Let’s Talk: Aussie Book Blogger & Bookstagrammer Woes

Let’s be honest, the literary world does have a tendency to revolve around the US and UK. Big name authors are often from there, the large international publishing houses are located there, and things are released first there. I live in a little, island country known as Australia (you may have heard of it? I really hope sarcasm translates in written form) which happens to be positioned in the middle of absolute nowhere and, coincidentally, is located nowhere near either of these countries. For this reason, being a self-proclaimed book worm who likes to spend what little free time they have blogging about and taking photos of books comes with its own challenges and woes.

Let me just say in advance, this list is largely in fun and is me simply whining for the sake of whining about a lot of very trivial things. Enjoy my pettiness.

Later Release Dates

FOMO is the root of all evil and it rears its ugly head with this one. There’s nothing worse than finding out about an amazing book that everyone overseas is already loving only to realise you’ve got to wait another few weeks or even MONTHS (*rages*) to find the damn thing in Australia.

Impatient Come On GIF

In the meantime, you simply have to watch as others write about it, photograph it, and just generally dangle it in your internet face like a donkey with a carrot. Worse still, by the time you do get your hands on it, ready to write a review, the hype wave has already come and gone which is a major bummer. Sure, online shipping can be saving grace in some circumstances but there are exceptions, however, even then, sometimes you just really want it NOW.  I cannot even explain how annoying it was waiting months for both Scythe and, its sequel, Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman to finally show up on shelves.

Shipping Fees

As I’ve mentioned before, Australia = Narnia, or at least it might as well be because the damn SHIPPING RATES ARE THE SAME. This creates a number of woes.

Merch and Subscription Boxes

As much as I’d like to imagine so, money does not grow on trees. While I may want to get my hands on an amazeballs looking Victoria Schwab themed box which I can then unbox in all its glory on both my blog and insta, there’s simply no justifying buying a product where the shipping is the same or more than the actual box. Me upon seeing other people’s photos/posts about unboxing:

emma roberts crying GIF by ScreamQueens

I mean, yes, it is due in part to the weight of these boxes but then again, I’ve also wanted to buy $5 book marks from certain websites and almost choked upon seeing the $25 shipping fee. Damn you Australiaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

Competition Exclusions

Image result for free stuff gif

If there’s one thing being a university student taught me, it’s that there ain’t nothing better than free stuff. Mostly food but this defs applies to books too. Bloggers and bookstagrammers love a good giveaway (*cough* sneaky ploys to get more followers *cough*). The only problem is, because shipping can be super expensive, sometimes they have to limit their entries to the US or Europe only. I understand but, boy, does it break my little Australian book loving heart. We want free stuff too!

Repping

Because of the high shipping rates, some stores just aren’t open to/can’t afford having international reps for their products. This can be a bit disappointing, especially when it’s a brand you really love but it’s just something you have to accept.

Physical ARCs

Publishing in Australia is usually heavily linked to publishing in the UK. As you know, the two are nowhere near each other and for this reason publishers can often be a little reluctant to send out physical ARC copies of books to Aussie reviewers unless they’re extremely popular and likely to reach a big audience. Don’t get me wrong, even just getting an e-copy ARC is fantastic but having something physical that you can photograph to boost promotion of the book and accompany your review is a nice bonus. Plus, the formatting on these e-copies isn’t always the smoothest.

Scheduling Posts for Different Time Zones

The bane of my blogging/bookstagramming existence. Australia happens to be positioned in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a magical place that exists in the future from many countries up north. Day is night and night is day. In other words, trying to time your posts so that people in other parts of the world aren’t (a) sleeping (b) working/at school or (c) out socialising (ha, kidding! Book worms don’t actually socialise) can be a mind-boggling equation.

maths GIF

There’s nothing more facepalm worthy than writing an amazing post or taking a fab photo that you’re super proud of only to post it and find out that, oh dear, it’s the wee hours of the morning overseas. *sigh* You’ve also got to consider the whole weekends vs weekdays thing. It may be Saturday morning in Aus, where everyone is chilling out and free from obligations, but overseas, it’s Friday night and people are out… well, doing whatever it is they do on a Friday night (I don’t know these things, Netflix is my bestie). The struggle is real, friends.

Expensive Hardbacks

Image result for expensive gif

Hardbacks are pretty, okay. They’re have nice shiny jackets, embossed fronts, and they don’t seem to get as damaged in my handbag on the way to work as paperbacks. BUT, can I find things in hardback in Australia that don’t cost a kidney and my first born child? Um, nope. Fun fact: I recently saw the new Jodi Picoult book in hardback at the bookstore for, wait for it…$50. FIFTY. FOR ONE, THIN BOOK! What if you end up hating it? Then what? You’ve spent $50 on a book you don’t even like and it’s not even heavy enough to be considered a fancy paperweight. I get massively jealous of the US here – their hardbacks are the price of paperbacks and their paperbacks are the price of a McDonald’s meal. Now that is goals.

The main drawbacks with this are that hardbacks look super nice in Instagram photos – jackets on, jackets off, stacked in artful little columns, etc. and more importantly, some books aren’t originally released in paperback (e.g. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue) meaning we have to wait until they are to get our little hands on them (see point one above). No fair.

Less Author Events/Signings

It’s not only shipping that’s expensive and time consuming to Australia, but also flights. We’re a looooooong way away and for this reason we do tend to get far less author visits, events and signings. You may only see your favourite author once every few years at best and in some cases, if they’re not a massively popular one, not at all!

DArcy Carden Janet GIF - DArcyCarden Janet MannyJacinto GIFs

This is nothing new and, again, perfectly understandable but let’s just say, we Aussies are very envious of your huge book conventions and tours, especially when you post photos of your amazing meet and greets (one day I’ll make it to book con, one day!!). This also unfortunately limits the opportunities for author based content on blogs such as a post I did a while back from the Obsidio launch (woo, Aussie authors).

Divider 3

What are your biggest book blogging/bookstagrammer woes?

Advertisements

Let’s Talk: About Sex, Baby…in YA Fiction (Part 1)

This is a discussion post that I’ve been wanting to write for some time now but my issue has always been the question of how best to approach it. I’ll be up front, on this one I’m in the camp of include sex in YA. Although, the bigger question is how should it be included? In the end, I’ve decided to break it down into three questions: 1) should sex be included/discussed at all, 2) to what degree should sex be included, and 3) how should sex be represented in YA books? As it turns out, I have a lot to say on this topic so I’ll be publishing this post in two parts.

The Audience of YA

Before we get stuck in, I’d just like to touch on the audience and readership of young adult books. From a publishing standpoint, the YA category is aimed at ages 12-18. When you look at the changes and experiences that happen over the course of these six years, it seems like an enormous and diverse group. Then there’s the fact that these days YA is also extremely popular with adults, myself included. So how do we possibly cater to all these people in one category? That’s the question, isn’t it?

Should Sex be Included/Discussed in YA?

Sex as Taboo

Despite what some people try to claim, sex is not some evil, virtue ruining, disgusting thing. It’s a very normal human experience which can be romantic as well as something fun and empowering. A large chunk of the population is going to have sex at some point in their lives. It’s a simple fact. By failing to include it even slightly in YA fiction I feel as though this gives the impression that sex is something to be hidden or embarrassed about.

Image result for don't talk about fight club gif

The last thing we want is teens feeling like they shouldn’t or can’t voice sex related questions/issues, or, worse, that they’re the only one going through these experiences. The great thing about books is that they allow us to feel less alone by seeing our own characteristics, flaws, and experiences in characters. Without representation that benefit is lost, which is why it’s so important that teens read about fictional young adults tackling familiar issues (of which sex is a big one).

Sexual Education

Spend a couple of minutes on the internet and you’ll find pretty quickly that there’s a huge problem with regards to sex education. There are a lot of countries, even ones as developed as the US, that do not properly teach their teens about sex and reproduction.

mean girls GIF

This makes me ridiculously mad because it’s so, SO important that teens learn early on the importance of having sex at the right time for them, ensuring both parties are consenting, and taking steps to protect against unwanted pregnancy and STDs. Just saying “abstinence” won’t cut it, kids. No, it isn’t fiction’s job to be the only educator on these things but by failing to include topics like this in YA fiction, you’re not only depriving teens of a great source of information during a time when they’re desperately searching for it, but also failing to take advantage of the opportunity to illustrate/discuss positive and negative sexual behaviour.

To Quote Lily Allen, ‘Everyone’s At It’

Let’s be realistic. If you honestly believe that all teens are waiting until age 18 to engage in sexual behaviour or discussion, gather round because I have a bridge to sell you. Sure, studies show that the average age young people lose their virginity in most countries is 17+ but unless I’m remembering school wrong, you can bet that the ones who aren’t having sex are likely already (a) doing some form of hot and heavy activity OR (b) talking about it with their friends, even at really young ages. The truth of the matter is, a lot of teens are far more mature than adults like to give them credit for and by cutting sex and sexual discussion out of the fiction they read, you’re failing to include a very large part of the teen experience and conversation. It’s difficult for readers to relate to the books they’re reading if they’re so sanitised they resemble an early 2000s Disney sitcom more than real life.

Gwyneth Paltrow GIF

I should preface the next part of this discussion by mentioning that in this post I am not advocating for throwing sex in for the sake of just having sex in YA novels. I am saying that, where it suits the narrative, setting and characters, sex should not be shied away from and be included organically. If the story the author is telling has nothing to do with sexual themes, then don’t add them in for the sake of it. 

To What Degree?

Putting sexual discussion aside for the moment to focus purely on actual sexual scenes, from what I can tell there seems to be three ways to approach this:

  • Fade to black
  • Sex with an internal character focus
  • Heavily descriptive sex

Fade to Black

It’s safe to say we’ve all come across this approach. I have no problem with the good, old fade to black provided the author does two things (a) treats the build up to the fade out properly and (b) addresses the impact of what we missed.

The Oc Couple In Bed GIF

I recently found a great example of this in Adam Silvera’s History is All You Left Me. There’s one scene a fair way through which continues long enough to establish consent, protection, and intimacy before fading out and then picking up again to deal with the emotional fallout and narrative purpose of that interaction. Fade outs can be a great way of instigating sexual discussions and dealing with associated issues without being too graphic for younger readers who aren’t at the maturity level for fully descriptive content.

Sex with Internal Character Focus

This is an approach I’m also very on board with. When sex scenes are written like this, as a reader, I very clearly understand what the author is trying to achieve because there’s nowhere to hide. It may be a crucial plot point, a character defining moment, or even an evolution of two characters’ relationship e.g. Rose and Dimitri in Richelle Mead’s Shadow Kiss. While we do get some details on the physical side, they tend to be limited as the focus is on what the character/s are feeling and thinking. For example, in Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun we get to experience Jude’s first time from her perspective. It’s not a comfortable experience in the slightest and she regrets the encounter almost as soon as it begins but feels as though she can’t bring herself to stop it. It’s a very well written scene – emotionally mature but more focused on Jude’s mental state than the physicality of what’s happening. More importantly, it successfully discusses important sexual themes such as consent whilst giving us character development.

Heavily Descriptive Sex

Now this is where it gets complicated. To demonstrate, both Looking for Alaska by John Green and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas feature sexually explicit scenes at some point during their narratives. Each is marketed as YA, but are they in any way similar? That’d be a no.

Generally, when it comes to this approach, I’d say it’s not something I consider appropriate in YA books and should be left to adult or new adult fiction. In fact, I’m a little shocked when I come across scenes like this in something marketed as YA as they just seem extremely out of place. However, I think my main problem here stems from the fact that so many of these scenes are written unrealistically as being all fantasy (something I’ll discuss in part two).

While I’m sure a lot of the people who read YA nowadays are more than able to handle explicit scenes, and may even enjoy it, there does have to be limits in place for this category of fiction, otherwise why separate it from adult fiction at all? This is to ensure that those who aren’t comfortable with such explicit content, or their parents, don’t have to constantly worry about whether such a scene may potentially come up at any given moment.

With regards to sexual discussion, I feel I’m on the same page.  Do I need a conversaton between two characters involving a play by play of one character’s sexual exploits?

tv land omg GIF by YoungerTV

Ah, nope.

However, characters discussing things such as their worries about their first time or whether they’re ready to take things further with their partner, that’s 100% a-okay.

Divider 3

Just a reminder, everything in this post is my personal opinion and I am very much aware that a lot of other people feel very differently with regards to this topic. And that is completly fine!

Let me know your thoughts, do you believe sex should be depicted and/or discussed in YA novels? And if so, how detailed do you think it should be?

For more discussion on how sex should be represented in YA novels and the representation issues commonly found in today’s novels, be sure to check out part 2.

Let’s Talk: Picking Books to Review

As book bloggers, one of the biggest components of what we do is writing reviews. However, also being book lovers, we tend to read a substantial number of books every year. Writing lengthy reviews for each and every one just isn’t possible (especially when you’re as slow as I am) – we’d go grey before we even made a dent. So how is it that we pick which books we want to spend several hours discussing with our computer screen?

It’s Absolutely Fantastic (Five Star that Baby)

There’s nothing like finishing a ridiculously amazing book to send you running for your keyboard. When a book has completely rocked your world, the first thing you want to do is tell the world about it (well, after jumping up and down, and searching the internet for fan art, of course). You want everybody else to see just how much of a gem this book is so that they can enjoy it, too.

You’d think these reviews would be easy to write but sometimes they end up being even harder than those for books you don’t like. I find that this is usually because, while I know I enjoyed the hell out of a book, the struggle is breaking down the exact reasons why. Why did I fall so completely in love with the MC, what was it about the plot that shocked me so much, why is this couple my new OTP? Still, these are definitely the most heavily featured types of reviews on my blog because they’re just so much fun to write.

You Hated It (1 Star that Sucker)

In much the same way as an overly positive reaction can push you to write a review, so too can a particularly strong negative reaction. Anger, disgust, frustration, disappointment – these are motivators behind many reviews, especially where the book is something you were led by others to believe was great. I find that I rarely run out of things to say with these types of reviews but the problem is ensuring you don’t cross the line from constructive to cruel. Critiques are a natural part of any art form but we need to be mindful that we’re criticising the work, not the person.

It’s an ARC

Yes, yes, I know this is an obvious one and pretty self-explanatory. The majority of the time when you have an ARC, you’ve been given it by the publisher for the express purpose of writing a review. Therefore, these books are almost guaranteed review picks. If it’s a book people are looking forward to, you’d be silly not to use the opportunity to get extra traffic to your blog. People want to know about this book and you get to read it before everyone else! Use it!

It’s Hyped/Popular

I can’t be the only one who sometimes chooses books to review on this basis (can I?). This reason only really applies, for me, to books that have just come out. If I’m reviewing a popular book that’s a little older, it’s probably for reasons 1 or 2 above. However, if the book is a new release and people have been waiting around for it, much like with an ARC, I’ll review it because I know it’s what people are interested in. Not everyone reads hyped books right on release, some people wait a few months. At least this way people know whether to bump it further up their TBR or perhaps let it linger on the bottom for longer.

Good but Flying Under the Radar

I have to say, I don’t read a lot of not so well known books and that’s a weakness of mine. There’s just so many popular ones that I constantly feel like I’m catching up! However, when I do read something that’s not as well-known and actually a pretty solid read, I’ll usually write a review.

There are so many big name books out there which have ended up being mediocre that I feel it’s important to get the word out when you find something good (or even great) flying under the radar. Give a less known author/book the credit they’re due, you may just help someone find a new favourite read.

Divider 2

I’m sure there are book bloggers and reviewers out there with very different motivations behind their review picks. I mean, for all I know, there are some crazy superheroes out there that manage to write legible and amazing reviews for most of the things they read (HOW?? I spend like five hours on just one damn review). Still, this is at least an accurate summary of mine and I feel like they’re pretty reasonable. Recently I’ve been trying to increase my reviewing frequency so perhaps new motivations will arise as time goes on.

Why do you review the specific books you review? And what motivates you to read some else’s review?

 

Let’s Talk: What Makes a Great Book Cover

Come on, admit it. At some point in your life, there was a book you bought because you fell head over heels in love with its gorgeous cover. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. I know I certainly have. Sometimes it pays off, and other times…not so much. At least it looks fabulous on your shelves, right? But what is it about some covers that makes them so attractive whilst others send you running to the e-reader?

Below I’ll look at some of the main characteristics or styles that my favourite book covers tend to utilise. This isn’t a checklist, as in, put all these things on one cover and you’re bound to have a winner (what a Frankenstein’s monster that’d be). It’s more a couple of things that work well when used selectively and in the right combinations.

An Eye-catching Background Colour

There’s nothing like a bright or bold colour on a cover to draw the eye amongst a shelf full of titles. Some of my favourite covers have utilised the approach of one feature background colour to really give a book something special and I find that it works especially well when designers incorporate texture at the same time e.g. sponge blend effects. However, with these kinds of cover designs, it’s important to let the background be the star of the cover by embracing neutral accents and simple imagery.

Covers 1

Interesting Title Font or Design

For text-based covers, this is crucial, but even with image/text combo covers it’s something to really consider (unless perhaps you’ve got a fabulously attention-grabbing image). It’s important that the title design or font is engaging and fits the tone of the book whilst still being legible. The best case scenario is a font that definitively belongs to that book and which readers will be able to pick out even with different text, but as long as the title is interesting to look at and doesn’t feel like something people have seen a million times before, you’re in the clear.

Covers 2

Contrast

While flashy, single background colours can work very well, utilising colour contrast, often through feature accents, can also result in a great cover. Balancing bold colours against black, white, navy and neutrals is usually the way to a winner but incorporating contrasting colours from the colour wheel is also an interesting way to change things up. Although, this approach does require having an engaging photograph or graphic in order to properly showcase the colour differences.

Covers 3

Simplicity Without Being Boring

Sometimes simple designs with clean lines can be really attractive and soothing in their purity. One thing some covers get wrong is they try to do too much when a more stripped back approach would have worked far better. Basic shapes and images are a great way to highlight a feature element of a cover and create a certain vibe. However, it’s essential this approach isn’t taken too far, resulting in something that’s just plain boring. With so few things to look at, designers need to think about where their audience’s eyes will go and how to make that location engaging enough to keep them there.

Covers 4

Striking & Book Specific Photography

Photography can be fantastic on book covers when it’s used appropriately. I find it works best when the photo has a clearly identifiable connection with the book, as in it looks as though it could be of a particular moment, item, or location from it. Editing is important but the subject is key. The best photography covers look as though they could have been shot purposefully for that book (even though it’s unlikely), not just picked from a bunch of stock pictures.  I want to be sucked into the novel just by looking at that one moment displayed in the cover photography.

covers 5

Models in Positions that Don’t look Campy or Awkward

I cannot be the only one who’s wanted to hide a book cover because it’s featured models in odd or cheesy positions which display a vague (or no) connection to the actual contents of the book. If you’re going to use this approach: (a) the models need to look like the character/s, (b) the styling and posing must fit with the aesthetic of the novel (not just the genre), and bonus points if (c) it looks like it could be scene taken right out of the novel. I don’t want to see some random photoshoot that could be in any fashion/teen magazine or a model in a supposedly powerful or come-hither position imposed on a computer-generated background (unless it’s a damn good background) And well, if you’re not going to adhere to any of this, it better be one hell of a fantastic looking portrait image.

Covers 6

Memorable Use of Graphic Design or Illustrations

Moving away from the realms of realistic covers, there are also some amazing covers achieved through the use of art and computer graphics.  I often find that these are very strong because the designer is frequently creating an image directly inspired by the source material. Line, shape, colour – they all come into play, and I find it particularly engaging when artists play with symbolism. Where the design manages to capture the tone and feel of the book whilst still being creative and visually dynamic, it’s usually a big success.

Covers 7

Divider

So that’s all completely clear, right? Of course not! I wish I could say there was a definitive reason why some covers work better than others but with particular books there’s just something indescribably magical about their cover. Pinpointing why may be difficult, but we all know pretty quickly whether a book’s got it and to what degree. I guess the best explanation I can give is if a cover helps the reader understand a fraction of what they’re in for and it’s not something they’d be absolutely ashamed of having to carry openly on public transport, you’re halfway there.

What are some of your favourite book covers and what is it about them that makes them so special?

Love Ashley

 

Let’s Talk: The Sins of Love Triangles

I’m going to suggest something controversial, so bear with me.

Love triangles aren’t as bad as we think they are.

Yep, that’s right. You heard me.

I can hear the collective gasp from here. But Ashley, you cry, love triangles are terrible! How can you say such a thing?!

Alright, put down those tomatoes you’re planning on throwing my way and hear me out.

Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that LTs are an extremely overused trope, especially in the fiction I tend to read, but as we all know, there are some tropes out there that are extremely enjoyable in their trope-ishness. So why’s this one so bad? Let me just throw something out there:

It’s because they’re not well written.

Uh, huh. I said it. A LOT of authors do not know how to write a good love triangle. Let me tell you why.

A Clear Winner

Plot complications are meant to create drama. They’re supposed to be an emotional roller-coaster. But you know what ruins the fun? Knowing exactly how the damn thing is going to pan out.

One of the main sins of many LTs is a glaringly obvious outcome. Most of the time the author already knows exactly which character is going to win their fair maiden or…er, fair dude’s heart and they’re so damn happy about shipping them that they do an absolutely terrible job of hiding it in their writing. Take Vampire Academy for example. Were Dimitri and Adrian both great characters? You bet, but was there ever a chance in hell Rose was going to end up with our favourite mopey, alcoholic moroi? Not one.

Image result for i'm going to win gif

Even worse, once you know result, every bit of information or scene introduced to try and make it seem like the other side may have a chance (you aren’t fooling me red herrings!) feels like a waste of time and just ends up being extremely frustrating.

Sucky or Underdeveloped Suitors/Suitresses

In a well done triangle, readers should be able to root for both sides of the equation (how do you think Twilight got to where it was?). Going even further, they should be able to understand why the MC might end up with the either one of their potential partners even though it may not necessarily be the reader’s choice. One of the best examples of this is probably found in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices Series. While I may have been drawing hearts with Will and Tessa’s names in them I also adored Jem. Why? Because both suitors were well written and likeable characters, given an even amount of page time, and had vastly different dynamics with Tessa. This meant that Jem as a final decision would have been fine as it made just as much sense as Will did.

Image result for i love you all gif

In order for a triangle to work, all characters need to be given a little love by an author – they need their own stories and captivating personalities (I’m looking at you Mal from The Grisha Trilogy *glares* ). It sounds simple but so many authors fail to meet this, with members of their triangles ending up either two dimensional or just complete assholes.

Too Much Angst

It’s time for the worst reason of all. Angst. WHY IS THERE ALWAYS SO MUCH ANGST?? With a situation like a love triangle, of course there’s going to be some emotional turmoil. What would be the point of the plotline without it?

I mean, just sayin’, if there were two amazingly gorgeous men with six packs and killer smiles fighting over me, I’d have an intense internal dilemma too (if only, am I right?) and the same goes for if the person I liked was torn between me and someone else. The problem is, authors have a tendency to flog this emotional horse so hard that it’s died, zombified and then died all over again.

A little bit of pain and suffering among the characters is expected but so much moaning, back and forth, and whinging that I actually want to stab someone is NOT OKAY.

Related image

Writers tend to have this problem when they don’t resolve their triangle quickly enough or they fail to give the plotline an intermission (e.g. the MC dates one suitor exclusively for a while, one suitor exits for a book, etc.).

So let’s be clear – we want some angst okay, just don’t make us take a bath in it.

They Render the MC an Annoying, Senseless Idiot

Most of the LTs you find feature a female character at their centre. Yet, for some reason these storylines have a habit of turning once smart, witty and generally wonderful women into complete morons. Suddenly all they can do is think about their love interests, fall into pits of tear filled despair, and make some really awful life choices. It’s like, girl, get your ass into gear and worry about saving the world! BOYS CAN WAIT.

Then, even worse, there’s the MCs that become almost insufferable in the face of love triangle-dom. Case in point, America Singer from Kiera Cass’s The Selection series. Now there was a girl I wanted to hit with something heavy. Like a dictionary. Or a bus. JUST BLOODY PICK MAXON ALREADY, WE KNOW YOU WANT TO.

If a book has to damage the quality of its MC to make its LT work, it’s doing something wrong.

Let’s Stack Tropes

A LT is a well-used trope on its own. What potentially sends it heading for an iceberg is when authors layer tropes on tropes. It’s like playing a game of Jenga, you’re just waiting for that sucker to fall. One of the most common and annoying ones is the BFF vs New Shiny Object trope. How many times have you read a LT in which one of the suitors is a long-time friend of the MC who’s only just decided to make a move and the other is an intriguing newcomer to their life?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I have faith in the idea that, one day, I will eventually find some other non-cringe worthy love triangle plotlines. ONE DAY. And sure, it’s always easier to criticise than to do but eh, that’s bookish discussions for you.

Image result for love triangle gifDivider

Let’s Talk: Are you guys avid haters of the LT trope? What LTs out there have you found that defy the odds? What are some of the worst ones you’ve seen?

Love Ashley

Let’s Talk: Lending Books

It’s time for another Let’s Talk bookish topic. This time we’re talking lending out books, the pros and cons, because after all, sharing is caring isn’t it? Or so I’ve been told…

PROS

You Save Them Money

Books can be expensive. Whether you’re a serious bookworm or a more casual reader, the costs can easily sneak up on you. One minute you’re going into the bookstore for just one title, the next you’re standing at the counter with a stack bigger than your torso and the shop assistant is reading out a three-figure number while you attempt not to hyperventilate because you know you couldn’t possibly part with any of those beauties.

Image result for poor gif

By lending there’s at least a little bit of a saving which they can put towards a book neither of you own.

You get to scream about it together!

There’s nothing better than lending a book or series and finding out that your friend loves it just as much as you do. There’s a brief period of joyous screaming, followed by some jumping up and down, and then you get to talk ships, plot twists, favourite characters and mutual grief.

Image result for happy friends gif

Plus, if the series is unfinished, you have someone to share in the waiting and go to book launches with. It’s the most awesome thing EVER.

Temporarily Free Bookshelf Space

Books going out means more room for books to come in! WIN. I hear you saying, but Ashley, you’ll have to fit them back in when people return them? HUSH I say, that’s future Ashley’s problem (aka. Game of Tetris).

They’re Likely to Return the Favour

YESSSSS!! You get to save a little money, potentially be exposed to some amazing new reads and don’t have to worry about finding space in your house within the already existing book fort. Sure, if you love the book and want to re-read it later on, you’ll have to either borrow it again or buy a copy, but hey, at least you know it’s worth the effort.

Divider

CONS

Entrusting Someone with your Precious Babies

I’m a nutjob when it comes to my books. I’ve probably gotten a lot better in recent years, but I’m still pretty strict. When you lend books there’s always the concern of: will they treat my book the way I would treat it? Will the spine come back with five million enormous, ugly cracks down it, will the cover be creased, the pages marked, or heaven forbid…they’re a page corner folder…

Image result for scream gif

Regardless, there’s always a sense of the unknown and accidents do happen to everyone. It’s a roll of the dice.

When Will it Come Back?

Everyone reads at different paces. Some people finish a particular book in one or two days, others take a bit longer. And then there’s others that get busy and just decide to forget about the book or lose all reading motivation until it’s eighty-gazillion years later and I’ve almost forgotten I ever owned the damn book in the first place *cough* one of my friends with A Darker Shade of Magic and Throne of Glass *cough*.

Image result for waiting gif

I just want you to finish it so we can talk about it, OKAY? Is that so much to ask?! Definite word of advice though, make a list of who you lend things to in order to keep track. Especially if it’s books you love.

Book Enjoyment Envy

I’ll admit, I get serious fear of missing out. I could have read a book a zillion times already but you can bet your butt that the minute my friend starts quoting or referencing one of my recommended reads, I will want that book back in my hot little hands for a re-read like the selfish person I am. I can feel you enjoying it from here and I want in, damn it.

Image result for fomo gif

Then I have to wait, during which I will pout and sulk like crazy. But in a totally classy, not pathetic, adult way, of course.

Divider

And that’s all from me. Despite my concerns, I’m definitely in favour of lending. Spread ALL the book love!

Do you guys lend out your books? Why/why not?

If you do, what are some of the books that you try to force onto people the most? Vampire Academy is definitely one of mine but I’ve lent out Harry Potter as well!

Love Ashley

Let’s Talk: Bookish Merchandise

One of the best (and possibly worst financial wise) things bookstagram has introduced to me is bookish merchandise. Who knew there was an even greater way for me to prove just how big a nerd I am? Now that I’ve started, it’s almost impossible to stop! If I’m being honest, I really don’t need any of the stuff I’ve bought under this heading and yet, to sound like an angry two year old at Toys R Us, I WANT it. So, for fun, here are some of my favourite kinds of bookish merch.

Bookmarks

This one’s kind of obvious and at the very least they serve an actual, functional purpose. Do I need millions to choose from? Probably not. Do I collect them anyway and then proceed to stare at them adoringly, why yes, yes I do.

One of my fave types of late are the magnetic character ones. They’re just so damn cute. I don’t even actually use them. Firstly, because I’d want to use all of the main characters at once and who has the time to move six bookmarks at a time, and second, because I’m terrified of tearing my pages . I just stick them on a string across my book case and once I run out of room on that string, I’ll start another one. There’s so many different sizes and designs, and they’re really fun to collect. Plus they don’t take up too much room. Two of my favourite sources at the moment are Nerdygrldesigns and Designs by Theia, both of which can be found on etsy.

The other category of bookmarks that I’m super in love with are wood marks. To be brief – they’re like bookmarks…but made of wood. Whoa. Out there man, I know. They’re gorgeous designs printed onto thin, lovely slices of wood and because of this, every bookmark is unique. They’re light, don’t get turned up at the corners and fit nicely inside the book itself. My supplier is Ink and Wonder Designs. The shipping is super fast and also ridiculously cheap (free in Aus!).

Bookish Candles

I don’t understand my fascination with candles. They burn. That’s it. And yet, they’re just so pretty…(there’s clearly a repressed arsonist buried deep down somewhere). I especially love scented candles. There are so many companies out there now that make scents inspired by different characters, locations and events from popular books. Want something that reminds you of Outlander’s Scottish highlands or The Raven Boys’ Cabeswater? There’s a candle. Always wondered how the mix of smells Feyre attributes to Rhysand comes together? There’s a candle for that. Want to make your room smell like HP’s The Three Broomsticks? Well, you get the point. My go to shop is Burning Page Candles. The products are great but honestly, it’s one of the few bookish candle shops in Aus. Want to see something scarier than a horror movie? Check out shipping rates for candles from the US to Australia. Absolutely terrifying.

Candles

For other Aussie bookworms, there’s also Kool and Co in Perth. US & UK book lovers, the world is your oyster – there are HEAPS of companies – Reverie Library, Meraki Candles, Flickering Tales, Novelly Yours, A Court of Candles, and so on…

Art Prints

Another fairly obvious one. There are some absolutely amazing and talented artists out there that manage to bring life to fictional locations and characters in ways you can’t even imagine. I discover new artists on instagram all the time. The problem is holding myself back from going shopping crazy. You have only so much wall space, Ashley. Society6 is my go to place for prints. You can get them in a number of different sizes and the site often has promotions with free shipping. WIN! So if you’re keen for a couple of Kaz and Inej pics or maybe some fabulous A Darker Shade of Magic quotes, this is the go to.

Tote Bags

I bought a bookish tote a few months back and it’s become one of my favourite buys. There’s nothing better than popping it in my handbag, knowing I’ll be bringing it home full of brand new books. Looks awesome AND I’m helping the environment. Woo! A lot of designers will translate their art print designs onto things like tote bags so places like Red Bubble and Society6 are great for finding these but there’s also individual designers’ etsy pages. I thank EvieBookish for my gorgeous tote! However I’ll continue to sit here patiently until Charlie Bowater’s fabulous Six of Crows tote is available for general purchase… *twiddles thumbs*

Jewellery

I absolutely adore my golden snitch and Arwen Everstar necklaces. I really should branch out and find some more bookish jewellery – people on Insta keep making me jealous! You’ve got your direct examples like Hunger Games Mockingjay pins or Mortal Instruments angel necklaces but across Etsy you can also find some more subtle examples like pendants and earrings. A popular style I’ve noticed lately is those with cut outs from book pages to highlight a few words or a phrase. Desperate for a pair of earrings which show off your true love of Sherlock Holmes or the fact that you’ll never ship anyone as hard as Elizabeth and Darcy? Well, Etsy is the destination for you.

Pop Vinyls

Custom pop figurines for book characters have seemingly become a massive thing all of a sudden. The quality varies from site to site and they’re usually not cheap (understandably of course) but some of them are absolutely awesomely done. I don’t own any custom pops – I own a lot of regular ones (especially Harry Potter ones) but I have been tempted in the past by the occasional well put together one.

And that’s quite enough for now I think! Before you ask, no I don’t rep for any of these companies – just thought I’d share some bookish merch love.

Do you collect any bookish merchandise? If so, what’s your weakness? Shirts, mugs, perhaps tea (yes, it does exist)?

What are some of your favourite online stores? Air hugs and rainbows if they have good Aussie shipping rates *winks*.