Discussion: Thoughts on YA Novellas and Short Stories

I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years where YA authors are putting out lots of novellas and short stories to accompany their series. Examples:

throne of glass novellas

The selection novellas

Please tell me, WHO ASKED FOR THESE??? I already have a hard enough time reading all of the books in a series, but now I have to read all of these novellas and short stories too? I know that I don’t HAVE to read them–nobody’s forcing me. But it feels like if the author’s putting it out there, then maybe I’m supposed to get additional information about characters or events from these stories.

However, I’ve found that a lot of times reading the extra material does not help or change my viewpoints about characters or events. If the events in the short story or novella were so important, then the author should have included that information in the book/series to begin with. To be completely honest–and I don’t really like feeling this way–it feels to me like these short stories and novellas are published purely to make more money by milking an idea that’s working for all that it’s worth. And that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth where that author is concerned. I feel like I, as a reader, am being taken advantage of.

kim kardashian money gif

So my position is that these little “extras” are unnecessary and just create added stress as a reader (not to mention cost, because libraries don’t often carry these–you actually have to buy them). Let’s think about one of the greatest series that has ever been: Harry Potter. If she wanted to, J.K. Rowling could 100% write a million more stories about day-to-day life at Hogwarts featuring a variety of characters. But she hasn’t. Sure, she’s fleshed out the world and made movies, etc. but she hasn’t done anything else with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and their time at Hogwarts. If she wanted to, I know for a fact that people would pay for that. So why hasn’t she chosen to do that while many lesser known and less popular authors with smaller fandoms have?

At the end of the day, I’m just sitting here pleading for authors to give me the whole story in one or two books (three max). I don’t have time to read four, five, eight book series anymore and I certainly don’t have time to read 50-100 page novellas and short stories.

What are your opinions on YA short stories and novellas? Are you a fan? Why do you think authors write them? Let me know in the comments!
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Hype, hype baby | Under pressure to read new and hyped books

This is a blog post idea that has been bouncing around my head for a little bit, but yesterday it kind of came to a boiling point. I kept seeing posts about one book in particular (it was the book’s release day). Bloggers, authors, EVERYONE was raving about this book and talking about how excited they were to finally receive and read it. This is the book in question:

The Belles

So I’m just like, yes pretty cover, I understand. But then I went to read the synopsis on Goodreads and it left me feeling just…confused.

confused gif supernatural jensen ackles

It legitimately doesn’t sound interesting to me AT ALL. There is no part of that synopsis that appeals to me and I don’t even really understand what the book is supposed to be about. But here’s the thing:¬†I marked it as “Want to Read” anyway.

Why did I do that? Even now I’m not totally sure. I’m usually pretty good at resisting peer pressure and I’m not really afraid to share my unpopular opinions, but hearing how excited everyone else was about this particular book, I thought that I must be missing something. So I guess FOMO is why I did it?

FOMO gif The Office Steve Carell Michael Scott

Something that I really enjoyed from my hiatus was completely unplugging from the book scene. I didn’t check my blog, I didn’t check other blogs, I didn’t even really go on Goodreads except to update my reading progress. This made it so I wasn’t really aware of what new books were coming out, what other people were hyping, etc. I also didn’t request ARCs on NetGalley during this time. I felt like I had this new freedom to read books that had been sitting on my shelf for a while (physical and digital). I also had time to do some rereads that I’d been meaning to get to.

I apologize for the rambliness of this post, but in the end it just got me thinking about how much pressure we put on ourselves as bloggers to read the newest thing, the most hyped thing. We want to stay relevant so that means keeping up with everything that’s happening RIGHT NOW. We have to read the latest books and hop on the newest trends immediately or else we’ll get left behind. Except…I don’t think it’s really like that. I like reading reviews about newer books, but I also like reading reviews about older ones–maybe ones that I’ve read a few years back or ones that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

What I’ve learned through all of this: It’s okay to not be the very first one to read and review something. Accepting this idea has helped me to relax as a blogger and as a reader. Changes I have noticed:

  • I’m not requesting as many ARCs on NetGalley
  • I feel less pressure to try to get publishers to send me physical ARCs
  • Because I don’t have as many ARCs to review, my reading schedule is more open which allows me to mood read more or read the books that have been piling up on my shelves or reread old favorites
  • I don’t feel the urge to buy as many books since what I want to read is usually available at the library–no holds (and I’m also actually reading books that I already own)
  • I’m reading books that I WANT to read, not just books that I feel like I SHOULD read

So there you have it. I’ve officially removed¬†The Belles from my “Want to Read” shelf on Goodreads. I’m still open to reading it in the future, but I’m not going to let myself be pressured into reading it just by its initial hype.

Let me know how you feel about book hype in the comments! Is it helpful, damaging, or neutral? Do you have any similar experiences to mine? How did it turn out?

Super read-alikes for Superbowl LII

I know this community is super into football, right? Wait, we’re not? Ah, just kidding of course. I’m actually not a HUGE fan myself, but I married someone who has three brothers and they all love sports of any kind. I have watched more sporting events with these guys in the last five years than I had my entire life previous. I would go so far as to say that I haven’t missed a major sporting event for the last five years. Baseball, football, basketball of course, but also golf, tennis, soccer, horse racing, etc. THESE GUYS LOVE SPORTS.

So my purpose with this post is to help make the Superbowl a little more accessible for those of us who will only be watching for the commercials and the half-time show.

Justin Timberlake gif
Here’s to you guys

The New England Patriots

The Patriots and Tom Brady are the obvious favorites of this Superbowl. They’ve been like eight times in the last 10 years. They’re a dominant dynasty. We all agree that these guys are good. Their defense isn’t great so they’ll mostly be counting on their #1 offense (led by Tom Brady of course) to outscore their opponent.

Tom Brady high five patriots gif

If you like the Patriots, you might also like:

Cassandra Clare books

I think most readers and bloggers would say that they like these books. Cassandra Clare keeps coming back to the same world with new-ish stories and you can pretty much count on a new book coming out every year. These books have a consistency that could be perceived as either comforting or boring depending on the reader. I would say that the overall idea behind these books was pretty unique at the time and hasn’t been able to be adequately replicated by anyone since. The series is super mainstream these days after having both a movie AND a popular TV show made based on it.

This series is the Patriots. While there’s not a ton of depth throughout the series (defense), the fact that the series remains consistent and that a new book comes out so often means that nobody can forget that it exists (offense). I mean, the first book came out over ten years ago, but like Tom Brady, there’s still something really ageless about it.

The Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were a surprise this year. The last time they made it to the Superbowl was in 2004. They have a great new quarterback, Carson Wentz, but when he got injured at the beginning of December, there wasn’t much hope that the team would get this far. Luckily, they came up with a backup plan. Nick Foles had been the Eagles QB in the past, but was replaced by Wentz as the starter. He got a chance to come back and has helped the team to make it to the Superbowl. With their amazing defense, the Eagles hope to shut Tom Brady down.

Philadelphia Eagles gif

If you like the Eagles, you might also like:

unwind dystology

Neal Shusterman made a big splash a couple of years ago with National Book Award winner Challenger Deep¬†and there has been a moderate amount of buzz surrounding his recent Arc of a Scythe series. But did anyone remember that he has a four book series that came out before that? Shusterman’s Unwind series is a social commentary that was ahead of its time.

This series and Neal Shusterman are the Eagles. Shusterman’s had some really great recent stuff (Carson Wentz), but when it comes down to it, it’s the past (Nick Foles) that’s going to make an impact. Like the Eagles, the Unwind Dystology doesn’t necessarily have a “star player”, but it’s really effective as a “team”. On Goodreads, all four books have a significantly higher than 4-star rating (4.18, 4.25, 4.23, 4.48 respectively). Cassandra Clare’s books may be flashy and get a lot of publicity, but I think Neal Shusterman’s books deserve our respect as well.


So there’s my in-depth bookish analysis of the Superbowl. I hope football makes a little more sense now and that you feel inspired to read some of Neal Shusterman’s books (to be completely transparent, I haven’t actually read any of his books either, but I plan to).

What books would you say best represent these two teams? And are you going to be watching the Superbowl today?

And here:

Justin Timberlake dancing gif
I know this is what you really came for

7 ways to keep yourself from going crazy on NetGalley

For book bloggers, NetGalley is a magical place where maybe, just maybe you might get a chance to read the next Sarah Dessen/Morgan Matson/”insert author here” book before everyone else. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to get approved for digital galleys on NetGalley than it is to get publishers to send you physical copies (I’ve only succeeded at that like twice). Perhaps this is why it’s so hard to practice self-control once you get on the site. There’s just an enormous potential to receive¬†free books.

book pile gif
Me with all my free books from NetGalley

So how do you keep yourself from requesting every book that you see? Well, after a couple of years, here are some tips that I’ve come up with to (hopefully) keep your ARC load manageable.

1) Only request books that you actually want to read.

Baby Reading

This seems like a no-brainer, but I have definitely found myself being approved for a book and then wondering why the heck I requested it in the first place. Getting on NetGalley when you’re bored is sometimes like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry. EVERYTHING SOUNDS GOOD. But then when it actually comes time to eat (or read/review) you’re left with a bunch of things that don’t really sound that appetizing. So make sure when you’re requesting that the book actually sounds¬†really good to you. Not just pretty good or okay.

2) Keep a record of books that you’ve requested.

List

Even though you can view all of the books that you’ve requested on NetGalley, it’s easy to forget just how many books you might have already requested or when they’re all being published. I’ve had times where I’ve been approved for books weeks later. All of the sudden, I have 7 books to read and review for April and I’m not really sure how that’s happened. I suggest keeping a list in a more visible place as you’re requesting books. That way, if you’re on the fence about a book, you can see if you’ve already requested a lot of books being published in the same month and use that to help you make your decision.

3) Only request books that have a future publishing date.

Sometimes NetGalley has books on it that have already been published. I fell into this trap early on where a book would sound good, I requested it, but then found out that it had been published the year before. It didn’t seem so bad at the time, but when I also got approved for future books, the ones that had already been published got pushed to the back burner. For me, there just isn’t the same urgency to review already published books as there is to review books that are still to come. Eventually I created a rule for myself that I could only request books that were going to be published in the future.

4) Get to know which publishers you like and which ones you don’t.

reading gif

There are certain publishers that will almost always produce good quality books (HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, etc.). I feel pretty safe requesting books from these publishers. But there are other publishers that I have found to be hit or miss for me (SOURCEBOOKS) and still others that I don’t request books from anymore (Entangled Publishing). It might take you a little bit to establish which publishers you like, but eventually you’ll figure it out. I know that no matter how cute and fluffy a book sounds, if it’s published by Entangled Publishing, I’m most likely going to end up regretting my request.

5) Keep a schedule of ARCs that you’ve already been approved for.

This is similar to keeping a record of ARCs that you’ve requested, but even more important imo. These are books that you’ve already committed to reading and reviewing. If you’ve already got 5 books scheduled for this month, maybe rethink that book you’re about to request that comes out next week. Really consider if you have the time to read and adequately review all of the books on your schedule before potentially adding another one.

6) Set a request limit for yourself. AND STICK TO IT.
limit gif
It does Lindsay, it really does

Setting a limit for how many books you can request on a given day will keep you from requesting every book that sounds remotely good. Instead, you’ll have to prioritize which books you¬†actually want to read. Having a limit will force you to actually consider if it’s worth it to request a book or if you should save your request for something else.

7) Do judge a book by its cover.

This is so superficial, I know. But it’s a really easy way to keep yourself from going overboard since it eliminates a number of previously eligible books. If a cover doesn’t look interesting to you, don’t even look at the description. You might miss out on a great book here or there, but I think it’s worth the “risk”.

Now that you’ve figured out how to effectively use NetGalley…go forth, request, read and review!

Chang reading community gif

Did I miss any NetGalley tips? Do you have any NetGalley horror stories? Let me know in the comments!

6 books I didn’t like that other people did

Title links are to Goodreads and “My rating” links are to my reviews if applicable. Click here¬†if you’d like to see a list of 6 books that I did like that other people didn’t.

On the FenceOn the Fence by Kasie West – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.05 stars

What other people are saying: “Tomboy Charlie was a lot of fun getting to know. She wasn’t exactly my favorite at the beginning but she grew on me. I liked her growth in the story and her progression of self-acceptance was very believable.”

“…this was a generally enjoyable read and it has a giddily happy ending…”

What I say:¬†I honestly didn’t like Charlie very much–she just seemed too clueless! I get being a tomboy (I was one too) but even without a mom, I feel like there were some things that she just should have known by being around other females like her teammates. I also didn’t particularly care for any of the secondary characters–they just seemed super flat. Lastly, the ending was just too fast and the repeated use of the word “love” made me cringe so much.

Shadow and BoneShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.05 stars

What other people are saying: “Everything was fabulous: writing, setting, uniqueness, feels-inducing, swoon worthy villains characters.”

“First, Alina is such an incredible main character. Not only is she likable and relatable, her growth throughout the story is stunning to read. It is so believable, even in a completely unbelievable world.”

What I say:¬†Alina…..ugghhhh. She is honestly one of my least favorite main characters. I felt like she was actually pretty pathetic and so SO weak. And talk about “special snowflake”. I don’t think I’ve seen another character who was a more special snowflake. I never felt like the romance between her and Mal was genuine and it creeps me out how everyone is super into the Darkling. HE’S TERRIBLE, YOU GUYS. I did like Bardugo’s concept of magic, etc. But seriously, Alina was the most annoying character ever.

Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.06 stars

What other people are saying: “This is one of the cutest feel-good teen romances I have ever read. It has a bit of everything that you want… humour, a likeable protagonist and a completely swoon-worthy guy called Etienne St. Clair.

“I love how Perkins created this romance between [St. Clair] and Anna. It was perfectly executed for my tastes, albeit at sometimes super drama-filled, but there was depth to their feelings for one another and I appreciated that.

What I say:¬†I do not understand the hype with St. Clair. I just don’t. He’s cheating on his girlfriend the whole time and it’s NOT OKAY. Also, the author really went overboard describing how beautiful he’s supposed to be. I got tired of it after the first 50 pages. Anna as a character was fine and I thought the secondary characters were fine too, but I am not on board the Anna/St Clair ship. Sorry, not sorry.

Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.08 stars

What other people are saying:¬†“The book is harsh, romantic, action packed, fast paced, with twists and turns that it literally kept me up all night so I could finish it. LOVED it.”

“I also loved Mare, who never became lovesick though she was not immune to the charms of her princes. There was no eye-rolly moony-eyed moments. ”

What I say:¬†I felt like Mare was such a wishy-washy character who had major trust issues. I mean, how can you commit to joining a rebellion if you’re not actually sure that you want to be part of the rebellion? She just didn’t feel very well thought-out. And don’t get me started on the brother love triangle. I absolutely ABHOR those.

The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogyThe Summer I Turned Pretty (series) by Jenny Han – My rating: 2, 2, and 2 stars; Goodreads: 3.96, 4.14, and 4.17 stars (respectively)

What other people are saying:¬†“Belly’s character is great, in the first book she was a bit immature but as I read the other two books I saw how she had grown up and changed.”

“This story has depth in character growth, emotion, back story, and sweep you off your feet love.”

What I say:¬†These books were just…way too angsty for me. I felt like Belly was a really immature main character. I mean, I know she’s super young in the first book, but she still seemed like she was always on the brink of crying or getting overly embarrassed by things. While she does grow throughout the series, I don’t feel like she grows all that much. I also didn’t particularly care for the two main love interests (and AGAIN with the brother love triangle. Gag). These were just kind of throw away books to me. Super easy to read, but not something I would ever reread.

The Names They Gave UsThe Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.15 stars

What other people are saying:¬†“This was truly a book in which every reader could find themselves in. The protagonist might represent one thing but a voice was given to so many other perspectives.”

“Emery Lord never ceases to amaze me. She has a magical way of weaving words and creating flawed, complex characters that are entirely relatable.”

What I say:¬†Yes, there was a lot of diversity in this book. Dare I say even…too much diversity? It just felt like Lord was trying to cover too many things. I think the story would have felt tighter and more impactful if she had only chosen a couple of things to focus on instead of trying to cover everything. Lucy was just okay as a protagonist to me. She didn’t actually feel that authentic as a Christian teen to me. I also didn’t think that Henry was realistic at all either. He seemed about 25 instead of 17 or 18.

Please tell me I’m not alone in these opinions!

6 books I liked that other people didn’t

Title links are to Goodreads and “My rating” links are to my reviews if applicable. Be on the lookout for the next installment of this series: “6 books I didn’t like that other people did”.

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.3 stars

The Whole Thing TogetherWhat other people are saying:¬†“The first half felt like a YA novel with the romance and family issues, but then the second half turned into a depressing mess with difficult marriages and family tragedies. The end felt cheap. And then the book was just… over. Most things I cared about were never resolved or addressed.”

“There are a lot of characters, and the author bounces between them often and rapidly. I don’t feel like I got to know any of them, which made it difficult to care about anything that happened.”

Several reviewers mentioned that they felt the book contained both racism and sexism.

What I say:¬†I really liked this book. To address the first point, I don’t exactly remember how the book ends, but I always take this kind of comment with a grain of salt. Real life doesn’t resolve easily, so why should a book? In contrast to the second comment, I actually liked all of the different POVs and did feel like I was able to get to know each character–just a difference of opinion I guess. Lastly, I can’t say that I completely agree with the racism and sexism allegations. I recommend you read my original review to see my reasoning.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.69 stars

The Madman's DaughterWhat other people are saying:¬†¬†“…the middle felt very uneven in comparison with the rest of the story and a major downside for me was the love triangle…. The romance just seemed uninteresting, boring, and way too over-emphasized.”

“…so many parts of the book seemed like pointless filler to stretch out a weak plot”

What I say:¬†I understand disliking the love triangle. Honestly, I get it. I, myself, am not a fan of love triangles. However, I feel like this book still does it well. I think the love triangle (and romance overall) actually¬†is¬†important to the book in a really subtle way. Even more, I think it carries the rest of the series. And then as far as filler and a weak plot goes…was the book a little slower paced? Yes. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a weak plot. I think the plot is actually quite complex with Juliet having to figure out how she feels about her father and deciding what to do about him.

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.71 stars

This Raging LightWhat other people are saying:¬†“My main issue was with the writing style. It wasn’t my favorite. I think that if it was written in a different point of view instead of first person, I would have liked it.”

“I found that I didn’t really connect to the characters or the story at all until one point that had me almost choking up at the kindness of some people…. I also have a huge problem with unresolved plot lines, and this was one of those”

What I say:¬†Meh, I had no qualms with the writing style. In fact, I liked that the book was fast-paced and easy to read. I also felt like I really connected with the characters–especially the main character and her little sister. I think some readers wanted the main character to be a certain way, but¬†her mom freaking left her and her sister to fend for themselves. Like honestly, that would make me snap at my best friends too (even though they were being super helpful). And then again with the unresolved plot lines. Life, you guys.

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.78 stars

Once and For AllWhat other people are saying:¬†“I just couldn’t connect with Louna in any way and she felt like the least dynamic Dessen protagonist I’ve come across”

“I wanted a fluffy, cute read and this was more depressing than anything else.”

What I say:¬†I’m not going to pretend that Louna is my¬†favorite Dessen protagonist (Macy has that designation) but she’s certainly not the worst. In my opinion, Louna was the most Remy-like of all of them which I think makes her distinctly NOT undynamic. I loved her sour grapes attitude and it was nice seeing her more tender side with her mom, William, and Jilly. And then to the person who wanted a “fluffy, cute read”…have you ever read one of Dessen’s books? NONE of her books are fluffy, cute reads. They all deal with heavy stuff so you have to be prepared for that. It’s about the growth that the characters experience through the heavy stuff–not just the romance.

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.79 stars

Etiquette and EspionageWhat other people are saying:¬†“Really, I did not expect this to feel so¬†young. It has such a middle grade vibe. And contains some immature characters.”

“It is funny, frivolous and frothy. I found that I wanted more substance.”

“The main fault of this book is the inexplicable absence of a plot: I kept on wishing something would happen, but nothing really did.”

What I say:¬†Pish posh. But really. I understand that since Carriger’s previous series was an adult series readers may expect this to fall in the same vein. However, it’s immediately made known that our protagonist is 14-years-old. So yeah, it’ll have a middle grade vibe, but if you keep reading the series, it grows up as the characters do (the last book is definitely, squarely YA). The girls are all 14 and so there’s some immaturity and frivolity, but I think it just adds to the overall fun tone of the book. With that being said, I also didn’t mind (or notice) the lack of a plot. They’re at a floating boarding school for assassins for goodness sakes! What more do you want???

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria – My rating: 5 stars; Goodreads: 3.81 stars

Iron CastWhat other people are saying:¬†“I also think a lot of my problem hangs on my lack of interest in any of the characters.¬†ALL of the characters are forgettable

“I couldn’t connect to the characters and I felt like the book dragged.”

What I say:¬†I loved the characters! Honestly, this was one of my favorite reads of 2016¬†because of the characters. The relationship that Ada and Corinne have seems so much stronger and bigger than a lot of YA friendships (especially girl-girl friendships). They weren’t catty, they weren’t competitive, they just cared about each other. I absolutely loved that the author focused more on their friendship than on their individual romances. I will admit that the beginning of the book did “drag” a little bit, but it’s because the author needed to develop the world and introduce the reader to these two amazing girls.

Does anyone agree with me? What are some books that you really love that have bad reviews on Goodreads?

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