The Slow Descent of Falling Behind

I have a confession to make.

I’ve fallen behind on my book blogging, fallen behind in the book community in general. My Goodreads has been left all but abandoned. The last four posts on this blog were queued from May. I didn’t even know SDCC was occurring, let alone filled with so many publishers and authors, until I checked Twitter for the first time in ages, and I live in the damn city.

I’ve fallen behind and I didn’t even notice.

It starts with noticing the reading pace slowing down, until you find yourself barely getting through ten pages a day. It’s the gradual slip of book-related websites and communities like NetGalley and /r/Fantasy, sliding further and further down the recommended websites list in Chrome. It’s the creeping feeling of guilt that comes every time you open up Twitter, berating you for not staying caught up on the latest news in publishing, not picking up references to new drama and events, not recognizing new names and authors and debuts and what the upcoming catalog of every publisher in your sphere is. It’s the indifference, yet shame felt every time you check your blogging email and see the number of unopened emails, notifying you of author updates, new blog posts, publisher newsletters, grow and grow and grow.

It ends when even looking at the Twitter icon showers you in a wall of shame and guilt, when the simple act of picking up a book to read during a lunch break trips you up with guilt over Netgalley requests left unfinished. It ends with the knowledge that you’ve probably been blacklisted from every publisher and author you love and follow because of requests left untouched and ignored for months.

To me as a reader, it’s saddening. To me as a blogger, it’s crushing.

Because I like to read. Because I enjoy blogging. Because I enjoy this community and the people I’ve met and the conversations I’ve had. I enjoy getting to share my love for books I’ve been enthralled by, and encouraging others to read something they otherwise would not have.

But sometimes it becomes overwhelming.

I don’t plan to stop reading, or posting (hopefully), but I don’t think I’ll be able to maintain that book-a-day pace that I used to be able to manage. I won’t use this as a formal announcement for anything, but this simply has been something I needed to get off my chest.

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May 2019 Wrap-Up

I used to do my monthly wrap-ups on my BookTube channel. However, with my move to my internship, I haven’t been able to figure out a schedule to film without disturbing my roommates, so I’m going to put this one on my blog for now and hopefully figure out a regular schedule for my BookTube in the coming weeks.


Read

I had a pretty solid set of books this month, 4s and 5s across the board. I also managed to knock out several ARCs off my TBR so I can get back to the rest of the TBR faster.

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare, Wesley Chu – (4/5)

  • A fun romp for those looking for more Malec content. Also not a bad starting point for the Shadowhunters universe

Hexarchate Stories by Yoon Ha Lee – (5/5)review to come

  • Fantastic for fans of the Ninefox Gambit series ft even more Jedao & Cheris content and setup for a possible new series!?

We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett – (4/5) review to come

  • A solid YA debut based on the Russian Night Witches featuring female friendships and not saving the world for once

The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot – (4/5) – review to come

  • Didn’t realize this was a verse novel going in, but I actually quite enjoyed the somewhat subdued atmosphere, fitting for a book about death

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto – (4/5)

  • PHEONIX MOUNTS Y’ALL!! I’ve actually never read a book that featured pheonixes so prominently and man I did not know what I was missing. Some of the best worldbuilding I’ve seen out of a YA fantasy novel in recent years.

The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, SL Huang, Rivers Solomon – (5/5)review to come

  • This was an awesome serial audiobook experience that handled the idea of different levels of extremities that occur on one side of a problem extremely well. Even the “villains” were pretty sympathetic and the main characters were great

To Read

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence
Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

  • I don’t believe in monthly TBRs for the most part, but I really do need to get to these books so I’m making this section for once

Written Reviews

My one-review-per-Friday policy means if I get a really good month of reading in, it’ll be a while before some of my reviews go live (see the read section, almost all of those have already been written/scheduled already). It also means that the reviews of books I’ve read in previous months end up getting posted in a later month.


Other Posts

Reviews aren’t the only things I write! This month especially, I think I had some really good non-review, non-T5W posts.

10 BookCon/BEA Survival Tips

Hi everyone! With BookCon 2019 just around the corner, I wanted to take the time and share some helpful tips I learned during my time at BookCon last year. And also because I’m getting massive FOMO because I can’t attend this year (damn work schedule) so this my way to express all of my frustrations. Not salty at all.


  • WEAR COMFY SHOES

This is tip number one. If you do absolutely nothing else, please for your feet, wear comfy shoes. Wear your comfiest shoes. Memory foam soles, three years old, what ever works. You’ll be standing pretty much all day, two days straight, carrying an increasingly heavy bag (or bags) of books. Your body will hurt, your back will hurt, but most importantly, your feet will hurt. You’ll start visiting the Penguin booth just so your feet can feel reprieve on their 6″ memory foam (not actually, but that’s what it’s going to feel like). So no matter how cute your outfit and how badly your shoes will go with the outfit, do yourself a favor and wear comfy shoes.

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How to (cleanly) convert PDF files to eBook files

For anyone’s who’s gotten an ARC in PDF format (looking at you NetGalley) and tried to read it on an e-Reader, you’ll know how frustrating the experience can be. The font isn’t adjustable so you’re stuck reading size 4 text, alignment can get screwed up, etc etc. Overall, not a great experience. For any Calibre users out there who’s tried a direct conversion from PDF to .mobi or .epub, the conversion isn’t much better. The line spacing and text alignment are all wonky, words get cut off in strange places, etc.

While I’m aware that there are plenty of online services that offer PDF to eBook conversion, there’s a small concern in the back of my head about uploading files (especially unpublished ARCS) to the Internet and not knowing where that file may end up.

Through trial and error and many a frustration, I’ve figured out a way to successfully convert PDFs to eBook files that leave the text (mostly) readable. This method isn’t perfect, but I’ve found it works for about 90% of the PDFs I’ve received and hopefully it’ll help some other bloggers out too.

For this guide, I’ll be converting a copy of Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells, which I received as a .pdf  from NetGalley without an option to send to my Kindle. If there are any issues, please let me know and I’ll take down the post and replace the images with something in the public domain.

What you’ll need:

  • Calibre (a free eBook management program and one of my person favorites, also completely FREE!)
  • MS Word (or a free equivalent: OpenOffice, LibreOffice, etc)
    • I’ve only ever done this with Word, so if someone uses another program, let me know the results!
  • the .pdf file

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/r/Fantasy 2018 Bingo Challenge – Final Card

This is my second year attempting the /r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge and my first year successfully competing it! I suffered the same problem as I did last year of going on a massive reading slump Spring Semester and forgetting that books in fact exist and I should probably be reading them, but unlike last year, there were enough books (and Chinese web novels) in my backlog that I could start just filling in boxes. Compared to my card during my Mid-Year Check-In, there were thankfully very few slots missing and some swapping and shuffling here and there managed to complete the squares.

You’ll notice that there are several slots that have changed between that video and now, thanks to my re-discovery of Hard Mode as I went to turn in my card. Hard Mode was a new featured added just this year to further challenge readers to find unique books to read, which I’d promptly ignored upon seeing it. However, I realized halfway through turning my card in that I’d somehow managed to mostly complete the Hard Mode challenges anyways. Being the box-checking-lover I am, I went back through my read list and changed a couple books around to bump that number just a little higher.

Some Stats

  • Female Authors – 14/25 – 64% | Male Authors – 9/25 – 36% | Gender Unknown – 2/25 – 8%
  • Hard Mode – 17/25 – 68%
  • Average Word Count – 111025.5
  • Average Page Count – 389.5
  • Books Published in 2018/2019 – 12/25 – 48%

The Card

bingo 2018-2019

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YARC 2019 + 5 Asian-Author Book Recs

As if the /r/Fantasy Bingo wasn’t enough, I’m announcing my participation in a second reading challenge: The Year of the Asian Reading Challenge! The Year of the Asian Reading Challenge 2019, or YARC 2019 for short, is a year-long reading challenge hosted by CW, Lily, Shealea, and Vicky with the express goal to read as many books by Asian authors as possible. All books by Asian authors are fair game, any format, any genre. The only rule is that the book must have been started and finished in 2019.

The organizers have also put together a series of super cute badges you can collect for the number of books read. I’m currently aiming for the Giant Panda (31-40 books). It’s a little ambitious but I think I can do it! The abundance of Chinese web serials I recently discovered is sure to help.

For more information about this challenge and to sign up yourself, check out Shealea’s post.

I’ll be keeping a running progress tracker on my blog, which you can check out here. I’ve also got a dedicated Goodreads shelf, which you can view here.

To celebrate the kickoff of this reading challenge, I’m recommending five books written by Asian authors that I loved!

Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee

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A Korean-inspired Sci-Fi series with some of the most imaginative worldbuilding and compelling characters I’ve come across, with beautifully math-y writing.

 

The Story of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

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A collection of thought-provoking short stories that make you contemplate math, linguistics, and life, including the short story that inspired the movie Arrival.

 

In the Vanishers’ Palace by Aliette de Bodard

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A sapphic Beauty and the Beast retelling with set in a post-apocalyptic Vietnamese backdrop with a side of morbidly trippy alien technology. Covers themes of motherhood and the significance of children leaving the nest.

 

The Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (魔道祖师) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu (墨香铜臭)

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A translated Chinese wuxia epic fantasy web serial, equal parts a comedy and tragedy, following the (mis)adventures a necromancer summoned from the dead and his lover who’s been pining for the last thirteen years. Read it here!

 

Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

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A YA novel set in feudal Japan that reads literally like an anime (kitsune MC, edgy male lead half possessed by a demon sword, A GUY WITH WHITE HAIR (RIP)) that had me screaming and cheering as I read.

2018 in Review: Excel Edition

Now that 2018 has passed, I have a full year’s worth of fanfiction novel data to blab about. Let’s start with the basics.

Basics

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  • In 2018, I read a total of 46 books (I know the number on  my Goodreads account disagrees, I’ll get to that later) for a total of 5,051,121 words, with an average WC of 109,807 words/book
  • The longest book I read was Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson at 213,348 words. The shortest was All Systems Red, a novella by Martha Wells at 34,398 words. I’m excluding Extra Curricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee (14,255) because it’s really more of a long short story.
  • Author-wise, 26 books were written by female authors and 20 were written by male authors, for a 56/44 split. As a reader of almost exclusively SciFi/Fantasy, I’d say that’s a pretty good split considering the genre’s author demographics
  • Amusingly, the only contemporary romance book I read, Crazy Rich Asians, was written by a male author, Kevin Kwan

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BookTag – Social Media Book Tag

This tag was created by faultydevices and I was tagged by Katie from Lost in Pages.

1. Twitter – Your favorite short book (<200 pages)

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I just read this one recently, but In the Vanisher’s Palace by Aliette de Bodard. This is an F/F Beauty and the Beast retelling that has linguistic magic, dragons, doctor-scientists who are dragons, trippy malicious tech, set in a post-alien invasion world inspired by Vietnam. It was pretty much made for me.
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SBPT | Week 9 | Wrap-up & Recommedations

Hi everyone! After nine weeks, the Summer Blogging Promo Tour is coming to a close! It feels like just yesterday when I made my first post for this tour. Time really flies. Thank you so much to the hosts, The Book Bratz, for hosting this event. When I started, I was still incredibly new to the book blogging world (I’d made maybe 10 posts?). I’d never really interacted with other bloggers or done anything but use my blog to host my Goodreads reviews. Now, I’ve learned so much about the book blogging community and gotten an opportunity to interact with so many awesome bloggers.

I’d also like to thank my partners, Katie and Ashley from Lost in Pages, for being awesome partners this summer! I’m not going to lie, when I first found out who I was going to be partnered with, I was really intimidated because I was so new. Really, all the other bloggers of SBPT seemed so much more experienced and higher-profile than I was and I was worried I’d be thought of as an outsider. However, the two of them were incredibly kind and welcoming and really helped make me comfortable! While we tend to read very different books, I think we both had a really good time with this tour!

For this last post, we decided to each recommend three books! Since we have different tastes, it took me a while to pick out my three. However, I think I’ve picked three that I think they would both enjoy!
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SBPT | Week 8 | Top 5 Books from 2018 (so far)

Hi everyone! For Week 8 of the Summer Blogging Promo Tour, Katie & Ashely from Lost In Pages and I are listing our Top 5 book from 2018 so far.

Katie (ACupOfCyanide): In no particular order

1. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

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My favorite Mark Lawrence book yet, Red Sister follows a young girl named Nona as she’s inducted into a convent and trained to kill people. Filled with gory details, amazing female friendships, (and maybe a budding F/F romance???), Red Sister is an amazing and dark take on the classic coming-of-age story.
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