Oh my stars! Part 2 – Yes, I’m adding a ratings system.

Twinkle, twinkle little star. NOW I’ve decided to include you when I write book reviews…

Following up from my post last weekend, I think I’m going to give using a ratings system a whirl. Can’t hurt, right? Thank you to all who took the time to share thoughts and offer insights and encouragement — it’s been so helpful.

So…

I’m just quietly going to start using stars when I post book reviews. And if I like it, I’ll keep it going!

Here’s a quick look at what my ratings mean:

And now, off to put my stars into action! Let me know what you think!

 

Oh my stars! Reconsidering a ratings system.

Twinkle, twinkle little star. How I wonder whether I should include you when I write book reviews…

Sorry, is that not how the nursery rhyme goes?

About five years ago, I wrote a piece about star ratings and why I don’t use one (here). Looking back, I can see I did some serious overthinking of the issue. But hey, that’s not so unusual for me!

I’ve been blogging and reviewing books for over seven (!!!) years now, and from the beginning, I opted not to include a rating with my reviews. I’ve often felt boxed-in by the Goodreads 5-star system (oh, for those half stars they deny us!), and felt that the approach that works best for me is to put my reactions and feelings about a book into the review, and not try to attach a number to what is essentially a qualitative experience.

So why am I bringing this up again now?

Because I realize that my approach may be a little contrary to how I read other people’s reviews. Okay, I’ll admit the stark truth here: While I don’t use stars (or any other numeric ratings system), I do find myself scanning other people’s reviews to see their ratings before I go ahead and read the reviews themselves. There could be lots of reasons for this:

  • It’s a book I’ve never heard of, so I want to know at a glance if it’s worth considering.
  • It’s a book I’m reading or planning to read, and while I don’t want to know anything about it just yet (the dreaded spoiler phobia at work), I do want to know the reviewer’s overall opinion of the book.
  • I’m in a rush. I do follow quite a few bloggers and some days, there just isn’t time to read everything in my feed. But, if I see that a blogger whose reading tastes usually align with mine gives a book 5 stars, I’ll slow down and read that review to see if the book is for me.

Give that I value other bloggers’ ratings, how do I continue posting reviews without including ratings as well?

I’m cautiously dipping my toes into the idea of adding ratings to my reviews going forward. (Sorry, mixed metaphor, but whatever.) It feels like a big change for me, but also like not quite as big a deal as I once made it out to be.

What do you think? For anyone who’s read any of my reviews… well, first of all, thank you! But secondly — would you prefer to see me include ratings with my reviews? Overall, do you prefer to see ratings when you visit book blogs?

Please share your thoughts!

Update: Spring cleaning for the Book Blog Meme Directory (all done!)

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Whew! That was fun!

I mentioned on Thursday that I planned to do some housekeeping on the Book Blog Meme Directory page. I intended to go through the directory, test out each link, and update anything that needed updating. I figured I’d tackle it in small bites, maybe just trying out a handful each day until I finished.

Whoops. Nothing like having an obsessive need to finish things to move a project along!

I sat down to work on it earlier this afternoon… and here, I am, two hours later, with tired fingers but a big smile of accomplishment. I’m done!

I checked out every directory listing, and archived every one I found that was no longer current. For some, the host blog was still active, but I didn’t see any recent meme posts (as in, not for months or even years). For some, I could find the blog but couldn’t find anything related to the meme. And for others, the entire blog seemed to be gone, or there was a final blog post saying that the blog would no longer be active.

That’s blogging, I guess. Things come, things go!

Never fear: Nothing from the Book Blog Meme Directory is gone forever. I’ve saved all of the details and images, and can reinstate any of the entries if needed. If you host one of the deleted meme entries, just get in touch (my Contact page is really the best way) and let me know your updated details. If you’re not the host but happen to know some relevant information (like the meme was adopted by a different blog, switched names, etc), please let me know!

Here’s a list of the 32 (!!!) meme entries that I’ve archived as of now:

Day Name of Meme Hosted by
Monday Music Monday Total Book Geek
Monday Middle Grade Monday Jordan’s Jewels
Monday Pay Day Book Haul After the Book Hangover
Monday Rambling Monday The Realm of Books
Monday Mangaka Monday The Fujoshi Reads
Monday Monday Recommendations Bookshelves & Paperbacks
Tuesday Top Off Tuesday Smitten With Reading
Wednesday Winning Wednesdays Write Note Reviews
Wednesday Way Back Wednesday A Well Read Woman
Thursday Quote Me Thursday Daily Mayo
Thursday Third Sentence Thursday That’s What She Read
Thursday Characterize It The YA Book Butterfly
Thursday Thirsty Thursdays Lazy Book Lovers
Friday Friday Favorites Tressa’s Wishful Endings
Friday Keen Cover Friday Keepbooked
Friday Friday Favourites Book Lover’s Life
Friday Five Friday Favourites Book Badger
Friday Falling Behind on Friday Moirae (the Fates) Book Reviews
Friday Fast Five Friday Reader Noir
Friday Free Time Fridays Eat Up My Free Time
Saturday Swoon Worthy Saturday Stay Bookish
Saturday Bookish Project Happiness Keepbooked
Saturday Hot Scot Saturday Leila Reads
Saturday Do Judge a Book By Its Cover The Book Magpie
Sunday Sunday Shout-Out Write Note Reviews
Sunday Bought, Borrowed & Bagged Talk Supe
Sunday Summary Sunday The Fujoshi Reads
Weekly/Monthly Peek Into My Postbox Fire and Ice
Weekly/Monthly Weekend Reads Escape Reality Through Books & Bookaholic-ness
Weekly/Monthly Quoteable Thursdays Mo Books
Weekly/Monthly Turn Right Down School Lane Trips Down Imagination Road
Weekly/Monthly Monthly Most Wanted Kit ‘N Kabookle

 

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Don’t worry! This may look like a lot, but there are still plenty left! So if you’re looking for a fun new meme to try out, come check out the Book Blog Meme Directory page and visit any of the 40+ memes currently listed.

As always, new memes are welcome! Just send me the info via my Contact page, and I’ll be glad to add a listing to the Directory.

Happy blogging to all!

The Book Blog Meme Directory: It’s clean-up time!

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As a certain purple dinosaur used to sing:

Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere! Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share…

The Book Blog Meme Directory has been up and running for almost two years now, and while I’ve done updates here and there, whenever someone sends me a change, I haven’t yet done a total top-to-bottom spring cleaning of the entire page.

So, I’m getting to it.

Over the next week or so, I’ll be going through the whole page and testing each link to see if (1) the link is still active and (2) the meme is still up and running. I know some may have been discontinued, may have been rebranded, or may have been picked up by a new host.

For memes that appear to be inactive, I’ll dig around and see if it’s just moved or changed somehow — but if not, those listings will be archived. If I come across any that need updating, then I’ll be sure to do that. And of course, for the ones that are still going strong, no changes needed!

Can you help? If you know for a fact that a meme has changed, moved, or been discontinued, please let me know! As always, new entries are always welcome. The easiest way for me to keep track of new memes to be added is if you send me the info via my Contact page, but feel free to reach out any way that’s convenient to provide your information.

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement!

For those who haven’t seen my earlier posts about the directory and want to know more, read on! The following information was originally posted earlier this year, and it gives an overview of what the Book Blog Meme Directory is all about.

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Do you host a meme? Do you have a favorite meme that you participate in? Do you know of a great meme I should check out? I’m always looking for new additions!

Any additions should:

So, for purposes of this Directory, let’s include any regular ongoing features that encourage bloggers to join in, participate by writing their own posts, link back from their own blogs, and visit other participants’ blogs as well.

  • Have something to do with books, book blogging, or reading.
  • Must be up and running (so please don’t ask me to add a meme that you’re planning for the future; let’s add it once it’s “live”).

Frequently asked question: Is my feature a meme? Quick test: Is this a weekly theme that you – and only you – use for your own weekly postings, specific to your own blog? Sounds like a feature. Is this something you host and invite others to participate in by posting on their own blogs and linking back to yours? Sounds like a meme.

To add a meme to the Directory, the simplest thing to do is to submit your information (whether you’re a meme host or participant) through my Contact page. I’ll confirm back to you once the Directory has been updated.

I only ask two things of folks whose memes I add:

1) Keep it up to date! If you change domains, change the details of your meme, add a new graphic, switch hosts or days of the week, etc — just let me know! I want to make sure the info in the Directory is current, and make sure that people who want to play along can find you!

2) If your meme is listed, would you be so kind as to say so on your blog? I’d really appreciate it if you’d either post my Directory button (available at the bottom of the Book Blog Meme Directory page) or post a link so your readers can find the Directory. Many thanks to you!

I hope you’ve all been finding the Book Blog Meme Directory helpful! Thank you to all who have shared information up to now. It’s great fun to hear about so many interesting, unusual, and quirky ways for book lovers to interact — let’s keep it growing!

Bloggy dilemma of the day!

I find myself in the midst of a dilemma and I’d love to hear some thoughts from other bloggers!

What do you do when you make a commitment and then can’t figure out how to keep it and maintain integrity?

Perhaps I’m overthinking this…

I write honest reviews, always. If I love a book, I say so. If I don’t, it can go a few different ways. If I was simply bored and find myself with nothing to say, I just won’t bother with a review. If I actively hated a book, chances are I’ll write about it and say why. Or, if I didn’t enjoy a book that I thought would be good, or liked the premise but not the execution, or disliked a book in a way that stayed in my mind, I’ll write about it too.

The dilemma is — what to do when a blog tour is involved?

I rarely sign up for blog tours, mostly because I don’t take well to reading and writing exactly on a fixed schedule. I participate sparingly, and only for books that really catch my eye.

My current problem is, I just finished reading my next blog tour book… and had to force myself to do it. I almost abandoned it midway several times, but because I’d committed to the tour, I kept going. The main promos for the tour list my blog and the date, and I’d made a point of requesting a giveaway copy too.

So…

I can see three main choices here:

1) Participate in the blog tour as scheduled, featuring the book cover, synopsis, and giveaway, but leaving out a review and keeping my post promotional only.

2) Do the blog tour, but include my honest thoughts, which won’t be very positive. Somehow, this seems like the worst choice — it’s a mixed message (I’m promoting a book I didn’t like?), and not very considerate of the tour host or the author.

3) Back out of the blog tour, and then either not post at all about the book or write a review that expresses my actual feelings.

I hate to break a commitment, but at the same time, I don’t want to give the impression that I liked a book or that I’m encouraging my blog readers to read a book that I didn’t enjoy.

Has this happened to you? How did you handle it?

I’d appreciate any words of advice!

The Book Blog Meme Directory: An update

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In July 2013, I launched a new page here at Bookshelf Fantasies: the Book Blog Meme Directory. The purpose of the Directory is to collect information and links for all sorts of bookish memes, providing a resource for book bloggers looking for new and different ways to connect with other bloggers, share some bookish love, and have fun!

We’re up to almost 70 memes as of now, and the list keeps growing!

I realized this week, while adding a few new memes, that I haven’t actually written an update post since launching the Directory.

So here I am, once again asking for your help:

Do you host a meme? Do you have a favorite meme that you participate in? Do you know of a great meme I should check out? I’m always looking for new additions!

Any additions should:

So, for purposes of this Directory, let’s include any regular ongoing features that encourage bloggers to join in, participate by writing their own posts, link back from their own blogs, and visit other participants’ blogs as well.

  • Have something to do with books, book blogging, or reading.
  • Must be up and running (so please don’t ask me to add a meme that you’re planning for the future; let’s add it once it’s “live”).

Frequently asked question: Is my feature a meme? Quick test: Is this a weekly theme that you – and only you – use for your own weekly postings, specific to your own blog? Sounds like a feature. Is this something you host and invite others to participate in by posting on their own blogs and linking back to yours? Sounds like a meme.

To add a meme to the Directory, the simplest thing to do is to submit your information (whether you’re a meme host or participant) through my Contact page. I’ll confirm back to you once the Directory has been updated.

I only ask two things of folks whose memes I add:

1) Keep it up to date! If you change domains, change the details of your meme, add a new graphic, switch hosts or days of the week, etc — just let me know! I want to make sure the info in the Directory is current, and make sure that people who want to play along can find you!

2) If your meme is listed, would you be so kind as to say so on your blog? I’d really appreciate it if you’d either post my Directory button (available at the bottom of the Book Blog Meme Directory page) or post a link so your readers can find the Directory. Many thanks to you!

Final note: One area of the Directory that I haven’t fully pursued yet is a challenges section. By request, I’ve added listings for reading challenges, but haven’t gone all out to find new ones to add. If you do want me to add a reading challenge that you’re hosting, just let me know.

I hope you’ve all been finding the Book Blog Meme Directory helpful! Thank you to all who have shared information up to now. It’s great fun to hear about so many interesting, unusual, and quirky ways for book lovers to interact — let’s keep it growing!

 

Bookish Bits & Bobs

A quick round-up of random things on my mind related to reading, books, and book blogging:

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  • Despite all of my careful planning and tracking — including my nifty Excel worksheet that tracks all of my ARCs — I now find myself almost hopelessly buried in commitments to new and upcoming books. How did I let this happen???
  • After sticking to my schedule so, so diligently for the last couple of months, I made the radical decision to DO WHAT I WANT this week… and am now re-reading a 1400 page book. Because I feel like it.
  • Rereading does make me feel a wee bit anxious. But I’m going to try to get over it. So what if I fall a week behind? Live for now! (Or so I tell myself…)
  • Of course, rereading a massive book means there probably won’t be any new reviews on my blog for a bit. But I think the reading world will survive without my input for a few days. (Insert maniacal laughter here…)
  • Are discussion posts the new must-have thing on book blogs? Seems like every book blogger these days has made it a goal to feature more discussion posts. But about what? How many different ways are there to write about whether people leave comments? IDK, maybe I’m just being a sourpuss today (entirely possible), but I tend to find these repetitive after a while.
  • I guess I’m just not all that interested in reading blog posts about blogging. Unless I’m specifically seeking out a blogging expert for guidance or inspiration. But for the most part, when I visit a blog, I want to read about the topic the blog covers, not the ins and out of being a blogger.
  • Continuing on my cranky roll, I’m starting to get annoyed by people on Goodreads… the ones who need to update their status with QUOTES from the page they’re on or comments like “OMG, nooooo! I can’t believe she picked (insert spoilery name here) over (some other dude)!” People, please CUT IT OUT! I do not want to be hit in the face with these updates every time I log into Goodreads. Save your spoilers for your reviews — and put a spoiler warning on them!
  • Let’s see, something positive… I work someplace where there are constantly kids in the hallways and underfoot, and every time I see a kid totally absorbed in a book while waiting for a class or for a younger sibling, I feel a little shiver of joy run up my spine. Kids still read! They’re not all plugged into pads, pods, and gizmos. Well, not all the time, anyway.
  • Stephen Colbert’s take on the J. K. Rowling interview that broke so many shippers’ hearts made me so happy. Watch it here, if you haven’t already.
  • Are you waiting for Gail Carriger’s next series, about Prudence from The Parasol Protectorate? How does The Custard Protocol grab you? Check out the announcement here about the new title for the series.
  • I was very excited to read this week that Redshirts by John Scalzi is being developed for TV! More info here — such an awesome book, can’t wait to see how this turns out!
  • And my favorite discovery of the weekend is probably Wiry Limbs, Paper Backs, an awesome gallery of paperback books acting out their own plots. Check it out!

Sorry for the extra heaping doses of crankiness today! Must remedy that immediately… by diving back into my big, fat book. Quilts, couch, coffee, slippers, and paperback… perfect for this rainy Saturday.

 

Armchair BEA Introduction Post

Count me in as one of the gazillion book bloggers who couldn’t make it to New York this week for Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Some day, some year, I’ll be there! Meanwhile, Armchair BEA is the virtual event for the rest of us. All week, there will be different topics and link-up opportunities for bloggers, and today, I’m jumping in with my Armchair BEA Introduction:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

My name is Lisa, and I’m a life-long bookworm. Sadly, I never did quite figure out to how read for a living. Almost one year ago, I decided to finally jump into the ocean of book bloggers and created my own little corner of the Interwebs: Bookshelf Fantasies. It’s been an amazing ride so far! I’m really enjoying the challenge of putting my bookish thoughts into words, sharing with other folks who love books as much as I do, and meeting so many fantastic book bloggers!

Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures.

I’m blogging from San Francisco, California — which, despite its reputation, is not foggy 365 days a year! It just feels that way sometimes. I love San Francisco for many reasons, but a great one is that no matter what kind of setting you’re in the mood for, you can get there in less than a day’s drive. I live a few blocks from the ocean, but can easily get to the mountains, to the desert, or to a grove of redwood trees. Simply beautiful! Like most San Franciscans, I’m not actually native, but after 20 years, it’s starting to feel like I am.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?

I just finished reading The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, and it blew me away! Other favorites this year are The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?

Purely for sentimental reasons, I’d pick a post I wrote last September called “A Bookish Sort of Romance“, which is the story of how my husband and I first connected. And yes, there were books involved!

What is your favorite part about the book blogging community?

As someone relatively new to the blogging world, I’d say that my favorite thing about being a part of the book blogging community is realizing how many amazing connections I’ve made in such a short amount of time. All of a sudden, I feel that there are so many people I know who share my interests, who “get” how exciting it can be when a new book arrives, who loves to trade ideas, tips, recommendations, and squeals of delight about our bookish habits. I absolutely love the idea that I now have book friends around the world! I get the warm and fuzzies just thinking about it.

So, hello and welcome, my Armchair BEA buddies! I’m happy to meet you… and maybe next year, who knows? In person in NY, perhaps?