Discussion: Authorial Intent VS Reader’s Interpretation

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You guessed right, this post is partially inspired by the immature Teen ‘article’ condemning Teen Wolf fanfiction that made its way across twitter yesterday. It’s also an issue that’s crossed my mind in a few times during my recent reads, especially ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell.

This is a question that we as fans debate again and again, whether it’s about a new or ongoing series, whether it’s books or other forms of media. Once an author has placed their book out there into the world, they cannot control how readers react, nor can they stop their fandom from coming up with head canons, from dreaming up subtexts and themes.

As a reader, I used to feel bad about ‘going against’ the author’s wishes. While I accepted that other fans may have different opinions and will always respect them for it, I viewed the canon as ‘law’. My thoughts on the matter has changed a bit lately.Divider-Ice

Characters & Their Development

This is more obvious with series, where characters grow and change with each book (as they should!) When I was younger, I often rolled with it when characters changed – even if it was not in a direction I particularly liked. For example, Harry of Book Five bugged a lot of people, myself included – but I recognised why JKR took him in that direction.

However, there are two recent examples of character development that have bafffled me. Firstly, Chaol of Throne of Glass – and secondly, Theron of Snow Like Ashes. I won’t elaborate on how they have changed, to spare you all spoilers – but I know I’m amongst the majority when I say that they feel like completely different people. Is it still good development when I can’t see HOW they became who they are? Yet, who would understand a character better than their own creator – who spend years in their head space? As fans, are we right to feel disappointed when the characters we love end up unrecognisable?  Continue reading “Discussion: Authorial Intent VS Reader’s Interpretation”

Discussion: 4 Common Book Blogger Insecurities (And Why They Don’t Matter!)

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Today, I discuss things I used to, and still do, worry about as a book blogger. I’m my own harshest critic and I have so many insecurities about my style of blogging.  I also discuss how I got over them. I would love to hear your own thoughts and experiences!

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Being a book blogger is an expensive hobby, especially when you have to shell out for each book yourself. As a new blogger, I also felt that no one would want to read my posts unless I was reviewing the hottest new releases. After all, that’s what all the big bloggers I look up to are talking about!

Why It Doesn’t Matter:

  • Review copies are a double edged blade, not having them actually means you have more freedom to read what you want!
  • Even as a new blogger, you can sign up to get eARCs with great success from either Netgalley or Edelweiss. I got quite a few off Netgalley even when I was a fledgeling blogger with 5 posts under her belt.
  • There are plenty of other ways to access books: via the library, via trading e.g. #bookfortrades or #ausbooktrade, via borrowing from your friends.
  • The book will eventually be released! I was so envious of everyone who read Six of Crows early – I bought and finished the book last week. Does it make me any less of an ardent fangirl? NOPE.

Continue reading “Discussion: 4 Common Book Blogger Insecurities (And Why They Don’t Matter!)”

Discussion: Is It Possible To Measure Blogging Success?

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Is It Possible To Measure Blogging Success?

Short answer? Yes, to a degree. BUT A successful blog is one with a happy/fulfilled owner.

Long answer? It’s complicated, and we shall delve into it below!

I think I will be amongst the majority if I admitted that my blogging started out as a hobby – and then evolved into a passion. However, with the more time I spend on it, the more I wonder how do I really know if my blog is progressing or growing? What even counts as a successful blog? Does it even matter? (Probably Not!). Here are my thoughts, I would love to hear yours at the end! Continue reading “Discussion: Is It Possible To Measure Blogging Success?”

Discussion: How Blogging Changed My Reading Habits

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Book blogging may seem like a harmless little hobby, but all who enters be warned, you will emerge sparkly and different.

Here are some perplexing, at times good, at times terrible changes to my reading schedule, all thanks to blogging.

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1) I’M MORE CRITICAL OF BOOKS

In the blissful days before blogging, if I didn’t like a book, I would breezily move on and promptly forget about all the flaws of my previous reads. Now, I sit there staring at a blank document for an hour, stewing over all of the things that turned me off: character development inconsistences, gaping plot holes, uneven pacing — the whole she-bang.

Whereas I could happily break up with a book silently in the past, I now announce it to the world, and have to examine every aspect of the unhappy relationship in microscopic details. It also means I am more alert shortcomings in books. Gone are the days where I could mindlessly read a novel. Sometimes, I mourn for my lost innocence *dabs eyes* Continue reading “Discussion: How Blogging Changed My Reading Habits”

Discussion: The Key To Beating Writer’s Block – The Book Reviewer’s Edition

Discussion-ReviewBlockBefore I started writing book reviews, a quick browse on Goodreads assured past-me that it would be easy *laughs hysterically* What could be so hard about writing out your own feelings and opinion, after all?

Then I started blogging and was introduced to a new world of pain.  While there were a couple of reviews that came to me very easily; for every one of those, there’s three that took me half of forever to type up. While I’m relatively new, so I only have about 40 reviews under my belt, here are some reasons why I find certain books more difficult to write about!  (Also some suggestions on how to get over the writer’s block, for those who suffer the same predicament)

Continue reading “Discussion: The Key To Beating Writer’s Block – The Book Reviewer’s Edition”

Discussion: When Book Premise Lies, On Unfulfilled Worldbuilding Potentials

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Have you ever had that feeling of pure excitement when you read a book’s summary, only to have your expectations utterly crushed when you discover none of what was promised was delivered in the book?  It makes me want to screech “LIAR” at the book blurb.  More often than not, it happens when I’m reading fantasy/scifi, as I feel they usually fail to deliver fully-realised worldbuilding – often opting to focus on more conventionally marketable plot points.

Warning, unpopular opinion on very well loved series below.  Don’t hate me too much XD Continue reading “Discussion: When Book Premise Lies, On Unfulfilled Worldbuilding Potentials”

Discussion: How Much Realism Should We Expect From Fantasy Fiction?

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Though I am an eager devourer of all fantasy, I will be the first to admit that they are not all created the same.  There are times when the logic of the world building falls short.  Other times, I find that the characters act in unbelievable ways.  Even more grating, I see inaccurate portrayals of things such as culture and history being handwaved away as ‘oh, it’s a fantasy, if there’s a dragon in here why can’t xx also happen?’  I want to know what your thoughts are on realism in fantasy books, how much can this genre push the bounds in terms of believability? Continue reading “Discussion: How Much Realism Should We Expect From Fantasy Fiction?”

Discussion: Are You Review Ratings Objective or Subjective?

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The review rating is something that still flummoxes me. Most books I’ve read thankfully falls into rather black/white category: I either love them or I don’t. BUT! There are times when I read a book where I can appreciate that the quality of the writing is great, though my heart is just not in it.  Do I rate it a 5? Or a 3?  On the other side of the spectrum, there are books I know to be middling in quality, but I still read the heck out of it and lapped up every word like candy!  So do I give it a perfect score?  Or do I recognise it’s flaws and drop a star?

What do I do to stay true to my audience?  I have so many questions and uncertainties!  So today I break down the factors that influences my final rating. Continue reading “Discussion: Are You Review Ratings Objective or Subjective?”

Discussion: Canon Mary Sues & Gary Stus

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Silhuoette vector from Freepik. Click for link. Graphic designed by me! Tangent: I actually really like this look, I’m tempted to change my logo into something similar.

Mary Sues was once a term used exclusively in fanfiction for original characters who appeared to be self-inserts of the author.  Increasing, it’s being adopted to refer to canon characters in a demeaning manner as well. It’s often said in reviews that those effortlessly perfect protagonist, the flawless chosen ones, are often too flat for us readers to truly connect with.

However, the general public seems absolutely gripped with some of these infuriatingly faultless characters.  I also used to be quite disdainful of Mary Sues – but as I read reviews, I realise some of the characters I love are deem to be too perfect for others.

So, is perfection in books truly alienating? Or is it an acceptable form of escapism?

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i.e. the super obvious list of why we are turned off by Mary Sues & Gary Stus.

  • Everybody Loves Bella Effect:  Every single character in the book seem to be convinced of of how utterly special and endearing the main protagonist is, though she’s unbearably bland (sorry Bella lovers!  The movies & the ensuing drama between RPattz + KStew provided me many hours of entertainment, if that helps any).
  • The Inspirational Mockingjay:  I adore Katniss, and characters like her e.g. Darrow of Red Rising – however, it’s a little hard to swallow how easily these confused teens becomes the symbol / empower the resistance; succeeding where half a hundred competent adult in their universe have failed.
  • The Love Polygon Magnets: All of our protagonists, from Bella, to Katniss, to Celaena – either self-proclaimed plain Janes to drop dead gorgeous beauties – unfailingly attract at least two suitors.  Always the most beautiful men in the series, of course.  I have my hands full just keeping the attention of one dude, how am I meant to relate to this though?
  • The Chosen One:  Whether it’s The Boy Who Lived or The Prince(ss) Who Was Promised, everyone in these books seem to have a super special destiny.  At 25 I barely have my life figured out (FOR SHAME)!  Why do you have a prophecy telling you what you should be doing and where do I get one?
  • The Physical Perfection:  Red hair, green eyes, skinny-curvy, inhumanly beautiful, the list goes on, and you totally know what I’m talking about!  My dark hair-brown eye combination have never felt as inadequate as when I’m reading a fantasy book haha.
  • Aggravating Lack of Flaws:  Cute-clumsiness is not a flaw, Bella!  Your self-assured arrogance is also not really a fault, Celaena!  The problem with perfection is the lack of room for delicious character development, and we all love that stuff.

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i.e. Why it’s good to read about these magical flawfree characters once in a while.

  • Escapism:  Life is filled with enough mishaps as it is, sometimes it just feels good to see your favourite character adored and succeed in thwarting He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for the umpteenth time.  Many of the popular franchises have very faultless heroes and heroine, so I know I’m not the only one who thinks this!
  • When There’s Good Writing:  There are some characters such as Kvote of the Kingkiller Chronicles, who for all intent and purposes should be a Sue, but I love them anyway because of how solid the writing is.  If the character excels in everything, yet still have layers to their narrative, I can accept them wholeheartedly.
  • The Gender Issue:  On the whole, I feel that female authors + female characters get a lot more flak for writing perfect heroines than vice versa.  E.g. Bella Swan is a perfect every girl, but I can name a dozen male equivalent from the top of my head that is similar in feel – but don’t get nearly as much derision from the audience.  I don’t think I should be ashamed to enjoy seeing heroine sparkle and excel as much as she damn likes!

Are perfect characters an instant turn-off for you as a reader?  If you have some favourite Stus and Sues, please share them below!

Discussion: Book Trend Burnout

Confession Time:  This discussion post only happened because I saw these cute medical icons Designed by Freepik and was determined to use them somehow 😛  But I hope this is still a valid bookish topic haha.

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What is this strange disease and do you have it?  Read on to find out, my friend!

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Book Trend Burnout:  When a reader encounters a specific storyline, trope or characters so many times during their reading experience that they decide to quit that genre forever.

Sound extreme? I’ve certainly contemplated doing so more than once.  If Goodreads or my twitter feed is any indication, I am not alone in this predicament.  There really can be too much of a good thing, once 1984 and Brave New World were my favourite classics – making me mad for the dystopia genre.  Now that it’s become a buzz word, I think twice before purchasing a book featuring it on the blurb.

I would love to judge a book purely on its own merits, but it’s so easy to get jaded when it feels like the plot line has been done a hundred times before. Continue reading “Discussion: Book Trend Burnout”