Posted in Book Talk

Things I Love and Hate About the Goodreads Redesign

Ugh.

If you use Goodreads and haven’t seen it yet, the book page on their website has been redesigned! Personally I’m not a fan overall, but I tried really hard to think of some positives about it too. 😂 Below are my lists and overall thoughts. Vote below on if you like it or not and drop a comment about why!

Love!

  • The fact that they redesigned it means they’re giving Goodreads more attention than it’s gotten in like a decade. Maybe that will bring some good changes soon!
  • The spot that shows how many people have the book marked as “currently reading” is really cool! It feels more like a community thing with that.
  • It remembers your settings for whether the book page should show the edition&book details or have it collapses by default.
  • The reviews show a breakdown of people you’re friends with or following and how each of them rated the book.
  • The book cover, status, and rating in the left sidebar stays with the main page as you scroll through sections.

Haaaate.

  • The reading status / tags button. I hate that it’s popped into the middle of the screen now — why make me go somewhere else from where I just clicked? I also hate having to select reading status, THEN tags on a new screen. Again, more clicking. Ugh.
  • Everything is HUGE! Why is it all so giant!
  • I can’t get to my individual review page from my review on the books page — only through the “My Books” listing. EDIT: Misty noted that you can see the review page by clicking the date on the review. Added a photo below! Thanks Misty!
  • If you’re looking for other books in the series, you have to scroll WAYYY to the bottom of the page in order to find them. WHY.
  • The book details button to collapse it when it’s open is not intuitive to find as it’s buried under a bunch of stuff instead of remaining at the top as a coherent “open/close” toggle.
  • There’s just SO MUCH on the page and I have to scroll so far to get to any of it. God forbid I’m at the bottom and want to return to the top. A floating Table of Contents with links to each section or TOC embedded in a sidebar would help navigate the page a ton. Even a standard “Back to the top!” floating button! SOMETHING!
  • Randomly get an error saying it cannot load reviews under the Friends and Following section, and retry doesn’t work. Kind of also a pro though, because now I have less scrolling to do!
Continue reading “Things I Love and Hate About the Goodreads Redesign”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Recommended: not for me but maybe for you?
If you like suuuuper sweet Hallmark-style moments, too-good-to-be-true characters, and sex where he calls her “baby” a lot

Summary

Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially since her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiralled out of control. Now everyone she knows—including her ex and his fiancée—will be there and eager to meet him.

She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic and aid in her deception. New York to Spain is no short flight and her raucous family won’t be easy to fool.

Enter Aaron Blackford—her tall, handsome, condescending colleague—who surprisingly offers to step in. She’d rather refuse; never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling, and insufferable man.

But Catalina is desperate, and as the wedding draws nearer, Aaron looks like her best option. And she begins to realize he might not be as terrible in the real world as he is at the office.

Thoughts

There was so much about this book I didn’t like, from start to finish, but I kept reading it. I assumed the sex scenes would be good and I was kind of right? Certainly generous in length of time and vivid description, but filled with — for me — total turnoffs that ruined it entirely. The excessive amount of calling her “baby,” for example. Always a weird one to me. And things that are a mix of insulting and concerning to me like “I finally have you were I want you. At my mercy.” For me that’s not sexy, just an uncomfortable power issue. Anyway. Meh.

Continue reading “Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas”
Posted in Book Talk

2021 Year in Review, Part 1: Goodreads Version

Hey y’all!

I’m taking a look at compiling all the delicious data about my reading in 2021, starting with what Goodreads gives me. I moved away from Goodreads towards the end of the year as I got way more consistent with using The Storygraph. Still, I tried to keep the titles and tags up to date on GR as well, though sometimes not until after I had already finished a book.

Also, miscellaneous fun fact, they apparently changed the book graphic at the top of their stats compared to last year from looking at my post for 2020!

Books read: 123
Pages read: 35,881

No surprise that I met my Goodreads goal this year, but I read 123 books! I assume it’s due to blogging in the past couple years that my average books per year has gone up so much. It used to be closer to 60! Honestly, the pages count is kind of tough for me to compare anything to because it’s just such a giant number. But there it is!

I’m constantly aggrieved that due to the visual of fie stars, three stars becomes “average” or the middle ground, WHEN IT’S NOT!!! But y’all I know if I told you I thought a book was decent and rated it 2.5 stars you’d think I were saying two different things. And god forbid it’s a favorite book. xD I’m surprised yet not that my average book length is 291. I read a lot of graphic novels so that probably brings the count down a bit, and I do tend to be in the 300s otherwise and not too many chonky books.

Perfect example! My shortest book, the graphic novel Elle(s): The New Girl. With Lore Olympus, it’s a bit… fake. This is why the page count stat is so iffy for me! L.O. is a webcomic, so since it’s not in a print format I have no idea how anyone determines the page length. It was pretty long probably, but a thousand pages? Unsure.

Bahahahaha this still cracks me up. I couldn’t even write a full review for this book because it was just so overwhelming for me at the time. I went in feeling lukewarm at best, but wanted to read it because it was a gift, plus I hoped Maas wouldn’t lead me astray since I usually enjoy her series’. And… well… clearly, I was not disappointed in the end!! 😍

I’m really excited that this is my highest rated title, because it damn well deserves to be. It’s book number 4 in the Fire Within series by Ella M Lee, and I might have to say that it was my favorite new find in 2021. There was nothing about any of the books that disappointed me, especially when taking the story as a whole.

Related Posts

I re-read Eragon this year because I kept thinking, What’s a book like Eragon that I could read? and nothing really hit right until I realized I should just read Eragon since that’s clearly what I wanted. I also went through a big poetry kick in April, which conveniently was poetry month anyway! I assume so few people have this one shelved because they probably have an older version shelved. Naidu is a hugely influential Indian woman from the past, and her poetry was only one aspect to a really incredible life. There’s no way only 10 people have read her works, because that would be a travesty.

Related Posts

And finally, all 123 books in a teeny tiny chart!!!

Some of these are a little bit weird, because my five stars have two versions of the same one (Lore Olympus webcomic & print version), but it’s probably mostly accurate! One thing I can say is to expect a lot more books falling in that 2 star category, because as I mentioned, my irritation with 3 becoming default when it’s mathematically not is pushing me to be more generous with my 2-star “it was okay” rating on Goodreads.

Posted in Book Talk

My favorite things about StoryGraph Plus (+Plus Subscription Giveaway until 12/31/21!)

Hey y’all! Whether you know and love The Storygraph already, or you haven’t had the pleasure yet, allow me to introduce you to some of my favorite features specifically from the Plus subscription. The site itself is free, and you can do A TON with it from the free level, but adding the Plus subscription is a lot of lovely little bonuses.

If you’re someone who loves data and stats, or has a book journal or spreadsheet with all the nitty gritty details of your reading, or you tag the heck out of ALL of your books — you’re going to love this. 😁

Take a look at the best features of Storygraph Plus that build on the base website, and enter the raffle for a one-year subscription of Storygraph plus!

A quick look at The Storygraph!

The main features of The Storygraph (SG from here on out) that tend to draw people in are the stats and the customized searching by the moods of the book.

The search: mood-readers rejoice, because that’s who SG was made for! (At least, it feels that way). The moods include tags like inspiring, sad, funny, informational, dark, adventurous, and a WHOLE lot more. You can find titles based on these and many other criteria to get to the perfect read to satisfy whatever whim you have! Moods are set by users’ reviews and machine learning, so there’s a good balance of feedback.

The stats: aaaaand here’s where my analytical side fell in love! There are a ton of stats complete with charts and the ability to drill down into the details of each segment. Below you can see my current chart for books I read in 2021 broken down by mood tag, with the “emotional” tag highlighted. If I click on the emotional wedge it shows me a list of all the books included in it. There are so many more stats, like pages read per day, book pace, page length average, genres, format… TONS!

You’ll notice I read ZERO “relaxing” titles this year… that explains some things…

There’s a lot more to love about the site, but those are usually the two highlights for folks new to it.

The highlights of Storygraph Plus!

ALRIGHT, now, if you want to dive in and completely immerse yourself in data and tracking details of your reads, then Plus is a dream come true. I’m grateful I’m able to afford it, both because it’s wonderful to have, but also because I love supporting the tiny team that does all the work on this. Right now it’s $50 USD for a year, or $4.99 USD for a month.

Stats per custom tag & comparing them!

If the data built in to SG doesn’t cover everything you want, you can tag the heck out of all your titles. And if you have SG Plus, you can see the stats for each tag you add!!

I love using this to track personal challenges or notes on my Fast Forward Friday titles to see what my habits are and how many I’ve read, rated on average, etc. I’m going to use this to make a whole post about them, and look at what books tend to draw me in. Apparently, it’s largely emotional / adventurous titles. xD

Continue reading “My favorite things about StoryGraph Plus (+Plus Subscription Giveaway until 12/31/21!)”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim (12/7/21)

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim
Expected Release Date: December 7, 2021

Recommended: yesssss
For a literary story that’s still easy to read, for characters who draw you in whether you like them or not, for a dramatic and complex history of a tiny country that has seen unbelievable change very quickly

Summary

In 1917, deep in the snowy mountains of occupied Korea, an impoverished local hunter on the brink of starvation saves a young Japanese officer from an attacking tiger. In an instant, their fates are connected—and from this encounter unfolds a saga that spans half a century.

In the aftermath, a young girl named Jade is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school, an act of desperation that will cement her place in the lowest social status. When she befriends an orphan boy named JungHo, who scrapes together a living begging on the streets of Seoul, they form a deep friendship. As they come of age, JungHo is swept up in the revolutionary fight for independence, and Jade becomes a sought-after performer with a new romantic prospect of noble birth. Soon Jade must decide whether she will risk everything for the one who would do the same for her.

From the perfumed chambers of a courtesan school in Pyongyang to the glamorous cafes of a modernizing Seoul and the boreal forests of Manchuria, where battles rage, Juhea Kim’s unforgettable characters forge their own destinies as they wager their nation’s. Immersive and elegant, Beasts of a Little Land unveils a world where friends become enemies, enemies become saviors, heroes are persecuted, and beasts take many shapes.

Thoughts

The triumph in this book is the characters, and it’s a masterful example of the joy one can have in seeing people grow and change in a story. There are several characters introduced, and yet it’s never hard to remember who did what or where they left off. They fall widely within the gray areas of good and evil, and yet every one is a fascinating read with whom you can typically empathize if even in the most unexpected ways.

They bring the history of Korea to life. If you’re not familiar with it already, this will provide coherent insights into the whole saga; if you’re already familiar, you will see the visions of lives inside while it all unfolded. For many many years, Korea was ruled by others, and the victory and independence they found was conversely combined with a division that persists to this day between North and South.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim (12/7/21)”
Posted in Book Talk

The opening round of Goodreads Choice Awards is live! (with rule changes and NO MORE WRITE INS?!)

Hey y’all! Whether you love it, hate it, or are indifferent, the Goodreads Choice Awards have officially begun for 2021! Set your calendars and/or hop on over there now to get your early picks in! Be aware that this year, there have been some changes…. and they won’t all be popular. 😐

If you’re not familiar, this is a yearly nomination on the site Goodreads for the best book released each year in different categories. They start in November each year, so the release time-frame is Nov 18, 2020 to Nov 16, 2021 — that way, hopefully, people have had time to read them!

Here’s how Goodreads describes the process of choosing the titles nominated:

We analyze statistics from the millions of books added, rated, and reviewed on Goodreads to nominate 20 books in each category. Opening round official nominees must have an average rating of 3.50 or higher at the time of launch. A book may be nominated in no more than one genre category, but can also be nominated in the Debut Novel category. Only one book in a series may be nominated per category. An author may receive multiple nominations within a single category if he or she has more than one eligible series or more than one eligible stand-alone book.

While this sounds fine and dandy, there are definitely a few issues with the process, plus a lot of changes this year!

A new issue this year… NO WRITE INS?!

HOLD UP Y’ALL!! There used to be a really excellent line in the blurb above that said “Write-in votes are also accepted during the Opening Round so readers can vote for exactly the book they want.” Well, that’s not an option this year!

According to the rule changes:

Write-In Votes: Only a tiny fraction of the overall votes were write-in votes so we are retiring this option in 2021. All nominees will be based on what Goodreads readers have added, rated, and reviewed this year.”

Rule Changes Post by Goodreads

I really loved this, because even if a book only got one nomination, from me, I wanted that author to know that one person chose their book over all the others. Plus the idea that I could change it was really nice. Even if it was only an illusion, the potential was there.

And now it’s gone! Am I the only one who’s sad about this? They make such a fuss about how this award is the only one “chosen by the readers” and yet the readers truest chance to choose is missing….

Only 2 rounds!!

Usually there are 3 or 4 rounds of the Choice Awards, with the opening round including write-ins and a bunch of early picks. These slowly get whittled down to a list of 10, then 5, then the end! This year, since there are no write-ins to tally from the first round, it’s been WAY simplified: the first round has the top 20 books, then the next (final) round has the top 10 from that list and the winner is chosen out of those ones. I

Continue reading “The opening round of Goodreads Choice Awards is live! (with rule changes and NO MORE WRITE INS?!)”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Replenishing the Sea of Galilee by Wagih Abu-Rish

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee: A Family Saga across Ethnicity, Place, and Religion: A Novel by Wagih Abu-Rish
Release Date: August 17, 2021

Recommended: yup!!
For folks interested in historical Palestine, for a novel about embracing female sexuality and equality, for sparse language that says a lot

Summary

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee: A Family Saga across Ethnicity, Place, and Religion: A Novel

Replenishing the Sea of Galilee is a sweeping story of love, loss and the power of loyalty in the face of conflicting ideologies and religious beliefs. The story begins in 1940s Palestine where twins Rasheed and Rasheeda Dinar work in their family inns. Educated by a Jesuit priest about the essence of his own Muslim religion, relative to love and sex, Rasheed follows closely the teachings of his mentor and includes Rasheeda, so that she learns those teachings as well.

When Rasheed falls in love with Natalia, a Jewish woman, he is able to apply what he learned from the priest to his budding relationship. However, it is the 1940s, and relations between Arabs and Jews are tense. Before long, those tensions come to a breaking point. Natalia mysteriously disappears, and Rasheed and Rasheeda are chased out of Palestine to Beirut, Lebanon.

Years pass, and though Rasheed continues to miss his beloved Natalia, he gets word of a surprising visitor—someone he didn’t even know existed. Rasheed’s life is upended, but in the most wonderful way.

As the Dinar family expands and enters the 1970s, their convictions are tested. In a dramatic final scene, the family reunites and proves once again that the thin line separating people because of their differences is powerless against the strength of family, love, and loyalty.

Thoughts:

Attracted by the historical aspect that I don’t know much about, and made all the more relevant by the forever present conflict between Palestine and Israel, I grabbed this book right up. I worried that it might be a little too literary and highbrow for me, but that was not the case. It’s a thoughtful story that spans a long period of time. I got to know the characters so so well, and I cared so much about all of them.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Replenishing the Sea of Galilee by Wagih Abu-Rish”
Posted in Chatty

Never before seen…

I am one of those people who usually has several things I’m in the middle of reading all at the same time. However, I just cleanly wrapped up a few things all at once. So when I logged onto Goodreads and saw this…

…I was low-key shook. I legitimately had no idea this graphic existed because I don’t think I have ever seen it before. I always have SOMETHING marked in progress. xD I’m about to add Legendborn to fill in this unsettling space though! 🙂