time for (another) rant

Last year, I posted this big rant about one of my indie book reviews being [kind of] censored.  I’m not going to link to it because it turned into a mess, but I’m here today with another rant centered around an indie author. (Not naming her, fyi.)

And it’s worse?

Earlier this year I had the privilege of beta-reading a dystopian trilogy for an indie author whose books I enjoy.  She’s not my favorite indie author, but she’s written some good stuff and created at least one character I really like so I jumped at the chance to help her out in the beta-ing department.  I read all three books, gave her my comments, and that was that.

Until yesterday, when I saw that she’d posted the final book to Goodreads (so it was now available for rating/reviewing).  I added it to my shelves and rated it two stars. 

EXPLANATION: I was stressed yesterday about completely unrelated things.  I was in a hurry to get the book on my shelves, wasn’t really thinking, and since the book left almost no impression on me…I rated it two stars.  I admit that I should have taken more time to think about my rating and maybe leave a short review, but I didn’t. (And, I mean, it’s not like I’m required to by law.)

Later that night, I opened up Facebook Messenger to find a super long message from the author in question.  Why, she asked, did I dare to rate her book only two stars?  If I had issues with it, why didn’t I bring them up when I beta read? (To be completely open with y’all, I pointed out any typos I found when I first read the book and honestly answered all the questions she had for the beta readers.  It’s just that the story/characters didn’t connect with me and I definitely didn’t like it as much as some of her other books.)

“I was planning on offering my beta readers paperback copies in reward for their assistance during the process.  Sorely disappointed I can’t do that for everyone involved now,” she said, passive-aggressively. (Spoiler alert: I’m grateful for the gesture but I have limited shelf space and that offer doesn’t tempt me to raise my rating.)

Still, none of the above would have been enough to prompt this blog post.  Yeah, I’ve bought all of her books and reviewed some and helped her in any way I could and micro-managing reviews and ratings is Bad Form, but…I would have let it go.

Except that she blocked me on Messenger directly after sending the message.

I had a thoughtful response planned out, explaining that I’d not really been thinking and that maybe I could see my way to bumping my rating up to three stars.  But then I tried to send that message and, yeah, it didn’t go through.  I was ‘no longer able to reply to this conversation’.  In one of the most juvenile moves imaginable, she blocked me from her author page’s messaging system so I couldn’t defend myself.

So, yeah.  I’m kind of mad about that.

I’d been reading a different book by the same author and was really enjoying it until all of this happen.  I’ll still finish it, but the whole thing has gone sour for me.  Indie authors, please don’t try to keep your rankings high by following up with every single reader and asking them why they didn’t rate your book higher.  As a reader, I’m not required to post a positive review – or any review.  I’m sure that when I become a published author, I’ll get reviews that will make me shake my head.  But I’m not going to engage.

I’m not quite sure what the point of all this was, except to get my response out there since I couldn’t do it in private.  I’ll probably look back on this post in a couple weeks and roll my eyes because I thought this was such a big deal, but I’m honestly angry right now.

Grrrrrrr.

Have you ever had a similar experience with an author (indie or otherwise)?  Or do you have a happy author interaction story to share?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

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book review: wooing cadie mccaffrey

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After four years with her boyfriend, Cadie McCaffrey is thinking of ending things. Convinced Will doesn’t love her in the “forever” way she loves him, Cadie believes it’s time for her to let him go before life passes her by. When a misunderstanding leads to a mistake, leaving her hurt, disappointed, and full of regret, she finally sends him packing.

But for Will, the end of their relationship is only the beginning of his quest to figure out how to be the man Cadie wanted him to be. With the dubious guidance of his former pro-athlete work friends and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, Will attempts to win her back. It’s a foolproof plan. What could possibly go wrong?

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What I was expecting (based on the cover/blurb): a sweet, fluffy, quirky contemporary romance.

What I got: a complicated, honest, heartwarming contemporary romance.

Romance isn’t one of my favorite genres but when the opportunity to review this book came up, I couldn’t pass up the cute cover and a story that centered around classic rom-coms.  Only, it isn’t really?  Rom-coms are definitely integral to the story, but in an almost harmful way and I much prefer the real, human side of Wooing.  If that makes any sense. 

To put it another way, there was enough authentic emotion in this book to make me forgive the gushy, unrealistic romantic stuff.

I liked Cadie, as a heroine.  I liked how she owned up to her mistakes, had a career/knew what she wanted from life, and was vulnerable and open in the moments where it counted.  I struggle with showing my emotions so she was a bit of an inspiration in that regard.  I didn’t like Will as much.  He was kind of pushy?  And a bit insensitive?  But the last couple of chapters went a long way toward clearing up confusion around some of his actions, which was nice.

Overall, I think Wooing Cadie McCaffrey is pretty much the perfect romantic novel: a little serious, a little fun, and a very fast read.  I don’t read the genre a lot but when I pick up a romance novel, I want it to be just like this. ❤

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Eva

seven little-known, stand-alone novel recommendations

There’s a definite dearth of stand-alone novels these days and if you’re bemoaning their absence like I do, here are seven recommendations for your TBR list! (I tried to pick lesser known novels for variety.)

Dear Enemy by Jack Cavanaugh

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Jack Cavanaugh tells the poignant story of an American nurse who finds herself behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge.  I’ve read this book several times and Cavanaugh’s handling of its main theme – forgiveness – never fails to move me.

The Boy Who Painted the World by Melody J. Bremen

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Yes, this is a middle grade novel.  But some of my favorite books are MG (anything by Wendy Mass, for one) and TBWPTW is a gentle, moving story of a homeless boy named Indigo who wants to paint the world.  His struggles to do so and the obstacles he faces make the ending of this novel all the more satisfying.

Laura by Vera Caspary

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I feel like the 1944 film is much better known than the outstanding novel that it’s based on.  Laura is a twist-filled mystery communicated through razor-sharp prose and a half-spooky atmosphere that refuses to fade away.

The Siren by Kiera Cass

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Cass is quite famous for her swoon-filled Selection series (my sister and friend are HUGE fans) but she also self-published a book before The Selection took off.  That book is The Siren and it’s the perfect afternoon beach read.  Filled with beautiful imagery and impossible situations, you’ll find it hard to put down. (The names of the characters are stupid, though.  Just to warn you.)

Set Among Princes by Sharon L. Griffiths

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This book = my very disturbed childhood.  There are actually so many graphic things in this (Christian) novel involving torturing of Christians and people dying in Celtic wars.  And it’s very unevenly written (most parts are in first person, but some are in third).  Anyway!  With all that said, Set Among Princes is still a fascinating look at early Briton culture as well as life in Caesar’s palace.

Listen by Rene Gutteridge

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Someone is listening in on people’s conversations in the sleepy town of Marlo and then posting those conversations online.  Secrets are being spilled all over the web and people are getting more and more angry.  Listen has some pretty great characters and an excellent twist ending.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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Like Kiera Cass is best known for The Selection, Marissa Meyer is mostly famous for the Lunar Chronicles.  But Heartless is a great choice once you’ve finished the Chronicles (or before you read them).  I will say that if you’ve read the Chronicles, PLEASE don’t go into Heartless expecting it to be similar at all.  Because it’s basically the polar opposite.  But worth every heartbreaking page.

Do you have any stand-alone novel recs for me?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva

the fantastical and felicitous fictional character blog tag

Emily, over at The Altogether Unexpected, created this rather awesome tag and was kind enough to tag me.  I LOVE fictional characters and talking about fictional characters and all that, so I’m super excited to fill out the questions.  But first, the rules!

  • Answer every question honestly. (duh.)
  • Use as many gifs and images as possible.
  • Incorporate at least one YouTube video with a favorite scene of a character.
  • NO VAGUE ANSWERS ALLOWED. Explain why you chose that favorite character to fit that description. I love details, my friends.
  • If you can’t choose just one, that’s okay – give us a few answers and geek out if that’s what it takes.
  • Tag at least 3 people.
  • Use fictional characters from any fictional story.
  • If you get nominated and/or decide to participate in this tag, please put a link back to this post in your post and credit yours truly as the creator.
  • Have fun and obsess over fictional characters!

Goody-two-shoes: A character who was just so morally good

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Captain America/Steve Rogers.  You knew I’d have to fangirl over him at some point, right?  I’ve seen very few Marvel movies, but I have seen the Cap trilogy and it’s basic perfection.  From the first few minutes of The First Avenger to Cap’s almost-defeat at the end of Civil War, I’ve been spellbound by his character.  His innate goodness inspires me to practice more goodness myself.  He never leaves a friend behind.  He loves purely and truly (familial love, brotherly love, romantic love).  And, in my mind’s eye, he’ll always be that kid from Brooklyn who couldn’t walk away from a fight.  Who leaped on a grenade to save others.  Who sacrificed everything for the world…and for his best friend.

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Heartbreaker: A character who made you cry

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So many!!!  How am I supposed to pick just one?!  But after sifting through all the possibilities, I’m going with Marian (BBC Robin Hood).  She doesn’t get enough credit and I think that’s a shame because she’s truly one of the greatest heroines I’ve ever known.  And I can’t even count the number of times she’s made me cry.  When her father was killed.  When she punched Guy and ran away.  When she ‘died’.  When she actually died.  When she reunited with Robin.  Whenever her theme music plays.  SHE MAKES ME FEEL ALL THE FEELS, OKAY???

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Parrot: A character who won’t stop talking

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I really dislike characters who won’t stop talking.  So this isn’t going to really be a fangirly answer, but I’d have to say Miss Bates (Emma).  I recently reread Emma and I found myself skipping almost all of Miss Bates’s long, loooooong speeches because #mindnumbing.  But Emma should still have known better than to mock her (and not just at Box Hill). *sigh*

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Devilish: Your favorite villain

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Haha!  I just wrote a post about villains.  I’ve already written at length about my all time favorite villain, Ben Wade, so I’m going to talk about my favorite Disney villain today.  And that would be Ratigan (‘The Great Mouse Detective’).  Some of you might be all “huh?” right now because TGMD is a sadly underappreciated Disney film but, trust me, Ratigan is the BEST.  He says the most chilling/hilarious things.  He’s deliciously, Disney-villainy (all that kidnapping and scheming and speechifying!).  Vincent Price voices him (#yourargumentisinvalid).  And he gets TWO villain songs, both of which are villainous greatness with a side of evil.

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Love interest: A character who, if alive in reality, you would want to marry

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Can I say Steve Rogers again?

But no, let me think about this.  It’s actually kind of hard because any characters I really love are so awesome that I can’t imagine them putting up with me. 😛  I think Barry Allen (CW’s The Flash) would be a pretty sweet, supportive husband.  Also, kind of random, but Sean Maguire (‘Good Will Hunting’) because HE’S SUCH A GOOD GUY (and I need someone who can deal with all my Problems).

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Sidekick: A character who was always loyal no matter what

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John Watson (any Sherlock story, but I’m talking about BBC Sherlock this time).  The first time I watched the show, I was sure that John was going to believe Moriarty’s “I’m just an actor!” bit, if only for a short time.  But he DIDN’T and it was awesome.  It’s a bit surprising that John stayed so loyal to Sherlock through so many of his frustrating/deathly adventures, but he did.  And that’s a huge part of why I love John. (Yes, there was that bit after Mary died, but we won’t talk about it.)

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Complicated: A character you love and hate

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Scarlett [she has so many last names idek] (Gone With the Wind).  Scarlett is selfish, grasping, and small-minded.  There’s no doubt about that.  Many of the things she does in the course of the story make me shake my head.  But I also admire her grit and determination.  She follows through on her promises.  She does whatever it takes to keep her family alive.  She rebuilds her life from scratch.  There’s a stubborn tenacity about her that invites admiration, even when you disapprove of her in general.

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Oddity: A character who was strange, but you loved them that way

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the meme is strange.  it’s all I’ve got for this category.

Winter Hayle (Lunar Chronicles).  All the characters in this series are strange, in one way or another, but Winter is probably the strangest (and my favorite).  She’s vowed never to use her Lunar gift on anyone after a traumatizing event from her childhood.  Because of her disuse of the gift, she begins to see freaky, completely realistic visions of bleeding walls and lopped off heads…and, as you might expect, it messes with her mind.  Honestly, Winter might seem really strange at first but she’s one of the strongest, most admirable character in the series.  I love her.

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King: A male character who you admire and aspire to emulate

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Atticus Finch.  Atticus has been my go-to hero ever since I first read To Kill a Mockingbird and nothing can topple him from that position.  Not the oddly pieced together first draft of TKAM (aka Go Set a Watchman).  Not all the op-eds now saying that Atticus is merely a ‘white savior’ trope and, as such, shouldn’t be taken seriously.  Nothing.  Atticus doesn’t just stand up for what he believes in – he moves others to stand up as well. (Literally and figuratively.)

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Savior: A character who oddly reminds you of Christ

regarding memes, I’ve got nothing.

(I’m not going to say Aslan because he’s from an allegory so it isn’t the same thing.)

However, the character I’m drawn to again and again is Diana/Wonder Woman (new Wonder Woman movie, not the comics ’cause I haven’t read those).  The whole ‘deserve versus believe’ thing that Steve Trevor spells out near the end of the movie always hits me in the feels, particularly because we, as humans, don’t deserve God’s love.  But when we believe in Jesus, that love is given as a free gift. (Plus, Diana’s not wrong about ‘only love can save the world’, though something tells me she isn’t thinking of God’s love.)  Anyway, Diana is a hugely imperfect reminder of Christ (sacrificing her life in  Themyscira to save people and all that) but the fact that she/the film got me thinking about Him at all is rather surprising.  And it makes my heart happy.

See what I mean:

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I tag:

Let me know what you thought of my answers!  I’d love to discuss all things fictional characters in the comments.

Eva

in which eva classifies alllll the villains

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The big thing keeping me from writing my semi-promised villains post (why I like ’em, why I don’t, etc) was that I couldn’t figure out what angle to write from.  How to sum up all my feelings about villains in a succinct, understandable way.  But as I ate lunch today, I decided to classify villains I like (or loathe or whatever) by category.  The categories are based on how I feel, personally, about the different villains I list. (That sounds totally confusing, but I think it’ll make sense…)

ATTRACTION

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I am attracted to some villains.  It’s something about their coolness, how they wield their power, and a bunch of other rather undefinable qualities. (Also, movie and TV people keep casting gorgeous actors as villains, so…?)  The three main villains that come to mind for this category are Ben Wade (Glenn Ford, not Russell Crowe), Moriarty (BBC Sherlock version), and Bucky Barnes.

Bucky is more of an anti-hero.  And when he’s doing all the villainous stuff in Winter Soldier, he’s brainwashed so it isn’t really him (but I still class him as an attractive villain, kinda).  Moriarty is a full-on villain though…I like how he livens up certain episodes of Sherlock and he’s hilarious and super clever and, yeah.  (Though I know I’d hate him IRL.)  I spent a whole blog post talking about Ben Wade.  He’s simply the best.

(Oh, and I also find any Sean Bean villain wildly attractive.  Because…Sean Bean.)

FEAR

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To date, there’s only been one villain who’s inspired actual fear in me and that is Anton Chigurh from ‘No Country for Old Men’.  I watched the film by myself (probably contributed to the fear) and the utter soullessness of him, coupled with all the murders really made an impression.  Absolutely terrifying.

LIKING

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Liking a villain usually happens when they become sympathetic in some way.  It’s hard to like someone who’s as morally corrupt as villains usually are, but it does happen.  To me, anyway.  I like Loki because I understand his motivation (and because he’s such a fleshed-out character).  I like Maleficent (‘Maleficent’), Hans (‘Frozen’), Cath (Heartless), Slade (CW’s Arrow), and even R’as al Ghul (‘Batman Begins’) because I understand them, I know why they do what they do, and a lot of the time they have pretty good reasons. (Not that’s it’s an excuse, but at least they’re a little more approachable because I know.)

There are also villains who are so delightfully fiendish and hilarious (and even campy at times) that I can’t help but grin and like them.  Ratigan (‘The Great Mouse Detective’) is someone who instantly comes to mind.  I mean, when you have a villain gleefully exclaiming (in Vincent Price’s voice no less), “Oh, I love it when I’m wicked!” you can’t help but laugh.

HATRED

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Just like ‘fear’, there aren’t many villains I actively hate.  But I’ve discovered that whenever I hate a villain, it’s because they treat my favorite characters horribly.  So, I hate Ernesto (‘Coco’) because he poisons Héctor, tries to kill Miguel, the whole nine yards.  He’s an awful person and I hate him.  I also LOATHE Alexander Pierce (‘The Winter Soldier’) because he tortures Bucky and almost gets Steve killed.

Honestly, though, I’m having a hard time coming up with villains I hate (or even who I dislike).  They’re just too interesting in general.

INDIFFERENCE

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The worst category, in my opinion. 😛  Sadly, there are many forgettable villains and so much of the time, they don’t have to be!  I was talking with a friend at church about old Disney villains versus newer Disney villains and he said that new Disney villains aren’t as memorable.  I think it’s because, for the most part, villains in earlier Disney films embraced their villainy.  They didn’t pretend to be the hero’s friend so that there could be a surprise reveal.  Instead, they were larger than life and incredibly freaky and scary (Jafar, Ursala, Maleficent, and sooooo many more).

Mother Gothel is a notable exception.  Yes, she appears nice to Rapunzel at first, but the audience can see through her right away.  But, overall, Disney villains have become a little lackluster lately and I’d really like to see more openly villainous villains from them.

IN CONCLUSION

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There are many reasons why I’m intrigued by villains: from clever plans to tragic backstories to sparks of humanity hidden deep inside some of them.  So what about you?  Are there certain villains you like or are you not interested?  And are there any  other great villains I should know about?

Eva

 

book review: romanov

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The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

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My mind is still reeling from the shock of this book.

In a good way, I promise!

I think everyone knows that I’ve been eagerly anticipating Romanov, Nadine Brandes’s newest book.  And I wasn’t disappointed. 

I find it interesting that it opens with Nastya burning her diaries because the Anastasia book in the Royal Diaries series ends with Anastasia burning her diary.  So you could almost read the books back to back, you know?

Speaking of Nastya, she was a great heroine!  It takes a lot for me to truly love a main character (I don’t know why, it’s just a thing with me) but I’ve loved and cheered on and rooted for all of Nadine’s protagonists so far. Nastya is a mixture of compassion and mischief and deep wounds (emotional and physical) and seeing her story through her eyes was such a powerful thing.  I think Nadine did a great job of bring Anastasia, the real Anastasia, to life.

Remember how I talked in a previous post about how I was leery of Rasputin being portrayed as a good guy?  Well, I thought he would be an actual character in Romanov, but he wasn’t and his actions (as discussed by other characters) were left open for interpretation, so that’s all good. 😉  I loved all of Nastya’s family members, even the ones who weren’t fleshed out very much.  There was so much goodness and kindness and joy in them, even while they were prisoners.

Zash is probably my favorite character in Romanov, to be honest.  His entire character arc is, like, one big spoiler so I won’t say much about that.  But I’ll just say that I have a thing for broken, wounded heroes who struggle to find redemption and Zash delivered that on every single level.  I liked how the relationship between him and Nastya was strengthened and then fractured and then slowly rebuilt again and again and again.  It was complicated and real.

The only thing I didn’t one hundred percent love about Romanov was the magical side of things.  It was really interesting and inventive and necessary to the story, but it was a little more magicky than I like.

Nadine’s writing is at its most beautiful in Romanov.  There were so many sentences and phrases and bits of dialogue and description that filled my writer’s heart with joy.  I’m not one for recording quotes obsessively so I (unfortunately) don’t have examples at hand, but trust me: if you love beautiful prose, Romanov is the book for you.

And then, finally, there’s the theme of Romanov: forgiveness.  Without going into personal details, I found this theme hugely appropriate for me, at this point in my life.  And Nadine did such a good job (as usual) of weaving the theme through the story and characters in a way that never felt preachy.  Not once.  It’s amazing.

I know I said ‘finally’ last paragraph, but I just wanted to add that this book made me cry and cry hard.  I still have a lump in my throat.  But at the same time, it’s one of the most hopeful books I’ve ever read.  

Romanov is gorgeous and heartbreaking and triumphant all at once.

You really need to read it.

Eva

bookish joys, bookish peeves

JOY: When your shipment of books comes in.  Even if it’s just one book.  It’s no longer something on a computer screen – it’s real and shiny and in your hands this very moment.

100 Book Memes That Will Keep You Laughing For Days

PEEVE: When you have thirteen pages left in a super fascinating book and your mom calls you away to do dishes. (Frances Hodgson Burnett said it best: People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to manage. [from A Little Princess])

JOY: Drinking a cup of perfectly brewed coffee + reading a cozy, sweet book.

25 Hilarious Memes Just for Big Readers and Book Lovers  #bookmemes #readingmemes #funnypics #booklovers #books

PEEVE: Those softcover books with the front cover that doesn’t quite fit the book.  (Like so.)  It drives me insaaaaaane.

JOY: Staring at your bookshelves after you’ve newly organized them.  Whether it’s by height, color, author name, subject matter…your books look so fresh and pretty!  The only problem is that I usually get new books at such a fast rate that my shelves never stay neat for long.

PEEVE: When you find a book at a thrift store that you’ve been dying to read but someone has scribbled notes throughout the whole thing.  In pen.

JOY: When you find a book at a thrift store that you’ve been dying to read and it’s perfect and pristine and practically brand-new. (This also works for movies you like that are still in the shrink-wrap at thrift stores.)

PEEVE: When you recommend a life-changing book to someone and they refuse to read it.

100 Book Memes That Will Keep You Laughing For Days

JOY: That book you’ve read six or seven times but you still read it every year and whenever you do, it’s a like a warm, fuzzy sweater (that’s definitely not itchy or ugly) and you feel like you’ve come home.

PEEVE: When a book doesn’t get the ending it deserves. (*pouts in the direction of Defy the Stars*)

JOY: When that seven book series you read has the most beautiful, perfect, nostalgic, heartbreak-inducing finale.

PEEVE: When you have all the books in the series but each book is a different format.  I only have, like, two series where every volume is the same edition.

JOY: Reading.  Because, duh.

Books With No Fandom- this happens, and it's very sad. :(

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What are some of your bookish joys and/or pet peeves?  Let me know in the comments!

Eva