BLACKPLUME

lover of written words

2016 Reading & Blogging Goals

I’m back and hopefully more appearance than the past few months! Sorry for being MIA, there are just so many things that happened before 2015 ends like the wedding of one of my best friend which makes me super busy being a Maid of Honor, then there’s also the holidays and other life’s obligations. But now that I’m back I’m very much excited to share to all of you my 2016 reading and blogging plans.

Unlike last year where my reading and blogging plans was more “go with the flow” this year I’m actually lay-outing a more detailed plans with the push of my closest reading buddy Precious of Fragments of Life. Together we are organizing a blog event called “Celebrating Debutantes 2016”, wherein we are featuring debut authors of 2016 and their works. Since I love meeting new authors and discovering great talents I am actually excited to host this event with Precious.

Precious and I also targeting literary titles as part of our monthly reads this 2016. With a goal to try different genre than our usual YA fantasy or contemporary read we are trying a more mature/serious tone of reads. We already picked our target tiles for each month so watch out for our reviews.

As for my goodreads reading challenge this year, I’m back to 100 books to read. Last year I tried to cut it down to 50 books expecting for a more lay low reading in 2015, then eventually changed it to 100 since I am reading more than I targeted. I’m happy to report that I did finished the 100 books goals for 2015. Let’s see how I will perform for this year.

That’s all for now, will have to layout other plans too beside reading and blogging for 2016.

I hope everyone’s 2016 is getting off to a great start! Happy New Year to all!!!

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2015 Reading & Blogging Goals

Happy 2015 Everyone! How’s everyone year so far? I hope 2015 brings us all good cheers and blessings. 2015 is actually kicking pretty fast for me, it’s just few days since the year started but I feel like I’m in the fast lane already doing all the planning and other work related stuff. I foreseeing the year to be very busy which push me to decide to alter my blogging and reading plans. Instead of pushing myself with all the reading goals and challenges like what I do every year, I decided to cut all the goals for 2015 and just let the tides flow for me. No tight goals or concrete plans but to enjoy blogging and reading.

I’ve already cut my goodreads reading challenge goal to half – from the usual 100 books per year I’m doing a 50 books this year. I’m also hoping to read most the books from my shelves and lessened my habit of acquiring new books without having definite plans or timeline of reading them because I’m usually stack with my for review pile. As for getting books for review, just like last year, I will continue to stop requesting book for review. If I get an offer to review books I will consider them but will only accepts those books I think that I will really like or will definitely love. I’m also cutting joining review tour this year – this one will be bit hard since I’m one of the admins of a local book tour site but I’ll still try.

I’m going back reading more non-fictions books too beside those usual required reading for work. Last time I checked, the nonfiction area of my shelve is almost non-existence compare to the volumes of YA fiction books I have. Even if I add those dozens of self-help titles that I lend to my friends they are still too small compare to fictions books I acquired for the past years.

There are other plans but all these plans and goals are just more of a reminder for me to just removed the restrictions and the usual lines of schedule and target goals. Time to go back reading and reviewing for my own enjoyment and just share the love for written words without the hassle of obligations.

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Reasons for DNF Pile According to Goodreads!

Just want to share this goodreads infographic I saw from Pinterest! Reasons for DNF

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Death in Fiction

GOT deaths

photo credits: @King_Joffrey

*warning: there are some spoilers for Veronica Roth’s latest book, Allegiant!

I’m visiting twitter today when I saw from my timeline the tweet above, where someone re-tweeted a photo of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ books bookmarked with each death of character from the series. Though I haven’t started reading the books yet (I insist on start reading them once I got my own hardbound copies of at least upto the 6th book) I’ve been following the TV series adaptation, so I’m at least a bit aware of how the author can easily kill his characters. In fact, I am not yet over grieving with Ned, and Robb Stark death from that series. So thinking about death in fictions, reminds me some of my current reads where major characters were killed by their creators during the process of writing.

If you have read Veronica Roth’s final book to her YA dystopian series, Divergent, it is no spoiler to you how her protagonist, Tris end up in Allegiant. For someone who’s following that series, I am invested to Veronica Roth’s characters already, not only with her major characters, Tris and Four but also their alliance and friends. I root for them and hope only the best for everyone. But having read many dystopian books, I am also aware how bleak and dark their central world is. And with that kind of setting, death is surely unavoidable. Even before reading the first book, I already anticipated lots of casualties as the story push forward. I expected death along the way as I read. I am even ready to let go of the major characters if needed. So Tris’ death is NOT shocking to me.

But what shocked me is that I didn’t feel anything from Tris’ death. I didn’t mourn like what I did when I watch Ned Stark beheaded, or Robb Stark murdered. I didn’t shed any tear like when Augustus Waters of ‘The Fault In Our Stars‘ died in cancer which I already anticipated from the start, or when Mia hall of ‘If I Stay‘ spent her possible remaining days in coma. Even when I go back reading each word slowly about how Tris died, I still felt nothing!

I wasn’t even upset that Tris died. I get why she needs to be the one who make the sacrifices. I totally understand her motivation, but still I think Veronica Roth failed with the execution. Instead of making Tris’ death meaningful it feels more contrived in my opinion.

Sure it is an act of love as Tris traded her own life for her brother Caleb. It also qualified as an act of heroism or noble sacrifice, after all she’s doing it for the greater good. But considering how she end up there in the first place somehow makes the difference.

Losing someone in fiction cannot be compare to losing someone in real life but killing a main character should still feel like lost. Especially those characters we spent a lot of time knowing and understanding. We spent our times reading their stories in a series of books like we spent our times knowing a friend deeper. Losing them by death or by simply ending their stories should at least feel like goodbyes. Because at the end of the day, even a fictional character and fictional world needs to say goodbye. And goodbyes doesn’t always means the end. That we are done with the stories and characters. It just another chapter close from readers experience. And in every end there’s always a lesson. So no matter how a character is killed, or how the story ended, it is how it affected the readers that’s matter. What impact it leaves and what lessons the readers learned from it.

Character death can be one of the best reading moments, as it has the power to trigger something to its readers. If done well, it can be the most memorable and upsetting scene, which in return can be one of the most powerful card of a writer can play in her own hand. It’s like a secret ace he or she can pull to win the readers emotions & feelings. With all that said, death or ending should at least leave impact to the readers.

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The Last Bookshop (Short Film)

Have you ever wonder what it would like if printed books doesn’t exist anymore? Where books is like an extinct thing no one knows or care about? Where book stores died out completely? I stumble a video on YouTube that shows a future without books. It is a short film written and co-directed by Richard Dadd with Dan Fryer. It tells the story of a boy who stumbles upon the last remaining bookshop. It stars Joe Holgate as the boy and Alfred Hoffman as the shopkeeper. Watch this heartwarming video below that show a glimpse of a possible future.

What do you think of the short film? Do you think it is possible to really lost books and book stores? With the increasing market of electronic books, sales for printed books is surely affected. There are big book stores and printing companies that already shut down because of this. Somehow I feel guilty for owning a kindle, where I read some of electronic books I bought online. But I’m a kind of person who still buy printed books even I already read the story from my Kindle. I only buy electronic books of those titles I can’t get my hands because it won’t be available in my location or those books that I want to read right away but isn’t available yet from our local book stores.  Which is why I sometimes end up spending twice for the same title.

I also love seeing books consuming the space of my room, and since electronic books can’t be added in my book shelves I love buying and collecting printed books. But I also don’t want physical books to be just for collecting, that’s why when I do rereads I still choose physical books over electronic books.

Though I like the convenient of carrying a small, thin and light device for travel reading, I still prefer reading physical or printed books. There is a joy in holding physical books. The sounds of flipping the pages, the feeling of crisp paper in my hands, and the smell of dead trees with its printed words carries so much wonderful experience. Like the stories and information inside each books, the physical book offers wonders to readers.

I myself can’t imagined what it would be like to grow up never knowing what a book is. I don’t want the possibility of the future generations not experiencing the joy of reading, holding and even smelling books. I would be sad to see someone who don’t even know how to open a book, like the kid in the video.

I don’t know about you, but after this, I am definitely going to the book store across our street to buy a paperback or hardbound copy of any book from my to-buy  list. Reading won’t be the same if physical books were lost.

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Mid-series Novellas

Series novels are common in YA genre, more and more stories are being published in installment basis. And lately not only novels are included in this series books but also short-stories and novellas. While short stories are mostly available for free and accessible from publisher or author’s website, novellas are being published in electronic book format and usually cost few dollars. These novellas are what we call “mid-series novellas” since most of them are published as the in-between stories of other installment of the series, for instance there is a book 1, book 1.5, book 2, book 2.5 and book 3. Those with .5 are the in-between stories or novellas.

These novellas are stories that actually part of the series, which normally takes place in the same world but not necessary integral or important to the plot. While most of these novellas give additional information they don’t always leave huge impact to the story. Most of these novellas does’t need to be read in order to understand or enjoy the series as a whole.

Authors usually write novellas in a different character point of view, where it offers a side story of that character from the main novel. This another character got the chance to narrate his/her story or maybe his own version of the same story from the original novel. There are also novellas that acts just like a prequel or mid-series stories which uses the same character/narrator from the main novel to give extra peak or teaser of the next book.

Though these novellas are quick and sometimes fun to read they are not always as satisfying as the full length novel. They don’t always offer essential story lines or new information for the readers. Some even are just like deleted scenes from the full length novel, or just extensions of the original novel. They don’t always stand alone on their own which means you still need to read the other books of the series. Though that set-up is good for authors and publishers as they are actually selling another item and gaining few more sales, for readers like me it is not always the case. Sad to admit, but most of mid-series novellas I have read are not really good or satisfying, they just leave me frustrated most of the times. There are some that I actually enjoyed reading because I have read and enjoy their main novels, but after reading when I finally analyzed the whole essence of the additional story I’ll realized they aren’t really that important. I like novellas who can stand on its own and not just glorified deleted scenes. What’s the use of paying few more bucks if I’ll be just getting scenes that didn’t actually make to the final cut during the editing process? If they are essential to the plot why don’t just include it to the novel?

I don’t mind paying few dollars in order to read extra stories of the series I love, but there are times that I honestly feel cheated by some novellas I have read. While there are mid-series novellas that are good, there are also those who feels like trash and not worth of the dollars I spent. I’m also frustrated with the pricing of eBooks, I know it has nothing to do with the author but more on publishers and distributor, I just don’t get it why Amazon in particular constantly changing the eBook prices. Like when I pre-ordered the Never to Sleep novella of Soul Screamers series, which I got for $3.99 then after few weeks it went down to $1.99. For someone who ordered way before the released of the book, I paid higher than most of everyone else. Add the fact that Amazon also charge higher to non-US resident buyer like me.

I’m not saying that mid-series novellas aren’t any good, as there are also few I have read that actually satisfies me. There are few who actually offers something new and significance to the story for the main novel and at the same time good as its own. Problem is these few I’m talking are really rare.

If there is a better use of novellas for readers, I think is the fact that it can act as a tester. We can use it to experience and know the author’s writing style before we send ourselves in buying and reading his longer novels. By reading lesser pages of stories, we can have idea if we will actually enjoy the author other works or not. It can help us know if we will enjoy the author other books or not, especially those novels that are set in the same world where the novella is set. For publishers and authors, novellas can be pretty useful in  promoting their books, they can get readers excited by using these novellas as teasers. It can be a bonus for fans of the series and a taste for those curious to the main novels.

What about you, do you also read novellas? What do you think of mid-series novella? Do you think they are worth reading and spending money?

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