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February 9, 2016

Gush & Gripe: Diverse Reads, GFC, & ARCS #Discussion

 Welcome to a random edition of Gush & Gripe where I discuss a few things that may or may not be related to each other because I'm hopped up on coffee and my mind is percolating at the speed of a rocket. Noticed the long sentence?


First up are DIVERSE READS. As part of the minority, I'm psyched that there's a call for books to be diversified and that both authors and publishers are heeding to it. I'm looking forward to reading a character that "looks" like me so to speak. A Filipino who is not the help?! Heck yeah!

On the other hand, I'm a little disappointed because sure, characters are being diversified but a lot of them are also stereotyped, and sometimes it's insulting or very unfavorable. Like a traditional Asian who's got a stiff stick up their asses, or the flamboyant gay bestfriend, the villainous Russian, the underprivileged South American, the snotty British, the list goes on and I'm sure you get the picture. Don't you think that putting your "diverse" characters in a box is the opposite of diversity? Adding a bit of "color" to your book doesn't exactly make it diverse IMHO.


Next on the chopping block is GFC. Blogger users, it seems that this widget isn't lacking in issues. For non-blogger member, this blog app is an important attribute when listing down our stats. There were rumors that it's going to be shut down, but it seemed to have survived the guillotine. That said...




I just lost over a hundred followers in less than a week?! Last I checked, you can't unfollow a blog via GFC. Believe me, I tried. So is there an article I missed here? Did Google deactivated accounts in one fell swoop and consequently impacted my numbers? Help!


I also wanted to ask you all if you keep up with your ARCS' release dates? Speaking for myself, I used to because (1) I felt the pressure of reviewing in advance, and (2) it's also a bragging right. 




It took its toll on me and following a schedule is the best way to kill a mood reader like myself. And because I wanted my blog to live on, I decided to give my reading calendar the finger and read according to my mood. It seems to be doing the trick because I've been reading non-stop since to the point where I can't keep up with writing review posts (can't catch a break with this balancing act)! I'm loving it though because it's making things enjoyable again. 

But I have to be honest, I still feel the sting of competitiveness once in awhile. The desire to review a book before everyone else for those much coveted page views. Yet at the end of the day, I decided that I can't give up the current joy for reading that I'm experiencing right now. I still keep an eye out for the release dates, but I'm also choosing to ignore the pressure of reading like its a chore.








52 comments:

  1. Fabulous post, Braine! Just fabulous! I loved your rant on diversity in books. I've thought about this and chatted about it with the few peeps that would listen. I'm all for diversity in books. It's needed and something that's been sorely lacking forever. But my concern was exactly what you griped about...stereotypes. And I don't know what the answer is. I think authors are plenty capable of writing diversity. They apparently choose not to and/or choose to do it and do it poorly. Are those who choose not to afraid? What are those who do it poorly thinking? I just don't know what the answer is but hopefully if we keep talking about it, we'll figure it out. :)

    I didn't think about Google being responsible for my loss of GFC followers. I love 'em too, Braine. Not as many as you but then, I didn't have as many followers to begin with. It hurt. And it made me sad.

    ARCs and release dates...I was never that good with following release dates unless I was doing a blog tour. That's why I'm doing the Blogger Shame challenge. ;) But I admit to being envious when I see bloggers reviewing fantastic books that I didn't get early. :/ However, I agree with you in that mood reading, without schedules, is happiness! I'm loving reading what I want, when I want. It's making reading and blogging fun once again and I don't want to go back. So, I'll learn to deal with it when I see amazing books and reviews done early (like your review of The Dark Days Club. ;)

    *mwah*

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    1. I don't keep up with blogger updates. I just get an uncool surprise like losing followers then rant about it

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  2. Great post Braine. I agree with your rant on diversity. Some of my favorite Asian authors are Mingmei Yip, Jeannie Lin and Kristina McMorris. GFC does bother me but I kind of think its like all those things you can't control, why worry about it. ARCS and release dates are very important to me mainly because many of my posts concur with an author's release date.
    I always enjoy these posts by you.

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    1. I love Jeannie Lin! She brings a lot of cool things to the table... thanks for the GFC advice... I try to keep up with my arcs, force of habit!

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  3. I have no idea what it up with GFC but I've lost quite a few followers as well. :(

    As for ARCs, I use to feel the pressure but I've cut way back on them and it is so nice! I hate feeling like I have to read something by a certain date, it really does take the fun out of reading and I don't ever want that to happen and for all of this to feel like a chore.

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    1. I try to cut back too, it's just so hard to resist when a favorite author has an arc up and sometimes all of them do it at the same time! I try to be more discerning though...

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  4. I'm so behind on reviews, but I'm reading my butt off. I had to stop requesting so many ARCs, because feeling obligated to read a book is not why I started blogging. I have exactly 4 ARCs to read from here to August. I'm getting so many of my own books read. As far as diversity goes, I'm just tired of getting nowhere on that front. Thankfully, I am reading diversely, and have been since I could read. How? I read books written by black, white, Asian, Indian, etc.... writers all the time. This diversity that people are insisting on? It's already there, they just have to pick up books that aren't all written by white authors. A white author can't possibly write about a character they have nothing in common with, no matter the research. When they do, it comes off as offensive.

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    1. Or at least do some research. Interact with people you plan to write to add perspective. Don't base them off what you see in movies or some other stereotype!

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  5. LoL. Thank you for your honesty! Believe me, I love getting ARC's and reading them early for the same reason. I love the feeling of getting a book before it's released. Heck, the ones I get MONTHS in advance make me feel like I've made it as a blogger even if I'm unknown to the blogging community. It's just a good feeling. However, I suck at reviewing them early. I ALWAYS tend to read them like a week before it's released. >.< I think for me at least, it's the fact that a publicist somewhere was like, "Oh! Let's send Kristin from Book Sniffers Anonymous a copy of this book". :) Makes me feel loved.

    As for GFC, I changed from Blogger a while ago and I don't think being a self-host on WP I can have GFC. Maybe I'm wrong though. I do know you used to be able to unfollow on GFC because I did it all the time when blogs went inactive or changed their demographic. But the numbers you are talking about sound a bit sketchy to me.

    I've always loved diverse books, and I'm Caucasian! It changed things up. However, like you, I'm sick of having stereotypical characters. The token black friend, the super smart and shy Asian, the tough latino, the ignorant and sheltered southern girl, and like you said, the overly flamboyant (or butch if they're female) gay friend.

    Great post!

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    1. Ha! I'm a crammer too, but I feel you. It's nice to get books that you didn't request. It means someone is paying attention.

      Yeah, let's stay away from stereotypes. You're not bringing anything new to the table by doing that

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  6. GFC cut off any users that logged in via anything other than google. IE: People that followed your blog via GFC using yahoo, etc were removed from your followers. :(

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    1. And YES we need more diverse characters. I'd say a mix of stereotype and non-stereotype is fine with me.

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    2. Thanks for that update. I just might get rid of GFC, but I'm not ready yet!!

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  7. Yes to all of this!

    Lily addressed the GFC thing above but here's their official statement: http://buzz.blogger.com/2015/12/an-update-on-google-friend-connect.html

    I don't request many arc's anymore so it's not hard for me to stay on track with release dates yet not feel pressured to *review read*.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. I need work on minimizing my arc requests. I still have a long ways to go, but I've improved on fighting the impulse

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  8. I am glad that I got rid of the GFC or it was taken away from me in my first six months of blogging. I was afraid that it would eventually go by the wayside, and I am surprised it still around. I don't know many blogger though that encourage people to follow that way anymore. I am like you, I have given the finger to my calendar a bit. I am trying to not request as many books, which I have accomplished, but I have been doing a lot more mood reading this winter and it has made me a much happier blogger.

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    1. Mood reading is the best, your senses are open to suspend disbelief... wooozaahhh

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  9. Yes, LilyElement said what happened to the GFC followers. I only lost about 10 followers but I still lost a few followers. I just happened to see a blog post about it somewhere.

    I do like these discussion posts. As for ARCs, I don't write a lot of book reviews these days. I mostly read the books and series that I've been reading for years. I don't read as much as I use to because my anxiety has been reeking havoc and it's hard to concentrate lately. I read what I like these days instead of what people send me.

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    1. Good for you. I'm trying to get to that place. I have an addiction and it's hard to curb! lol

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  10. I lost many too, but yes there was an explanation. Sucks.

    Diverse reads, hm, you have a point there. I did not think of that

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  11. I hear you on the diverse bit. I want diverse characters that don't fit stereotypes.
    As far as GFC, I think I'd say just get rid of it. First of all I think it makes a blog look 'smaller' than it often is. I have some bloggers that have less than 100 followers on GFC but their stats are good. It makes it look like they are a small blog when it's not the case. I don't know, does anyone even follow that way anymore? I'm on wordpress and had to let it go when I moved a couple years ago. I don't miss it one bit.
    ARC's- I have my ARC's stacked by release month. I don't tell myself I have to read all of them, I read what I'm in the mood for and I try to do it by month. So right now I have a stack that is late February (only one or two), March and April. These are the books I hope to read soonest. But I have stacks for May, June, July and August as well and if I feel an urge to read one of them, I do. Most of my ARC's are now provided through the bookstore I work at so no one is following up to see that I read them. I have a few still for my blog and those I consider priority, but there's not as many. I just try to have a balance and a variety so I can read what I want, when I want. At least for the most part. And I do read older books too. I just squeeze them in here and there. :)

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    1. That's cool! Maybe I should work for a bookstore too!

      Yeah, these diverse books really need to be DIVERSE

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  12. DIVERSE READS: I don't know. Whenever I read a book that features characters of ethnic background, I don't mention it on my reviews. I want to make it a thing without calling it a thing. Does that make sense?

    GFC I have no clue.

    ARCs. I read them when I can, but I keep the schedule in my periphery for priorities' sake.

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    1. Yeah it does, and that's fine. I just dislike it when characters are stereotyped. It's obvious when you're following a series and suddenly all these newbies are in the story. It's an effort to offer diversity only they're stereotyped so it ends up being a failed effort IMO.

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  13. This is a great post Braine. I rarely use GFC. I've friended people on there because of contest, but that is the extent of it. I do completely agree with you about diversity. I can't stand reading about stereotypes. Yes, sometimes they fit, but not always. I don't get a huge number of arcs before release, since I mostly do audiobooks. They rarely have them before release date. When I do get a book before release date, I try to, but I don't stress about it.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

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    1. There's just one pub that hounds me and I've learned not to request books from them even if I want to. It's annoying

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  14. I was curious about GFC too! I lost like 200 followers. I was trying to not let it get to me. I see LilyElements comment, so now I know what happened.

    I am not a person that falls in the diverse category, but I do like reading diverse characters. I will say that when I read I like them to be people not stereotyped. And in that case, I also forget if that person's skin is purple or green or any color. lol.

    As for ARCs, I don't request them very often anymore. I'm so swamped with books that I can't guarantee that any of them will be read before release. And I hate that pressure anymore. I want to have fun with reading not be forced to do it.

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    1. I don't seek out diverse reads too, but when I see an effort at "diversity" in my book, I expect it to be truly diverse.

      Coolio! It's a hard lesson to learn, dealing with arcs

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  15. I was privileged to grow up in a diverse family, neighborhood and school and was surrounded by that, but even I would hesitate a long time to feel like I could write about the people in my life without doing them justice. Diverse reads and writers who write it well are there and its trial and error finding the ones I can love for an authentic rendering. Oh, and along the way, I discovered that b/c the author is a person of color or ethnicity, it doesn't mean they write about other groups well (I was naive and have learn, lol). One really can't get around trial and error to find what works- one must try out a person's writing like for what type of mystery, history, contemporary, plot trope, elements, narrator voice, or anything else related to the book.

    For the longest time, I barely noticed release dates and only paid attention to when someone sent me the ARC. First come; first served was how I looked at and still do to a certain extent. But after I started getting review copies from certain publishers who made it clear that their goal was reviews by or around release dates, I had to start factoring that in. I'm a mood reader and don't like the pressure of reading on a deadline. I'm still working on how to deal with my moods and the agreed on deadline. My decision starting back in December was to compromise. Instead of snatching up everything that sounded good, I would accept less books so I run into the problem less. I have a backlog of books to read and that is where my own spirit of competition is taking. I want to get rid of books on the older review pile and off my unread shelves.

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    1. I'm still working on the books I missed 2015 because I had a lot of reading slumps. I squeeze them in when I have time. I work it in my moods and it's been working okay so far. I just hope I can do it long-term.

      Yeah, I've read books like that. It's disappointing

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  16. I noticed a few weeks ago that I was losing a lot of GFC followers and figured that something glitchy was up with it. Meh. I think a lot of folks have moved on to other ways of following, like Bloglovin', anyway, especially when the plug got pulled on Google Reader.

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    1. I got my answer now. Saved me from all that research hahaha!

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  17. Hmm ... I don't know about GFC. I don't use it to follow or for followers, so I have no idea. I have however, tried to follow you via email, but I can't click in the 'follow with email' box. I can't even click in your search box.

    I try to have reviews for ARCs up at least 2 week after the pub date, because it bugs me not too. But I'm not hardcore about it.

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    1. Oh gosh, that's another problem. My follow email hasn't been working and I honestly don't know how to fix it. I don't have the time to research it either. Blogger's help line sucks!

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  18. Yeah, stereotyping 'diverse' characters is kind of the opposite of diversity to me, too, Braine. There are some really good stories out there where the cast is actually diverse, though, and that's awesome. However, just adding a token gay or Asian character is not really making the story diverse. And it's actually kind of off-putting when it feels like characters have been added (or changed) to fit in to the request of more diversity.

    I have no idea what's going on with GFC, but there was an article on blogger not very long ago about it. Since I don't really use blogger anymore, I didn't read it, though. But I think it's in the blogger dashboard, if I remember correctly.

    I have a list of my ARCs, including when they are released, but I read solely based on what I want to read, and when. I don't really care if I read a book after the release date, as long as I do read and review it; and publishers don't really seem to mind that much either, as I continue being accepted for more ARCs. It's important to me too that reading is a hobby, and it should be a pleasure, so even if it meant that I wouldn't get any more ARCs, I'd continue the same way.

    Great post, Braine!!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. I found it, Braine, and in the comments there are several people who have also seen drops in followers....
      http://buzz.blogger.com/2015/12/an-update-on-google-friend-connect.html

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    2. I try to keep up with release dates, but now I've learned not to force it anymore. The likeliness of me not liking a book because I'm not in the mood for it is high. I feel like that's a disservice to the authors so I stick to the darn mood.

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  19. I completely agree that diversity has a long way to go - simply including a side character as cultural representation but they're typecasted is not diverse! It doesn't do justice to it at all. I don't use GFC, but yeah I think reading on a schedule kills the mood for me too. I've always been a mood reader!

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    1. This diversity movement needs to move in the right direction for sure

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  20. I still keep a calendar but have started giving myself more time than I think I need to add in other reads, or if I am dragging

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    1. I've been slowly doing that myself. Give room for unforseen events or the dreaded reading slump

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  21. Seriously, get rid of GFC. It's just stupid! I have almost 2000 followers and I never looked back.

    I mark down ARC publish dates but I don't always follow them. I read what the hell I want, when I want.

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    1. That's the attitude!

      I guess I just have a weird attachment to GFC, I'm not ready to let go yet!! Hahaha

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  22. YES...to this post. Sometimes the stereotyping and comments are almost racist..

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    1. So so true! Like I don't include it on my review because that's a different discussion altogether, but while reading I think that or I'm thinking "this author is so fucking ignorant"

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  23. I definitely agree about seeing more diversity in books. I have issues with the "typical" stereotyping. So its always great to see when a author steps back from that and writes a character in a way you don't expect. Great post.

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    1. Not only that, it's respectful in some way. If that's your objective, then do your best and give a sound and dignified version of said diverse character.

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  24. I absolutely HATE ARC envy. Some bloggers get ARCS and they flaunt them to purposefully brag.It's not cool. Yea, you get to read it early, congrats for you, I'll read it in a couple months. Sorry for the outburst, ARCs make the book blogging community ugly.

    I recently attended ALAMW16. I grabbed a total of 12 ARCS because I knew that that was the limit of what I could read and review before their release date. I saw bloggers with bags and bags full! Then later on Instagram they have 70+! WHAT! How on earth are you going to read all those before their release dates. They're called ADVANCED READERS COPIES. If you don't read them before they release, they're no longer valid. It makes me cringe. People even grabbed extra to do giveaways to get more followers. All I could think was, there's someone who paid to go to ALAMW who is not going to get that ARC because you just selfishly took two or more. Sickening. ARCs make the book blogging community ugly. And bloggers are moving away from reviewing and more towards discussion posts. Don't get my wrong, I love discussion posts, but I also love reviews. It's what helps me find books that might be right up my alley. Woo, sorry about the mini rant!

    - Elizabeth @ Book Yabber

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    1. Understandable, I think that happened at BEA a couple of years ago. I mostly get my arcs from NG and there are instances where I tend to read a book late because of many reasons and hoarding is definitely one of them. Not proud of it, doing something about it, still working on it. As for bragging, that's another perception issue. On one hand, it is a form of marketing, we bloggers are a tool of some sort and we have the priviledge of being in the know before everyone else. Showing pics of our book hauls helps in that it lets people know that "hey, this is new, you should definitely check it out," as not everyone is a J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.

      As for reviews, I guess as a blogger yourself you understand that at times you get arcs because of a tour which happens around release dates so the perception can be you read the book after it's live which nullifies getting an ARC in the first place. And sometimes life just happens so blogging can fall to the wayside.

      But I feel you, greed is a different situation altogher. Not something that should be glorified.

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  25. Yeah, villanous Russian here reaching out to Fillipino help :) It drives me crazy the stereotyping! GFC is being discontinued. I saw a post on it a few weeks ago. You have to tell followers who still use it to resubscribe in other way. They will all disappear eventually. AT last, ARCs. I actually request very little these days and sometimes I still can't manage to read and review a book before its release date. It's okay although the feeling is unpleasant. It also pisses me off slightly that I end up reading mostly ARCs and leave all the books I buy untouched for years on my kindle. It's a vicious circle I'm telling you!

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  26. I lost around a hundred GFC followers too :( I've been quiet lately because I'm in nursing school and crazy busy! Still reading when I can and have lots of reviews I need to get around to writing just as soon as I get a breather lol. Hope all has been well with you!

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My reviews are subjective & does not reflect that of Talk Supe's followers.

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