Yes, it’s Okay to Take a Break!

thoughts orangutan

And yes, I’m writing this for myself as much as for everybody else 😉 Because this is something I struggle with all the time! No matter how long I’ve been doing this, no matter how many of my fellow bloggers point it out, I still can’t seem to get it in my head. Which is why- *deep breaths*- I’m going to be reiterating what so many have said before me: IT’S OKAY TO TAKE A BREAK!

*Phew*- that’s hard to write! Far easier to just pack in all the excuses and beg for forgiveness! I know that when I’ve got to take time off, I end up grovelling and apologising and feeling tremendously guilty. And for what? For having other things going on, for having various stresses, for experiencing exhaustion… none of which are crimes punishable by death- I’ve checked 😉 Point is, we all have legitimate reasons for taking breaks- and that’s OKAY!

Recently, I saw Drew talking about just not feeling like reading, and it was such a relief to hear someone else say it! Because *of course* there are days when I don’t feel like reading- everyone has those! Not only when you’re feeling slumpy- sometimes my brain feels fried and I can’t keep my eyes open. And you know what? That’s OKAY!

Even more importantly, Eustea reminded me that this is a hobby and how there’s no need to be so hard on ourselves. We should be giving ourselves a pat on the back- not beating ourselves up for not “staying on top of things” (which, ha, if you’ve been doing this long enough, you know how impossible that is to do, since there’s always more to be done!) If we’re tired out or burnt out or just out-out, then we made need a little time off. And that’s OKAY!

Instead of feeling bad, let’s give ourselves a *round of applause* and *take a bow* (in that order 😉). We’re all great apes and we’re all in this together like a bunch of bananas… which sounded better in my head, but you get the idea 😉 I won’t tell people not to make excuses- goodness knows I wouldn’t be able to promise that myself! And I won’t be sorry for being sorry- I’m British, I’ve apologised to chairs for bumping into them 😉 YET I will say for the umpteenth time that we can give ourselves the night off whenever we need to and for whatever reason. The world won’t end. It’s OKAY.

 Cheers to that and to all of you!

mad hatters tea party

My Favourite 2019 Blogging Moments Tag!

orangutan tag 2

I can’t believe we’re coming to the end of 2019! Which means it’s about time we start wrapping up the year… I saw over on Bookcorps (the original creator of the tag) and thought it might be a fun roundup, especially since I don’t do wrap ups. 

What’s your favourite book review?

woke

Not gonna lie, I had a lot of fun writing my review for Woke 😉

What’s your favourite discussion post?

thoughts orangutan

I really liked doing a couple of posts on free speech this year- especially Calling Out Call Out Culture and *All the Warnings*. Both of them were really overdue, particularly cos I’d spent so long doing research on the latter.

What’s your favourite fun post?

(By “fun post” I mean a post that doesn’t fall under a particular category like reviews, discussions or tags do.)

I’ve written a few, but I had the most fun doing the Most Pretentious Post You Will Ever Read

What’s your favourite book recommendation post?

hogwarts logo

I loved doing recs based on Hogwarts Houses. I even roped my sister, the Monkey Baby, into helping me out with her Hufflepuff perspective for part 2!

What’s your favourite book/bookish photo?

I really don’t have one! I’m not much good at bookish photos! So, here’s a random selection of book porn…

All of these are well worth reading by the way!

What’s your favourite original idea/blog post?

Let’s be real, I liked taking the piss out of how some people read reviews, aka my post how not to read reviews aka poking some trolls under the bridge 😉

What’s your absolute favourite blog post you wrote this year?

orangutan fairy tale knight in shining armour0003

I’m really glad I took the plunge on a few posts this year, but I really enjoyed doing my defence of fairy tales and classics, cos sometimes our most beloved stories need defending from Nincompoops!

Have you reached any blogging achievements this year?

I don’t think I hit any WordPressy official targets, but I did hit 5500 followers this year 😊 Which I’m immensely grateful for! So thank you to everyone who’s been following along this year!

orangutan thank you

I’m not tagging anyone, since I wasn’t tagged (also I’m being lazy 😉 ), but please feel free to do it if you like!

 

It’s My Fourth Bloggiversary?! 4 Ways My Life Has Changed in 4 Years of Blogging

wordpress 4 years

Wowee I cannot believe I’ve made it four years?! Not gonna lie, I’m in a bit of a state of shock about it. So forgive me if I’m gonna get all sappy and talk about all the ways blogging has impacted my life!

book loveMore bookish love!! Before I started blogging, I never would have thought there could be something that would make me love books MORE than I already did. Somehow, blogging has made reading even better. Sharing the book love has made me so happy and it’s one of the things I have enjoyed the most about blogging. Plus, thanks to all the SQUEEING online, I’ve discovered new favourite authors and pick up far more books I like!

choose books2Experimenting with different genres. Because of blogging and *you wonderful people*, I’ve branched out so much in the years since I started blogging. I read graphic novels, try more sci fi, dabbled in mysteries and even listen to audiobooks now. These are things I never thought to try on my own- so I owe a MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone that’s inspired me to reach outside my comfort zone!

banana gifThings have gotten more BANANAS! From monkey babies to milestones to ARCs to bookish bingos and so much more- these last few years online have been a wild ride. So I gotta show some gratitude for the bananaholic blogging bonanza it’s been!

 

friends hugMaking fab friends!! I wouldn’t have made it this far if it without each and every one of you that’s made my experience so incredible! I know I say this a lot and everyone knows it to be true: the blogosphere is the *best* place to be online!

So all that’s left to say I guess is…

 
orangutan thank you

Have you had any massive changes in your life thanks to blogging? Over to you in the comments!

Bloggers are Underrated

thoughts orangutan

Obviously, I’m biased, but here’s the thing: I’m not wrong 😉 Nowadays, it feels like bloggers are low hanging fruit, and everyone wants a piece. I barely go a week without seeing some disparaging comment about “what even is the point of bloggers” or “who even cares about bloggers” annnd I’m here to correct those assumptions- cos as a point of fact, bloggers are underrated. Here’s why:

book love belleEndless enthusiasm for books! Whether it’s in reviews/lists/discussions, bloggers have a way of creating continuous exposure and forming intense fandoms. Blogs are the perfect place to create superfans- which is why I believe some books with strong connections to the blogosphere have the power to do so well.

merlin books sharingCos, frankly, blogs are a brilliant place to cultivate organic interest. It’s not just that blogs have the ability to spread a book far and wide (and oh boy they do- a few book bloggers raving can get a book to spread like wildfire), blogs also manage to make that spread feel less like hype sometimes and more like fans sharing art. Which brings me onto…

book loveThe blogosphere is a wonderful place for readers! You can get some genuine advice on what to read and rave directly with someone else has loved a book. Feedback is super easy to get and real conversation is up for grabs. This is largely thanks to how interactive the blogosphere is, but also because…

friends hugThe community side is so strong. I personally believe it’s one of the more intimate platforms, with a greater connection to other readers and more meaningful engagement. This isn’t to disparage any other platform, cos everywhere has it’s “casual viewers”, but the format of a blog does lend itself really well to communication. And, even better, as we all like to point out regularly, this is one of the friendliest places on the internet. What’s so wonderful about blogging is how friendly everyone is- and this makes a huge difference. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it makes the reading experience so much more pleasurable (and, c’mon, it’s reading, it was already pretty darn awesome!!)

monkey typewriterBlogging also helps us writerly types to develop our craft further. Since we’re all lovers of the written word here, it stands to reason we’d enjoy reading other people’s posts and learning that way- PLUS we also get to improve our own skills every time we post. Really, it’s a win all round!!

 

mood reader 1And lastly, blogging is addictive! You’d probably have to prise our blogs from our cold dead hands 😉 Which doesn’t necessarily sound like a good thing, buuut having a blog quickly becomes a way of life. We put so much love and effort into our internet space- and that real commitment is why the blogosphere such a wonderful place to be!

 

 

 

In short, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it 😉 So do you agree? Are bloggers underrated? Let me know in the comments!

Book Blogger Insider Tag!

Hello all! I’ve got no preamble today- I just fancied doing a tag, cos I’m a blogger… which coincidentally is what this tag is all about!

orangutan tag 2

Thank you so much to the awesome Angelica @Book Cover Girls, super Sam @Rivermoose Reads and the perfect Panic at the Bookstore for tagging me to do this!

1) Where do you typically write your blog posts?

At my desk. I know, exciting 😉 although my desk is something of a paper jungle right now, so it somewhat resembles my natural habitat 😉

jungle.gif

2) How long does it generally take you to write a book review?

That really depends on the book! Also I’ve never kept track lol- I reckon some take under an hour, but I only remember the ones that I slaved over for wayyy too long (it took *hours* to write my post on the Gulag Archipelago for instance).

3) When did you start your book blog?

May 2015! Just before I finished my degree… which was not the best timing in the world.

4) What is the worst thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

Not keeping up with everything and consequent blogging guilt! It’s a killer combination!

shame

5) What is the best thing about having a book blog in your opinion?

ALL OF YOU GUYS!!!

orangutan thank you

6) What blog post have you had the most fun writing so far?

Probably one of my satirical pieces like Worst Fantasy Novel Plan or Why Satire is Evil. But I also loved doing my 3 year bloggiversary post on blogging and promoting some other bloggers, cos it was something different that I hadn’t done before.

7) What is your favourite type of blog post to write?

Hmm, while I have the most fun doing funny sorts of posts, I probably get the most out of discussion pieces. I get to think through my ideas, hear your ideas, and come up with new ideas after- which is like an idea-xplosion!

monkey typewriter

8) When do you typically write?

Usually in the early evening. Or the night. Or sometimes in the afternoon… I really didn’t have a good answer for this except to say *NOT IN THE MORNING*.

not a morning person

9) Do you review every book you read?

Nope- not even close lol- that’s why I try to talk about some of the other books in mini reviews (and I still don’t get to everything). I’m getting better though!

10) How do you write your book reviews? With a cup of coffee or tea? With Netflix? Cuddled with your fur baby?

TEA IS A MUST. I swear if I could open a vein and have a constant supply of tea, I’d do it (okay, that’s probably a bit far, but what can I say, I’m British and CRAZY ABOUT TEA 😉 )

crazy about tea

Other than that, it really depends on the book (and how long I’ve been procrastinating over the review)

11) When do you write your book reviews? Right after finishing the book? Two weeks after finishing the book?

*Coughs awkwardly*. Honestly? It’s usually at least a month… Shocking- I know!! But that helps me plan my posts better and order my thoughts. I also can get a clear view about what I can talk about in mini reviews that way. But yeah, it’s rare that you’ll see my thoughts straightaway.

12) How often do you post?

That realllly depends on the week. Gonna make “it depends” my mantra after this post… except that’s not catchy, so not really 😉

Anyhoo, hope you enjoyed that chill post for a change! I tag:

Kat, Meggy, Book Beach Bunny, Katie, Jenna and Lashaan & Trang

Do you have any weird blogging habits you’d like to share? Are you a tea addict like me? Let me know in the comments!

Bloggers who Deserve More Attention #2

orangutan list

Hello all! A while back I did a post about bloggers I love who don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve and I thought it would be fun to make an (irregular) thing out of it. Originally I thought it’d be great to nudge you to check out other people while I was away- buuut that didn’t end up happening (/I was busy and wasn’t blogging much of anything). Still- that’s no reason not to go ahead and do it now! Cos who doesn’t love discovering fantastic bloggers and reading awesome content? So without further ado, here’s part 2 of bloggers you should check out:

Lydia @22 is still young adult– Lydia’s reviews are just so beautiful that I always end up adding whatever book she’s talking about to my list. Not only is this blog a fantastic place to grow your tbr, I also find that if I have read the book, her reviews remind me why I loved it and make me all warm and fuzzy about it!

Cindy @Readctbooks– Cindy is one of those bloggers that captures the *need to fangirl* feeling! Loads of her reviews just make me so excited to pick up whatever she’s reading. I love her take on memes and fun updates-  her blog is such an entertaining place to be!

Ayunda Bhuwana– Ayunda is recently celebrating her bloggiversary and I must say she’s taking the blogosphere by storm! With her great takes on books and films, and just sharing her life and travels, she covers a lot of bases in an incredibly engaging way. I also love her slick design and am so glad she’s returned to blogging!

Sarah @Art Expedition– Sarah is one of the most talented people on this platform and her blog most certainly showcases this. Her paintings and photography are simply stunning and I really recommend you check it out- you’ll be in for a treat! She also writes very beautifully about why she chooses certain subjects and Art Expedition all round a great place to visit on the blogosphere!

Maddie @Of Reading and Random Things– the bookish discussions on this blog are always fascinating and get me thinking- which is why it’s worth checking her out! It’s always interesting to explore some of the topics she gets into- like which is better: books or video games? Or blogging vs vlogging? And if that’s not enough for you, there’s plenty of awesome book reviews and tags over there to get fulfil all your bookish needs!

The Bibliophile Empress– one of the things I like best about Kristyn is her thoughtful discussion posts- she eloquently puts forth her point of view and it’s really worthwhile to hear her out. I have to admit, as a classicist, her informative and educational mythology posts make me super excited as well!

Dragons & Zombies– not only does Sarah have excellent taste in books (I’m biased 😉 ) she also brings so much personality to her blog. I love that she covers so many different topics as well- like movies, travel and even wrestling! There’s really no other book blogger like her and I don’t know why you’re still reading this instead of going to check her out right now! 😉

Suziey @Of all the books in all the libraries– if you’re looking for varied book tastes then you’ve come to the right place! Suziey covers everything from Nancy Drew to contemporary romance to classics. Her reviews are always so in depth that you get an excellent idea of what to expect and whether to pick it up for yourself. Not to mention, she does great book hauls (which admittedly can be dangerous for us bookaholics to see 😉 ) Her blog often puts me in a great mood- especially after her upbeat tag about music today! Also, who doesn’t love the reference she’s making with her blog title?

Carolina @Fictionologyst– Carolina is one of the sweetest people I’ve met recently and is super friendly! Her personality comes across so well on her blog and I always enjoy reading her enthusiastic reviews and posts!!

Book Beach Bunny– Book Beach Bunny has such amazing reviews of TV, films and books! They’re honest and will give you the lowdown of what to add to your list- and perhaps also what to avoid. She’s really clear on what the book/film/show has going for it- and that’s really helpful to me! Plus, she has a very entertaining way of doing things and makes me laugh!

If you’re looking for more wonderful bloggers you need to look out for, feel free to check out:

Bloggers Who Deserve More Attention #1

Social Media Tag

Obviously there are loads more bloggers who deserve *all the attention*- so who do you think I should be looking out for? And do you know any of these bloggers? Will you be checking them out? Let me know in the comments!

Reviews are for READERS

So I spent a lot of time last week talking about writing and trying to encourage writers, which almost makes me feel like I neglected the reader-y side of my blog. But *have no fear* ranty monkey is here to talk about why I think reading and reviews!

rant orangutan.png

You see, like many other people on the blogosphere I’ve noticed an ongoing problem of a certain type of author (#notall) that goes after reviewers when they get a negative review. This is obviously something that’s existed longer than I’ve been around, yet I specifically saw a video recently (that I won’t share because it names the author in question) where a vlogger described a horrible incident of an author harassing them for their 3* review. Now I’m sure I don’t have to state the obvious, but I will anyway: THIS IS NOT ON.

Still the encroachment on what reviewers do goes further than this unfortunately. Because I also see a fair number of authors, every so often, pre-emptively telling would-be readers of their work how they ought to review. Which is also NOT ON. Ultimately I hold with the view: your platform, your rules. I do not see how someone else is entitled to tell others what to do on their own site. Particularly when it comes to opinion pieces like reviews- gah! The nerve!

ugh

Personally I have my own unspoken rules of how I like to run my blog and I see a lot of other reviewers make different choices. And whether they want to discuss certain aspects of a book, leave out negative reviews or only review certain kinds of books is *completely* up to them! It’s certainly not up to the author to determine what makes a satisfactory review.

And I say this not because I think people should avoid advice or never try to improve what they do- we’re all learning things all the time- but because I am seriously sceptical about whether someone who asks for reviews to be tailored for the author’s benefit are really looking out for the reviewer’s best interests. I do not think it is right to tell readers off for not giving a book a high enough rating, or not stating how the writer can improve, or heaven forbid “not getting it” (whatever that means)- dude, it’s not for your benefit. Most of us are trying to write reviews to help out fellow readers.

Sure, you’re welcome to write each and every review as a love/hate letter to the author– that’s your prerogative. In my experience though, most critics aren’t doing that. What motivates me personally, aside from enjoying chats about *BOOKS*, is knowing that I can help fellow bookworms out from under their crushing TBRs to figure out what they *need* to read a book and what they might want to skip. That’s why even if I gush over a book, I try to tell people what it is they can expect and point out that other people might not like it. Some of my favourite books of the year fall into this category- and that’s okay! Everyone has different tastes and is entitled to their opinion.

It’s kind of unbelievable that some authors use reviews as their personal critique anyway. I mean, it is supposed to be a finished product. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but the time for critique should be a little earlier than the publication stage. Once it’s entered the market, it’s fair game. Especially if people have parted with time and money.

None of this is to say that authors can’t get something out of reviews. My personal view is that if a review helps an author I like then that’s *fantastic*- I obviously want all the authors I respect to have a long and illustrious career (if nothing else than for the selfish reason that I want to read *all* their future books). And guess what? People still go onto read books that are negatively received. In fact, I’ve gone out and read books I’ve seen people slate (morbid curiosity/monkey-brained masochism- call it what you will). In my experience, what actually puts readers off is whiny authors who moan about reviews.

throw books

And believe me, I get that writers poured a lot of work into it. I’m perfectly sympathetic to that. However, here’s the rub: reviewers put a lot of effort into their platforms too. No one has a monopoly on importance or conscientiousness here.

Contrary to what some writers might think, reviewers can’t control if they liked or disliked a book. Nor are they “out to get” anyone or likely to have personal vendettas against (often unknown) authors. Yet what reviewers do depend on is their ability to critique a book on its merit– and to start meddling with that undermines the whole process.

So I’ll say for the record: my reviews are for readers. Writers who think otherwise can kindly back away- I have bananas and I’m not afraid to use them!

form50027

How about you? Do you think reviews are for readers or authors? Let me know in the comments!