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Due to time constraints, I am not accepting any review requests. Thank you for your understanding.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wednesday Chatter #17: Blogging and guilt

Wednesday Chatter is a weekly feature at Ruby's Books where we'll be talking about anything and everything related to books and reading. Click here if you want to see what we talked about in the previous weeks

WARNING: Some bad words might be used in the following post. Don't say I didn't warn you!

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Hello lovely book lovers! I hope you're having a great Wednesday.

Today's post was inspired by a recent discussion topic Tonyalee from Lilybloombooks wrote about reviewing every book you read. Reading that post and writing a comment gave me an idea to write about when I feel guilt in my blogging life, but also how I plan on changing that, because after 6 years of blogging, I feel like I've grown up as a blogger, and I want to keep doing this, so there's a few changes that I feel are needed. Sort of. Maybe. Moving on! Can't believe I'm doing this!

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I feel guilty when:

  • I'm not reviewing books on my blog, just on Goodreads
If you've followed me for a longer time, you probably know I don't review books I don't like or books that I DNF. I tried that once and I felt terrible. I try not to, but, especially with books that everyone around me loves, I feel so bad, because there's definitely a hidden message somewhere that I'm missing. So I tried writing small reviews on Goodreads, or if the books I DNF are from Netgalley, I simply send a note to the publisher to let them know that I couldn't finish the book. I feel so much guilt over not writing that review on my blog, that you guys wouldn't even believe. It's like I'm betraying my blog. I sound like a maniac right now, but that's how I feel.

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How I plan on changing that? I might start posting tiny reviews for the books I DNF, mostly because I realize (and I always have realized that) it's not something to be ashamed of, and also because by doing it, maybe someone will find the aspects I didn't like compelling enough to read that particular book. OR we could have a nice, honest, respectful conversation about those aspects, in which we discuss what I got wrong or right. 
  • I don't review books I picked up to read on my own
Look, I tried staying away from Netgalley. I really did. I actually did it for about a year or so. Then I went back to it, BECAUSE NETGALLEY IS AWESOME!! Also, some other sites that are just like Netgalley, work with other authors, and those are awesome too, and OMG HOW TO I STOP THE MADNESS? (You can't, Ruby, you can't!) And don't get me started on blog tours. Those are my weakness, guys! Especially when I see authors that I desperately want to read more books of.

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This would be me, if you see Roger as the image of Netgalley, blog tours and the likes

Basically there's not a lot of time for me to post reviews of books I've read because one day I was browsing my shelves and picked one at random.

I actually have a plan to change this, and it's really simple. This year I did something really different with my reading habits. I picked a monthly theme, if you can call it that, and I stuck to reading only books with that theme. Kind of like ARC August, if you will. Of course, I'll probably keep September as an ARC-only month as well, just to get control over those ARCs, but I'm thinking of making November and December "shelf-only" reading months, so I'll probably try really hard to control myself starting with October and not request anymore books. That way I'll review those books that I picked up on my own and this guilt shall disappear. 
  • I'm writing reviews for books intended to different age groups
This one is a bit difficult for me. When I started my blog 6 years ago (HOLY BANANAS, IT'S BEEN OVER 6 YEARS GUYS!!!), I read adult books exclusively. Starting my blog, getting to know other bloggers, opened up the world of YA to me, and for a while I managed to keep it kind of balanced, to read both YA and adult books, as well as review them. Then, about three years ago or so, I started reading more YA books, and therefore review more YA books, and not a lot of adult ones. Now I crave the more adult themes, and the darker side of fictional worlds, and I have this... I don't know if you can call it guilt, really, but it's a strange feeling for me, to write reviews for YA books in the same week as adult books. I do have an "age group" entry at the beginning of each review, and I do realize there's nothing to be guilty of when posting those reviews, but I still am confused over how to balance the two. 

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No, I can't choose an age group. Because I like both

I was thinking of making a schedule. So for the last few months, Tuesdays are exclusively for comic book reviews, so maybe I'll do the same with the rest of the books I read. I don't know. Does anyone else have this problem? Or I'm just that weird?
  • I can't come up with a discussion post topic every week
Look, coming up with stuff to talk about is a hard thing. I signed up for Book Blog Discussion Challenge and said I was going to post somewhere between 25 and 36 discussion posts, but it's not an easy thing to do. I've done only 5. Actually 6, if you're counting the present post. I have this idea that all of the topics I come up with have been done already, and there's nothing more to say on the matter, and that might be true, (or not, who knows?) but the point is that I don't always have something to say. And when another week passes and I've come up with nothing, I feel guilty. Because come on, lets be honest here for a second. Who reads reviews? I've had more views on cover reveals, memes, and book tags than on reviews. It's sad, because I and all of the other book reviewers out there, pour our hearts and souls into a review, but it's true. It's a thing that's happening. Or maybe my reviews don't get read all that much, which is sad too, but there seems to be a shift in blog readers' preferences. When I first started blogging, it was all about the reviews. For a few years now I've felt this change in focus, this need for more discussion posts than for reviews. I understand having a discussion post, because it's always interesting to have a conversation between blogger and readers, but I kind of find it sad that reviews are taking a backseat in terms of views. Sure, I don't stress over it, but I feel the pressure to come up with discussion posts that are new, fresh, interesting. And while I think I'm a smart cookie, my brain doesn't always come up with things to write about.

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Do I have a solution? No. Do I want one? Maybe. Depends on the solution, really. And depends on the topic.
  • I don't always feel like blogging
Balancing blogging and work and studying is hard. I know there are teenagers doing it, and kudos to them. But it's hard. Blogging actually feels like a second job sometimes. It starts as something you do for fun, but unless you're really dedicated, at some point in your life you'll realize it's not what you want it to be anymore. Collaborating with publishers, authors, and PR companies, means keeping an active presence in the blogging community, being social, writing new content every week, no matter the community you're in, be it bookstagram, book blogosphere, booktube, booklr, and so on. And I find that sometimes my daytime job sucks so much of my energy, I have none left for blogging. It's sad, and I hate it, and it makes me feel guilty, because I do this for fun, because I enjoy it, because I want to help people discover new books and new authors. So yeah, I feel a little guilty when time passes and I haven't written a blog post in a day or for a few days. 

I know the solution is to schedule posts, which is what I've started doing for a while now, but again, the inspiration/time/energy doesn't always come to me. 

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I hope this post doesn't sound whiny or anything. I'm not really complaining, just merely confessing to my moments of guilt in blogging.

Let's discuss. Do you feel any guilt when you're blogging? If no, HOW DO YOU DO IT? WHAT IS YOUR RECIPE?? SHARE WITH THIS CONFUSED MORTAL. If yes, welcome to the club, have a cookie, and know you're not alone!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: Flame Unleashed by Jillian David

Author: Jillian David
Series: Hell To Pay #3
Audience: +18
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Release Date: September 14th 2015
My Rating: 4 stars
Source: Reading Alley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
When Civil War nurse Ruth Blackstone sacrificed her soul to save her husband’s life, he utterly betrayed her trust. Now, 150 years later, she’s still stuck killing depraved souls to feed her devil of a boss, Jerahmeel. She’s never been one for hair-brained schemes or sweet-talking flirts. That is, until she meets Cajun rogue Odie Pierre-Noir.

Odie has the research and the war plan to overthrow Jerahmeel and win freedom for all Indebteds. There’s just one hitch: he needs Ruth to act as bait. With charm on his side, he shows Ruth an intense passion she’s never experienced before.

Now Ruth must make the hardest decision of her long, damned life: continue in relative safety as an Indebted with Odie as her lover, or risk their eternal souls for one chance to break the curse. Will she choose the lesser evil?

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from Reading Alley and Crimson Romance in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my opinion or my rating of the book in any way.

The last book in the Hell To Pay series was a pretty intense one, and definitely not how I pictured it would be. Actually the entire story was surprising and different than what I imagined at first.

You have Odie, an older Indebted, who, I'll be honest, wasn't my favorite in the beginning. I let my feelings be a little bit influenced by Ruth's reluctance to let him in, to be honest. But besides Ruth, I kept wondering what was his angle. I knew he showed his cards from the very beginning, and he was pretty honest from the get go about what his plan was and what he wanted, but a part of me wondered if he wasn't more than just the guy who wanted to end Jerahmeel forever, that maybe he wanted more. Then as the story progressed, I started liking him, especially after he shared his story, which is rather heartbreaking. I liked his dedication and his willingness to do whatever it took to free his brothers and sisters from their boss.

Then there's Ruth. Ruth was also a very different heroine than Allie and Hannah. Reading the book, I kept having this impression that she's much more than a nurse and a killer, like those were just masks. I liked the power struggle that went on between her and Jerahmeel. It was an intriguing aspect of the story. I am happy with how the story ended for her, especially with what she found out about her human family, because she really deserved it.

We finally find out more about Jerahmeel, and his story was not what I expected. Of course, knowing him and knowing what he did to Peter and Dante, I have to question some parts of his story. I also wonder if the ending of the book really meant the end of Jerahmeel. I know this is the last book in the series, but you know me, I'm always craving some drama in my books.

The pacing was great, not different from the other two books. I feel like the ending was a little rushed, especially since I still have some questions about this world. Also Jerahmeel's story kind of brought up more questions. It answered a few, but it certainly opened up a whole bunch of others, for me at least. All of that aside, I really enjoyed this book and I'll definitely be checking Jillian David's books in the future.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Review: Ecstasy Unbound by Setta Jay

Author: Setta Jay
Series: Guardians of the Realms #1
Audience: +18
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 18th 2014
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Netgalley
Blurb (from Goodreads):
As one of the twelve Guardians, Urian has spent the last several centuries in a constant battle to keep the inhabitants of Earth’s Realms under control. Humanity has to evolve, hell beasts need to die, and Immortals need mates. But lately, Uri's mind is overrun with thoughts of when his sexy voyeur will find him again, watching him from the shadows, continuing their wicked game. All Guardians are forbidden contact with the little goddess and her brothers, but his need for her escalating, he finds it increasingly difficult to keep from pinning her down on the nearest surface and making her his.

Alexandra has managed to evade the Guardians and being cast out from the human Realm for centuries, ever since the Creators sent the Gods to sleep for their sins against humanity and banished all Immortals. Always sensing that she was needed on Earth, only once has Alex gone against her instincts and the price she paid will forever haunt her. It is for that reason she forces herself to stay away from the only male who has ever truly enticed her. The only one who has ever made her long for what she knows is dangerous.

In a desperate need to help her beloved brother, she will have to go to the enthralling Guardian, her dark obsession, and even though he will surely attempt to exile her, she won't go easily…

Warning: This book contains explicit and sizzling sex scenes with big dominant males. MFM, ménage, and light bondage.

*Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book from Netgalley and Setta Jay in exchange for an honest review. This odes not influence my rating or my opinion of the book in any way.

Discovering new authors is such a fantastic feeling, especially in the realm of urban fantasy/paranormal romance. If the stories also happen to have even the smallest tie to mythology and ancient gods, then I'm the happiest reader ever.

I loved the concept of this series. The idea that the Greek Gods were punished due to them being mostly villains is so interesting. I liked reading about how the realms are divided, how the Guardians all have to protect them and make sure that the gods don't wake up. I also liked the story of who the Guardians are. My inner history geek squealed, to be very honest. I also loved the story of how the Gods came to be, or the little part of that story that the readers gets to read about. I am curious to see if the rest of the books in the series also show that and if they explore that aspect more.

I really liked Alexandra. Her backstory is really painful, and it's interesting to see how it still affects her, both physically and mentally. I found that her story was pretty unique, which I loved. Seeing how she had all that power, and yet there were things she couldn't prevent herself from doing or going through was an interesting aspect of her story. I liked her relationship with her brothers. She loves her brothers a lot, and you can really see that, especially with how she's willing to sacrifice herself to save them.

I liked Urian. I liked reading about his struggle to keep from contacting Alexandra, but I also enjoyed the twisted game they seemed to play with each other. It felt almost like a dare, like they were pushing themselves to see who would give in first. Urian is a pretty great Guardian, and I liked how dedicated and how loyal he was to his brothers and sisters. I liked how he helped Alexandra overcome some of her issues, but I would have also enjoyed seeing him teach her how to control what was happening with her.

There's a secondary plot line developing in this book, that I can only hope will be explored in the next books, involving one of Alexandra's brothers. I'm very curious to see what will happen with him in the future. The pace of the book was pretty good, and I am so, so excited to read the next books in the series. The book is also very sexy, which is always nice, and it didn't feel forced or over the top. The physical aspect of Alexandra and Urian's relationship was very interesting and I'm curious to see how that aspect will be explored with the other characters, if it's going to be similar, or if it's going to be very different. Basically I loved this book and I need more. If you're a fan of paranormal romance, you definitely need to read this book.

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