Chrissi Chat: Let’s talk content…

Yes, it’s time for another chatty, non-book related post. I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog content recently. I love taking part in the Top Ten memes and love the collaborations I’m doing. But I wonder if it’s all getting a bit stale? I mean, I still enjoy blogging, but I’m wondering if my blog is still interesting to read.

I’ve never really been one for cover reveals, nothing against them (of course), but for me they’re not what I love to put out. I think the most important thing about blogging is being really interested in the content you produce. I personally really enjoy posts which you can tell a lot of thought has gone into.

During my teacher training year I really enjoyed putting out a diary entry every Sunday, it was also well received with some people still reading those posts now. I’m considering going back to a diary/teacher life post, but then I’m worried that the identity of my blog will change and I may lose people who only want to read about books. Now I’m not saying that I want a complete revamp. My blog will always be a book blog. I’m just considering the options I have…

What do you think? Should blogs stick to one subject so it’s obvious what it’s about? Should we change up our blogs to keep it fresh? Let me know!

Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s list are our Top Ten Things We Like/Dislike When It Comes To Romances In Books.

So here are my opinions on romance in books!

5 Things I Like

  • Witty/quirky characters!
  • Commitment-might be a funny one to like, but I don’t like reading about cheaters or liars.
  • Believable romance- it builds over time or you can feel the connection between the characters.
  • ‘Old fashioned’ love- just a traditional, no complication romance. Lovely.
  • The supportive best friend- I love it when the characters have the support of their best friend. That’s what we all need!

5 Things I Dislike

  • I think this will be a popular one… LOVE TRIANGLES. Urgh. They’re just so over used now. I get bored. I roll my eyes. It’s just too much.
  • Insta Love. Enough said.
  • The massive misunderstanding. It might just be the books I’ve read, but I swear every romance book I’ve read has a big misunderstanding in one way or another. Most of the time it’s resolved and they all live happily ever after…
  • Unfaithful characters- This goes hand in hand with my like of characters that are committed to one another. I don’t like reading about romances when a character is unfaithful. I just find it uncomfortable.
  • Domestic violence- Don’t get me wrong, I know this happens and I don’t mind reading it if the book is tackling the issue in a sensitive manner- but if there’s manipulation/abuse/violence and it’s trivialised… now that I hate.

What do you like/dislike about romance novels? Feel free to leave a link to your posts and I’ll stop by!

Confessions of Two Bibliophiles #5

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CHAPTER FIVE – CHICK LIT: For or Against?

Beth,
I’ve been analysing my reading recently and I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t enjoy chick-lit as much as I used to. As you know, it used to be pretty much all that I read. I’m not knocking it, I have read so many good chick-lit books, but I’m wondering why I don’t enjoy it much anymore. I’ve only found one author that I continue to adore. My old favourites are no longer favourites anymore! Do you think it’s because I’m reading more widely and opening my mind to new genres?
Now, I know that you really detest chick-lit! I want to know what it is that puts you off it so much? I know I don’t read it as much as I used to, but have you ever given chick-lit a chance?
Chrissi 
x
Chrissi,
Oh dear, I just knew this chick-lit question was going to come up sooner or later! For anyone that doesn’t know my sister is slightly more of a fan than me of this particular genre and we enjoy teasing each other about it. I am quite surprised that you aren’t enjoying chick-lit as much as you used to but I have just a teensy tiny smile on my face as I hope that I have opened your eyes up to some exciting new genres! I think this is probably why you aren’t enjoying it as much as you did, that used to be the only thing you would really read – were you scared of trying something new and did you prefer to stick with your comfortable chick-lit that you knew you would always enjoy?
For me, chick-lit just doesn’t float my boat. I have no problems with people who do read it as I think people should be encouraged to read whatever they like. As long as people are actually reading books who cares what the subject is? Why do I have a problem with chick-lit. Well…. (braces herself)…. I just don’t think it has much “substance?” It always seems to be the same old story, and I just don’t think there’s enough excitement or thrills in there to get me going. I have read some Cecilia Ahern and enjoyed it, and one of my favourite authors is Jojo Moyes, do you think they are classed as chick-lit? What does the word chick-lit mean to you?
I would certainly always give a book a chance (even if you see me screw up my face at a particularly slushy cover), do you think there’s a chick-lit book out there you could recommend that I could possibly enjoy?
Beth 
x
Beth,
I think you’re right, it is because I’m reading more genres. It just feels a bit sad to not enjoy it as much as I used to. I definitely need to find a good recommendation for you out of the many chick-lit authors I’ve enjoyed. You need to try one! I’ve tried Stephen King… it’s your turn now… Mwahahahaha!
I think some chick-lit can be a bit samey and happily ever after. But there are some exceptions to the rule.
I define chick-lit as something that is aimed towards females. I definitely think Cecelia Ahern fits into that mould. I’m not so sure about Jojo Moyes. I know Goodreads defines her as ‘women’s fiction’… well isn’t that chick-lit? Maybe there should be a new sub-genre…chick-lit-with-depth. She’d fit into there nicely.
Chrissi 
 x
Chrissi,
I now set you a challenge! You must recommend to me a chick-lit book that I promise faithfully that I will read and then let you know my opinion. Do you accept this challenge? I may have proved you wrong with Stephen King maybe you will prove me wrong with chick-lit?
I agree that chick-lit is something that is aimed towards women, although don’t you think that’s such a sexist category? Like we could only read those types of books otherwise our brains may implode?! And what’s the difference between women’s fiction and chick-lit anyway? Maybe the former appeals to women but isn’t necessarily as easy to read as chick-lit?
Beth
x
Beth,
 
I totally accept your challenge. I must now think hard about the book that I’m going to recommend you.
I’ve never really thought about it before, but you’re right, it is a sexist category. I’m sure both sexes would enjoy a lighter read.
I always assumed that woman’s fiction and chick-lit were the same thing, but I’ve recently seen it categorised as two different things. Maybe woman’s fiction might be more directed towards those that don’t fit into that Young Adult age range and as you say it’s not as easy to read as chick-lit. I kind of have a problem with putting an age limit on books though. Adults enjoy young adult and i’m sure some Young Adult fans like chick-lit. Again, why should it be easier to read if you’re a ‘chick’? We’re not stupid, and it feels like that term is dumbing down our reading choices.
So I don’t know the official distinction between woman’s fiction and chick-lit, but our chat has given me lots to think about.
Chrissi 
x


So now it’s over to you! We’d love to hear some of your comments and ideas about chick-lit, are you in my camp or Beth’s? Is she totally wrong about chick-lit and if so why? Please feel free to join in our little debate.

Not feeling all the FEELS!

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I often publish discussion posts when something has been playing on my mind. I often draft them, but never publish them. I’m trying to become more honest (not that I was a liar, previously) on my blog because I think it’ll give my blog readers a good sense of who I am. Therefore, this post will be published. Eek. Please don’t hate me!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday post was about books that made us cry. See my selection HERE. I noticed time and time again that The Fault In Our Stars kept on coming up. I read many comments saying that if you didn’t cry you had a heart of stone and comments similar to this. Well, guess what? I didn’t cry. That’s not to say that the book didn’t move me. It did. It just didn’t bring me to tears.

Click on the book image to read the review I published

Click on the book image to read the review I published

I feel like I’m committing some sort of blogging crime by saying that I wasn’t blown away by this book, or that it didn’t make me cry. I think the problem for it with me was that I bought into the hype. I built it up to be something I’d sob through. This is where hype becomes particularly problematic. Hype ruins your opinion of a book before you read it. You either go with the book and ride along the hype wave, or you become completely confused and question yourself. Why didn’t you like it? Are you wrong? Well, no, you’re not. Everyone is entitled to form their opinion of a book and just because the majority of readers love it, it doesn’t mean you will as well.

Hype is scary and it can be destructive. People can get so defensive of a writer or a fandom. I hated reading that I must have a heart of stone to not cry during this book. I know it’s just another opinion, and I’m free to feel what I want, but it definitely made me feel uncomfortable I just want to be allowed to not feel all the FEELS about a popular book.

I definitely approach a hyped book with caution now. I stay away from reviews of books that I’m yet to read, but you can’t avoid hype. I might sound completely grumpy here, but I want to form my own reading experience without feeling like I’m abnormal because I don’t like a book (as much) as another person.

What I’m trying to say is that everyone’s reading experience is different. We all take different things from books. We’re all moved by different things. We prefer one writer over another. Just because I didn’t shed a tear, doesn’t mean I’m a cold-hearted person.

Confessions of Two Bibliophiles #4

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CHAPTER FOUR: DO YOU BELIEVE THE HYPE?

Chrissi,

The hype about books is all around us, especially since we both joined the blogging world! What I was wondering is if you get taken in from the hype surrounding certain books? And then what happens if the book doesn’t live up to your expectations? In my case, usually bitter disappointment. I think the advertising around books is quite strong with the amount of media we have at our fingertips, and as I commute a lot to work, I often see books on the billboards around the tube which catch my attention. One that stood out for me recently was The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. As soon as I saw the poster, I knew I just had to read that book, and luckily for me, it lived up to the hype. What do you think?

Beth x

Beth,

Oh my God, I know! I seem to have learned about so many more books that I NEED to read since starting book blogging. It’s nice, but in a way, I start to feel a bit overwhelmed with it all. There are so many series that I see so many of my favourite bloggers raving about that make me really want to read them. My TBR pile really did boom in 2013 and I don’t really see it decreasing any time soon. Don’t you ever wish that they could stop publishing books for a while so you could catch up?!I did have a few books in 2013 that I just couldn’t get on with. I think sometimes books do suffer from being so hyped. You imagine them to be amazing and unfortunately go into reading it with massive expectations. I hate being let down.

I do sometimes get pulled in by billboards, but it tends to be bloggers that influence me the most. I’ve mentioned before I feel pressure to read what’s popular and spoken about. Do you feel that way too?

Chrissi x

Chrissi,

I agree, it can be very overwhelming! I often feel like I shouldn’t go out the house, go on the internet or watch television because I often seem to see another book that I want. You know the state of my bookshelves as it is, packed to bursting with books I haven’t read and am desperately trying to get round to. If they could stop publishing, just for a year, I might be able to catch up a bit, hehe.

I also agree with you that books can suffer from being over-hyped. An example of this for me was The Passage by Justin Cronin. VERY hyped and a nice thick hardback that I have had to give away to the charity shop, as I was so disappointed by it. It has a fairly good rating on GoodReads, so I know there are people out there who do love it, but it just fell so flat for me and felt too “busy.” I haven’t even bothered with the second book in the series, that’s how let down I was by it!

I know you’ve done a post recently about feeling pressure in the book blogging world, and I think that bloggers can have a lot of influence, (my TBR pile is shocking!) but I’m trying not to feel bad if I don’t manage to get as many books read as I wanted. There are a few books hyped for this year I think. I know a few of the YA series have books coming out and as ever I’m looking forward to reading as much debut novels as I can. Have we become a bit wiser to hype do you think or will it still affect you?

Beth x

Beth,

We definitely don’t need anymore on our TBR piles.. that’s for sure. I know I’ll add to mine though, I always do!I think I’m somewhat wiser to the hype now, and I definitely approach a hyped book with caution. I’m starting to realise that it doesn’t matter if I don’t like a certain book as there are plenty of books for me to dive into that I will like. I read for me, not anyone else at the end of the day.

Chrissi x

What do you think? Do you believe the hype? Have hyped books ever let you down? Please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!

Book Blogging: Do you ever feel pressure?

I adore book blogging. I really do. I’ve ran another blog for four years now on a different subject, but nothing quite compares to my book blog. I’ve been running Chrissi Reads for a year now (today actually, happy blogoversary to me!) and I’ve read several blogs about book blogging pressures, and I thought to myself ‘I’ve NEVER felt that.’ But over the last week I began to feel some sort of pressure. I’ll try to explain…

There’s been two instances recently when I have been reading a book out of a series that’s really quite popular and I just wasn’t enjoying it. I found myself beginning to skim read or rush it, barely taking it in, because I was aware that so many of my blogging contemporaries really loved it, so I thought I must be missing something. Then it suddenly dawned on me, that before book blogging, if I wasn’t enjoying a book, I’d simply give it up. So that’s what I did. I couldn’t believe that I was trying to force myself to like something because I knew a lot of others did. That’s just pointless. There are thousands of books out there for me to enjoy, and not enough time to enjoy them, so why waste my reading time on something that I’m not enjoying, just because others did!?

It got me to thinking about other book blogging pressures. I don’t think people realise how demanding book blogging can be. Most of that pressure does come from the owner of the blog. I know I like to keep my blog consistent, with a mix of content, from newer books to old gems. I like to take part in memes and interact with my readers. I know I should comment more on other blogs, which is something I hope to do next year.  Blogging has moved from feeling like a hobby to feeling like another job. I’ve certainly taken a step back this week, when I battled with myself to finish a book I didn’t like, and reminded myself that book blogging is a hobby. Reading is one of my passions and I shouldn’t have to force myself to read something I don’t like.

Now, I don’t mean this to sound so negative. I hope it doesn’t come across that way. Blogging is fun. I love it and I have no intentions of stopping. I’ve met some amazing people and I’ve discovered new authors and new genres that I wouldn’t have found before my book blog. I’m forever grateful for that.

I guess I just needed to remind myself how much I love reading, and not to feel pressured into reading what’s popular if I’m not enjoying it. It’s okay to give up on a book. I’ll never publish reviews of books I didn’t finish and I’m okay with that. I just need to bring back the fun in reading and not feel like I’m missing something when I dislike a popular book.

Do you feel book blogging pressure? Do you feel the need to read ‘current’ ‘popular’ books? Please feel free to leave a comment.

Is reading an admission of defeat?

I was reading The Apple: Crimson Petal stories recently, a collection of short stories and I came across this quote which stopped me in my tracks.

“Reading, by its very nature, is an admission of defeat, a ritual of self-humiliation: it shows that you believe other lives are more interesting than yours.”

For me, reading is escapism. It’s something I really enjoy. I’m not sure I read because other people’s lives are more interesting than my own. But then it got me to thinking, when my life is incredibly busy I don’t get to read as much. Is that because my life is more interesting, so there’s no time to indulge in fictional characters’ lives?

What do you make of this quote?