Advise from the Book Blogging Trenches

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Before I started my blog in late 2016 I read a lot of so called advise posts about how to go about making it. I was told pretty consistently to have a theme, a concept, and stick to it. My concept was to just talk about books, reading, and anything literature related that caught my interest.

Then, I started asking people questions. Something I was told, time and again, was to focus on only one genre. One brief conversation I had with another blogger was particularly memorable. She told me, point blank, that talking about more than one genre of book would lose me readers and credibility. That it would confuse people about who I was and what I was about. In her rather pithy last message to me she informed me that only an idiot would post across genres.

This was pretty much my response…

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I was told, so often, to pigeonhole myself. I don’t know about you, but that didn’t sound like a great idea to me. I don’t read just one genre, why would I only talk about one? Apparently, according to much of the so called advise I received, it would be to make my blog predictable in that my followers would always know the type of content coming from me. Why in the name of fiction would I want to be that dully predictable?

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Confused Jack is confused

Since that initial questionable advise, Literary Weaponry has gone through many changes and phases but one thing has remained consistent. I always, always, talk about the books that interest me. I’ve discussed ya fantasy, historical fiction, mystery, romance, thriller, science fiction, and pretty much any other book that I have happened to pick up and had opinions about. All of those opinions have been honest ones. No matter if it was an ARC, review request from an author, or a book I’d purchased myself my opinions were always my own.

As people, we aren’t all just one personality trait. You wouldn’t expect your friend Betty to always be happy and upbeat no matter the circumstance or Joe in accounting to always be a total grump (even though he usually seems to be). People have many faceted personalities. For readers, those facets reflect in our reading choices.

Am I feeling sloppy and sentimental? Then I’ll probably pick up a book with a romantic plot. Am I being a total grump and just want left alone? Then you’ll most likely see me with a horror/thriller. Just a run of the mill day? YA and adult fantasy are my pretty consistent go-to’s. But just as I am not just one personality or have just one mood, I don’t have just one type of book that I like.

Here is the thing that actually took me a while to grasp. If I don’t feel like reading then I just don’t read. End of story. I don’t push myself to pick up a book and trudge my way through page after page if I am not enjoying it. Why would I do that to myself? If I’m not in the mood, I’m not in the mood. I tried a couple of times early on because I felt like I HAD to do a review every week and you know what happened? I hated each and every one of the books I read those weeks. What is the point?

Now you may be asking yourself, “Amanda, what is the purpose of this post? You seem to be rambling a bit dear.” I know I am. My purpose is to tell people starting out the advise I wish I would have had in the beginning.

Be yourself

Read what you love

Don’t feel obligated to meet someone else’s expectations

Don’t apologize for being yourself

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What is some questionable advise you have received while blogging? Do you have any advise for other? Share it here!

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” – Bruce Lee

 

 

Why We Read

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Every person is made up by their past experiences. The sum of those experiences makes them the person they are today. Their likes, dislikes, wants, needs, and dreams all have root in moments and memories. One of these moments from our past influenced us to become readers, we didn’t just wake up one morning with a yen for a good book without some kind of outside influence. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Liked/Didn’t Like More Than Expected

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It is Tuesday once again and the wonderful ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish are still on their hiatus. That’s alright, gives me a reason to make my own stuff up! Not that I ever entirely follow their themes anyway. It is so easy to get derailed.

This week I stumbled across a post over on Thrice Read about books they liked/didn’t like as much as they expected. I thought, hey! What a great Top Ten Tuesday theme! So, here it is. Top Ten Tuesday- Books I liked/didn’t like more than I expected.


 

Books I didn’t like that I had expected to enjoy

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor – So, yeah, I finished this one up about two weeks ago now and didn’t even bother to write a review on it. Everyone seems to love this book. The amount of lovey gush is astronomical. You know what? It bored me. Bored bored bored.

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare –  Never ending dialogue and half witted, selfish, single minded characters. I went into this read completely excited and ready to love it. I have never been more let down by a book in my life and that is saying something.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas – After the masterpiece that was A Court of Mist and Fury I have to admit that I was expecting a lot from this book. It did not deliver on ANY level. I gave it a 2/5 on Goodreads I was so agitated with it.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – This book was just dull. I picked this book up after I had read Meyer’s Heartless which I adored. Cinder, however, was a let down. I may continue the series at some point but the longer I wait, the more I doubt it. Simple characters, simple story, did not give me any feels, and some really awkward dialogue? No thanks.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – Hello to another book that completely bored me. The characters were dull, the story was long with very little of consequence happening, and I was just damn bored! This one was a struggle to get through. It has such a huge following I was expecting much more out of it.


Books I loved with no prior expectations

The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost by Lucy Banks – I got this book as an ARC a few months back and didn’t really know what to expect from it. Happy to say that I loved it. Light read, entertaining without being overkill. Just a good book.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn – I mentioned in my review previously that I picked this book up pretty much at random. Sometimes I take my daughter to the library to play when the weather is bad and I grabbed this off the shelf to entertain myself while she did her puzzles and what not. Could not put it down once I had it. Excellent book.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – When I started blogging at the beginning of this year I noticed a few people mentioning this book. I didn’t really read much about it, mostly skimmed a few blog posts on it and picked it up on a whim at Barnes and Noble. Schwab quickly became one of my top five favorite authors. So glad I grabbed it that snowy day.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern –  It feels like it has been a lifetime since I read this book but I can still remember it clearly. This one was picked up on the strength of it’s cover alone and I just fell in love with the story. Many people say that the descriptions in this book are over the top but I love them. Lyrical without being tacky. Just a good, well written story.

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – Have I brought this book up enough on my blog? Probably but I will continue to do so. This is another one that I purchased on the strength of it’s cover alone. I was on lunch break from work one day and there was a Barnes and Noble just up the street so I went in to browse the shelves. I purchased this book without knowing ANYTHING about it other than, “Man, what an eye catching cover!” Since then I have re-read it a half dozen times, purchased the next two in the series which have also been re-read, and ended up completely adoring the author.


 

That is it for this Top Ten Tuesday. What books have you read with high expectations that just crashed and burned for you? What books were pleasant surprises? Let me know in the comments and, of course, feel free to leave your own TTT link!

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

I think we have all seen this tag hanging around the bookish sphere the last month or so. Who is late to the party doing it? That would be me. Story of my life. Anyway, TA-DA! Happy slightly-more-than-halfway-through-2017 book tag! Appreciate the second half of the year, folks. We are all going to blink and it is going to be Christmas. Going…too…fast…


Best book you’ve read so far in 2017?

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. This book blew me away when I read it back in January. I had picked it up on a whim and continue to be grateful to my freezing winter self for doing so. Schwab quickly became one of my favorite authors after reading this Shades of Magic trilogy.

 

 

 

 


Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017?

Hands down A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas. I loved it so much I read it twice in a week. That takes a lot of affection and dedication for that monstrous book.


New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

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Roar (Stormheart #1) by Cora Carmack. I ordered this one pretty much right after it came out June 13th and it is still sitting on my shelf. I really need to get to it…

 

 

 

 

 


Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore. This book will either be amazing or I will mock it mercilessly. There will be no in between, you can just tell.


Biggest disappointment.

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. People rave so much about this book/series/author. I bet they organize sacrifices to it. With all the wonderful things I heard about it I expected to at least like this book, if not be over the moon for it. I wasn’t. I hated it quite passionately. I’m considering changing my review on Goodreads from two stars to one I hated it so much.

 

 

 


Biggest surprise.

24690 by A. A. Dark. I had not read a horror/thriller/whatever in a long time before I picked up this book. I can’t even really remember what drew me to it but I recall having that I MUST READ THIS BOOK feeling when I first spotted it. 24690 is definitely not for the faint of heart but for me at the time, it really hit the spot.


Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Pierce Brown, hands down. I hadn’t read any of his books, heard about him, nothing before 2017. How did that even happen? I’m so glad I picked up his Red Rising series. He has become one of my favorite authors. Not to mention his snarky, sharp humor on twitter gives me the jollies. Seems like a good guy that writes amazing books.


Newest fictional crush.

Striker from Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell mysteries. Granted, I have been completely obsessed with Raybourn’s books lately but Stoker would be amazing either way. Intelligent, resourceful, a bit prickly, and his roguish eyepatch all together make a fairly irresistible character.


Newest favorite character.

I’ve pondered this one for several minutes while browsing the list of books I’ve read this year and no character is really standing out for me as an overall favorite. There have been several I’ve enjoyed but none jump out enough to be considered a favorite. Hm…


Book that made you cry.

Literal tears? Nothing. The closest I got was a sense of fury when a certain character died in Golden Son by Pierce Brown. So many characters died in that book so I’ll leave you to guess which one.


Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

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While I am certainly got a fan of Caraval by Stephanie Garber I can’t deny that the cover for it is absolutely striking. The one I have shown here is the US cover but the UK cover is equally as beautiful.

 

 

 

 


What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Any that strike my fancy? I don’t make a reading list and stick to it, I just read whatever gives me that spark in the moment. I have a nice TBR list on Goodreads and then I end up just picking up something at random. You never know.


Favorite Book Community Member (Blogger, Booktuber and Bookstagrammer)

I love browsing through other reading blogs. There are a few that I will typically click on no matter what the topic is but for the most part I’m happy to browse and try to appreciate the wide variety of opinions and reading tastes in the community. Even though I do occasionally roll my eyes…


 

That’s all folks! I hope you have had a great first half of 2017 and feel free to leave a link to your mid-year tag in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday – May 30

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Welcome to this week’s installment of Top Ten Tuesday! This week’s the theme is to discuss your most anticipated releases for the second half of 2017. I admit, most of the books I had been anticipating for this year have already been released but there are still a few on the horizon that warrant some attention. (The books below are listed in no particular order)

 

– Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore  (October 3)
Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

 

– Now I Rise (The Conqueror’s Saga #2) by Kiersten White (July 27)
Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

 

– Mightier than the Sword by K.J. Parker (June)

World Fantasy Award winner K.J. Parker’s newest novella Mightier than the Sword presents itself as a translated oddity of a document called “Concerning the Monasteries”. But in true Parker style, this novella is instead a sprightly, riveting tale that reveals secret upon secret, building to an ending at once perfect and perfectly unpredictable.

An Imperial legate is called into see his aunt, who just happens to be the empress running the civilized world while her husband’s in his sick bed. After some chastisement, she dispatches her nephew to take care of the dreaded Land and Sea Raiders, pirates who’ve been attacking the realm’s monasteries.

So begins a possibly doomed tour of banished relatives and uppity royals put in charge of monasteries like Cort Doce and Cort Maleston, to name a few. While attempting to discover the truth of what the pirates might be after, the legate visits great libraries and halls in each varied locale and conducts a romance of which he knows – but doesn’t care – his aunt will not approve. With enough wit and derring-do (and luck), the narrator might just make it through his mission alive… or will he?

– Renegades by Marissa Meyer (November 7)

Secret Identities.
Extraordinary Powers.
She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

 

I know that this is a top ten list but I think I am going to stop here. Why? I love being surprised by new releases! I absolutely love stumbling across a new book propped up in all it’s glory on some display in a store. I love to log into Amazon and it give me a list of fabulous looking new releases in my recommendations. I like to be pleasantly surprised. Sure, there are some books (mostly ones as part of a series) that I know about in advance because I’m invested in the characters and story but for the most part I love just stumbling across a book. That is how I’ve found many of my favorite authors. I’ve just walked into a store and been pulled in by their cover or an artful display. The surprise makes it exciting!

What books are you looking forward to in the later half of 2017 or are you like me and like the surprise?

 

 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – DNF

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This is going to be the first book I’ve taken the time to write about that I did not finish. Usually when I DNF a book I just pop onto Goodreads, leave a pithy comment, and go on my way. This one, I felt, deserved a little more attention. The Song of Achilles is currently sitting at a 4.26 rating on Goodreads and nearly every review I read was over the moon about this book. I figured it would be a slam dunk. Historical fiction? Love it. Greek? One of my favorite eras. Achilles? One of the most bad ass warriors in antiquity. Why wouldn’t I love this book? Let me explain…

This book isn’t a story about Achilles’ prowess on the battlefield. It is, in fact, not even told form his perspective. How are you going to title a book “Achilles” and then not tell the story from his POV? Instead we are introduced to the character Patroclus. Patroclus is the son of a wealthy ruler and his mentally unstable wife. His father has always been displeased with Patroclus because while other noble sons are strong, fast, and impressive Patrcolus is small, quiet, and (the father suspects) a bit slow. In my opinion he also had all the personality of a dead fish.

After Patroclus accidentally kills another boy he is forced into exile by his father. He finds himself at the palace of another ruler. I can’t remember his name and can’t be bothered to jog downstairs to grab the book to find it. This fellow collects the exiled children and trains them as warriors for his army. There, Patroclus meets Achilles who is the ruler’s son.

Achilles is admired by all the cast off children who clamor for his attention or praise. Achilles, however, gives his attention to Patroclus, the boy who is obviously terrible in combat training and doesn’t talk to anyone. Achilles chooses to make Patroclus his companion. Patroclus now instead of training with the other kids spends his time going to lessons with Achilles and accompanying him wherever he goes.

It is evident early on in their friendship that there are underlying romantic feelings. Once that point is made evident, that is all the story really focuses on for chapter after chapter. The Song of Achilles is not a story about a magnificent warrior. It is about two young people who fall in love and the trials and tribulations that can come from that. Maybe I should have read the other reviews a little more closely before picking this one up. I don’t like love stories. Had I been aware that this was a love story I would not have read it.

Now, I want to make clear that I do not give a donkey’s behind that the romantic aspect of this story is of a homosexual nature. I don’t care. I just wanted to make it perfectly clear that the reason I dislike this book was because of the story itself, not because of the nature of the romantic relationship. It is ridiculous that I have to bring this up but I will not have someone jumping down my throat about LGBT acceptance. Achilles could have fallen for a woman and the story would have been equally dull. Or he could have been into a perverted dendrophilia or have sexual thoughts about sheep. It still would have been dull. The nature of the sexual relationship of the story is not what made it bad for me. Are we absolutely clear? Good. Moving on.

Achilles spends years in training to be the best warrior that has ever lived. We don’t get to read about his training, mostly get told that he is doing it. For this to be a story with Achilles you know that Troy must become involved at some point. So, after 3/4 of the book where nothing worth noting happens, Achilles and Patroclus find themselves along the beaches outside the city of Troy. A massive army of Greeks has come to reclaim Helen and return her to her husband. Once more we are told that Achilles goes off to battle but we don’t get to see anything of it. He comes back to his tent and to Patroclus covered in blood but once more the focus of the story is their relationship, not Achilles deeds.

This is where I threw in the towel. Maybe the rest of the story is wonderful and exciting and everything I hoped it would be. I’m not going to be finding out. You know when you start watching a movie or TV series and most of it is boring and monotonous? You don’t continue watching it, do you? That is how I felt about this book. It was monotonous. The ratings for this story are mostly all positive and that is wonderful. I love that a book that features a healthy LGBT relationship is so accepted and appreciated. My problem, I think, is that I just don’t like a love story.

“I could recognize him by touch alone, by smell; I would know him blind, by the way his breaths came and his feet struck the earth. I would know him in death, at the end of the world.”

 

 

Throwback Thursday – May 25

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Renee began this Throwback Thursday meme at Its Book Talk as a way to share some of her old favorites as well as sharing books that she wants to read that were published over a year ago. Books that were published over a year ago are almost always easier to find at libraries or at a discounted sale price. As I have been sifting through my TBR list and purging those books that no longer hold my interest, I came across several from years past that I have not yet had the opportunity to read that I’d love to share with you!


 

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Title: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Published: March 14th 2006 (first published 2005)
Added to TBR: December 2016
Published by:  Knopf Books for Young Readers

It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.


You ever feel like you are the last person in the world to read a book? I’ve been seeing this one every time I turn around for years. In fact, I just glanced through the information on Goodreads and 95% of my friends list has read it. How is that even a thing? It has become one of those books you use as starting point to compare other books to. “(Insert random book title here) is good but it is no Book Thief.” I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually. Maybe. Probably.

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.”

What are some older books sitting on your TBR?

WWW Wednesday – May 24

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WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words and was formerly hosted by A Daily Rhythm. It is open for anyone to participate, even without a blog you can comment on Sam’s post with your own answers. It is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

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“He is a weapon, a killer. Do not forget it. You can use a spear as a walking stick, but that will not change its nature.”

The Song of Achilles by Madison Miller. I’m not going to lie, the first half of this book bored me beyond words. I could barely read a couple of paragraphs before putting it down again. I have reached the section where they have landed at Troy and hopefully it gets a little more interesting or I’m going to have to DNF this one.

 

What did you recently finish reading?

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I know that I am young, but I am ready for the great responsibility that lies before me.”

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin. I love when I stumble upon a good work of historical fiction. Victoria is the story of the early years of Queen Victoria of England. When I started the story I knew very little about her but quickly came to love her. This strong willed Queen had me entertained from page one.

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

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“Forgiveness can get you places, I guess. But sometimes you need to light a fire.”

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. To be honest with you lovely folks, I feel a reading rut coming on. I’m hoping Dorothy Must Die will snap me out of that funk. Let me let you in on a little secret, I never watched the original Wizard of Oz. Or read it. However, I adore Wicked. Hopefully Paige’s take on the classic story will give me some zip.

 

That’s it for this Wednesday. Happy reading!