Thoughts on Thursday: The Most Annoying Trope

The Most Annoying Trope

What is one book trope that gets on your nerves? What do you wish the publishing world would STOP doing?



Trope has become a word that we use to often describe themes or common recurring situations in literature. They are the clichés of literature.

I’m going to address the elephant in the room: most of the most annoying or bothersome tropes of focus typically spring from YA. Another reason I have abandoned it until further notice. Sorry, not sorry.

After some thought, I realized I couldn’t pick a most annoying trope because there are a handful of them that equally grind my gears.


Love Triangles

Ugh. Sweet boy-next-door is in absolute love with the girl-next-door, who is hot for the star quarterback that fumbles in the academic aspect of school. Rewrite the triangle any way you’d like. We can all find an example to substitute. Love triangles are no good right from the start. I always feel integrity and honesty – honest to one’s self – is called into question in love triangles. The concept of realism completely escapes this trope.



Instalove is so far beyond my frame of mind as any kind of realistic that it is beyond embarrassing for this trope. Instalove does not exist in real life. I used to think it could, but I felt really stupid in a blocked undergrad/graduate Latin American anthropology class when our professor – who lived extensively in the Yucatán – asked if feelings or actions made love possible. I, of course, raised my hand for feelings. They just happen. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did I learn that I was wrong in that class, but I learned it in real life. Actions sustain relationships and foster trust, commitment, love, and all those pheromones that fire in our body because of that special someone. Not a look. Not a touch. Not a few words.

Deep, Troubled, Dark Past

Lord have mercy. Talk about the trope of the century. Historically, male characters were those with the deep and dark pasts. Not anymore! Now it is very common in books that feature a romance to have a female character with a troubled and dark past. Case in point, Broken Things to Mend.


The Aphrodite Effect

That girl that is super stunningly gorgeous with amazing everythingness. She may or may not be a total asshat, but every girl wants to be her, wear her clothes, have her hair and flawless skin, drive her car, live in her house, and spend her money. There are people who I have encountered throughout life who I would say have The Aphrodite Effect, but very few. It is not as common as the trope makes it seem.

*Please note: This effect can also apply to male characters who are super stunningly gorgeous with amazing everythingness. This term is referred to as The Adonis Effect.

Absentee Parents

These kids are so trustworthy their parents don’t even come home sometimes! The story is so focused on the main character and his or her conflicts that the element of reality is once again ignored. Entirely. Some of the books I’ve read with absentee parents are definitely never going to wash in real life. Parents would be on those kids like white on rice. Overlooking this element is very critical and also very obvious of inattention to detail. Let’s be real.


What is the trope that rubs you the most ?

Which tropes would you add to this list? 

Thoughts on Thursday: Reviews Change Just Like People Do



Reviews Change Just Like People Do 

It’s 2016, which means I have been blogging for an incredible three years! It’s hard to imagine it has already been this long, and yet in the next breath I realize just how much has happened in these last three years. My first year of blogging was a hot mess of trying to figure out everything. I still wasn’t very good at it by the end of the year, and a lot has changed over these three years, most notably how I structure my reviews.

Review Format #1

My very first month I wrote a pair of reviews: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Geist. You can tell how bland my review format was then. Long, detailed reviews. This is why there were not many reviews my first year; I was too consumed with writing “the perfect review” and ended up agonizing for hours over writing a review.

In my first version of reviews I didn’t include any information about the author or how to socialize with them on the interwebs. That was something I learned and implemented later.

These two reviews had a word count of 722 and 1,588, respectively.

One of my reviews in those first few months that I was most proud of was Gabe’s Plan, which weighs in at 1,814 words!


Review Format #2

My second review format came to life in November 2013. At this point I had been blogging for nine months, returned from a hiatus, and was ready to do this thing!

This is when I learned to direct readers to the author, so I began including a bio, photo, and all the social media links at the bottom of points. I also included a synopsis from Goodreads, clearly differentiated and labeled my synopsis and my review.

The review opening also changed drastically. I created a very structured background of the book that was the top of the post. I have kept a majority of this structure to this day in my review format.

reivew 2

This particular review was written by two authors, and even with a bio feature with both authors and the new book background info, this review clocked in at only 974 words!

After nearly a year in, I was learning more and more about blogging, reviews and etiquette, and the content of my reviews started cutting down. However, I maintained this format for a long time.

Review Format #3

I made a slight change in 2014 to include book purchase links. I also stopped labeling the synopsis and instead let the synopsis naturally follow the book information and buy links.

review 3

After a full year blogging, with all of these changes to the format of the review, this review contained only 677 words! The content and depth of review is steadily decreasing.


Review Format #4

My fourth format of reviews came about in June 2015. School was out and I was ready to try some new and refreshing things. I started chunking my reviews and giving them sub-headings: The Skinny, The Players, First Impressions, and Second Thoughts.

I thought this was a very creative way to break apart my review and make it more appealing to readers. Often we don’t quite agree with the way a synopsis is written, so I wanted my own chance to re-write and summarize the book, as well as lay out the main characters. I struggled with the First Impressions section for every review. I didn’t quite know what to put in this section, and it often fell flat. I wanted to keep it, though, to cutely pair it with my Second Thoughts section that contained my actual review.


This new break up left the above review, A Time for Everything, at 1,655 words. This was not the goal I wanted, which was ultimately to have a more concise review. I still felt I was struggling with this new format, and I was bulking and chunking it up instead of slimming it down. I took out the sections First Impressions and Second Thoughts and replaced them with a My Thoughts section, but that still wasn’t enough. So I went out on the hunt again for a better review format.

Review Format #5

Then, in November 2015 I discovered what I thought would work. I wanted to keep the break down of the review, but it needed to work for me without excess verbiage.

I changed how I actually reviewed the book. Paragraphs? Gone!

WHAT? Sacrilige! Or so I thought.

From the young age of first grade, I have been taught to write in sentences. Since second grade, it’s been ingrained in me to write in paragraphs. In middle school all the way through college, I devotedly reviewed, edited and revised my writing.

Instilled in me was this very detailed way of writing, and I carried it over into my reviews. It was a mind-blowing epiphany that I don’t have to write reviews like that!

Why? Why do I want to complicate things more? Why do I want to be so wordy? Forget that! My new format, that I am very pleased with, still has subheadings, but the titles have changed to work for me: The Skinny, The Players, The Quote(s), The Highs and Lows, The Take-Away, and Recommendation. I have all of the components I need, and everything has a place.

I turned The Highs and Lows into my review. It has the things I saw in all regards: pacing, writing style, character development, character interaction, plot development, setting, etc. It’s a quick snapshot overview of the book and allows me to really break it down! Here is where I took a big leap by including things I saw as fantastic and things that rubbed me wrong. I am always terrified of negativity in my reviews, so I try to keep things balanced and I realized this allows me to be more honest in how I review books. It also lets me cut down on those lengthy, wordy reviews. I love it!

My new and improved review format now looks like…




Here are a few reviews with the new review format:


What do you guys think of the new review? 


Thoughts on Thursday: Archiving Interviews & Guest Posts



Do You Archive Interviews & Guest Posts?


Recently I’ve been wondering if that tab up top titled GUESTS is even necessary. It is a collection of the author interviews and guest posts that there have been over the years on the blog.

I have manually entered and updated this list as the years have gone on, and I’m afraid I have missed a few here and there since there was a long stretch that I ignored this little corner of the blog.

My dilemma is this: do I even need this? Do you guys have a tab for your guests on the blog?

If each of these items is categorized by either the “author guest post” or “author interview” categories, what is the point of having them in a tab up top? I’m wanting to clean that space up a little and make it more functional for myself as well as users.

What do you guys think?


Do you archive interviews and guest posts?

If so, how do you make this archive work for you?

Do I need to keep this tab up top?

Thoughts on Thursday: Book Bae/Friend

Book Bae or Friend

Who is your book boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend? What qualities does this character have that makes him/her the best?

This topic seems so familiar! I talked exclusively about book boyfriends last September, but I’d like to chew on the other part of that: the best friend part. I also talked about my favorite fictional friendships last November, but who really would be my book-based best friend?

We all know my book bae is Jamie Fraser. I mean, the man is embodies so many characteristics that it’s hard to say no. Except when he’s spitting mad and ready with that belt. Then plead and cry and snivel and say no as much as possible to change his mind!

As far as the best friend I would pick from a book…is impossible. So I’ve selected a few characters and the elements about their personality and their relationships with others that I admire and would want in return from them for my friendship.

Pudge and the Colonel – Looking for Alaska by John Green

Pudge and the Colonel are very different, but they go together like PB&J. Pudge is the more thoughtful friend who wonders about deep subjects, always planning before he takes a leap. The Colonel, on the other hand, usually leaps before he looks, but he’s got your back like nobody’s business. They are those summer camp friends you meet and become instant friends with for life.

Hermione – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling 

Hermione is an asset anyway you want to look at it. She is extremely loyal, knowledgeable, and dedicated. If you are in a bind, she will find a solution. She’ll also punch somebody in the face unexpectedly if she’s pushed far enough.

Jacky – Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

Oh, Jacky Faber. Of course, that’s not really her actual name. She was originally known as Mary Faber, but life circumstances changed all that. Jacky is a guttersnipe orphan who winds up as the most notorious pirate to ever thwart the British Navy. She is salacious, kind-hearted, a romantic but also a blustering realist, a pessimist yet an optimistic, and a damn good shot to have on your side. She would die for you if you are her friend.

Tessa – Level Up by Kathy Yardley

Tessa is so socially awkward, a painful introvert. However, when she sets her mind to something she will stop at nothing to accomplish it – even at her own cost. She also has moxie! She can stand up for her friends better than she can herself, and you don’t want to be caught in the cross-hairs!


Who is your book bae?

Who is your book best friend? What qualities make them your BFF?

Thoughts on Thursday: How I’ve Changed As A Reader


How I’ve Changed As A Reader

Since I started blogging, a lot about my life has changed. There are more deadlines, more stresses, more responsibilities, less time, less energy and at times it seems less supporters.

But those are only the negatives. It is so easy to get caught up in the negatives, but reading is a journey and there are always ups and downs. With blogging, we can stress out over our slumps and deadlines, feeling like we aren’t “keeping up” with everything like we should.

When I started blogging I had no idea what I was doing, and I followed suit of most of the blogs I discovered: I tried to make myself a one-genre blog. I quickly found I didn’t like being stuck only reading YA. It got old quickly, especially the tropes.

I decided I wanted to branch out. I wanted to read what I wanted to read. That’s not unreasonable, is it? I didn’t want to be tied to only one genre and feel obligated to read only that genre and ignore all these other great reads because I didn’t have time for them. What’s the point in that?

When I first started, I was very anti-fantasy. I am still kind of anti-sci-fi. I’ve never liked sci-fi. But in the beginning I didn’t like fantasy much either, and I have slowly come around to it in these last (almost) three years.

I also completely broadened my range of reading. I no longer read books that are specifically targeted toward my age group. I read everything from children’s to adult fiction to the good ol’ classics. At first I thought working down the age ladder into children’s was going to hurt my blog traffic and it would turn away the readers I’d already established.

I was so wrong. SO wrong. Now I am glad that I have a fuller offering to share with viewers. I feel so…versatile. I do every once in a while go on a kick where I read the same genre for a couple of reviews in a row, which I know I’ve done with middle grades several times. Middle grades are just awesome!

Last year I tried doing a monthly Reviews by Genre thing from September to April and it failed horribly. It was inspired by that idea of wanting to genre binge read. There were about three months where I had read and reviewed multiple books during that whole time span. It was less than 50% success rate for what I intended. Obviously I decided to never do that again.

My reading habits have changed, and I as a reader have changed. I am more appreciative of books that feature connections and relationships between people more so than anything else. I find that I can identify and take more value from those types of reads than some of the others.

I have broadened my reading horizons since starting on this blogging journey, and I hope it continues. One new thing I want to really try hard to maintain and utilize fully is a TBR jar. There are so many cute ones out there, like Jessi’s on Etsy. I want to take the plunge and just do it.


What do you think? How have you changed as a reader since starting your blog?

Do you review any genre, or only specific genres?

Do you read books outside of the genres you review?

Thoughts on Thursday: My Reading Past


My Reading Past

I started reading at a young age. My mother has always been a reader, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Being in education, we say that a lot.

As a primary student, I liked adventure. I consumed everything I could get my hands on. I loved being part of the Highlights club. I would save them up all year long to read and work on during the summer, when I didn’t have access to any books. (I don’t think we had a public library then.)

In elementary school I switched gears a little. As an advanced reader, I was reading middle school level books. That was also when I got into a big nonfiction phase. Apparently I was obsessed with Susan B. Anthony.

Middle school seems to have come and gone. I read a smattering of things, and those years seemed to all blur together. I remember being big on mythology for a while. The one thing I remember with clarity was the red dot books. These were books with “mature” content that we at 6th grade were much too young to read. The minute we walked through the doors for 8th grade, we made a beeline for Detour for Emma. This was a book that was whispered about at the lunch table and in the girls bathrooms. At the time it was so controversial and taboo for us to even think about. Now, it’s almost a norm.

During this period I started secretly reading my mother’s romance books. I would stay up until all hours of the night – ahem, when my mother would come home at 1 or 2 AM from work – and quickly shove the book under my mattress and pretend to be asleep. I found I was growing bored with the selections at school and I didn’t get to go to the public library very often.

High school was a smorgasbord of reading. I read all kinds of things from romance (which I was highly embarrassed for anyone to see me check out), to high seas adventures (Bloody Jack, you have captured my heart), to realistic fiction.


How would you describe your reading past?

When did your reading interests change during your school years?

Do you have any books you’d highly recommend from your reading past?

Thoughts on Thursday: Tour Company Recommendations


Tour Company Recommendations 

With this new year, I have decided it is time to evaluate the tour companies I work with. There are some who are not moving on with me in 2016 for a variety of reasons. This means I need recommendations for tour companies you guys work with! 

When I look for a tour company, I look for some basic things. I didn’t think these were unreasonable qualifications or expectations, but the more I have thought on the companies I am saying goodbye to, the more I realize there are some tour companies who want to do as little work as possible.


What do I look for in a tour company? 

  1. Notification of new review tours in a timely manner. There are several tour companies that don’t notify their blogger readers far enough in advance for them to sign up and read the books. I have had some only notify two weeks in advance! That’s impossible for the majority of bloggers. I schedule posts in advance, and record everything on a paper calendar. I try to spread my reviews out so that none overlap, whether they are tour reviews or personal reads reviews. I also like knowing in advance what my schedule looks like and what I have to accomplish each week and month. An appropriate amount of notice for a new review tour is a minimum of one month in advance. The best frame of notification is two-three months in advance. Below is a wonderful example:PatronMurders_Banner (1)CBB Book Promotions rolled out this new notification and sign up for a March review tour on December 9. That is almost a full three months’ notice. It is perfect timing for those who prepare their schedules and posts in advance like I do.
  2. A variety of review offerings. I enjoy doing review tours, so I look forward to seeing what is available from the tour companies I work with. This has actually pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me broaden my reading horizons. There is nothing worse than a company not being able to fill all of the slots an author has paid for, and that has happened several times with a few of the companies I have worked with. I understand that not all books are for every reader, but when I receive constant secondary and tertiary emails that “XYZ tour needs some love,” or worse, a direct subject of “This tour is in immediate need of reviews and spotlights,” something is not right. And it pisses me off because, quite simply, it means the tour organizer is not doing their job correctly. Tour companies know who their reader base is, and who their audiences are. To accept a book for a review tour and not have hardly any sign up is a sign that the book was not a good fit for the tour company. I understand that this will happen from time to time, but when it is happening every month – and more than once a month – is a bad sign. However, there is one spectacular tour organizer who often personally invites me to join a review tour if I have not signed up for it after a few weeks, which typically means I’m on the fence about the book. This is a fabulous lady who goes above and beyond for her company and her reviewers, and it shows. There have been many times I have accepted and joined the tour because she made an extra effort, and we have an understanding that when I’m personally invited to join a tour and I don’t like the book, we immediately make other arrangements. This tour organizer almost always gives me the first or second day slot on every review tour I join.
  3. Prepared HTML for a tour. There is one tour company in particular that I work with that does not prepare any HTML for any type of tour, whether it be a blast or a review tour. As a reviewer, I see this as part of a tour organizer’s responsibility to me. 
  4. As few emails about a tour as possible. My inbox typically receives over 100 emails a day from my blog subscriptions alone. There is absolutely no need for a tour organizer to send multiple emails about the same tour. I don’t need an email that only has the tour schedule link. I don’t need another email the next day that has the book and author basics. I don’t need a third email closer to the tour that has shitty HTML. I don’t need a fourth email that has the giveaway code. There should only be two emails ever sent about a tour: the tour notification/sign up, and the HTML and tour trimmings. I can see there could be a third email with your individual interview or guest post content, but that’s it!
  5. Promotion of my reviews on social media.  Most tour companies guarantee authors that they will also promote the tour on their social media outlets. As a reviewer, I should not be responsible for sending the tour organizer the review link once it is live, or submitting my own Twitter message for them to promote. Tour organizers set the tour schedule: they should be checking their reviewers’ blogs for the review and its link. This is a responsibility of the tour organizer, and anything less means you are a lazy tour organizer.
  6. All reviewer responsibilities sent in tour emails up front. There is a tour company I have worked who is very unorganized, in my opinion, and leaves all of the organizing up to the reviewers! We are sent two Google docs, have to fill in the schedule ourselves, go back and check it to make sure it hasn’t been changed, find the correct link among several to link to our review after it has posted and about five other tasks. This is the definition of a tour organizer’s job. Why am I doing the work for you? I’m not getting paid for it! I really like how Mother Daughter Book Reviews does this – everything is outlined in advance on the book’s tour page with all the components that reviewers are required to complete or can complete to enter a reviewer-only giveaway. Below you can see how she has listed everything that reviewers need to do step-by-step: MDRI have also started being assigned tasks by tour organizers and notified of it via messages to my blog’s Facebook page. That’s not kosher with me. If you need me to do something for the tour, it needs to be in an email, period. That’s how you notified me in the first place of the tour, so why would changing the method of communication for the same tour be acceptable? Below is a post that was left on my FB page. If you are leaving notes for me to check places that are abnormal, that should be your clue. And when I did check, it was #7 media messages
  7. I don’t receive post-day reminders. It maddens me that tour organizers I have worked with for over two years have recently started sending me a private message to my blog’s Facebook page with a long-winded note that starts off with not just a reminder that it is my day to post, but basically a “Where is your post? It’s your day” type message. Seriously?!This is just rude, and is one of the number one ways to piss off your reviewers and alienate your company. We are all grown ups, and I schedule my shit. If I said I was going to do it, I’m doing it. Let me do my stuff. This goes beyond micromanaging, and if you can’t trust your veteran reviewers to post on their assigned days, we don’t need to work together.11217520_10153252685422643_3284500522553220978_n
  8. The tour organizer actually interacts with me. I don’t know if there’s any bigger sign that I am not appreciated than someone I have done a lot of work for – who is getting paid for it, to boot – completely ignoring said work that I did for them, which makes them look good. It would be SO nice if the tour organizer communicated in some way with me besides upcoming tour notifications. For example, there is one tour organizer who comments on any type of post I do that is affiliated with her company. She also tentatively keeps up with me on Facebook and responds to email queries. 



Remember, I need suggestions for new tour companies for 2016. Comment below answering this question: 

Which tour company do you recommend and why?

Canva, Anyone?

Adam & Delilah

I discovered this new thing, Canva. It is amazeballs. I even got over my penny-pinching self and paid for a year’s subscription.

Since I have been playing around with things and getting familiar with how to use it and all the capabilities, I thought I’d pull out some of those favorite quotes and turn them into images. Below are the first few I made.

Facebook Post


Communication Conference 2016September 26 & 27 - Zürich, Switzerland




strange tales


strange tales (1)




What do you guys think? Any suggestions? 

I’m thinking of somehow turning this into a weekly or biweekly feature. Thoughts? 

Thoughts on Thursday: Favorite Literary Friendships


Favorite Literary Friendships

We read about characters on an almost daily basis. We read some phenomenal books each year. A couple months ago I talked about the trend of book boyfriends (y’all, I still don’t quite get it, Jamie Fraser all the way) and then I saw Nicole’s post about some of her favorite friendships in books.

I started thinking about how I don’t think about the friendships I read in books. I mean, yes, while I’m reading an idea will pop into my mind, but most times after I finish a book I don’t dwell or analyze the friendships between characters.

Why? Why is that not an important thing for me to focus on? Friendships are important. Being a middle school teacher, I see horrible examples of “friendship” every day, and I have had to have conversations with students about what friendship should and shouldn’t look like. This is one of the most popular themes in middle grades books because middle grades students need these examples, but they show up in all genres for all age groups. We like having friends.

Nicole’s post got me to thinking. A lot of thinking, way back to all the books I can remember. It was a bit of a strain, but I tried to remember as many of the all-stars of friendships I’ve read about over my 20ish years.

Laura Ingalls Wilder and Nellie Oleson – Little House series 

Laura and Nellie started out as enemies and end up as friends along the way. Their shenanigans and competitive spirit were the foundation of their friendship.

Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield – Sweet Valley High series 

Even though Elizabeth and Jessica are twin sisters, they also share more than just their biological bond. They were also good friends and were an example to me of what siblings’ friendships could be.

Jacky and Jamie – Bloody Jack series 

Jamie comes from a well-to-do British family and Jacky is nothing other than a guttersnipe orphan who turns into the most notorious pirate that thwarts the British Navy. Even after the shocking discovery of Jacky’s true identity, Jamie never wavers from her side. They may be separated by an ocean, but he would follow her to the ends of the earth and it was because they started as wonderful friends.

Harry, Ron and Hermione – Harry Potter series

I don’t think I really need to explain this. However, I was very angry at Ron for the longest time when he acted like an ass. Hermione also got into my bad graces but she always quickly redeemed herself, and even Harry himself pissed me off on more than three occasions. At the end of the wand, though, the three still remain steadfast friends who support and care for one another.

Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer 

Huck and Tom have a unique friendship. Tom is a romantic at heart, but Huck is a realist. He is scrappy and a survivor. Despite Tom’s foolhardy plans that always wind them up in trouble, Huck is his friend through thick and thin.

Pudge, the Colonel and Alaska – Looking for Alaska

These three have an incredible bond formed at boarding school, and it is Pudge and the Colonel’s dedication to Alaska that leads them chasing down the ghosts of her past. I would definitely want a friend like Pudge.

Amy and Ty – Heartland series 

Through all the things  that Amy and Ty celebrate and suffer through, they are friends through and through. No matter where their relationship takes them, at the end of the day they are still there for one another.

Greg and Rowley – Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

Greg isn’t always the best of friends. He gets jealous, but he learns his lessons. Rowley is the best of childhood friends and Greg comes around to understanding the importance of his friendship.



What are some of your favorite friendships?

What are some bad examples of friendship?

Thoughts on Thursday: Christmas Wish List


Christmas Wish List


In August I was trying to make up a list of priority books I needed to read ASAP instead of putting off, and then my mind started to wander to other book-related things, as it does, and I found myself making a Christmas wish list.

When I was in college, my roommate would always make up an elaborate list and email to her mom. This list was sent to all the relatives, and she generally ended up with basically everything on her list. They all worked it out, and it all worked out for her. Nice, right?

So I started thinking about my aunt’s family. When she got married, she got to become part of her husband’s family Christmas tradition. Everyone makes a list of what they want, they draw names, and you have to buy $100 worth of stuff on the list of the person whose name you drew.

These are fantastic ideas! I will admit I always received clothing items from my stepgrandmother, and they were always multiple sizes too small I(before gift receipts became a norm) when my brothers and stepcousins were getting things they actually wanted or would use. It was a bummer.

It’s also a bummer when you “grow up” and no longer receive Christmas gifts. What’s up with that? Mom, you can’t convince the new stepgrandkids that Santa exists if I don’t get anything for Christmas.

Since Black Friday is just around the corner in the States, I thought this was an appropriate time to share this post. I mean, some people are already plotting and planning their Black Friday rounds.

So as you are planning your own Christmas wish lists,  here are the three things on my list for Christmas:

  1. The Harry Potter series
  2. The Face on the Milk Carton series
  3. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on DVD

Do you partake in the Black Friday sales?

Do you write a wish list each year?

Does your family have any gift exchange traditions?