Showing posts with label ashley herring blake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ashley herring blake. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

How Subjectivity Ruins Your Reviews | Book Blogging Tips (#54)

Reviewing is hard. Any blogger will be able to tell you that. 

Today we'll talk about a mistake that you'll find among veteran and rookie reviewers alike: being too subjective in your reviews and the effect this has on your readers.





Extreme subjectivity ruins most of my older reviews. 

Yes, reviewing is subjective by nature, but what I'm talking about is finding the balance between "this is a bad book" and "I didn't like this". I couldn't do that for a long time and I didn't see a need to do that for even longer. You absolutely non-negotiably need to do that though if you care for your audience and don't only do this for you. 

At the end of the day none of us are just reviewing for us, are we? 

I started out blogging to archive my thoughts for myself but since my blog has grown a bit, I grew more and more aware of the fact that there are a lot of people out there who come to me to find their next read or who absolutely trust my judgment. Chances are, it's the same for you.

You probably have a couple people out there who solely rely on you and your reviews to pick their next read. Writing books off immediately that are well-written with well-rounded characters and fantastic world building, simply because you didn't enjoy them for a very subjective irrelevant reason? That's selfish. Yes, it's your blog and all and you can do whatever you want; I'd never try to tell you any differently. Stop reading right here if don't tell me what to do is your takeaway from what I just said. Or read those paragraphs again.

If you cherish being a resource for people, it's important to also take into consideration that 

Your taste =/= an infallible indicator of quality, talent, or entertainment value.

To explain that I usually use books that provide excellent representation of marginalized identities. HOW TO MAKE A WISH by Ashley Herring Blake for example wasn't my thing personally, because I don't like sad, quiet contemporaries. Super subjective and tells you nothing about the quality of this book. It's just my two cents that couldn't be more irrelevant. HOW TO MAKE A WISH also had the first biracial character that I saw myself in. Like, ever. The first time I felt represented. I still gave the book five stars and I'd do it all over again, even though I didn't really enjoy it aside from the representation aspect. 

By being extremely subjective and giving books 1-3 star ratings left and right because you didn't enjoy them for an arbitrary irrelevant taste reason, you are possibly preventing readers from finding a read that will change their lives. People hardly ever read full reviews, and sometimes they pick books up solely because of the rating of their favorite blogger. Contributing to a negative rating (3 stars and below), will also make sure that less people who might be able to see themselves in this book will pick it up. That's on you. You contributed to that. This obviously transcends the issue of representation of marginalized identities. This is a lesson that definitely was the hardest for me personally. 

I do struggle to give books that I didn't care for five stars, and I do struggle sometimes to not just downrate something because I thought it was a terrible book, personally. But the people that I owe the most to are my readers, people like you who are here every week or even every day. And I hope that this helped you to understand that blogging and reviewing is about so much more than just you and your taste.

You're completely free to disagree with what I said, but truly, at some point, reviewing isn't about you anymore. Think of your audience. Especially the marginalized people. Cause if you don't care about them and are just doing this for you, why do you give them the option to follow? Why is your blog public?

What do you think of really subjective reviews?


More Book Blogging Tips on Reviewing

When is it okay to share your review of a DNF?

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Friday, April 7, 2017

Recommendation: Girl Out of Water - Laura Silverman: Surfing and One-Armed Skaters

In GIRL OUT OF WATER, surfer girl Anise has to move from Santa Cruz to Nebraska when her aunt has an accident.
What intrigued me: Always there for cute contemporaries!

Bittersweet and Unique

GIRL OUT OF WATER hit me out of nowhere. With lyrical prose and a voice that packs a punch, it reads like it's written from the heart. Silverman's narration is captivating, sassy, essentially teen, and just an absolute delight. 

I'm especially happy to see a protagonist in YA contemporary that I'm very sure I've never seen before. When was the last time you read about a surfer girl-turned skater? So interesting to read about and the nuanced way Silverman writers about the bittersweet experience of leaving home hit very close to home for me personally.

GIRL OUT OF WATER is a story about family, friendships, and growing up. It's quiet, it's funny, it's bittersweet - it's just the perfect read for spring and summer and I'm very happy that I chose to give this one a shot. However, don't expect fast-paced action when picking this one up, GIRL OUT OF WATER is quiet first and foremost and capitalizes on its fantastic characters. If you fall in love with them, this will be even more fun for you and I can wholeheartedly recommend this if you like character-driven contemporaries.


Diversity Done Right

I was especially happy about the casual diversity. Anise's best friend Tess is Samoan, there are sapphic background characters, and the love interest is a black one-armed skater. It's very rare that you'll find a book that doesn't capitalize and advertise with its diversity, but uses it as a given. Our world is diverse. People are diverse. 

I absolutely enjoyed about these characters who just happen to be marginalized and whose marginalizations don't involve huge plot complications or are used as plot devices - I have to remark that because unfortunately a lot of books do this. Not this one though. GIRL OUT OF WATER reflects our diverse world beautifully in a quiet manner that just made me squeal with joy. I wish this was the norm. More like this please.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

GIRL OUT OF WATER is quiet and fun contemporary with a sassy narrator that I'm sure teens will love. If you like Ashley Herring Blake and Jenny Han, you'll adore this. With a black amputee love interest, a Samoan BFF and sapphic side characters, the background diversity made me really happy. That's so nice to read.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781492646860

Synopsis:
"Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves "
(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite contemporary?

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Recommendation: How to Make a Wish - Ashley Herring Blake: Bisexuality and Sadness

In HOW TO MAKE A WISH, Grace's mom makes her move in with her ex-boyfriend's dad and meets Eva, who is struggling with her mother's death.

What intrigued me: Biracial and bisexual characters?! YES

Snarky Teen and Sad Vibes

HOW TO MAKE A WISH is one of those very quiet reads that you definitely have to have a thing for and have to be in the right mood for. Blake tells Grace's story with the authentic snark that I would've adored reading about as a teen. The thing Is - HOW TO MAKE A WISH is so character-driven and so quiet that I just didn't feel as enthusiastic about it as I would've liked. 

This is a me thing. This has nothing to do with the book. It's skillfully written with a killer voice and with heart. Also #ownvoices by a bisexual author, which clearly, obviously shows in the nuanced way Blake writes her characters. It reads somewhere inbetween books like those by Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han. If you enjoy works by these authors, you'll surely adore this one. 

HOW TO MAKE A WISH will surely hit close to home for many people out there, not only because of the fabulous narration but because it features a bisexual protagonist and a black biracial love interest.


Representation goddamn matters.

I've got a confession to make here. This is first time that I've read about a biracial character portrayed so accurately that it freaks me out. I'm biracial and usually the representation we get hardly ever is stated on the page, and if it is, there are probably a lot other things wrong with the book. HOW TO MAKE A WISH presents biracial love interest Eva in a way that hit so close to home to me that I'm genuinely wondering if this was written about me. Is this me? Is this what representation feels like? 

Despite HOW TO MAKE A WISH missing the mark for me personally because of totally arbitrary and highly subjective reasons that stand in no relation to the quality of this book, this is an extraordinary book that I wish a lot of success. I refuse to give this any less than five stars and I urge you to be lenient with this book when rating and reviewing it as well. There is virtually no representation for people like me and we need to cheer those authors on that bother to do it right.

I would've needed this book at 14, 15, 16 - hell, I still need it now. I really don't know how to handle this. It's weird being represented, but it's also nice. Do me a favor and shove this book into the hands of any black biracials you know, okay? It'll mean the world to them.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

So, HOW TO MAKE A WISH apparently is the first book written for people like me. And it feels damn good, you guys. Representation matters. Gift this to your biracial friends.



Additional Info

Published: May 2nd 2017
Pages: 336
Publisher: HMH Kids
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780544815193

Synopsis:
"All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn't have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.

Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace's mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on."
(Source: Goodreads)



What was the first book that made you feel represented as a marginalized person?

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

20 Upcoming 2017 YA Books About Girls Who Like Girls: 70s Feels, Jewish Teens, and Performing Mermaids | #DiversityBoost




2017 is a fantastic year for everyone who loves to read about sapphic women! I'll be buying many of these fantastic books. 

Do yourself a favor, diversify your shelf and add all those fantastic books to your TBR!









THE CURSED QUEEN - Sarah Fine
The sequel to THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN featuring a protagonist that wields ice and fire magic. (Jan 3rd, 2017, Margaret K. McElderry) Goodreads

THE YOU I'VE NEVER KNOWN - Ellen Hopkins
A girl finds out she's been kidnapped by her dad and her mother isn't dead but has been searching for her ever since. (Jan 24th 2017, Margaret McElderry Books) Goodreads

OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE - Robin Talley
A bisexual girl goes on a youth mission trip to Mexico and falls in love. (Jan 31st 2017, Harlequin Teen) Goodreads

WE ARE OKAY - Nina La Cour
A contemporary tackling grief and the power of friendship. (Feb 14th 2017, Dutton Books for Young Readers) Goodreads



10 THINGS I CAN SEE FROM HERE - Carrie Mac
A girl with anxiety falls in love with a girl that's not scared of anything. (Feb 28th 2017, Afred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers) Goodreads

QUEENS OF GEEK - Jen Wilde
A bisexual girls falls in love during Comic Con. (Mar 14th 2017, Swoon Reads) Goodreads





MEG & LINUS - Hanna Nowinski
When a girl breaks up with her girlfriend she gets invested in getting her best friend together with his boy crush. (Apr 18th 2017, Swoon Reads) Goodreads

NOTEWORTHY - Riley Redgate
A bisexual girl in a capella camp! (May 2nd 2017, Amulet Books) Goodreads



HOW TO MAKE A WISH - Ashley Herring Blake
A bisexual abuse survivor falls in love with a girl that's struggling with grief. (May 2nd 2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Goodreads


RAMONA BLUE - Julie Murphy
From the author of DUMPLIN' comes a novel set in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. (May 9th 2017, Balzer + Bray) Goodreads


THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS - Lauren Karcz
Set in a mysterious gallery that combines painting with magic, a Latina falls in love. (July 25th 2017, HarperTeen) Goodreads

LITTLE & LION - Brandy Colbert
A bisexual Black and Jewish girl is trying to be there for her stepbrother who's been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she falls in love with his ex-girlfriend. (Aug 2017, Little, Brown Books) Goodreads


DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS - Courtney C. Stevens
A girl comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and sexuality. (2017, HarperCollins) Goodreads


(covers not yet revealed but not any less exciting)



RIPTIDE SUMMER - Lisa Freeman
A contemporary set in the 70s about a bisexual surfer girl that secretly spends the nights with another girl (May 2nd 2017, Sky Pony Press) Goodreads

THE SEAFARER'S KISS - Julia Ember
A bisexual retelling of The Little Mermaid. (May 2017, Interlude Press) Goodreads

KISS/KILL - Amy Rose Capetta
A teen wins a Broadway role and falls in love with a lighting designer. (2017, Candlewick) Goodreads

KALEIDOSCOPE SONG - Fox Benwell
Set in South Africa, a girl who loves music falls in love when she sneaks out to see a live radio broadcast. (2017, Simon & Schuster) Goodreads

LIKE WATER - Rebecca Podos
A bisexual girl tries to forget that she may inherit a genetic illness by becoming a performing mermaid. (2017, Balzer and Bray) Goodreads

THE CERULEAN - Amy Ewing
In a sapphic Utopia everyone has three mothers and a girl is sacrificed every 100 years to be abandoned on a planet. (2017, HarperTeen) Goodreads

THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING - E.K. Johnston
Set in a near-future this is about online dating and has a bisexual protagonist. (2017, Dutton Children's Books) Goodreads



Which one sound the most interesting to you?

More #DiversityBoost:

#DiversityBoost is a monthly feature on my blog where I boost and highlight diverse books or books by diverse authors. 
I'll periodically be making posts like this, so if you'd like to be in one, follow my twitter to never miss a submission call!

Previously: 16 Fantastic 2016/17 YA Books by Disabled Authors 


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