Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: A Love Like Blood – Marcus Sedgwick

A Love Like Blood – Marcus Sedgwick

In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.

Seven years later he returns to the city—and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow . . .

Review: Charles Jackson is a British military doctor in Paris right after the liberation of the city during World War II. While exploring the newly freed streets, he peeks into an abandoned bunker and sees a man sucking the blood out of a corpse. Charles has no idea what he’s looking at. Is this a vampire? A murderer? A regular person driven crazy by war? Or something much, much worse? He devotes the rest of his life to finding out.

I have some mixed feelings about this one. It definitely reminded me of classic horror stories, so if you like the older stuff, you’ll probably enjoy this book. The writing style feels a bit old fashioned, but not overly old fashioned, which I enjoyed. The book is dark and filled with twists that the reader won’t see coming. The “vampire,” is pretty sinister. When he discovers that Charles is hunting him, he’ll do anything to get away, including sabotaging Charles’s career and murdering his friends. Charles can’t do anything about it because people question his sanity when he claims that a vampire is after him.

Charles is a strange character. He’s a little flat in the personality department, but he’s a classic horror antihero. He wants to do the right thing and sort out what he saw in the bunker in France, but he doesn’t always go about it in the right way. For example, he’s a creeper who will follow strangers across countries and have sex with suspicious women in allies. To get the information he wants, he’ll even resort to murder. As the novel progresses, his obsession with killing the vampire spirals out of control. Then, some odd things happen.

As always, Marcus Sedgwick’s writing style is engaging and quick to read. I finished most of this book in a day, and it was entertaining, but I still feel very “Meh” about it. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t leave a huge impression on me. I think I was underwhelmed because this book doesn’t do anything I haven’t seen before. Above all, the story is about obsession, which is a very common horror theme. The author explores the theme nicely, but I was expecting more. I wanted something a little different. This book is almost like a retelling of classic vampire stories, but it’s not quite a strict retelling.

I had a few other issues with the book. The plot takes a very long time to get going. Once it does get moving, it goes quickly, but I still spent a lot of the novel waiting for something to happen.

Also, there is a surprising amount of untranslated French dialogue. This makes sense because most of the story is set in France, and the narrator isn’t completely fluent in French, but I felt like I was missing something. I don’t know any French.

I guess I don’t have too much to say about this book. It’s a quick and entertaining way to spend a few hours, but I wish it had given me more to think about.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: TBR Benchwarmers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is books that have been on your to-be-read shelf since before you started blogging. I’ve been blogging for 3 years, and I’m fairly good at managing my TBR, so I don’t have any books from before I started blogging. But, these three books have been on my shelf for over a year. There’s no reason why. I just haven’t gotten to them yet.

TBR Benchwarmers

All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.  
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. 

More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

The Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto—miracle cure-alls don't tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can't forget how he's grown up poor or how his friends aren't always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one-bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it's not enough. 
Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn't mind Aaron's obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn't mind talking about Aaron's past. But Aaron's newfound happiness isn't welcome on his block. Since he can't stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.  

Astray – Amy Christine Parker

Lyla is caught between two worlds. The isolated Community that she grew up in and the outside world that she’s navigating for the very first time. The outsiders call the Community a cult, but Pioneer miraculously survived a shooting that should have killed him. Are the faithful members right to stay true to his message? Is this just a test of faith? One thing is for sure: the Community will do anything to bring Lyla back to the fold. Trapped in a spider’s web of deception, will Lyla detect the sticky threads tightening around her before it’s too late? She’ll have to unravel the mystery of what Pioneer and the Community are truly up to if she wants to survive.

What book has been sitting on your TBR shelf the longest?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Game Of Love And Death – Martha Brockenbrough

The Game Of Love And Death – Martha Brockenbrough

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora. 
For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always. 
Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance? 
Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured—a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him. 
The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Review: Can Ethan have his own book? Please? It’s not every day I come across an amazing secondary character, and the end of this book didn’t have enough Ethan. What happens to him next? I need to know! I finished this book a long time ago, but I’m still mildly obsessed with this character.

Now, with that out of the way, I can wonder why it took me so long to get around to reading The Game of Love and Death. It sat on my To-Be-Read shelf for over a year before I picked it up. I think there are two reasons for this:

1. It’s romance-heavy, which is not something I usually enjoy. 
2. A lot of people have compared it to The Book Thief, which is one of my favorite books ever, and I didn’t want to make comparisons and be unfair to The Game of Love and Death. Not much can top The Book Thief in my world.

I shouldn’t have hesitated with The Game of Love and Death. No, it’s not The Book Thief, but I really liked it.

This historical fantasy novel follows four characters, Henry, Flora, Love, and Death. Henry is a rich white boy whose adoptive family isn’t feeling the sting of the Great Depression. Flora is an African-American girl who dreams of flying airplanes but is struggling to make a living as a jazz singer. Henry and Flora are the players in Love and Death’s game. Love tries to bring them together while Death struggles to pull them apart. If Henry and Flora don’t fall in love by the end of the game, their lives could be in danger.

“We do not choose whom we love . . . We can only choose how well.” – The Game of Love and Death

This is one of those books I could blather about for days. I have way too many thoughts. This review is going to be all over the place because we need to discuss everything.

The characters have huge personalities. Henry’s bond with his adopted siblings, Ethan and Annabel, is very sweet. You get the sense they’d do anything for each other. Flora is much quieter than Henry, but she’s also a realistic character. Life has not always been kind to her. She’s a tough loner who gets scared when Henry’s charm starts breaking down her walls. Love and Death surprised me because the author took their characters in unexpected directions. Love is sometimes a massive jerk who will do anything to win the game. Death is not always as cold-hearted as she appears.

The dialogue—especially Henry and Ethan’s dialogue—is snappy. I actually laughed out loud a few times. Here’s a sample of its witty brilliance: 

“‘Are you thirsty?’ she asked. 
‘Like a camel,’ Henry said. 
She led him to a chair by the window. Then she went to the kitchen, wishing she had something better than water to serve. She filled a glass. 
‘Are you hungry?’ Food, she had. 
‘Like a camel that hasn’t eaten anything in days.’ 
‘Ham or casserole?’ 
‘No self-respecting camel eats casserole. It could contain a relative.’” - The Game of Love and Death    

The Game of Love and Death is a historical fiction book, and it manages to capture many issues of the 1930s without completely overwhelming the reader. It discusses Hoovervilles, corruption, poverty, racism, homophobia, and classism. If you’re leery of historical fiction, I’d recommend starting here. The plot and characters are gripping enough that you can learn some US history without feeling like you’re being force-fed a textbook.

I already want to reread this novel (mostly because I miss Ethan), but I do have quite a few issues with it. First, I don’t really understand Love and Death. They’re supposed to be mysterious mythical creatures, but I want to know more about them and why they’re playing this game. The rules of the game could be clearer.

My next issue might be an “it’s-not-you-it’s-me” problem. Since I’m a romance hater, the middle of the book is too long for me. It mostly consists of Henry saying, “Please love me!” and Flora saying, “No.” It gets repetitive.

Finally, the story lost me at the end. I know this is fantasy/magical realism, but it gets a bit too bizarre for my tastes. The characters easily believe things that real humans probably wouldn’t. The end also tries very, very hard to drive home the point of the story. The message is “Even though death always wins in the end, love makes life worth living.” That’s a simple and beautiful theme. I didn’t need all that weirdness to make me believe it.

“Game or no, she would someday die, as all living beings did. But that wasn't the tragedy. Nor was there tragedy in being a pawn. All souls are, if not of eternal beings, then as pawns of their own bodies. The game, whatever shape it takes, lasts only as long as the body holds out.” – The Game of Love and Death

Despite a few issues, I can see myself rereading this book in the future. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Sunday Post #61

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, and share news. It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Book Date. I get to tell you what I’ve read recently.

Public Service Announcement

Last week, someone I went to high school with committed suicide. Please take care of yourselves and be kind to each other.

On The Blog Last Week

On The Blog This Week

  • On Monday I review The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough.
  • On Tuesday I show you some books I’ve failed to read.
  • On Wednesday I review A Love Like Blood by Marcus Sedgwick.
  • On Thursday I tell you what I did in August.

In My Reading Life

A whole lot of life happened last week, and most of it was unpleasant, so I didn’t get much reading done. I finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Now I’m trying to work up the courage to read the new Harry Potter book. I’m scared, guys. What if I hate it?

In My Blogging Life

You may have noticed that my recent book reviews have been giant walls of text. I assume most people skim them, so I may start experimenting with ways to make them more skimmable (that’s totally a word). Don’t be alarmed if they start looking a bit different.

In The Rest Of My Life

Five things that made me happy last week:

  1. A horse danced to Santana’s “Smooth” in the Olympics, and it was epic. For reasons I don’t understand, the horse wasn’t instantly awarded a gold medal.
  2. My grandpa bought me the new Harry Potter book.
  3. Cake!
  4. I wrote a lecture. I’ve never written one before and enjoyed figuring out how. My lecture is about nonlinear narrative structure, of course.
  5. It has been getting cooler at night. I sleep a lot better when I’m not sweating like a pig and angry about it.

I hope you had a great week! See you around the blogosphere!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The “Well, That Escalated Quickly” Book Haul (Part 2)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. I get to show off all the books I’ve gotten recently.

I went on Amazon and Book Outlet to get 2 books for school, and I somehow ended up with 2 school books and 9 non-school books. It happened so quickly! I swear I don’t know how the extra books ended up in my cart. At least they were cheap, right? Here are the second 5 of my 11.

The Library At Mount Char – Scott Hawkins

Carolyn's not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.

After all, she was a normal American herself once. 

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father.

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn't had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient customs. They've studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own.

But Carolyn has accounted for this.

And Carolyn has a plan.

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she's forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami

In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.

A Long Way From Chicago – Richard Peck

What happens when Joey and his sister, Mary Alice—two city slickers from Chicago—make their annual summer visits to Grandma Dowdel's seemingly sleepy Illinois town? 
August 1929: They see their first corpse, and he isn't resting easy. 
August 1930: The Cowgill boys terrorize the town, and Grandma fights back. 
August 1931: Joey and Mary Alice help Grandma trespass, poach, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungryall in one day.

The Book Of Strange New Things – Michel Faber

It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.

Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival.

A Love Like Blood – Marcus Sedgwick

In 1944, just days after the liberation of Paris, Charles Jackson sees something horrific: a man, apparently drinking the blood of a murdered woman. Terrified, he does nothing, telling himself afterwards that worse things happen in wars.

Seven years later he returns to the city—and sees the same man dining in the company of a fascinating young woman. When they leave the restaurant, Charles decides to follow . . .

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Olympic Book Tag

This awesome tag was created by Shannon at It Starts At Midnight. The graphics in this post are all stolen from her. I'm not a big sports fan, but I'll give the book Olympics my best shot.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. I’m pretty sure this book was made specifically for me. Odd structure, remote setting, lots of death, and beautiful writing? What's not to love?  

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s slow, but it’s so good. If you like descriptive writing, this is a must-read. So far, it's my favorite book I’ve read in 2016. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. A book has never made me cry, but this one is pretty devastating. Cancer, monsters, and gorgeous illustrations.

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough. Love and Death have been friends and rivals for centuries. Ethan and Henry also have a strong friendship. If you like books with witty banter between friends, check this one out.

A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories by Richard Peck. Every summer, Joey spends a week in rural Illinois with his eccentric grandmother. Potentially deadly events ensue. 

Unwind by Neal Shusterman. This whole dystopian series is pretty twisted. Brilliant and twisted . . .

Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. Oprah told me to read it, but the dialect made it unreadable. I guess Oprah and I have very different tastes in literature.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. There’s all sorts of death going on in this sci-fi novel. The book even has a body-counter. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Do I need to explain this? Harry is everybody’s favorite.

Dracula by Bram Stoker. Who knew vampire hunting was so tedious? The characters spend most of the book giving speeches and writing in their diaries. I just wanted to see someone kill a vampire.

Saving Wonder by Mary Knight. There are good love triangles? I wouldn’t call any love triangle “good,” but the one in this book is cute. It’s middlegrade, so it’s all very innocent. 

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech will always be my favorite road trip book. I first read it when I was a kid and have reread it many, many times sense. While Sal’s grandparents take her to see her mother, she tells them the story of her neighbor and a lunatic.

Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk. This short story collection features a surprising variety of animals, including a horse with . . . um . . . unusual talents. This horse will never make it to the Olympics.

I Am The Cheese by Robert Cormier. I don’t read sports books, but the kid in this story spends a lot of time on a bike as he tries to uncover what happened in his past. After peddling all those miles, he’d probably be ready for the Olympics.

Have you been watching the Olympics? There are so many things I didn't know were sports . . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread – Chuck Palahniuk

Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread – Chuck Palahniuk

Representing work that spans several years, Make Something Up is a compilation of 21 stories and one novella (some previously published, some not) that will disturb and delight. The absurdity of both life and death are on full display; in "Zombies," the best and brightest of a high school prep school become tragically addicted to the latest drug craze: electric shocks from cardiac defibrillators. In "Knock, Knock," a son hopes to tell one last off-color joke to a father in his final moments, while in "Tunnel of Love," a massage therapist runs the curious practice of providing 'relief' to dying clients. And in "Expedition," fans will be thrilled to find a side of Tyler Durden never seen before in a precursor story to Fight Club.

Review: I have a love/hate relationship with Chuck Palahniuk. I love him because he can somehow get away with writing the most offensive, politically incorrect, disgusting fiction ever. I hate him because I don’t feel smart enough to read his work. Somehow, I always have the feeling that he’s laughing at me while I struggle to understand what the heck is going on. I don’t always get the point of his stories. Many of them just seem offensive for the sake of being offensive. This totally messes with my over-analytical mind. I want to find meaning in these stories, but maybe there isn’t any.

If you’re new to Chuck Palahniuk’s work, Make Something Up is a great place to start. These 21 stories run the spectrum from clever and funny to completely unreadable. You’ll get a good sense of the variety of work the author produces.

For me, these are the standouts in the collection:

In “Zombies,” stressed-out high school students intentionally give themselves brain damage because they can’t live up to society’s expectations. The end of the story is unexpectedly sweet and sappy. It caught me off-guard in the best way. This is the only story that made me laugh out loud.

“In Miss Chen's English class, we learned, 'To be or not to be . . .' but there's a big gray area in between. Maybe in Shakespeare times people only had two options. Griffin Wilson, he knew that the SATs were just the gateway to a big lifetime of bullshit. To get married and college. To paying taxes and trying to raise a kid who's not a school shooter. And Griffin Wilson knew drugs are only a patch. After drugs, you're always going to need more drugs.” – Make Something Up

“Red Sultan’s Big Boy” is the story of a father who buys his psychopathic daughter a new horse. (After she poisons the old one.) Unfortunately, the new horse has some unexpected and disgusting talents. The suspense in this story kept me reading. I wanted to find out what nasty thing this horse can do. Since this is a Chuck Palahniuk story, I knew it would be really nasty.

“Listening, it occurred to Randall that the love people feel for animals is the purest form of love. Loving an animal, a horse, cat, or dog, was always a romantic tragedy. It meant loving something that would die before you. Like that movie with Ali McGraw. There was no future, just the affection of the present moment.” – Make Something Up

“Romance” stars an “average” man who meets an interesting woman and falls in love. He doesn’t mind that the woman is possibly “retarded.” They’re very happy together. This story has some twists I didn’t see coming.

“And when they're old enough I'm going to tell my little girls that everybody looks a little crazy if you're looking close enough, and if you can't look that close, then you don't really love them. All the while life goes around. And if you keep waiting for somebody perfect you'll never find love, because it's how much you love them is what makes them perfect.” – Make Something Up

In “Cold Calling,” a teenage telemarketer is verbally abused by people who think he’s from India. This story shows the way racism spreads.

In “Fetch,” a haunted tennis ball helps a young boy change a widow’s life. I love magical realism, and this story is magical realism done right. It’s quirky and unexpected.

The novella, “Inclinations,” tells the story of a group of straight boys who con their way into a “Fag Farm,” a place where gay teens are turned straight. When the boys are forced to dissect the dead bodies of their ex-girlfriends, they plot their escape. This isn’t my favorite story in the collection, but the characters are memorable. The author does a great job of capturing the selfishness (and selflessness) of teenagers.

“To him the protesters at the front gate were the equivalent of the protesters outside abortion clinics. The Rock Hudsons tried to stop people coming here the same way do-gooders tried to block people going to murder their unborn kids. The irony was in how those same rescued babies got adopted by Rock Hudsons.” – Make Something Up

Finally, in “How a Jew Saved Christmas,” a department store worker uses everything she learned from watching CSI to uncover the identity of her Secret Santa. The main characters are over-the-top ridiculous. This is another story with a (somewhat) sweet ending.

Even though this book is a mixed bag of stories, I do like the questions they raise. They highlight the weirdness of modern life. The characters are often forced to choose between what they want and what the outside world wants for them. How much should a person give in to society’s pressure? If you’re happy, does it matter what the rest of the world thinks?

Like Chuck Palahniuk’s other books, this one will try very hard to offend you, but if you don’t mind some gag-inducing moments, the themes are thought-provoking.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Blogiversary Discussion: What I’ve Learned From Three Years Of Book Blogging

Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight host the 2016 Discussion Challenge.

Today is Read All The Things!’ third blogiversary (blogaversary? Blogoversary?) Seriously, guys, I can barely spell real words. Now I have to spell made-up ones?

Anyway, most people seem to do awesome giveaways for their blogiversary. I can’t do that because money has been hunted to extinction in my universe, but I can share wisdom with you. Here are 15 things I’ve learned about book blogging in the three years I’ve been doing it.

Blogging Life Lessons

1. Don’t be an asshat. But, be aware that some people are asshats. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person. This also applies to book reviews. It is possible to write a respectful negative review. If someone is rude to you online, try not to let it get to you. Unfortunately, some people are just mean. Being mean back won’t solve anything.

2. The only difference between your blog and a thousand other blogs is you. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and your passions. Book blogs would be boring if they were all the same. It’s cool to be inspired by others, but make sure you are being you.

3. It’s okay to write narcissistic posts. Whenever I write something about myself on my blog, a voice in my head says, Nobody cares about you. They come here for the books. This isn’t true because my favorite posts on other people’s blogs read more like creative nonfiction than book blog posts. I love it when bloggers find ways to mix books with their personal lives. Reading is a subjective experience. I’m interested in your experience. 

4. Read what you love. There is nothing you have to read for your blog. If you’re not interested in that super-hyped new release, then don’t read it. If you only read books because they’re popular, you’re going to hate a lot of what you read.

5. You’re not a special reading snowflake. Are your reading tastes super eclectic? Or do you only read vampire poetry? No matter what you read, you’re not alone. There is somebody on the Internet who has similar reading tastes to you. Read what you love, blog about it, and you’ll find your tribe.

6. You won’t spontaneously combust if you have an unpopular opinion. Bloggers get so worked up about criticizing popular books. To prove that unpopular opinions aren’t deadly, here is a list of uber-popular series that I didn’t like: The Wrath & The Dawn, Divergent, The Lunar Chronicles, The Mortal Instruments, The Maze Runner, Twilight, Mistborn, 50 Shades of Grey. You’ll just have to take my word that I didn’t combust.

7. Also, you won’t lose friends if you have an unpopular opinion. If you do lose friends, then those people are petty jerks, not friends. My favorite book ever is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’m friends with plenty of people who loathe that book. It’s okay to disagree about books. There are better things to get angry about.

8. You don’t have to apologize all the time. I’m still working on this one. For 99.9% of us, blogging is a hobby. Life gets in the way. Unless you really screw something up, you don’t have to apologize for putting blogging on the back burner. We all understand.

9. It’s totally okay to experiment and change things up. I’ve overhauled my blog design three times in the past three years. I’ve tried different types of posts. I’ve changed the way I write reviews. I’ve tested a bunch of different memes to find which ones I like. As far as I know, nobody has gotten annoyed at me for experimenting. 

10. Pick a blog design that you like. You will spend a lot of time staring at your blog. Pick something that you like. I’ve heard people say “Grayscale blogs are sooo overdone,” but guess what? I have terrible eyesight, and colorful blogs make me go cross-eyed. If I’m going to spend a zillion hours staring at a blog, I want it to be simple and high-contrast. Pick a design that works for you.

11. Give shout-outs to your favorite blogs. I have a Blog Stalker over there ---> that lists my favorite blogs. I love clicking the Blog Stalkers on other people’s blogs, and I’ve discovered so many new blogs that way. Shout out your favorites to help others find them. 

12. Don’t listen to everything people say in “How To” posts (including the post you’re reading right now). All of those “How To” posts are helpful, but there is no correct way to run a blog. Post as often as you want, use whatever social media you want, participate in memes if you want. Do what works for you. Also, don’t look down on others for doing something differently than you would do it.

13. It’s not all about the numbers. If you care about ARCs, then followers and pageviews are important, but they’re not everything. Making connections with people who share my love of books has been far more rewarding than accumulating followers.

14. Don’t be afraid to comment. When I first started blogging, I was terrified to comment. I’ve said some hilariously stupid things in the comment sections of people’s blogs. Even after three years of book blogging, I’m still scared I’ll say something dumb that will be misinterpreted. Luckily, most book bloggers are kind and understanding. Don’t be afraid to comment, even if your comment is silly.

15. Everybody feels inadequate sometimes. I wish I could be funnier, smarter, more creative, more outgoing, more insightful. I wish dollar bills weren’t rarer than unicorns in my world. I wish I could design awesome graphics and take awesome photos. Everybody has things they wish they could be better at. Even bloggers at the “top” (however you want to define “top”) feel inadequate sometimes. No matter how successful you become, that feeling may never go away.

Let’s discuss: How long have you been blogging, and what blogging wisdom can you share?