Beyond the Blurb | What Should Readers/Bloggers Do When Authors Are on the Attack?

It’s time for another Beyond the Blurb! For my next post in my discussion series, I may step on some toes. But when has that thought scared me?

Just when you thought the book community and industry were past the Faleena #CockyGate scandal, another one hits. This time, a relatively new author Tomi Adeyemi, who wrote the hotly anticipated Children of Blood and Bone, accused Nora Roberts—yes, that Nora Roberts—of stealing and profiting off of her book title. Mind you, you can’t copyright a book title. So there will be many variations of one. But nonetheless, the dreaded “react before you think” illness you all know as pre-tweeting struck the Internet by storm. And the YA community still has some learning to do.

How do we bloggers and readers handle this situation? Frankly, I thought common sense would prevail, but this is the Internet, where everyone is offended, everyone harasses other people, and everyone believes the mob mentality is simply fine to participate in. But even if you’re not influencers (hello, there, I welcome you to the club), you, and we all, have an obligation not to fuel an already inflamed situation. Again, how do we address this negativity? Here’s how:

 

Stop Believing That Attacking Other People Is Okay

Let me be clear: it isn’t. And it’s borderline harassment. Online bullying causes real harm to people. If they have a mental, intellectual, or physical illness, you will exacerbate said illness. And in the Internet age, we’re connected to the net 24/7. When you have a huge following, many readers will see your message. And they’ll react in a way that you may not anticipate. You’re responsible for the message you give them. Do not be the kindling wood to the fire. Do not ignite a problem you’ll have no control over.

 

If You See It, Stop and Address It

It’s 2018, and yet here I am, giving this kind of advice. I never knew I’d reach a new low, but the book community always amazes me. But am I surprised by this mob mentality? Not really. We people as a society feel empowered when the mob is on our side. But when the problem is reversed, we see society for what it truly is: cold, cunning, and cruel. Tomi had the responsibility of owning up to her mistake immediately and imploring her 53,000 Twitter followers to follow suit. But she didn’t. Instead, she allowed her readers and followers to attack Nora, who never deserved this negative treatment. There was no mention of stopping the attacks.

 

Support the Other Author (If Warranted)

As a journalism grad, I’ll always need to see every side of the story: Side A, Side B, and the truth. So do your research. Yes, Tomi made a rookie mistake, but she didn’t own up to it though. Some followers may beg to differ because of Tomi’s last tweet on the matter:

She didn’t admit that the onus was on her. It was her mistake. Nora, on the other hand, explains the issue differently though:

“This foolish and false statement has damaged my reputation. Vicious and ugly accusations and names have been tossed at me when I did nothing but write and title a book.”

And Nora also states that she wrote and delivered the manuscript to her publisher one year before Tomi published her own work. Sometimes, finding the truth is difficult and ugly. I didn’t want to believe it. But you need to find out who needs the protecting, not blindly follow your favourite author.

 

Think before You Tweet

Please, blogger friends and fam, don’t let me get away with foolish tweets or other posts. If you think I’ve done something wrong or inappropriate, let me know, discuss your issues, and enlighten me. Yes, I’m still learning as a blogger and a human. I’m still delving in complicated fandoms and series, so I may not realize or even know there are problematic topics at hand.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can support an author who pulls off this stunt, which I find sad since her debut novel is one book I’ve been hoping to read.

 

So what are your thoughts on the Tomi and Nora spat? How do you think bloggers and readers should handle this situation? Do you think Tomi should have done more? Let’s chat!

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Beyond the Blurb | Books with Nonbinary, Genderfluid, and Trans Characters

Morning, everyone!

One negative aspect of politics is how politicians use their ideology as a way of completely wiping out the great strides LGBTQ+ people have made. Earlier last weekend, the provincial Conservative party wanted to talk about excluding transgender identity from sexual education. This topic is extremely heated right now.

I never knew this hatred would hit a new low in my province. But unfortunately, Ontarians decided to vote in a bigoted man who believes religion and conservative views should reign supreme. Does he sound familiar? Thankfully, for now, he has backed down from that rhetoric. So how to combat it? Well, you stand up against it.

Now, I have read many books with gay and lesbian characters, not with trans, genderfluid, or nonbinary characters though. But I want to change that. Trans, nonbinary, and genderfluid characters and authors deserve their time and their recognition. A literary revolution is occurring, and we should give our time to explore more diverse stories. So for my next Beyond the Blurb, my weekly/monthly discussion post, I want to highlight LGBTQ+ books you definitely should read.

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Beyond the Blurb | The Struggles of Blogging with a Mental Illness

I always stay honest with you, my readers and fellow bloggers. With my discussion posts, Beyond the Blurb, I like to bring up the tough and also hushed up topics, try to find solutions, and connect with you. You all know I have several mental illnesses. Yes, unfortunately, I have more than one. And I never thought they would affect my blogging. But they do on a constant basis.

This topic is rather personal. Mental illness will follow you even if you think it’s disappeared. And I’ve allowed it to control my life. I’m finding help and getting treatment. But sometimes, I struggle with mine, and I don’t always reach out to bloggers who comment on my blog or like my posts. I apologize for not connecting. I’m not ignoring you; I’m simply fighting my own mind.

I often find solace in helping others who struggle with the same problems. So here are tips to find a balance between blogging and mental illness:

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Beyond the Blurb | Addressing Sexual Assault in YA Books

 

For months, I psyched myself out of writing this post. A part of me doesn’t want to address the topic. But I’m committing more harm than good. So, for this week’s topic for my weekly/monthly discussion post, Beyond the Blurb, I want to address what the pros and cons of sexual assault in YA books are and why we need to keep talking about it.

As I write this post, I want nothing more than to delete it and keep quiet. But I can’t. Sexual assault is a difficult and intense topic to discuss. So I’ll admit this now: I’m a survivor. And my scars still haunt me. My demons still control who I am, even if I want to fight back. I will spend the rest of my life healing. So you can easily guess that sexual assault in any book is difficult for me to read. However, let me be clear: it’s 2018, and we people (and readers) need to stop ignoring assault.

So how widespread is sexual assault? Here are some US facts from Teen Help:

  • 42% of female rape victims were assaulted before they turned an adult
  • 1 in 5 men have been assaulted
  • 28% of male rape victims have been assaulted before turning 10-years-old
  • Teenagers will account for half of all reported sexual abuse
  • Teenagers (between 16 and 19) are 3.5 times more likely to be the victim

Unfortunately, many assaults will go unreported. Our society has allowed predators to go free because victims must “think about the impact of the accused,” there “isn’t enough evidence to prove it,” or the “accused isn’t credible enough.” But we don’t think about the repercussions of the survivor. So when you see these statistics, we cannot keep ignoring the issue. So I commend YA authors addressing assault in their books. But here are the reasons why writing about it is so important for survivors and possible future victims:

It shows the survivors that they aren’t alone

You don’t know how crucial this point is for survivors. When they’re assaulted, they’re isolated and feel as if no one will understand their pain, shame, fear, and anger. But they aren’t. As much as 50% of all women will be assaulted. Let that number sink in. We all know that literature often reflects our society. So a character’s story may show them they truly aren’t alone.

It creates a platform for survivors to finally talk about their assault

One reason why survivors never report their assault is due to the shame they face. Sexual assault kits and procedures are invasive and can possibly revictimize them. But when they are given the opportunity to open up and to address their past, you give them the chance to heal. If a character who was assaulted opens up about their pain, that choice may give survivors the strength to come forward.

It allows them to cope with their assault

For years, I wanted to ignore my past. I didn’t want to acknowledge it. If I did, then I’d have to admit that I was assaulted. But when more character arcs addressed sexual assault, I was able to open that door, let out my pain, and finally cope with my feelings. And I’ll forever be indebted to the authors who have helped me with my demons.

 

But when there is a positive in a situation, then you’ll always get a negative. So what are they?

The author may open up unhealed wounds or reach out to a much younger audience

You must allow survivors to come to terms in their own way. Many do not want to think about what has happened to them. And not every teenager who is the target audience for YA will face sexual assault. They may not understand yet.

The author may use sexual assault in the worst way possible

Please, authors, do not use sexual assault as a trope. It isn’t. It’s a real and dangerous life-altering event. Don’t use it as a way to make the character stronger. Because getting assaulted doesn’t make survivors strong at the beginning. They’re utterly broken. It’ll take years for them to harness that strength.

The author may have caused more harm to survivors

You cannot force survivors to confront their pain if they’re not ready. And if you do, you may hurt them more. Imagine being assaulted, then forced to deal with it. Why do you think court cases are so agonizing for them? Reliving their assault is hard enough. Being forced to remember what has happened, when all they want to do is to get lost in a book, may have negative effects on them and readers. So that’s why trigger warnings are so important. Use them.

 

So what are your thoughts on sexual assault in YA books? Do you think that including it in these books will help or hinder victims? Is it appropriate for the intended audience?

I’d love to see what you think on the matter.

Beyond the Book | Bad Bookish Habits I Can’t Break

Hey, book fam!

I’ve needed this weekend much more than I thought I did. Don’t you just need a weekend with uninterrupted reading? That would be heaven.

With my last book tag, I answered one question about bad bookish habits, and that thought has stuck in my head ever since. For this week’s discussion topic, I want to tackle the dreaded bookish habits we all do, even if we hate ourselves for doing so. Here are my picks of bad bookish habits I can’t seem to break:

 

Not walking past a bookstore

The only time I walked past one was when I didn’t have money or my credit card. But any other time, I cannot resist the temptation to walk in, breathe in that glorious bookstore smell, and find my next read. I’ll be 80-years-old and still walk through those doors.

 

Reading ahead and spoiling the entire book

WHY. MUST. I. DO. THIS?! I used to hate when I pulled this stunt off. And now? Meh. But I’m starting to regret it a lot since I’ve spoiled enough endings that I shouldn’t even bother reading the bloody book. 😐

 

Buying books and never reading them for months

I forget quite a few books I’ve bought. And some of them still sit on my shelves, waiting to be read. But do I get to them in a timely manner? Clearly, not. Or I wouldn’t complain about it. Now, I have a high physical TBR pile that threatens to overtake whatever dwindling room I have on my bookshelves.

 

Worse yet, wanting to catch up on series but realizing the sequel is coming out soon (like next week/month)

Let me see how many hands shoot right up when reading about this habit. Yeah, I’m horrible and forget to read sequels until the next one is out. I don’t know how this trend occurs, but it’s been sneaking up on me lately. And I feel I’m swamped with so many sequels.

 

Not DNFing books that bore me

You see, this habit is slightly tricky. I was close to DNFing Lifel1k3, but I fell in love with it about 100 pages in though. Sometimes, not DNFing is a good thing. However, I have wasted hours with books that didn’t deserve my time. But I’ll always give the book the benefit of the doubt, even if I want to pull out my hair.

 

Not writing reviews right after finishing the book

Am I the only blogger who struggles with this problem? I hope not. Unfortunately, I have several—and yes, I mean several—reviews to write, but I’ll just start reading a new book and forget about said writing. So the reviews pile up, and I feel pressured to catch up. So I’m in a constant state of frustration when it comes to these posts.

 

Reading my book and forgetting to pay attention to friends and family

I’m horrible with that. I truly am. And my family and friends have caught me not paying attention to them. And I feel guilty when they do. But you know how reading is though. You get so focused on a book that you forget about the outside world.

 

So now you know my bad bookish habits. What are yours? Do you have similar ones like me? How do you break them, or do you simply let them control you like mine do? Let’s chat! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!

Beyond the Book | Badass Female Leads Deserve Equal Respect as Males

Hey, everyone!

In my weekly/monthly discussion post, Beyond the Book, I like to address issues that not everyone will talk about. Or sometimes I just discuss random book stuff. You never know with me.

As you can tell by the title, I may step on some toes. I’m tackling this topic. Why? Lately, I’ve seen a lot of hate for badass female leads facing so much negative backlash. No, I don’t see this post as a feminist slant. The journalism student in me will always see both sides to a problem. It’s more of the double-standard I see in fandoms or on social media platforms. So here are some issues I can’t stand in the book community:

 

Apparently, a female main character can’t have a big ego

I see this problem all the time. She can’t be as ruthless as her male counterpart. A good example is Aelin Ashryver Galathynius and Kaz Brekker. Much of the SOC fandom adores this PTSD-ridden, complex, and cunning character. I know I do. He reminds me of my mental illnesses and the struggles I constantly face because of my trauma. However, I see other readers call Aelin a “bitch.” Isn’t she similar to Kaz? Can she not have the same ego, if not more, than he does? Clearly, I’m not so sure anymore.

 

If a man offers to help her through her pain, then she isn’t seen as strong

The first step I learned about healing is to let people in, let them help you, allow them to pick you up when you can’t possibly drag your broken soul off the floor. So if a female character can’t heal entirely without receiving help, then why is it okay to criticize her when someone (particularly a man) offers that help? Don’t we adore (and often rave about) when we see another male in a different series get the same support? Is that woman supposed to suffer alone and heal on her own? No. We put too much pressure on the image of an “independent” woman. Yes, being independent means that you should depend on your own. However, it doesn’t mean total isolation though.

 

If you support a broken, badass male character, then support her

Pretty self-explanatory, right? Nope. Or I never would have listed it in my post. You may not like how she heals. But you don’t tear down her journey.

 

She can’t cope the same way as a male or another well-loved female character

You all know I wasn’t a huge fan of A Court of Frost and Starlight. However, the scenes where Nesta shows how she’s coping with her fears, her past, and her trauma spoke to me. I slowly grew to like her as a character. I don’t like her lack of sisterly love for Feyre at the beginning. But her mental illness is shining through her tough exterior. And yet, here I am complaining about the fandom completely disregarding her illness. So people support Feyre, not Nesta.

Side Note: Yes, that may be because people hate Nesta and her past with Feyre. But the issue still stands.

 

I hope, in time, the book community will give more respect to these beautiful and utterly strong women. We can’t tear them down. We need to support them, no matter what.

 

So do you see what I’ve seen? What are your thoughts on the topic? Do you think the book community will change its view of female characters? What needs to be changed?

Beyond the Blurb | I Wish Authors Wouldn’t…

Hey, everyone!

Who’s hating Mondays and wishing the weekend can be extended another three more days? 🙋🏻 I just want more time to binge read. I’ve been getting into Heir of Fire, and I want nothing more than to finish it and start the fourth book. But life likes to remind me that I have obligations and must be an adult.

I hope I don’t get killed or hated for this post, but I’ve been wanting to talk about some topic for some time. And I know I’m not the only blogger who thinks of them. So here are my top five issues I have when authors do the following:

 

Kill Off Their Main Character

WHY. MUST. THEY. DO. THIS?! 😐 I understand the book is theirs. But it unnerves me to no end when authors fall on this play. I loathe this trope. As a reader and a writer, I can’t stand it, and it ruins my love for a series.

 

Heavily Hint at a Couple But Kill the Relationship

Again, this decision doesn’t serve the story. It simply hurts and divides the fandom, which will eventually fight over it. I know of several authors who have pulled off this trope off. Now, couples can always end and find new lovers. Great. The problem I take issue with is when authors ship said couple, then not explain why those two characters shouldn’t be together. Or worse: let the fandom argue over it.

 

Don’t Own Up to Their Mistakes

Does everyone remember the Cocky Gate brought to you by Faleena Hopkins? Yeah, I think everyone in the world knows who she is. I can safely assume that author has killed off her career when she decided to trademark the word cocky. And she didn’t own up to the problem. She basked in it.

Now, when these authors realize they’ve screwed up and try to fix the problem, they gain my respect. I won’t judge them. They’re human. But when they don’t, readers are left in the mess.

 

Attack Bloggers because of Their Review

One reason why I was hesitant to be a blogger is the backlash some bloggers face when they post their review. I’m a writer, and I used to be an artist. So I understand where authors come from. I understand how they can react to an awful review. However, once a piece is released to the world, there isn’t much they can do. Books will be reviewed. Stories will either be loved or be hated. And they should move on, which doesn’t always happen.

So what do you hate authors doing? Do you think we readers are too harsh on them? Or do you believe there’s a line authors shouldn’t cross? Let’s chat. I’d love to hear from you.

Beyond the Blurb | Genres I Hope to Read More Of

Happy Friday!

This topic has floated around in my mind for some time. I’m more of a predictable reader when it comes to genres though. But I want to change things up. I want to explore more I usually don’t read and take a risk. I typically stay with fantasy, then venture into sub-genres from there. However, I want to find more authors, stories, and fandoms. But I’m always wary over new series I’m not sure I’ll love or am worried to waste my time and my money on. But no more.

So do you feel the way as I do? I don’t blame you for not taking the plunge. There are so many genres out there, so what ones are you looking to venture into? Which ones are you still not sure of? Stick to the tried-and-true ones. See which ones fellow bloggers love the most. And from there, find a book that interests you.

So here are some of the few genres I want to read more of eventually:

 

Science Fiction

I haven’t always enjoyed reading sci-fi. I’m more of a sci-fi movie lover (oddly enough). For me, I feel it has typically been an iffy genre to love. I can’t remember the reason why I fell out of love with it but have been seeing more sci-fi books come out lately, and I can’t help but gravitate toward them. I love how they’ve evolved over the last few years.

 

Romance (Particularly the Sub-Genres)

I’m starting to love romance, even though, for a long time, I’ve avoided it at all costs. I enjoy reading romance in other genres, especially paranormal. But until this year, I never took the big leap into it. However, I’ve just been too judgemental over it for no reason. Or perhaps, my tastes in books have changed.

I find romance overwhelming, and I don’t blame readers who aren’t sure where to start.

 

High Fantasy

Yes, I caught the TOG bug (god help my credit card with all the KOA book boxes I’ve just bought 😭). And I need to find more high fantasy books, stat! I never stuck with high fantasy. For years, I’ve stayed with urban fantasy and just fantasy. But I’ve been loving the detail and the complex plots and characters. I know I need to catch up.

 

Thriller

I sometimes find thrillers to be predictable. I don’t like when the bad guys go off ranting about the reasons why they commit these heinous acts. I. Don’t. Care. That’s sloppy storytelling. And it just kills the entire atmospheric tone to the book. But I hope I can find books that don’t do this.

So find a series that stands out from the rest, then go from there.

 

Historical

I rarely read this genre, and yet it’s one of my favourites. But I rarely find a great story I want to jump into. However, more authors are exploring it and making it into their own.

 

I’d love to find more series, so let’s chat! Do you have a recommendation I might like? Which genres are your go-to books? And what ones do you not like?

Beyond the Books | Favourite Bookish Merch

Happy Monday!!

I put a little bit too much zip into that line. Ahem. This week, I want to talk about book merch. Since we don’t already have a buying problem with books, we must add bookish merch to the mix. Am I right?! I know I’m not alone. I’m slowly building my collection, and I cannot believe how much there is already out there. But what should you look for when you’re on the hunt for these goodies? Well, here are my top five favourites and my tips on buying them:

 

Candles/Book Candle Boxes

I’m turning into my mother. 😭😂 But I love collecting bookish candles. I first got hooked when I saw bookstagrammers use them. And since I want to transition to Instagram shortly, I know I’ll need to collect quite a few. I’ve mainly stuck with Flick the Wick and Wick and Fable. These two companies offer such a great array of boxes and choices for their customers. I’d definitely recommend them!

But these box subscriptions can be quite pricey, especially with currency conversion, so be careful before you order! And always look for rep codes, which are your best friend.

 

Art Prints

I always want to support artists and designers. These prints are a great way to show off a book, create an art album, or hang up on your walls. I usually find them on Instagram. Etsy, Redbubble, and even the artist’s own website are good options if you are looking for a great deal. Redbubble routinely offers discounts on its items, so benefit from them and group your order. You can also look on Society6.

But a word of warning for any international buyers, be careful with the rate conversion, which will be steep, and you may get hit with a huge duties charge once your package ships to you. I’ve learned that the hard way.

 

Book Boxes

I’ve been blogging for more than two years now, and I’ve bought only one book subscription box, Owlcrate‘s limited edition Vicious & Vengeful Box. Even though I haven’t read Vicious yet (why do I do this?!), I’m bloody stoked. I absolutely love how each box caters to the theme of the book.

The best way to save on these is to look into subscriptions and to find rep codes. Both of these options will save you some money, anywhere from 5% to 10%, and some websites may offer a 10% discount code for ordering, so use it up for your next purchase!

 

Pillows

I never knew I’d ever collect pillows, but here I am! 🤦‍♀️ But with the joking aside, I’ve grown to love them. You may find them in subscription boxes (book or candle) or on sites like Society6 and Redbubble. They look awesome in Instagram shots and on your bed (if your significant other is okay with that. If not, whack them for me).

The cheapest way to collect these beauties is to buy just the pillowcase, not the pillowcase with the insert. The shipping costs will be lowered, and your credit card will thank you. You can always find pillow inserts at Walmart.

 

Book Sleeves

I’ve fallen in love with these. I’ve collected ACOTAR, Lunar Chronicle, and ADSOM sleeves, and I know I’ll probably order some more. Two of my favourite stores are Baby My Book and Pages Remembered. Both of these store owners have helped me place an order, group several orders (because, you know, I forget to look through an entire store before I confirm an order), and give up updates on new sleeves.

You can always wait for sales, or you can ask the store owners if they offer rep codes or discounts on shipping (which is a pain if you don’t live in the US).

 

What’s your favourite merch? What do you collect the most? What haven’t you collected? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to find new merch (my bank account would like to say otherwise)!

Beyond the Blurb | Support Bloggers of Minorities and with Disabilities

I always want to come up with interesting topics for my weekly/monthly discussion post. And this topic hits close to home for me. Last month, I struggled with the stress in my life, and I couldn’t blog, so I took a small hiatus. So I’ll come clean: I have mental and physical illnesses. Yes, I have multiple. Past trauma and a chronic illness have wreaked havoc with my life, and I’ve let them control me. And saying that my illnesses are disabilities is hard to admit. I don’t want to accept that they are. But they are.

So, as I write this post, I want other bloggers to know they aren’t alone. Whether they are in a minority or have a disability, this community will support them no matter what they do. And if they need help, we’re here for them. But why should you keep supporting these bloggers?

 

1. They bring a different and unique perspective to the blogging community

Sometimes, people simply don’t understand the struggles they deal with. They show you how we all aren’t completely aware of issues with PTSD, anxiety, depression, racism, sexism, racial tensions, or homophobia.

 

2. They promote diverse books

Not a surprising reason, right? I find more diverse reads from them than anyone else. And I love that. I love that they’re promoting all kinds of books and authors. More importantly, they’re showing their love for them.

 

3. They aren’t afraid to say what needs to be said

Do you know what I look for the most in bloggers? What they’re willing to say. What crap they won’t put up with. If they find something problematic, they’ll damn well tell you about it. And you’ll be sure to listen. I know I do.

 

4. Their voice is needed in a sea of noise

Most of the time, you may not hear a voice that speaks out against a hyped-up book or author. But you should. Their voice deserves to be heard, to be acknowledged. And maybe, we should start listening up.

 

5. They support other bloggers

Networking helps fellow bloggers who are in the same situation as them. If others need help, they offer support when needed. But they also build a connection with other bloggers who need that support system that may not be there in their lives.

 

So where do you find them? Networking and Google. But if you don’t know where to start, here are some of my favourite bloggers:

Merline from Merline Reads

I met her by chance through a Twitter follow post. Merline has opened my eyes with many issues that POC face today. I love reading her reviews. And it’s a pleasure to know her.

 

Cait from A Page with a View

Who doesn’t know Cait? She’s practically a blog queen of book nerds. I’ve read her stuff for years. But I didn’t know she suffered from Lyme disease. She doesn’t let that take away her love for books.

 

Yash, Nafiza, Janet, Jane, and Yuriy from the Book Wars

I’ve followed their blog for several years now. But I know Yash personally. Both she and I took Ryerson’s Publishing program together, and I happened to be in the same course as her. She’s passionate about children’s and YA books.

 

Jeann, Jenna, and Aila from Happy Indulgence

They’ve been blogging since 2012. These three women give you a happy vibe when blogging (really, no pun there). I love when they support a book that deserves recognition and when they tear down a bad one.

 

Giselle from Book Nerd

She, a Canadian blogger, is one reason why I started my own blog, and her blogging tips have helped me over the last few years. Her voice is unique, and she stays honest with her reviews.