hello hello πŸ‘‹ Today i have an original book tag to share – my first ever original book tag, in fact!!* I’m calling it The Book Reviewing Tag, and as you can probably tell from the title, it’s all about book reviewing.

Book reviewing mostly tends to focus on the books themselves, which makes sense–that’s what the reviews are for, after all–but with this tag I wanted to take a more a meta approach to book reviewing. The questions in the tag, then, are about the review writing process in general, as well as your thoughts on specific book reviews you’ve written. (If you’ve been reviewing books for a long time, and have a hard time choosing answers for some of the questions, you can narrow it down to books you’ve reviewed this year, this quarter, etc.)

That being said, if this book tag sounds interesting to you, please feel free to copy the questions and share it to your book blog/booktube channel/bookstagram/whatever platform you share your bookish content to. Just make sure to tag me in the posts so I can see your responses! 😊 (All my social media are linked at the end of this post.)

*I did do a search through WordPress and Google to see if anyone’s done something similar to this before and didn’t find anything. That being said, if you have do a have book reviewing tag that’s pretty similar to this one, please let me know!

What’s your review writing process like (do you write notes somewhere, make annotations, highlights, etc.)?

Generally speaking, I like to take notes in my Notes app while I read, and also highlight any quotes that I like while reading the book. I’ve been trying to incorporate more quotes into my reviews because personally, I find them such an effective way of convincing me to read a book, and also because I think they give you a good idea of what kind of writing you’re likely to find in that book. I’d say those are pretty much the only two things that I tend to do in terms of prepping for book reviews.

What do you struggle with most when it comes to writing book reviews?

Timing. The more time passes between my finishing a book and writing a review for it, the less likely I am to actually end up writing a review for that book. Mostly, this is because the book isn’t as fresh in my mind anymore, so it’s harder to think of things to say about it and also to be more specific when talking about it.

Your favourite review(s) that you’ve written

It usually takes me a long time to write reviews, and that’s mostly because I like writing in general, and really try to challenge myself and my writing with those reviews. My favourite book reviews, then, are ones whose writing I’m happy with, and that I think effectively conveyed not just what the book is like, but also why I liked it/how it made me feel.

I’d say my favourite reviews that I’ve written are generally ones that I wrote for books I loved. More recently, I was very happy with the review that I wrote for The Other Mother by Rachel M. Harper, which has been my favourite book of the year so far. I also loved the reviews I wrote for The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter (tr. Frank Wynne) and Trust by Hernan Diaz–two very different books whose content I really enjoyed delving into in their reviews. As for last year, I loved the reviews I wrote for Abigail by Magda SzabΓ³ (tr. Len Rix), Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung (tr. Anton Hur), and Homesickness by Colin Barrett.

A review that you struggled to write

The hardest reviews for me to write are always the ones for books I really loved–the 4.5- or 5-star books. When it comes to books I dislike, I always have a running list of what I dislike about them as I read them so that by the time I sit down to write the review, it pretty much writes itself. The review effectively becomes a space for me to vent about all the things I disliked about the book lol (e.g. my review of The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan).

With books I loved, though, it’s hard because I always feels like everything I say pales in comparison to how the book actually made me feel and how much I actually loved it. (Every time I write a review for a book that’s a new favourite I have to do a Ctrl+F search for “so”–“I loved these characters so much,” “the story was so compelling,” etc.–because I inevitably end up overusing it to compensate for how hard I find it to express how I felt about that book. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ)

General thoughts aside, I found this to be especially the case when writing my reviews for The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye (my favourite book of last year), Little by Edward Carey (my favourite book of the year before that), and Milkman by Anna Burns, which was such a strange and utterly unique book that I didn’t even know how to begin talking about it.

A review you still want to write

I have so many books for this one. There are a lot of amazing books I read last year that I just never ended up writing reviews for, and would love the chance to talk about so I can hype them up a bit more. Namely, Alligator by Dima Alzayat, Devotion by Hannah Kent, and Negative Space by Lilly Dancyger. From this year, I also really want to review Either/Or by Elif Batuman and A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandria Rowland. All of these are favourites, so you can see why I’ve been dragging my feet when it comes to writing reviews for them.

A review that you don’t want to/won’t write

Pretty much any romance novel that I’ve given 3 stars to. Though I do read a lot of romance, most of it tends to fall into the category of just okay or enjoyable but forgettable. Those are the books that I don’t write reviews for because they just leave zero impression on me. I have nothing to say about them, so writing a book review for them seems like a bit of a moot point.

Your most popular review(s)

Every single one of my most popular reviews is a negative review, which I guess isn’t all that surprising. I think my most popular review ever is the one I wrote for Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell, which somehow–I have no idea how this happened tbh–shows up as the first search result on Google when you look up “Hamnet negative review.” It is consistently my most popular blog post, which is funny because I didn’t promote it or talk about it any more than I did with my other blog posts. It just kind of blew up out of nowhere. (Maybe because it won the Women’s Prize?)

My other most popular reviews are on Goodreads: by far the most popular one is my 1-star review of Find Me by AndrΓ© Aciman, which continues to be one of the worst books I have ever read. Another book whose review is pretty popular and which I also continue to despise is The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo.

How you feel about your book reviewing this year

I feel really good about my book reviewing this year, actually! I feel like last year I read a lot, but I didn’t really make reviewing a priority as much as I wanted to, and got lazy when it came to writing reviews for most of the books I was reading (especially the ones I enjoyed). This year I’ve made the conscious decision to write reviews for most, if not all, the books I read, so long as I have something to say about them. And I’ve been doing well when it comes to sticking to that decision. Out of the 58 books I’ve read this year, I’ve written reviews for 33 of them (and that’s not counting the reviews I’ve written for books I’ve DNFd)–which is a number I’m happy with. Hopefully I can continue to do that throughout the year.

Anyway, that’s all for me!! I had a lot to say, which is pretty much the reason I wanted to do this tag in the first place lol. Please let me know if you decide to do this tag and feel free to tag anyone else if you do decide to do it! 😊

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Hello everyone!!!! today I’m doing the in or out book tag, which was created by Rick over at his BookTube channel, Rick MacDonnell.

1. Reading the Last Page First

OUT. I’m not chaotic enough to do this lol.

2. Enemies to Lovers

IN. I LOVE enemies to lovers and I will never get sick of it. It’s all about the GROWTH.

3. Dream Sequences

OUT. I feel like I mentally check out every time there’s a dream sequence in a book. Like every literary dream sequence might as well come with a huge sign that says PAY ATTENTION: THIS SCENE IS HIGHLY SYMBOLIC !!!!

4. Love Triangles

OUT. I don’t know I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a good love triangle, so I’m not very sold on it at the moment.

5. Cracked Spines

OUT. I like to keep my books in as good a condition as possible, which includes not cracking the spines. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

6. Back to My Small Town

IN. It’s not so much the small town aspect that I’m into, but rather the idea that a character would return to a place that holds a lot of memories for them, and also potentially reunite with people that they’d left behind. I love seeing how characters who’ve left a place behind for a long time come back to it older and with a new perspective.

7. Monsters Are Regular People

IN (?). Theoretically I’m into this, but I also haven’t encountered it a lot in the little fantasy that I’ve read so far.

8. No Paragraph Breaks

OUT. Paragraph breaks just make it so much easier to get through a book. For me, very few books can get away with not having paragraph breaks (like Milkman by Anna Burns); it takes an extraordinarily skilled writer to sustain my attention in that way.

9. Multi-Generational Sagas

IN. I love reading about families and how the choices of one generation can impact the next. Definitely into this one.

10. Re-Reading

IN. I am a creature of comfort and will often reread favourite books when I feel in need of a pick-me-up.

11. Artificial Intelligence

OUT. I’m just not interested in AI. It veers into sci-fi territory, and I’ve never really been interested in sci-fi. Not into the science-y stuff.

12. Drop Caps

IN. Sure?

13. Happy Endings

IN. Life is stressful enough without the added stress of sad endings. I get way too attached to books sometimes and sad endings just wreck me (my best friend–hi Thea!! πŸ‘‹–who’s received many a distraught message from me in the midst of a book-related emotional breakdown knows this more than anyone).

14. Plot Points That Only Converge At the End

IN. If it’s done well–i.e. given that every plot thread stands on its own–then yes, I love this.

15. Detailed Magic Systems

IN. I don’t see why this would be bad, so long as the author balances character and story as well.

16. Classic Fantasy Races

OUT. But I don’t really care either way about this one.

17. Unreliable Narrators

IN. Yes. Give me the drama of an unreliable narrator !!!!

18. Evil Protagonists

IN (?). I don’t really know about “evil,” but I’m down for a morally complicated or morally grey protagonist.

19. The Chosen One

OUT. I don’t know they’re just a little boring at this point.

20. When the Protagonist Dies

OUT. Protagonists don’t usually die in the books I tend to read, but I feel like I’d be pretty annoyed if this happened.

21. Really Long Chapters

IN (?). But it depends. I think I like long chapters when they’re in more plot-heavy genres like fantasy rather than character-focused ones like literary fiction.

22. French Flaps

IN. Why not! They’re fancy!

23. Deckled Edges

IN. No strong opinions about this but I wouldn’t object to having deckled edges.

24. Signed Copies by the Author

IN. Again, I wouldn’t object to a signed copy of a book, but I’d much rather go to a signing and have the author sign my book for me (rather than just buying a signed copy).

25. Dog-Earing Pages

OUT. I don’t personally do this, but I don’t care if people dog-ear their pages. πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

26. Chapter Titles Instead of Numbers

IN. I feel like I never see titled chapters these days !!! where did they go !!! I miss them !!! they’re such a simple way of adding layers to a narrative, and give you a lil sneak peek of what’s to come in a chapter.

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The End of the Year book tag was created by Ariel over at Ariel Bissett!

Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

No? I don’t really tend to start books and then stop midway, so there aren’t any books that I’m in the middle of at the moment. (There are a lot of books that I’d like to start, though.)

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

Not really? I’m a mood reader, and my mood is a very fickle thing. I don’t typically tend to read books of a certain genre during specific seasons, so we’ll just have to see what I’m in the mood for, and also what I have the time/mental bandwidth for (since I have classes now πŸ˜”).

Is there a new release you’re still waiting for?

There are a bunch I’m vaguely interested in, depending on how positive the reviews for them are once they’re released, but there is one title that I am SO INCREDIBLY DESPERATE TO READ: A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for this book, and the fact that I haven’t been able to get an ARC has been killing me. This novel sounds like it was written for me: Edwardian England, magic, romance!!!!! I can feel the 5-star potential in my bones.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

SO MANY, but since uni has started back up again, I don’t know if I’ll actually be able to get to any of them before the end of the year. In an ideal world, though, some of the ones I’ve been wanting to read for a while are:

  • The Good People by Hannah Kent (atmospheric historical fiction, set in Ireland)
  • The Rules of Revelation by Lisa McInerney (Irish, music!)
  • Thin Places by Kerri NΓ­ Dochartaigh (memoir, The Troubles, nature)
  • The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart (tr. by Barbara Bray) (multigenerational, historical fiction)
  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (gothic, historical fiction [are we noticing a trend here?])
  • An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura (tr. by Juliet Winters Carpenter) (Japanese, formally experimental)
  • The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye (historical fiction, mystery)
  • What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat by Aubrey Gordon (nonfiction, social justice)
  • Things I Have Withheld by Kei Miller (essays about silences)
  • White Magic by Elissa Washuta (essays about cultural inheritance and love, among other things) (Hannah just read and love this!!)

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favourite book of the year?

I don’t think so? My favourite book of the year so far, The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye, has set the bar pretty high. But I definitely might stumble upon a 5-star read at some point before the year ends (at least I hope I do).

Have you already started making reading plans for 2022?

If by “reading plans” you mean making a list of a bunch of 2022 releases that I’m super excited about, then yes. I am constantly snooping on Edelweiss to find out about new publisher catalogues, so I’ve been amassing quite the list of 2022 book releases. Some current frontrunners include: Either/Or by Elif Batuman (NEW ELIF BATUMAN NOVEL!!! SEQUEL TO THE IDIOT!!!!), Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield (author of the gorgeous Salt Slow), and If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga (set in Egypt, examining “the ethics of fetishizing the homeland and punishing the beloved”?!?!?!?!).

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