In which I come back with news.

Don’t even ask me about that unexplained hiatus.
I have no idea what happened. Or…wait, maybe I do. You know those days when things just start happening and happen so much they just can’t stop? Well, THAT happened. Life did. It turns out that I now find myself knee-deep in a thing I didn’t even see coming, with a Boy who wasn’t even on the List (you know, one that consists of Tom Felton and the Winchester brothers and all those pretty boys on tv) and well, it’s been craaazy. This would’ve kinda made for an interesting high school story, except for the fact that we are both in university. Teehee.

ANYWHO. Enough with the personal talk. Like I said, I have news. Tra-la.

Firstly, guys, guys, guys. Remember that cover contest all of you helped me with? The one where you helped me choose one among several covers I made for Holly Cupala’s Don’t Breathe A Word? Not once but TWICE? Guess what, all your amazing input went into making me win that contest. And this was my first cover contest in, like, ever. THANK YOU! I wish I could send you guys something, all of you, to show how grateful I am for all your help, but, alas, being a poor college student has it’s disadvantages. But, really, if it means anything at all, thank YOU.

So you wanna see what I got?

So that’s a copy of Don’t Breathe A Word and an audio book of Tell Me A Secret and bookmarks and a graphic novel excerpt and um, stickers? Because of you guys, I now own an audio book. My first one ever. I’m not even kidding.
The best part?

Yes, personally signed! Gotta love that. And Holly’s got such nice handwriting, hasn’t she? *cuddles book*

In other news, which you must all be aware of by now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, JK ROWLING HAS A NEW BOOK! (that’s just one of the many links Google will take you to if you simply type in ‘J.K. Rowling’). So we don’t know much about the book, but we know something. We know that:

  • it’s NOT Harry Potter
  • it’s an adult novel
  • it will be published by Little, Brown
  • more details will be revealed later in the year

godimsoexcitedidontevenknowwhattodorightnow*wringshands*itcrazyohmygodohmygodohmygodthequeenofmychildhoodiscomingbackinmyadulthood!

Also, Maureen Johnson (yes, our very own Maureen Johnson) wrote an amazing article in the guardian asking naysayers to dispose their doubts about THE bestselling children’s writer venturing into adult territory. I mean, c’mon, you can’t really expect another Harry Potter, but don’t put her down before you even know what she’s coming up with this time. OH GOD, I’M SO EXCITED. *does jagger dance* (don’t laugh, okay? i know you’re laughing. stop. STOP)

Moving on (ohmyfreakinggodrowlinghasanewnovel!).
*deep breath*
My friend from college, Paro has a new blog! I’ve known her for more than 3 years now and she’s a wonderful person, a lot of fun to talk to and by god, just look at Leafturner Tales! Isn’t it cute? She’s brand, brand new to the blogging world and she’s already gathered some followers (because she’s awesome that way), but it would be wicked cool of you guys to head that way and say ‘hi’. Show her how awesome and nice the blogosphere is 🙂

Random:

(so did the oscars go according to your prediction?)

Also, I came across this one on my aunt’s Facebook profile and it made me smile 😉

and, it’s 25 DAYS TILL THE HUNGER GAMES!
*hyperventilates*
ohgodohgodohgod

The Review Debacle

(I have a lot to say, so bear with me)

This has been going on far too long. I think every year there comes a time when the eternal debate of whether authors/aspiring authors should be book reviewers too comes up. This generally sparks off several more posts regarding reviews (blogger reviews, to be specific) and how positive or negative they should or shouldn’t be. And it’s alright to have these discussions. That’s why we are human beings. We have the power to reason and discuss, test and explore new ideas. And every year we have some very interesting discussions on said topics, which leave us with greater understanding of things, even if our fundamental beliefs remain unchanged.

This time, though, something went wrong. Something spiraled beyond discussions and took on an ugliness of its own – where certain authors ganged up on certain reviewers, certain agents conspired with certain authors to rig the review rating system on Goodreads and Amazon, mudslinging and bitch-slamming in public took place – it’s been one hot mess after another.

And it’s been very, very disappointing. This is NOT the book world as I know it. The book world I’ve grown to love and respect is the one where writers and reviewers and readers co-exist in harmony – occasionally going to tea with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, engaging in Wildean witty banter, tipping their hats to each other when they gather at book clubs or pen clubs (where they brainstorm ideas. This doesn’t officially exist by that name). There are differences of opinions, yes. As long as there will be people there will be opinions and everyone has a different opinion and everyone’s entitled to it. But this is done with a respect for each other, with the thought that – ‘Yes, I understand that’s what you think about me/about this book and while I don’t necessarily agree with you, I appreciate your thoughts’.

Unfortunately, that’s the ideal. Which obviously, also makes it unreal. The ugly truth of it is that somewhere that line between public and private has been crossed and dirty linen is being washed in full view of the rest of the world.

I mean, look at us. I’m assuming (and rightly so) that we are all literature lovers here. And literature preserves the ideals of humanity. It’s supposed to give us a better understanding of life. Supposed to sensitize us to people and their situations. Of all people, we, readers and lovers of literature should know that jumping at each other’s throats is not the way to go about things. And creators of literature? You should know better.

My biggest dream is to be a published author. I want to hold a book in my hands, which has a shiny new cover and my name on its spine. A book that people will want to read and hopefully, some of them will love a little. Yes, that’s what I really hope happens someday.

But you know what? I was a reader first. It’s my love for reading, for books, that made me want to be a writer. I love talking about them, what they made me and didn’t make me feel. What worked and what didn’t work for me. Would I be reading it again or would I be putting it aside? I like the process of reviewing, evaluating a book and then interacting with fellow readers and getting to know their thoughts on said book.

But when someone tells me that by putting forward my honest thoughts about a book I may as well be killing off my future career as an author, that disappoints me. You’re asking me to choose between my love and my dream. I ask you: WHY? Why does it have to be a choice between either? I understand that the writers of the books I don’t fangirl over might become my colleagues when/if I do get published, so it might get awkward, but whether I deal with it by simply deleting all reviews I’ve written or not, is entirely my decision. If I’m not mistaken, whether or not I become published or not depends entirely on my own merit and not because I may not have liked a book by a fellow author and publicly said so. Unless there’s a conspiracy of some sort brewing in the industry.

Which brings me to a post by a certain very well-respected author that saddened me a great deal. The author made some interesting points but it all boiled down to her perception that book bloggers aren’t real reviewers. That, I vehemently disagree with.

Now, guys.
I understand where she’s coming from. She talks about jerk-fests – personal attacks that come under the guise of reviews. That is wrong. That is just very, very wrong. Yes, we live in a free world (at least most of us do) and we are allowed freedom of speech (at least, till now) but that’s NOT to be exploited. Reviews that go: “Oh jeez, I think this author wrote this book simply to annoy me! She should be locked up in an asylum and that goddamned book should be barbecued!” NO. That is NOT how book reviews should go, no matter how much you hate a book. Be snarky, yes, use funny gifs, have a good laugh – heck, yes, that’s fine – but you cross the line at cruelty and meanness. I get that. And I’m totally against it.

But what I don’t get is the distinction she makes between paid reviews and unpaid ones. Between how real the professional reviews (say, ones that appear in The Guardian and the New York Times and other literary publications) and how not real the unprofessional reviews (say, on Goodreads and book blogs) are. I mean, seriously? That’s like saying that books that don’t win awards aren’t real books.
Blogger reviews are NOT all jerk-fests that take potshots at the author’s personal life. NO. They probably comprise only 2% of the blogosphere. So clubbing every blog reviewer under the ‘jerks’ umbrella is biased and wrong.

The author also says:

Let’s talk about the negative “reviews” that authors have been lashing out at. They often involve animated gifs, swearing, and snark. They’re often quite funny. But here’s the thing, though. When a blogger writes a biased, hilarious, snarky rundown of a book they despised, he/ she is not writing a review. They are writing a post about a book. I’m not saying that bloggers shouldn’t write biased, hilarious, snarky rundowns of books. I’m saying that those rundowns are not reviews. Bloggers who regularly write them cannot expect to garner the same respect and treatment from authors that pro reviewers or non-pro reviewers do. They can’t expect authors to read their posts and learn something from them. And they cannot expect authors to not take it personally. They’ve made it personal. 

Um, hello – WHAT?
So because they are informal, these are not reviews? I don’t get it. How I evaluate is book is entirely up to me. And what’s the deal about these being personal? DUDE, art is personal. Everything about art is personal. There can’t ever be anything such as looking at a book ‘objectively’. I mean, how can it? The way you respond to a book is entirely yours. You and I might love a book but on a deeper level, in almost all probability we love it for very different reasons. EVERY REVIEW IS SUBJECTIVE. It is personal, because it it about how I personally feel about the book. Irrespective of whether or not I mention the ‘I’ in my reviews, it’s omnipresent. It would be ridiculous to suggest otherwise.

I realise it’s very hard to let your book – your sweat and blood and tears – out there and watch other people take a swing at it, but that’s what happens when you go public with your work. If you want the fangirls, you have to accept the non-fangirls as well. You are allowed to be secretly angry with them but don’t lash out at them. Don’t demean the bloggers who are putting forth a thought on your book because of their love of reading, irrespective of which way their opinions might swing. I stumbled upon this blogger’s post while writing this. Go read it. It’s more articulate than I can be at this point.

As for the reviewers, you’re allowed to be honest. You’re allowed your opinions. You’re allowed to like or dislike a book (don’t let anyone threaten you otherwise) but be careful not to turn that dislike into a personal attack. Don’t. Do. That.

Guys. Look at us. We’re Literature lovers. All of us. Lets not indulge in such pettiness. It’s unbecoming and savage and puts Literature to shame.

We are all doing something we love. Bring on the respect, guys. And be a sport.

A New Year’s Gift for the Blogstars!

The calender on my laptop screen says 2012. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? Year of the Apocalypse – ALREADY?

Also, I will be 22 this year. In about 7 months time. Sheesh, I’m getting old *clutches on to youthful self*

To be honest, I feel like this:



But for the sake of this being the time-of-the-year-to-spread-cheer, I’ll push aside the cynic to quote Oprah:
For all that the last year has given me and taken away from me, I’m thankful for one thing.
I’m thankful for you.
Yes, YOU guys. My blogstars.
This blog wouldn’t have been anywhere, if you guys hadn’t stuck around with me. I could have rambled on and on with no followers or readers and then I’d have gotten bored of..well, just talking to myself (I mean, I can do that in my room. I don’t need a blog for that), so I guess I’d mope about, secretly listening to emo music and occasionally crying out ‘Woe is me. Nobody wants to listen to me. Nobody cares.’ And then eventually I’d have left blogosphere. 
Now THAT would have been terrible for me. Because, honestly, belonging to this blogging world has made me a better writer AND reader. Don’t ask me how, but it has. Maybe it’s just your awesomeness rubbing off on me.
So.
I’m celebrating.
Not in a big way, cause big celebrations call for a lot of money, which I don’t have (what with me being a poor university student and all that), but celebrating, nevertheless. I’m giving away an e-ARC of Kelley York‘s HUSHED. Yeah, that book I gushed about in December. This is how it looked like. Remember?
If you don’t know the book I’m talking about, click on the links above. There’s plenty to make you want to read it 😉
There are two requirements to enter:
1. Be a follower – because, really, this is a thank you of sorts to my followers who really are the blogstars.
2. Be a blogger – because they are awesome. And they have made my stay here, awesome. So, I’m sorry non-bloggers, this is only for the blogger folks.
There are a few ways to earn extra entries, too, but that’s up to you. I won’t love you less if you don’t go that way, but it is appreciated. Also, like all giveaways on this blog, this is open to everyone with a valid email address 🙂
You’ll find the form at the end of the post.
Anyway. Now that that’s out of way, I’ve been thinking a lot about wishes and goals for 2012. I mean, every year I go, ‘Oh dear lord, please, PLEASE, see that I get published this year’ – it’s kind of become the usual thing. Of course, I still want that. Will always want that more than anything else. As much as I want to go to New York. Or get a beach house. Or marry Tom Felton. You know the drill. This time, though, I’m not really expecting anything specific. I just want this to be a really good, unforgettable year. 
This is what I want out of 2012.
This year I want to be surprised. With good, magical things.
What about you?
Have a good year, folks! 🙂

The Christmas Post

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home  ~ Charles Dickens


It’s Christmas eve in my part of the world.
Which means I’m full of that giddy joy that accompanies the 24th of Dec. Which also means that I’m so bubbling with, well, feelings, that I don’t quite have the words, for a proper post.

So I’m gonna let other things do the talking.
Like Safe & Sound – the Taylor Swift ft The Civil Wars song from the official The Hunger Games soundtrack. WHO KNEW? I mean, I’d never associate Taylor with HG (c’mon, she’s so sweet and fairy tale-ish, while HG is..well, HG) but..GAH, THIS IS PERFECT.

I can imagine so many instances for this song to be featured. Like, when Katniss tries to console a crying Prim before leaving for the Hunger Games – I don’t remember if there’s such a scene in the book, but if there’s one in the book, and this song is played in the background, it would be so fitting. Or after Rue dies and Katniss sings her a lullaby, this could be the background score – it has such a lullaby-like quality to it. Also, I just know it’s going to rip my heart to shreds. In fact, this song can even fit in when Katniss and Peeta are alone together and Peeta’s certain that he would die. I just this song would be compelling anywhere.
I only, really, hope they actually use the song in the movie. Unlike what was done with Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years from Breaking Dawn (it was part of the official soundtrack but didn’t feature anywhere in the movie).

It’s crazy, but this song just made Christmas a little more perfect 🙂 And if for some reason you are down and sad and lonely, I hope these photos make you smile. Because photos kinda do that.

Don’t tell me that last one didn’t crack you up 😉

My comfort read for this Christmas is Trisha Ashley’s The Magic of Christmas.





In the pretty Lancashire village of Middlemoss, Lizzy is on the verge of leaving her cheating husband, Tom, when tragedy strikes. Luckily she has welcome distraction in the Christmas Pudding Circle, a group of friends swapping seasonal recipes – as well as a rivalry with local cookery writer Nick over who will win Best Mince Pie at the village show… 

Meanwhile, the whole village is gearing up for the annual Boxing Day Mystery Play. But who will play Adam to Lizzy’s Eve? Could it be the handsome and charismatic soap actor Ritch, or could someone closer to home win her heart? Whatever happens, it promises to be a Christmas to remember! 



(And that cover? It’s got sparkly bits all over it!)




Have a great Christmas, blogstars! And make sure you’re under the mistletoe when there’s a smexy boy/girl (whichever you prefer) around 😉


(All photos taken from here)