The Responsible ARC Reader

It is always a delight to receive an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) from authors, publishing houses, or just anywhere at all. I mean how are you not going to be happy? One, you can read a fantastic novel before anyone else does, and of course, it is free!

But are ARCs really free or we are missing our responsibilities as readers whenever we get our hands on those “free” books?

To be honest, I did not know the responsibilities that you have as a reader whenever you receive those ARCs until one day, I started receiving one. 

ARCs are not free. You need to pay the author and the publishing house who put that ARC in your hands. Do they need money? Absolutely not. However, they need more than money. They need your time and your honest opinion about the work.

GIVE THEM YOUR TIME

Remember that ARCs give us an opportunity to read a novel before it comes out. As readers, we are responsible for reading an ARC before it actually comes out. The rule I follow is I should finish the novel at least 2 weeks before its release date. Once the actual book is out in the world, ARCs lose their value. 

WHY READ THEM BEFORE THE BOOK COMES OUT?

The primary purpose of ARCs is not to give readers free books. Remember, publishing houses want to sell their products, but do not think of it that way. We have to see that we are helping authors that have given us amazing books in the past and will give us more amazing books in the future. 

So we have to make sure that we have to read ARCs 2 weeks before they come out so we can give them an amazing review. If you don’t like the ARC, that is okay, but give it a review. ARCs do not demand good reviews; what they want is an honest review. Remember, good or bad publicity is still publicity.

If you are like me, someone who always gives good reviews to ARCs, what I do whenever I do not like the ARC is I will give it a review saying who I think is going to like the book. I will not write about how I do not enjoy the book—I will write how others will like it.

It is always fun to receive ARCs, but we have to remember that once we agree to accept those ARCs, we, as readers, now have a big responsibility in our hands.

TBR Mailbox: Making Reading Fun To The Next Level

A weird combination of happiness and frustration stirs in our chest whenever it is time to choose what to read next. Should I pick up that book that has been collecting dust on my bookshelf? But the last book of that trilogy you’ve been obsessing just came out. This kind of situation always make us readers thankful for the invention of the TBR Jar. For those of you who don’t know what a TBR Jar is, TBR means To-Be-Read. It is a jar with random challenges (such as “Book with male protagonist,” “Book set in another planet”) to help you pick the next book you want to read. My first TBR Jar was just a white mug, so TBR Jars like these make me explode in jealousy: 

CollageImageSo then 2 days ago, I realized it was time for a new TBR Jar. However, I want to reach the next level. I just don’t want it to be a jar, I want it to have personality like the books I own. And so Voila! The TBR Mailbox is born. 

CollageImageLike most TBR Jars (In my case mailbox), everything is handmade. My inspiration for the design is base on the following:

spring-daisy-flowers_121946505 The Spring Season

Anna and The French Kiss

Anna And The French Kiss by Miss Stephanie Perkins 

& Last but not the least

Emmy And Oliver

Emmy & Oliver by Miss Robin Benway 

What makes the TBR Mailbox different from a regular TBR Jar? Well, I am glad you are curious. A regular TBR Jar gives you a direct to the point what you should read next, but the TBR Mailbox gives you a challenge to the next level. Since it is a mailbox, I put envelopes instead of roll-up papers, and I divided these envelopes into 3 categories (And yes, the envelopes are also handmade).

IMG_0305Yellow envelopes are for MG books (Middle Graders)

IMG_0307The pink ones are for YA (Young Adult)

IMG_0308The Plain one is for adult fiction

As you can see, there are certain genres written on each envelope, and I will explain later why. Let me just tell you what I will put inside these envelopes.

IMG_0303Inside the envelopes are these cute fusion of Anna and The French Kiss and Emmy & Oliver cards. When you open the envelopes, you’ll see random challenges like: 

IMG_0306(book set in the future) 

So I shuffled all these cards and put them randomly in different envelopes. Now I will put them inside my TBR Mailbox all facing down so I have no idea what color they are.

IMG_0313

What I will do is I will pick up a random envelope inside. If I pick up a yellow envelope with the contemporary genre written on it, and inside a card says, “book with male protagonist,” it means I need to pick an MG contemporary book with a male protagonist from my bookshelf. I know it can be tricky sometimes, but books are like that, they can be divergent– they belong in many categories. Isn’t that the fun part? If you notice that there is no genre inside my Adult Fiction Envelope, it is because I chose not to put any since the population on Adult Fiction on my bookshelf is just about 3% I think, so I don’t have that many choices. There is also no card inside, but hey at least I still give them a space in my TBR Mailbox, right? 

So guys, what do you think about my TBR Mailbox? Isn’t too much or is it cute, fun, or challenging? 

PS: Again, I cannot tell you where I bought it because everything is handmade. 

Recommendation 101: How to Make Anyone Read Your Book Recommendation

“Have you read Audrey, Wait by Ms. Robin Benway?” 

“Yes! It’s so good! You should read it. Trust me. It is so amazing.” 

I have and you have heard that conversations many times no matter where we are– bookstores, libraries, book events, and many more. The thing about that conversation is it is not a convincing way of recommending books. That kind of recommendation would just enter the right ear and then would exit from the left ear. The only information the person you are talking to would get from that kind of conversation is you are a big fan of that author, that book, or both. Sometimes even saying the synopsis is not very convincing. Remember: even if the book is really amazing, if the synopsis sounds lame from you, the book would sound lame. And we don’t want that happening. 

SO HOW CAN WE AVOID THAT?

HOW CAN WE VERY PERSUASIVE WHEN IT COMES TO OUR BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS? 

It is actually very easy. I have been working in a bookstore for more than a year now. And not to pat myself in the back, but customers return and ask me again for more book recommendations. And to be honest, I also recommend books that I don’t even like that much. Here’s how I do it. 

KNOW THE PERSON YOU ARE TALKING TO

Yes, you are recommending something to your friend. You pretty much know him. You know what he likes and don’t like, so make sure to tap into those areas when recommending your favorite book. What is the book going to offer that will make him like it? If your friend likes music, mention that Audrey, Wait is a book that is full of music. He likes comedy? Tell him that the book is flooded with humor. If the book has nothing that you think he’ll like, tell him why you like it. Mention how you fall in love with the characters and the witty writing. Tell him how fast you read the book. 

If a person is asking you for recommendations and you know nothing about him, ask what his favorite books are and look for some patterns. If he says he likes Divergent, Matched, and The Giver, it means he likes Dystopian novels. Go and recommend good dystopian titles. Again, do not fanboy or fangirl. Mention why the book is good.

If that person is a new reader and has no favorite books so far, ask what are his favorite TV shows, movies, and hobbies. Dig for any kind of information. If he says he likes The Fosters, A Walk to Remember, and cooking, a good book to recommend might be domestic fiction. Throw in some titles there. Tell him why Lola and The Boy Next Door by Ms. Stephanie Perkins has a similar appeal to The Fosters. Remember books are like people, there is always something similar between us and books.

WHAT IF THE BOOK THE PERSON YOU ARE TALKING TO MIGHT LIKE A BOOK THAT YOU DON’T LIKE? 

Sometimes, that happens, but remember: never recommend a book that you did not finish. It will just make you look like a total hater, if you finish a book and you don’t like it. It is still possible to recommend. Remember, what is not good for you might be good for others. I am not gonna mention a title for example, but to recommend a book you don’t like, tell how that person might like it. Remember how other people like that book. This book recommendation is not about you, it is about giving other person an opportunity to find a book that might change his life. Mentioning blurbs also help. If the person asks for your opinion, be honest, but tell him that you can see him liking it and that he might see the beauty of the book that you fail to see. 

Recommending books is very easy once you separate fanboying/fangirling and great persuasion. Give it a shot. You might find yourself as someone whom people go to when they need good books to read. 

    

   

What is Your Shoe Print?: Learn What Makes You Unique as a Reader

There are studies that claim that somewhere in the world there is a person that looks like us. This is very true especially if you have an identical twin. However, no matter how others look exactly like you or share the same interest, your fingerprints will never ever match. Fingerprints are like our tastes in books, when you think we have other perfect matches, a microscopic variation will appear.

How and why is that?

wpid-confused-face-1.jpgTo answer that, we need to think that books are like shoes. There are different kinds of shoes– there’s the dress shoes, tennis shoes, chucks, high heels, and so on. For books, genres exist (Romance, contemporary, etc.) Some people like collecting tennis shoes because they are always on the go, and they like the way they look (and yes, tennis shoes can be very classy). On the other hand, some people like collecting tennis shoes, because they play tennis. When these two people meet, instant friendship could immediately spark. They can talk about how they love the material of tennis shoes used by this particular brand and other topics regarding tennis shoes. When they reach the topic why they used tennis shoes, an argument will happen– the other person might say that tennis shoes are solely for playing tennis. 

Why am I saying this? 

Looks+like+a+Sparrow+or+something+_946ea4197e8560b741a552a6f8fc2893People need to learn that people love reading for different purposes. Let’s not even get to the escapism and such and such (those are already given). What I am trying to say is wee need to respect others why they like a certain book. For example, you might hate Twilight by Ms. Stephenie Meyer because Bella is the stupidest character you’ve ever seen, so now you need to hate on other people who enjoy the book. But what if those people enjoy reading characters who make stupid and reckless decisions? What if they love books with super flawed character?

I have experienced personally and seen readers (and non-readers) bully readers because of what they like to read. We don’t have to force ourselves to like what others like too, but I believe respect should be mandatory. If you don’t want to read the book that other like that you this is “stupid,” just say you have no interest in reading the book and then move on. We should stop putting other people down because of what they like to read. Other people is not obligated to like reading the way you like it. remember, we have our own “shoe prints.” Shoe prints are our reading fingerprints, we might think we have an identical one, but a slight variation will always happen.    

The Divergent Review of The insurgent Movie

SPOILERS FREE

If you saw my Facebook post about my reaction after I’d watched the Insurgent movie, you might think this is a rant of an angry fanboy, but I promise this is a review that will make you prepared what to see in order to enjoy the movie whether you’ve read the book or not. 

If I just want to be honest, it will look like I hate the Divergent Trilogy. And that is not true. So instead of using candor alone, I will write the review divided in five factions. 

divergent_amity_faction_symbol_necklace_circle_c

What will make you happy? 

If you have not read the book, you are in for a good ride, because the movie does not stay faithful to the book, but that’s okay, because the movie will unravel the whole world of Divergent piece by piece like a new experience, and trust me, the visual effects and the action scenes are purely brilliant. Even though the movie has no narrative voice, it will still show you a good play of images.

divergent_dauntless_faction_symbol_sticker

What kind of risks did the movie take?

I believe that the director of the movie thinks that they should focus more on Tris’ inner struggle to forgive herself, so many parts of the book is removed. I was actually sad and happy to see this movie. Happy, because duh! It’s Insurgent. Sad because this is the book where my favorite character is going to die, but he doesn’t even exist in the movie. The focus now is more on Tris, so throw away your list of favorite scenes in the book, because none of them may appear. And by doing so, you will enjoy the movies.

divergent_abnegation_faction_symbol_sticker_rec

How to help other enjoy the movie more?

This is ver simple. Let’s divide this category into two– a.) People who have read the book and b.) People who have not read the book 

People who have read the book– absorb the movie like a new experience. Do not enter the theater with a mindset “I am excited to see this part and that part,” because you will only disappoint yourself. Instead, enter the theater while telling yourself, “I am excited how the simulations will materialize in front of me.” Trust me, those simulations are the bomb!

People who have not read the book– I watch movies too with people who have not read the book, and yes, they do love asking questions. So if you have not read the book, and some scenes confuse you, don’t ask you book nerd friends. They might be confused too, because there are many parts in the movie that is very unfamiliar to us.

divergent_erudite_faction_symbol_sticker_rectan

What is so smart about the movie? 

The factions of Candor and Amity were unexplored in the first movie, but now, Insurgent gave a tiny glimpse of them. You’ll see the truth serum in action and how Amity members are peaceful people. However, that’s about it. Amity has so many unique qualities in the book. The book really explored Amity, but in the movie, it is just a glimpse.

divergent_candor_faction_symbol_jewelry_case

What I think about the movie: 

There were many times that my left eyebrow was arching during the movie, because from time to time my brain kept saying “we’re in this part already? I guess they skip the (insert good scene in the book here) part.” The mystery of the box kept me flipping the pages of the book, but that feeling is missing in the movie. Again, the focus is Tris’ inner struggle to forgive herself or to be achieve Amity. And again too, I was not expecting the simulation to be that good, and the action scenes are really beyond. The way the characters fight show unique characters.

So to wrap this up, the movie is good, but I would not really give my two thumbs up for it. Go see this movie, because it is enjoyable, but remove that bookworm inside your body first. For maximum enjoyment of the movie, try forgetting that it is a book.

Rating: 5/10 stars.       

Girl Power = YA Novels: The Real Reason Why I Love YA Novels

Every time someone would ask me why I love Young Adult novels, I feel like I always need to pull a script and say “YA novels deal with the theme about the biggest transition of life– childhood to adulthood.” It’s not even an original answer from me. I got it from a YA author. The borrowed words tasted like a cardboard box on my tongue. A couple of days ago, after I dig a little deeper in my life, I found an answer why I love YA novels. The experience made me realize that I was born to love Young Adult novels. Why? To answer that, I need to tell you about myself. I grew up as the only guy in the house: 2 sisters (1 younger and 1 older), my mom, then my grandmother. I have a father, but he used to be a professional athlete where he was required to train all day. I would not even see him go home, for I was already sleeping the moment he would step inside our house. We were a happy family, but not perfect. We had to deal with financial problems, misunderstandings from one another, and so on. Even though I grew up seeing in the media that women are supposed to cry and wait to be rescued, the way my family dealt with problems kept me out of that box. The women in my family were the image of strength. My mother was not only the chef of the house, but also our repairman. She had been breaking gender stereotypes from the very beginning. My two sisters were my armor from bullies in school; they also dominated the school academically. They showed me that women are smart. My grandmother was the picture of determination. She taught me crying could be the fuel of strength. As I become aware of the realities of the world– the way the world view women, I become very protective of my family. I know how our society see women are very wrong. The evidence can be found in our house. I want to change the world, and I know I can. Now, Young Adult novels have the same mission. They are showing how women are just as powerful as men. YA novels show that women still cry, but those tears become their power to fight what they believe in. YA novels are turning the world into a better place where “throw like a girl” is one of the best compliments you’ll get. So if someone asks me why I love Young Adult novels a lot, my answer is simple–

“Young Adult novels see the world in a way I see it– better and powerful”   

Reading Time = Gold: How To Find Reading Time on A Super Busy Schedule

“How do you find the time to read?” 

I would be a billionaire by now if I get paid a penny every time I hear that. I am a full-time student, a part-time bookseller at Barnes & Noble, and I still love my social life. 

But trust me, I still find to read. How do I do that? 

We don’t know that there are many times that are perfect for reading. Once, however, we become aware of when those reading times are, you will  reading again like a wild man. 

Before everything else, I must say to go back on track of reading faster, eReaders are your friend. And you don’t need an eReader to take advantage of the digital age; the eReader apps (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, etc.) are free. Grab your tablet or smartphone and get those apps. Remember: if you don’t like eReaders, you can still follow my tips with the use of paper books  (Trust me, I still prefer paper books). 

1. After you wake up 

  

Sleep is really hard to find if you are a busy person so cherishing every minute of it is very crucial. However, waking up 15-30 minutes early is very worth it. Remember we love reading, and for love to happen, a little bit of sacrifice is necessary. You might be a bit cranky, but once you see whether Harry will catch that Golden Snitch to win the quidditch tournament against Slytherin is totally worth it. 

2. Make commuting your best friend

Whether you drive or not, going to work, school, or basically just anywhere can quench your bookworm thirst. 

If you drive: set a solid time when you are going to leave the house. For example, if you leave at exactly 8:00am, and you are done with all your morning routine at 7:45am, steal that 15 minutes; you can read 5-8 pages with that time. Just be aware of the time. Remember, reading can absorb you.– who wants to be late? Make looking at your watch every 2 pages a habit.

If you don’t drive:  you have two options. 

  • If you carpool, take advantage of this. Read along the way. If there’s only two of you inside the car, tell your driver friend that you are going to read (opening your book instantly is not a good behavior). If there is more than 2 inside the car, still tell your friends. 
  • If you take public transportation (train, bus, cab): it means you are going to have a lot of time to read. Public transportation is your friend. You can read without any disturbance. Just be aware, so you won’t miss your stop. Make looking where you are every two pages. 

3. While waiting for your next class/shift to start

 

Traffic varies everyday. Classes sometimes end a little bit early. Once you claim your favorite seat for your next class, open that tablet or book and read a couple of pages. There’s 10 minutes left before your shift starts? That is a gift; take advantage of it. It is not much, but hey let’s take what we can get. 

4. Eat & Read

Take advantage of your tablets’ or eReaders’ stand. Eating is relaxing, but guess what– so is reading. We eat at least three times a day. If your average eating time is about 10 minutes, then that is 3×10= 30 minutes. Woah. That is a chapter. 

5. Before you sleep

We already know that reading is relaxing. I always find myself waking up super great when I read before sleeping. What I do is I read until I can’t take it anymore. However, I still set a limit. If it is already 12:00am, I will go to sleep with the chapter finish or unfinish. 

There are many times that are perfect for reading, and we always take it for granted. Oen your eyes. Take advantage of them.