discussion weekly meme

Let’s Talk Bookish – Star Ratings: Are they fair or necessary?

It’s Friday, so that means it’s once again time fro Let’s Talk Bookish, a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books.

This week’s discussion is Star Ratings – Are they fair or necessary?

So, I’m going to preface this by saying that this is something I’ve never thought about before. I just sort of took for granted it’s what people did. You read a book, you rate it, end of story. But the issue is more complex with that.

I’ll start out by saying that, no, they probably aren’t very fair. For one thing, stars mean different things to different people. This is what my star ratings mean:

Five stars: I loved it, I cherish it, I want to own it and reread it.

Four stars: I really liked it a lot.

Three stars: It was okay, I liked it.

Two stars: I didn’t enjoy it much, but there was something redeeming about it.

One star: I hated it.

However, not everyone attaches the same meaning to starts. To some people, giving a three star review is a huge insult to the book. To others, it means they enjoyed it a lot. So, star ratings aren’t standard and, except for five and one star ratings, it’s hard to tell what the person means when they star.

At the same time, I think it’s the easiest way to get across our relative enjoyment of the book. Reviews are great, but sometimes I don’t want to read a review, I just want to know if someone liked it or not. Stars give me a quick and easy guide to figuring that out.

On the other hand, tastes vary wildly and reviews are really a better metric of what a person thought about a book. I can get a clearer idea of how our star ratings align by reading a review. Maybe they rated it two stars, but they really liked the book and thought it was okay. That gives me a better idea of what they think that just looking at a star. And reading a review also helps me understand why someone rated something five stars when I really didn’t like the book and gave it a two.

So, I guess star ratings aren’t really fair, but, until we come up with a better way to rate things, they’re necessary. They can be useful to a degree and help give a quick idea of a book’s quality. But, they have to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

What do you think? Are star ratings fair or necessary? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

discussion weekly meme

Let’s Talk Bookish – Questions for More Experienced Bloggers

Let’s talk Bookish is a new weekly meme hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books. Each week, Rukky offers a topic to discuss and people are invited to chime in. This week the topic is Things You Wish You could Ask Other or More Experienced Bloggers.

So, I’m quite shy when it comes to asking questions, but I do have a few burning ones on my list.

  1. How do you come up with such wonderful discussion posts?
  2. When did you get the courage to start commenting on bloggers with 1,000+ followers?
  3. What do you do when you’re busy or in a reading slump and haven’t finished a book to read?
  4. When did you start contacting publishers directly for ARCs? Any advice?
  5. What are some tried and true methods for gaining more followers?
  6. What made you decide to start a book blog?
  7. What are some of your favorite books that you don’t get around to talking about as much?
  8. What are you writing/blogging inspirations?
  9. What’s your favorite post of all time?
  10. How do you encourage others to comment on your posts?

Okay, I think that’s all the questions I have. Got any answers for me? Any questions you have? Drop a comment below and let me know!


Favorite Banned Books

Hi! I was supposed to write a review today, but have nothing to review. Instead, in honor of Banned Book Week, I’ll give a list of some of my favorite banned or challenged books.

I read Deenie by Jude Blume when I was probably in fourth or fifth grade. I loved it. It’s about a beautiful girl whose mother wants her to be a fashion model. She keeps getting turned down because her posture isn’t correct. A doctor finally diagnoses her with scoliosis and she has to wear a brace to straighten her spine. The controversial part? She masturbates. Now, it’s not explicit or anything. There’s a scene where she’s taking a bath and uses the wash cloth to rub at a special place that makes her feel good. I decided that place must be on her back, which confused me because I didn’t get similar feelings. Maybe I was a little too young to read it. But, the story is great and the message is good, and I love how Judy Blume never shies away from showing kids as they really are.

The Hunger Games trilogy came out when I was an adult, but I still love it with all my heart. I was at the bookstore searching for a book that A) had a female protagonist and B) was dystopian. This was the first book I picked up after setting that criteria, and I quickly fell in love. With the violence, stark view of poverty, sexuality, and fraught family connections, it’s been challenged and banned in many places. I remember being surprised by Finnick’s experiences being so explicit in a YA book, but I thought it was very brave and honest. And, it sadly is a challenge that children are facing. Anyway, I think The Hunger Games is a fantastic book series.

I have to admit, I’ve only read the first of the Vampire Academy books, although I do plan on rectifying that one day. However, this book had what I think is one of the best depictions of depression I’ve ever read. It blew me away. This book has been banned because of sexuality and nudity, which is so silly because it’s a book. You can’t see the nakedness. And, besides, what’s wrong with a teenager reading about another teenager being naked? To top it off, the entire series was apparently banned before the series was even completed!

I’m so utterly unshocked by the fact that Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez was banned. Banned for being gay positive, sexually explicit, and promoting homosexuality, Rainbow Boys is frequently targeted by parents. Which is a shame. When it came out, there were only a handful of books about that featured gay protagonists, and I think this was the only one that explored how desperation could drive even a child with a sex-positive mother to make risky choices. Now, I admit: when I reread it again a few years ago, I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it. But it’s still an important book to because it shows a variety of gay young men with different personalities and how relationships at that age can work and be a positive thing.

Okay, I have to get to work, so I’m leaving this list here, even though I could include a dozen others. What are some of your favorite banned or challenged books?

discussion Top 5 weekly meme

Top 5 Fall Recommendations

Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. Each week, she gives a topic and participants get to answer.  This week’s topic is  Top 5 Fall Recommendations.

This one is a hard one for me, because I’m not a seasonal reader. When I was a kid, I had books that I read at Spring Break and summer, but I was never really a fall reader. But, I shall do my best.

Now, if I remember correctly, Something Upstairs by Avi actually takes place during summer. However, it’s a creepy ghost story with a lot of dark, dreary atmosphere that makes it great for fall. In this story, the main character, Kenny, moves to an old house in Maine (I think). In the attic, there’s a dark stain on the floor. And a ghost. And time travel. It’s sends shivers up my spine just thinking. It’s a children’s book and only 128 pages, so if you’re looking for a short, scary story to get you into the Halloween mood, this is for you.

The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery is another childhood favorite of mine. I remembering discovering it in a bookstore outside of Sea World in San Diego (random, I know). Like Anne of Green Gables this book is about childhood and the adventures children get into. One thing I always associate with this book is a quote about autumn. Unfortunately, I can’t find my copy of the book or the quote online, so there’s a possibility I either A) imagined it or B) it’s from another book. It was something about the air in autumn sleeping and having a different feeling than spring. Anyway, when I think of fall, I think of this book.

I’m not sure this list would be complete without Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s such a back-to-school book and it has such vivid descriptions of autumn and Halloween and pumpkins and sweaters and I could go on. This is a great book to read in the fall.

I’m not sure what it is about The Hunger Games that makes it feel like an autumn book, but there’s a certain crispness to the writing and a coolness in the descriptions of the mountains and forests that make me feel like it’s a fall book. Couple reading it while listening to James Horner’s soundtrack for the movie, grab a pumpkin spice latte and a cozy blanket, and you’ve got yourself a nice fall read.

While I feel for poor Prince Rhen, I’m not sure I’d mind being cursed to relive autumn over and over again. Now, I’m a summer girl, because I like swimming and the beach, but I like the cool, crispness of fall and the turning of the leaves and the way nature starts settling into sleep. So it’s not a bad season to have to relive.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer was written for fall. The beast, Rhen, has to repeat the fall of this eighteenth years until he gets a girl to fall in love. Harper is accidentally taken to his world to try and fufill the curse, although she’s much more likely to stab him than fall in love. And Grey is a loyal servant who will do anything for Rhen, which is a trope I love. If you haven’t read this book yet, get you to a bookstore or library and Get. This. Book.

Those are my top 5 fall recommendations. What is a book you like to read in fall?

discussion weekly meme

Let’s Talk Bookish – Reading Slumps

Let’s talk Bookish is a new weekly meme hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books. Each week, Rukky offers a topic to discuss and people are invited to chime in. This week the topic is Reading Slumps and Ways to Overcome Them.

So, I only became aware of reading slumps as a “thing” when I dipped my toes in the bookish community. It’s not that I never went through periods of not wanting to read or not being able to concentrate, I just wasn’t aware it was a widespread thing. I just thought it was me. I was glad I wasn’t alone.

For me, reading slumps hit when I’m especially stressed or overwhelmed. When that happens, the best thing to keep me afloat is to turn to comfort reads. I turn back to childhood favorites, like The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I’ll quite often turn to my Robin McKinley favorites of Beauty and The Outlaws of Sherwood.

If I’m not in the mood for fairy tales or fantasy, I might turn to movie novelizations or spinoffs. My favorite movie novelizations are the original Star Trek movies. Vonda M. McIntyre wrote Wrath of Kahn through The Voyage Home, and I love the details included that flesh out the universe. I mean, I enjoy the main story we get about the movie, but all the characters McIntyre wrote and the subplots are just magnificent. I love going back to those.

The last few years has been good for m/m historical romance, which is my jam. When I’m in a reading slump, especially if it’s not related to feeling stressed and is just me not knowing what to read, I go to Amazon and type in “m/m historical” and get a plethora of choices. This is how I discovered the Whyborne & Griffin novels by Jordan L. Hawk. I went from reading slump to tearing through the first 8 in no time.

So, I guess my advice for getting out of a reading slump is:

  1. Turn to old favorites, especially from your childhood.
  2. Reread books that gave you a sense of peace and happiness when you read the first time.
  3. Find a genre that you love with books that are fairly easy to read to get back into the flow of things. Soon, you’ll be ready to transition back to more challenging books.

So, those are my thoughts on reading slumps and how to get out of them.

What are some of your tips and tricks to get out of a reading slump? Drop a comment below and let me know!