, and with characters who will steal your heart. There was so much positivity to it, from a Mom who is not only there but who is involved in her daughter’s life, safe-sex and consent talks, and a portrayal of mental illness that shows how REAL it is and how people still find it taboo to mention out loud but that it shouldn’t be ignored or swept under the rug anyway. Beatrix is an awesome main character, one who is still letting hurts from the past shape who she is, and someone who needs to learn how to let people in and that things are not always black and white. Jack is a charming love interest who has secrets, ones that reveal so much about who he is and why he paints gold letters on property that isn’t his. I adored their relationship, and how they both found someone who will show support and understanding even when they have no idea how to help otherwise. And I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED that they talked about sex and that it was such a positive aspect to their relationship, something that doesn’t happen in too many YA books. And I loved how involved Beatrix’s mom is, and I also adored her relationship with her brother Heath, who is sweet but who messes up a lot (especially with his boyfriend). They were great additions to the story, and so were some of the other characters in here. This is basically a gush-fest about how much I loved The Anatomical Shape of a Heart and I’m not even sorry. Y’all need to read this book!
RATING: 4 Paw Prints!


Focus on Me
I loved this much more than the first book in the series! Though they can be read as standalones, it would really help to read Trust the Focus before diving into this one, since (w/o trying to spoil too much) the two main characters in that one will show up again. But in any case, this is wholly separate from the first book, though they are both m/m romances involving road trips. I freaking loved this story! I adored the relationship between Colin and Riley. I liked how safe and comfortable they made each other even though they were strangers, and how their relationship evolved after so short a time together. And I really, really loved how the mental illness aspect was done. It was sad and awful, yet the story was full of hope and love and how receiving help does mean that one is weak or not worthy enough. Colin and Riley both went through quite a bit, and after that fateful gas station stop, they found someone who looked past everything and saw who the other person was inside. Their relationship felt believable and real even after only knowing each other for a few weeks. And I’m glad that it didn’t romanticize or say that love is a cure-all for mental illness. I want to say more about it but SPOILERS. I also really adored the secondary characters, especially the returning ones, and I loved the ending to it.
RATING: 4.5 Paw Prints!


Seven Nights to Surrender
I'm not quite sure what to make of this one. Like, I liked it but I didn't love it. And I slipped into boredom a few times. I mean, the characters were great (well, Kate was awesome, and Rylan made me mad with his 'oh woe is me' attitude). Kate had a lot of character development, and I loved that through Rylan, she gained so much more confidence in herself. Not just in a sexual way, but in a life way. And I loved the sex positivity, and how the author slammed the unfairness when it comes to women and sex. And how great Rylan was to Kate, which he was, and he took care of her. But he kept so much of himself closed down that, by the time everything blew up at the end, I'd known Kate wouldn't be having it. She'd already been knocked down by guys before, and she was through with it. She stood up for herself, and she walked away. That took a lot of strength, and I admire her for it, and I loved that she grew so much as a person in such a short time. Rylan needs a bit more work, though, and I'm sure the sequel will give him that. Speaking of sequel, I'd had no idea that this wasn't a standalone, and I was like WHY JUST WHY. But I get it now, especially after that ending. Though I didn't totally believe their love, I respect the author for continuing the story instead of patching everything up perfectly. Because it was more true and realistic for this couple and their romance. I'm just not really interested in Eight Ways to Ecstasy.
RATING: 3.5 Paw Prints!

*****

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? :)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thieves and Heists: Six of Crows Review

Title: Six of Crows (The Dregs, #1)
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: September 29th, 2015!
*I received a copy of this from Macmillan at BEA.

From Goodreads...

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge.


A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.


A runaway with a privileged past.


A spy known as the Wraith.


A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. 


A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. 


Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.



My Review!
Well, it’s been 4 months since I read and finished Six of Crows, so I think it’s about time I reviewed it. Or at least, TRY to. I still remember a lot about it, which is great, but I don’t remember everything. So I hope I can still do this book justice, especially since over the course of those weeks, I’ve thought about it often. And even started to reread it before its release date, but then I got into a really bad slump, and I sort of gave up on it. But I do want to reread it again, SOON, because it’s so worth the second look.

I LOVED Leigh Bardugo’s trilogy, even with my lukewarm feelings toward Siege and Storm. I thought the ending to it was perfect; I adored the characters. I fell in love with the way she wrote, how she detailed everything and made it feel as if the world was real. And I was there. That didn’t change at all in this companion; it was just a whole other area to such a fascinating world, one that I never knew about. Ketterdam is super different, yet also really similar, to Ravka. And this book can totally stand on its own; you don’t have to read The Grisha Trilogy first. I do recommend it, just because it’ll give you so much background toward the places, and it even references two people, I think, from the other series. But it’s definitely not required. And I really liked that Six of Crows didn’t need to be read after the trilogy. It was easy to separate what was happening in this, to what had happened before. And it was easy to fall in love with a new set of characters.

Not that it was hard to fall for them. Not. At. All. If anything, these characters are so much easier to love than the ones in the trilogy. And not because they’re better, or more likable (lolol this makes me laugh), but because there is just something about them that make my heart happy and give me so many feels. I fell HARD for them all, but especially Kaz Brekker. It’s no secret that I love my broken bad boys, that I love the guys who are damaged and hurtful but who have softer sides to them. But he’s so much more than that. His background shaped who he is, pushed him in so many ways, and became the driving force that turned him into the best thief in Ketterdam. And when you start to get to know him, beyond the manipulations and calculated ways in which he keeps his emotions in check and the thirst for power, you start to see exactly who he is. Not just a thief or a conman or a, let’s be honest, a jerk. But someone who is just trying to survive in the only way he knows how to.

I see that, and so does Inej. <3 She is, aside from Kaz, my favorite of the characters. Inej is a true badass, a boss queen who makes people bow down to her. I love this girl so much, and I just love that she’s so powerful on her own. That she doesn’t need anybody to save her. She is intelligent, quick on her feet, and deadly. She’s the heroine of her own story, a story that I NEED more background on since I feel like we still don’t know her completely. But I loved the way she took control of her life, the way she didn’t settle for anything less than what she deserved, even when she knew it could cost her. Her feelings for Kaz weren’t like a big deal; they were just a part of her. She didn’t need romance or a guy to save her. And I needed that, because I feel like that doesn’t happen often in YA books. The Wraith has such huge importance in this book, and I cannot wait for more of her. She is that AWESOME.

The rest of the characters, Jesper, Wylan, Nina, and Matthias, all have big roles in the book as well. And I loved them too, but Kaz and Inej just hold my heart. Anyway, onto the others. Jesper is hilarious! He’s a sharpshooter who just lightens up the tense situations (which makes him a little stereotypical, being THAT character, the comedic one), but he’s not. He’s more than he appears, and he’s not afraid of just being himself. *le sigh* I sure do love that guy. And so does someone else. *cough* Wylan, the privileged runaway, doesn’t get as much time on the pages as everyone else (and if I recall, he also doesn’t even get a POV). But that’s okay, because I have a feeling he’ll have a larger role in the sequel. Also, he’s adorable, so we’ll keep him. :D Nina (the Heartrender) and Matthias (the convict) had a bit of a history before this, so the sexual tension and unresolved issues between them was played to perfection. I adored how they weren’t a couple, but they were basically.

The whole cast made for such fun and heartwarming dialogue in-between all of the action. And there is A LOT of action, but the beginning is pretty slow. Leigh builds up the world carefully, and so detailed that it can make for a boring start (which I’ve heard from several people). But I was actually hooked from the beginning, and I think the largest part in why I love this book so much is because of the characters. They really make the story come alive, with all of their differences and backgrounds and personalities. The multi-POV is never a problem, because they’re all so unique, (and the 3rd person narrative does make it easier to tell them apart, but I digress). Throughout the story, the characters are put to the test, and I just went crazy for the plot. The heist storyline had me intrigued, and I couldn’t wait to see how it all came together. But man, that ending is a fucking killer and I am DYING for the sequel because I just have to know what happens to my beloved characters!

Well. This was surprisingly easy to write, even after 4 months. So I think that goes to show just how much of an impact Six of Crows made on me.  All I want is to dive back into this, but I’m gonna make myself wait until closer to the sequel’s release date. But guys, this book is brilliant. It is rich and real and heartbreaking and funny and holy mother of God I just love this misfit group of characters SO much. <3 This is probably making me sound really crazy, but I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS FOR THEM OKAY PEOPLE?!

RATING:
    

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cover Reveal: Chasing Crazy by Kelly Siskind

I'm super excited to be sharing the cover reveal for Chasing Crazy! I've heard so much about this book from Brighton Walsh, so if it has HER stamp of approval, I've gotta read it. Also it was pitched as an NA Anna and the French Kiss, so yeah. :D

*****

Title: Chasing Crazy
Author: Kelly Siskind
Publisher: Forever Yours
Release Date: January 12th, 2016!

"With an endearingly awkward female protagonist, a swoon-worthy male love interest, and Siskind's superb storytelling, this is one of the best New Adult contemporary romances I've read to date." -- USA Today bestselling author K.A. Tucker

Dear Mom & Dad, I dropped out of school. I'm going backpacking. Sorry. Love you both.

At nineteen, Nina has endured two lifetime's worth of humiliation. Tired of waiting for it to get better, she decides to get going-across the globe to New Zealand. There she soon faces what she most fears: a super sexy guy ready to be Nina's next mistake.

Once Sam's life was all about having fun. That was before the accident. Now his friends have bailed and his world is broken. But when a gorgeous girl on his flight looks at him with passion instead of pity, Sam feels his old self coming back to life.

Now traveling together, Nina and Sam know this isn't just a fling. They're falling fast, hard, and deep. More than anything, Sam wants Nina to forget her fears. But to help her do that he must reveal his own painful secret-and risk Nina never seeing him the same way again.


Add CHASING CRAZY to Goodreads here (http://bit.ly/1Ld2ajy)!

Preorder CHASING CRAZY:

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/chasing-crazy-kelly-siskind/1122292232?ean=9781455538379


*****

Excerpt!
Frickin’ Hot Guy and his stupid hike. He thought his limp would slow us down, but I’m the one huffing and puffing, trying to figure out how I ended up on Mount Everest while in New Zealand. I chance a glance up, using the moment to inhale a mouthful of air. Sam leans over the edge, hands on his knees, grinning down at me. If there was ever a reason to summit a mountain, that face is it.
Sam, who I’m falling for. Sam, with that jaw.
Sam, who I’ll be sleeping with. In a tent. Alone.
Another five agonizing steps later, he’s got me by the shoulders, helping me up. In the blink of an eye, he has my straps undone and is easing the bazillion-pound weight from my back. The air still feels sharp in my lungs, like it could slice through me.
“Keep moving around,” he says. “Come on, let’s walk it off.” He grabs my hand and leads me over the rocky ground, the two of us walking in wide circles.
After a few laps, the air is less daggerlike and my breathing slows. I blink at my surroundings. So focused on my aches and pains, I didn’t stop to soak in the landscape, if that’s what you’d call it. This is probably what the moon looks like. A few hikers passed us on the climb, but we’re alone in this crater, surrounded by jagged outcrops of brownish-black rocks and yellow tufts of grass, low mountains on all sides. It’s majestic and eerie and otherworldly, and I’m here because of Sam.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” he asks. He’s still holding my hand as the silence engulfs us, my heart pounding in my ears.
The air is cold and damp. It alleviates the heat from that insane climb but doesn’t do much to quell the warmth between Sam’s hand and mine. Still, I don’t let go. And he doesn’t let go. I could stand here forever.
“Yeah, beautiful,” I finally say, no longer referring to the scenery.

*****

About Kelly Siskind
A small-town girl at heart, Kelly moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in Northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head.

She laughs at her own jokes and has been known to eat her feelings—Gummy Bears heal all. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.

She is represented by Stacey Donaghy of the Donaghy Literary Group.

2015 Golden Heart® Finalist

Connect with Kelly 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Beautiful Friendship: Review of Just Visiting

Title: Just Visiting
Author: Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: November 17th, 2015! SO GO BUY IT ALREADY!
*eARC kindly provided by the author. Thank you so much, Dahlia!*

From Goodreads...
Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas. 

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn't go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won't stand out for being Mexican. 

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective... only to learn she's set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they've sworn to leave. 

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don't know about each other's pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they'll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.


My Review!
I want more books like this in YA. I want more books with a focus on friendship than the romance. I want more books with sex-positive talk. I want more friends who actually TALK through everything and who stick by each other’s sides even when angry. I want more healthy, supportive friendships, and more healthy, supportive romances. Basically I want more books like Just Visiting.

Ah, people are going to give Reagan shit though. I can already see it. This beautiful, sad girl just couldn’t let herself be happy. She didn’t think she deserved it. Even when she was so ready to get out of Charytan, her past was still holding her back. A past that took away her innocence that the world and the people in it are good. A past that leaves her so untrusting and unsure of anything about herself. It’s hard for her to open up and let people in, even her best friend. But I don’t blame her. I know she had a lot to work through, and it was hard for her to be positive and to enjoy life. She was a tough cookie, and one that could be pretty unlikable at times. But she was still a teenager; she was still learning. She had to make mistakes and be pushed out of her comfort zone so she could see what she truly deserved and what her life could be like if she so chose it. Reagan’s development was so wonderful but hard, and I rooted for her so much.

And I LOVED that she had Victoria through it all. Vic was the best friend everyone should have. She was supportive, nonjudgmental, and knew when she was pushing too far. But she was a developed character alongside Reagan, and not just a sidekick. I loved her personality, and her positivity. She struggled with her identity and what she really wanted out of life and college, and I could relate well to that. Throughout the book, she was learning a lot about herself, and I find that such an important aspect of anyone’s experiences, let alone a teenager visiting colleges with her best friend. And even though she didn’t quite figure it all out, she stayed positive and true to herself in the end. Victoria was such a fabulous character, and I’m super glad this was told in dual POV because I adored her voice. I especially loved how outgoing and enthusiastic she was, and how she didn’t let anyone else’s opinions define her or what she did.

There was a small, but well-written, romance aspect in this as well. But it was geared more toward Reagan for SPOILERY REASONS. I loved how it didn’t take over everything, for either of the girls. It was still an important part of their development and life, but it felt real and genuine instead of just being there for filler reasons. I really loved that the romance and sex was such a positive aspect. I especially adored Dev and his nerdiness, and how wonderful he was to Reagan. It made me happy to see Reagan let herself be happy. And I also loved how Victoria’s own romantic sideline was an important part but not one that HAD to be perfect by the end. I just really liked the way it all went and how it was dealt with, especially the sex positivity. I also really loved the relationship that Vic had with her family. They were all so close, and I could feel her loneliness and wanderlust when she talked to her brother as he was traveling. Reagan’s family was awful, and I’m glad she had the Reyes’ because they were there for her, they were what she needed her parents to be.

This plot very much centered around the two girls and their friendship. Their banter was A+ and I was so very happy to see such a healthy, wonderful friendship in YA. But they had to learn that sometimes what’s best for you isn’t the best for someone else. Through their trials and errors in this book, the two of them realize that their dreams may be different, but that it was totally okay for them to follow their own hearts. It was never going to end their friendship; I don’t think anything could, they are so close and just always there for one another. But it was okay for them to take their own path, and I think that’s such an important, realistic thing you learn as you go to college and move away from your childhood friends.

Just Visiting was so, SO good!! I freaking loved it; the friendship, the romance, and the diversity which I forgot to mention. I loved both Reagan and Victoria so much, their stories, and that ending was super perfect and gave me so many feels! IT JUST MADE ME SO HAPPY TO READ.

RATING:
    

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I'm Not a Marketing Tool

The Fine Line (credit of the name goes to Val) is a feature created by my friends Val @ The Innocent Smiley, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight, Amber @ YA Indulgences, and I. It's a discussion feature we'll share equally, one where we talk about our thoughts on controversial topics, parts of the community that we don't like or have mixed feelings about. And we want to know if others feel the same as well! But it's okay if you don't. This feature is about discussion, so chat away!


Today I want to talk about being a marketing tool versus blogging for yourself. 

*****

When I first started my blog, I was doing it for ME. I was doing it because I wanted a space that was all mine, where I could write about anything I wanted. And when it turned into a book blog, it was because I wanted to talk about my favorite hobby with other people who understood, and who “got” it. But over the years, I feel like I kinda lost that. I started catering my blog to book pressure, started requesting ARCs and reading them because everyone else was and because I got caught up in the hype. I started caring more about what others thought of my blog than about what *I* did. It’s sometimes easy to forget why you started in the first place when you feel like you’re no longer blogging for yourself.

And I wasn’t. I let what others were doing and writing and reading about dictate what *I* did. And I started to care more about how publishers and authors looked at my blog than my readers did. Why did I do that? Because I thought if I did what *I* wanted, talked about whatever *I* wanted, that publishers wouldn’t like it? But why did their opinion matter so much to me? Because I wanted them to think I was professional so they would send me an ARC? Sure, ARCs are great and fun, and it IS special to be thought of so highly by a pub that they want to give you a not-yet-published book for free. It’s one of the ways of measuring success on your blog. But somehow, I let that success be measured on how much attention I was gaining from publishers, and even authors. That isn’t to say that it’s ALL bad. But when you start blogging as a hobby, as a passion, you should only ever strive to make YOURSELF happy. And I wasn’t happy with it.

I think when you start to care more about what publishers (and authors) think and want from you, you make yourself an easy target to become their own special marketing tool. Now, some people don’t see anything wrong with this, and all the more power to them. What sparked this post was a discussion with two other bloggers during the #BookBloggerChat, after someone asked what publishers would think if we started reviewing in nonconventional ways. And I was like: but we’re not blogging for them, you know, so why does it matter? But to some people, it really does matter. That’s just not something I understand. Someone brought up a good point, though, that we should be honoring commitments, especially if we request something. And I SO agree there. You should not be taking on anything if you’re not 100% committed to doing it. You have to be professional in that regard! But in all other aspects, your blog is your own space and it’s yours to do with as you wish.

I don’t blog for publishers and authors. First and foremost, I do not. I love working with them, but they are not why I blog. Don’t get me wrong, it’s really great to receive ARC approvals, be invited to participate in a fun promotion for a book or series I love, to even get a simple RT from a publisher or author regarding my review. But at the end of the day, this is all for me. And my followers, the people whom I constantly keep in mind when thinking about new content and creativity. But, you know, there are days where I don’t feel like anything more than a marketing tool. There are days where I feel like I do so much, and no one appreciates it. There are days where I feel like just one of many hundreds who are nothing more but a promotional space for authors. And I think that there are times when publishers and authors forget that there is a PERSON behind the blog.

I’ve seen a lot of comments regarding some of this already, especially from older bloggers. I’ve gotten cookie-cutter emails from publishers who you can tell are just emailing anyone they know of to promote a certain book or author. They probably don’t even know my name, or my blog’s name. It doesn’t even seem like they care that much about who you are, but about what you can do FOR THEM. Now, this isn’t EVERY publisher. But there are a few in particular who have really made me feel like I’m just being used as a promotional gimmick. And the thing is that they can get another blogger to step into my place if I say no, because there are hundreds out there who would say yes without a second thought. And hundreds more who would do whatever type of post a publisher asks for, because they want to get “in” with them.

And maybe that’s okay with those hundreds of bloggers, that’s enough for them. I don’t know. But, for me, I don’t want to put so much stock into what a publisher thinks when my efforts feel so underappreciated anyway. I’ve heard that it used to be that you would be lucky if you received an RT or an acknowledgement from a publisher? That they weren’t very involved with bloggers that much, even when sending ARCs? I’m not actually sure about that, so I can only look at the last 3 years. And the lines have blurred so much between bloggers and publishers that I can’t tell who’s being genuine anymore and who’s only doing these things for the popularity and attention that they could bring. But that’s something for a different day.

Perhaps I’m putting too much on publishers? This isn’t ONLY about them, though. There are AUTHORS who see bloggers as only marketing tools to give them free promotion. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received that were CC’d to hundreds of others in a long chain, asking for us, no TELLING US, to promote a book that probably isn’t anything we normally review. We don’t even get names, then. And I can’t tell you how many have subscribed me to their newsletters without my permission. It’s hard to feel appreciated about ANYTHING you do when you’re being looked at as only something that will further someone else’s gain. Sure, we ARE, in some way, a marketing tool. We promote books we loved or rant about ones we hated. We take on more than we can handle all of the time because we want to do everything we can to support our favorite books and authors. But that’s something that we do on our own time because we WANT to. Not because we’re a professional promotional outlet.

I never became a book blogger to cater to publishers and authors. And perhaps others really love doing that, but it just doesn’t work for me. I’m so tired of putting so much work and effort into something when it’s not even acknowledged (which happened once before, when I did a publisher-oriented post). I know they don’t owe me anything, not even an RT, just as I don’t owe them a “yes” or a review (my policy is for review consideration for a reason). But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a small part of me that feels super underappreciated for everything I do, especially when a publicist specifically asks me if I want to do a fun post for them, and afterward I feel like just one of another dozen bloggers who did the promotional gimmick. I love working with people on unique posts and events, but I’m not blogging for anyone else but myself. And I refuse to become just another marketing tool when *I’m* the one who owns this space and writes this content because it’s what I want and what makes ME happy.

BUT I do think if you find a good balance between doing what excites you and what publishers and authors ask of you, then it makes it worth it! Like I really do enjoy working with them, especially if I love the book or series. And I do not mind at all promoting it if it's something I think deserves the attention. But personally I need to find a better balance. And I do believe that sometimes we put too much stock into what others think of our blog than what *we* do. If you wanna review in nonconventional ways, then go for it! If you want to talk about content not related to books, then that's your decision! It's your blog!

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So do you ever feel like just a marketing tool? Do you think publishers and authors sometimes forget that we're not their own promotional outlets? Obviously we ARE here to promote books and authors, but when does it become less about ourselves and more about what everyone else wants? OR do you think it's not as big a deal as people make it out to be? Let's talk! :)