Random Rantings: Have You Noticed I’m on Hiatus?

shinythings

In case you have not noticed, I have barely been posting lately. I have a reason. I mean it’s not a great reason but I totally have a reason. I am embarking on my first year of solo teaching. SUPER-EXCITING! Only problem with the first year is that I am neck deep in planning, grading, learning, and generally not trying to feel like a crappy solo teacher. This leaves little time for reading and even less time for blogging, especially since everyday I spend my free time telling myself I will eventually figure out what I am doing. I’m sure I will. There is a reason that they say the first year of teaching is the hardest, and it is not because of the kids. In the past, I’ve always had help, and now I am responsible for making certain that once my 70 students leave me at the end of the year, they are slightly better writers than when they originally entered my classroom. I am entering the third week here and trying to just take it one step at a time. 

What does this crazy long rant mean and why am I posting it on the blog? Well, it means that once I get situated I am totally coming back! I have been catching up on some older books as I anxiously await some newer releases. I am getting accustomed to a crazy long day (waking up at 4:30 and getting home after 9 is the definition of brutal). However, blogging is constantly on my mind. Currently, I am contemplating going to Yall Fest in November and trying to get through ARCS that I am shamefully behind on reading. Bare with me guys, it’s a slow and steady situation, but before you know it I’ll be back and ready  to talk books. 

Random Ranting: When to Slow Down

shinythings

 

For months I read, reviewed at least twice a week, worked, tutored, and generally began a process of running myself into the ground. However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, the summer. a time when everything could slow down and I could relax and focus. Yea, I had dreams. This summer has been anything but relaxing. I’ve spent the last several weeks traveling, the weeks before that tutoring, and as school looms ahead I feel the weeks to prepare for the new school year getting smaller and smaller.

So what’s the purpose of this rant? Well, the purpose is to reaffirm that sometime’s it’s okay to step back and take a break. I’m sure everyone has noticed a decline in reviews the last few weeks and that’s due to a lack of time. Trying to do it all has lead to crashing and crashing hard. This past weekend I finished two books, but I also spent 16 hours sleeping.

While I want to continue blogging, I know there are times when it has to be a lesser priority in my life. Posting 4-5 times a week and staying on top of my other priorities can be exhausting and right now I would rather post fewer reviews, take care of myself, prepare for the new year, and continue to enjoy the remainder of my summer. Hence, the point of this post. If you don’t hear from me weekly, fret not. I’m reading and I’ll always be back for review. 🙂

 

Random Ramblings: Finding Time To Read aka I’m in a Slump

shinythingsThis meme perfectly describes my life right now, except not really. This Summer was supposed to be a relaxing Summer where I could focus on my own personal goals and not my students (not that I don’t love them but by God I spend a lot of time with kids). Needless to say, in typical me fashion that totally went out the window. I’m teaching five classes next year, four different grades, continuing tutoring this Summer, and trying to work on some solo projects. What was supposed to be a relaxing Summer filled with books and sleep is not turning out that way. When I do get time to read I’m finding it really difficult to pick up a book/kindle/etc, which doesn’t really fly since I have this blog and I have ARCs and a Goodreads goal. Sometimes it takes me a whole week plus to finish one book, which is crazy for me. During the school year, aka the height of my having no time, I still manage to average 2-3 books a week. This has happened before, I’m in a slump.

I hate slumps. Hate, Hate, Hate. It makes something I love doing feel like a chore, and I have enough of those. Reading should be fun. It should fill me with so much joy and inspiration that I just want to actually go exercise. Lately, I’d rather run 10 miles than read, which sucks because I have so, so, so many books to read. Good ones.

The only good thing to come out of this slump is that I’m focused on my own writing. Taking classes, getting a critique partner–not hiding my MS like its some sort of dirty secret. I’m excited! But I need out of my slump.

So I send it to you readers: Have you been in a slump? Have any awesome-sauce book suggestions to help me outta said slump? Should I just wait it out? Hit me with it in the comment sections.

 

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Random Rantings: Why I Almost Always Review Positive

shinythings

 

Okay, so I’m not normally a random rants type of poster, especially on a Monday. Usually, I only cover book things in this blog. That being said, I received a rather critical email a week or so back telling me that I never post any negative reviews and therefore said person did not trust my blog or my opinion on books. My response was coooool because really I didn’t know or feel like responding. Mostly, I feel like I’m an adult, this is a hobby, and if someone does not want to visit my blog that is there opinion. There are some awesome blogs out there and many bloggers who have way cooler sites and are way better reviewers. PLUS, they are way funnier than I’ll ever be and I like humor.

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Then this thing happened where I had to discuss with one of my students how to approach literature. Which of course, led to a discussion about how I personally like to review books. All of this centered around a very timely writing assignment where my student had to thoroughly discuss what made a particular book written in the 1960s relevant today. So, it got me thinking about how I review books and why yes I only feature books that I liked, or mostly enjoyed. In fact, looking back I think I have one 2 rated book on this blog. Does that mean I’m not a thorough reviewer or can’t be trusted; well I as I lay out my process you decide.

 

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1. I’ve been reading YA since I was about nine and Harry Potter first came out. Am I an expert, heck no. Do I know what I like to read, heck yes! Odds are that I’m not picking up a book if I know it’s not a genre or style I’m going to enjoy. I’m not big into YA Contemporary so I generally avoid those titles unless the synopsis is awesome. Even then, I usually will pick up stuff of that genre through trusted recommendations.

 

2. I don’t like to say mean things. Sometimes a book is cliche or random and I’ll note that, but I don’t feel the need to highlight books I didn’t like at all. Those are a rarity because again, I know what I like to read, but I don’t feel the need to rip into an author. Writing is hard and often times there are points that I loved, points that I was like “meh” about, and points that I didn’t like. I try and be fair.

 

3. I have a degree in English, I am literally trained to look at books a certain way. Again, am I an expert. HECCCCK NOOOO. What I’m saying here is that when I dissect books I do it with certain glasses in mind. In fact, sometimes I have to stop myself from going all “teacher mode” and explaining things of a technical level. And by that I mean no one wants to know what I think of the authors use of gerunds. No one. No one wants to read that. Heck, my students probably don’t want to listen to me 9/10. But often times, my reviews are me translating certain aspects of books I found great and aspects I found not so great. And I believe every book has something great in it.

 

4. This is fun. Keep in mind, I don’t do this for $$ or even for ARCs (which I receive very few of). I do this because I like reading and talking about reading. I have a full time job, a part-time job, am an active runner, baker, and Netflix watcher. I wish I had more time, or honestly was just better at blogging, or web design, or twitter. I’m beyond jealous of all those people with awesome blogs and awesome lives who are just crushing it. TEACH ME. Anyways,  ultimately, in all my reviews or in all the books I acquire, I want to read to be entertained. If a book does that it’s a good one for me.

 

So, now that I’ve soapboxed, I’m curious how other people like to review, or really your thought process when determining if you liked a book! I love hearing these things.

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