Author Archives: kayla

Let’s Talk about Audience

Lately I’ve been thinking about who my audience might be right now, and who I would like to be a part of that audience. Of course my first thought goes to my peers from my PUB 101 course, however I’m starting to see evidence that my efforts to bring readers in from Goodreads is working.

I’ve been posting a status update on Goodreads every time I make a new blog post, and I’m starting to see spikes in my blog’s pageviews when I do this. For example, after I posted “Books I’m Most Looking Forward to!” and let my Goodreads friends know, my views went up by 14. I’ve also noticed that Canada is no longer the only place where people have viewed my blog from, which also shows that maybe more people are reaching my blog from Goodreads as well.

When I write my posts, I imagine I’m talking to other bibliophiles, and because my posts are not spoiler-free, I also imagine I’m talking to readers who have read similar books as me. I insert gifs in many of my posts, because us Goodreads users love to do that, and it makes my posts feel more fun and inviting.

I also speak very casually and emotionally because I want this blog to feel like a conversation between book lovers, where we can share our true thoughts and feelings about books without having to be formal about it.

I’m excited to continue to grow my audience!

Books I’m Most Looking Forward to!

A Vow so Bold and Deadly – Brigid Kemmerer: January 26, 2021

A Vow So Bold and Deadly (Cursebreakers, #3)

I read the first two books in this series over Summer 2020, and I am completely obsessed. More of my thoughts about the first two can be found on my “August Reads” post, but I can’t wait to hear how this story concludes. I love all of the characters in this series, and the books were by far some of the most fun reads of the year.

Ready Player Two – Ernest Cline: November 24, 2020

Ready Player Two (Ready Player One, #2)

I read Ready Player One in the Summer of 2019, and I think it might be safe to say it was my favourite book of that year. The world that Ernest Cline creates is beyond thrilling and full of nostalgia; it’s a book that I was – and still am – completely immersed in. Ernest Cline is one the most engaging writers I have come across, and I can’t wait to see what the sequel has in store!

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories – Holly Black: November 24, 2020

How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories (The Folk of the Air, #3.5)

I read all of The Folk of the Air Series last year, and absolutely adored each of the books. The series as a whole is on my favourites list, and as someone who loved Cardan, this novella is exactly what I need. I’m excited for the art too!

The Dreamer Trilogy (Untitled Books 2 & 3) – Maggie Stiefvater: 2021

Maggie Stiefvater

I feel like nobody wants to hear me talk more about how much I love Maggie Stiefvater and Ronan Lynch. Call Down the Hawk, the first book in this series, was soooooooooooo – I can’t stress this enough – good. I love this man with all my heart – and Declan now too – and so these two books go down as my most anticipated reads for 2021.

Six of Crows (Untitled Book 3) – Leigh Bardugo: Release date unknown

Leigh Bardugo

So let me tell you something: I just found out that Leigh Bardugo is making the Six of Crows Duology into a trilogy and I am screaming. I just want to know how my boy Kaz is doing and I’ll be fine.

Tales from the Hinterland – Melissa Albert: January 12, 2021

Tales from the Hinterland

You may remember that I talked about reading The Hazel Wood and The Night Country by Melissa Albert, and how I didn’t really enjoy them. So why is this book on here? Okay so it is true that I did not like those books, however, I really did enjoy the fairytale aspect of the series, and I would love to read the fairytales Melissa Albert was imagining while writing this. From what I know, they are dark and a little frightening, so I’m interested in reading the actual stories.

Black Tabs – V.E. Schwab: 2021

V.E. Schwab

There are two main reasons I want to read this book:

  1. I love V.E. Schwab’s writing so much. The Shades of Magic series is one of my favourites, and I’d be happy to read any of Schwab’s books.
  2. The synopsis – limited as of now – sounds so cool: “Forthcoming. Starring a female assassin in a future version of New York City. Tentatively titled ‘Black Tabs'”. This is definitely something I need to read in 2021!

Let me know if you think I missed anything, or if you’re also excited about any of these books!

Peer Review: Jackie Liao

Today’s post is going to be a blog review of Jackie Liao at http://jackieliao.net, and once again this will be formatted in a way that directly speaks to Jackie. 

Hi Jackie! It is clear your blog is an art blog immediately upon first visiting the page. The art on the homepage is beautiful and super eye-catching, and I like the use of the button on the art which immediately directs me to your gallery. It seems like this gallery is going to be the main component of your blog, but for now it only contains one piece of art – the same as the one on the top of the homepage – so it would be nice to see some more art there as your art is amazing! 

I think that the theme you use is perfect for an art blog, as it doesn’t show posts, but rather allows you to have a gallery for your work. The fonts you use are consistent and suit your blog as well, and I love how the homepage scrolls from a white to yellow with an ombre effect. The site is very easy to navigate, as all of the content for the blog can be found on the homepage  – save for the PUB 101 content which has its own space. 

Something that might detract from this aesthetic is the bottom of the homepage. It contains areas entitled “Follow me on social”,  “What my clients have to say”, “Some brands I’ve worked with”, and “Get in touch!”. Each of these have not yet been altered or customized to reflect your blog, and feature some blank spaces, empty links, or “click to edit” content. I would suggest editing these to contain some links to your social media or other platforms you use, so that you give viewers more ways to see your content. If this isn’t something you want to do, you could also add a contact page, and find another way to customize the bottom of the homepage.

As for the PUB 101 area, it is very clean and put-together with the black and white theme. Again, the font works really well, and all your posts are easy to find. I think it would also be nice to add some widgets to the sidebar below the categories, like a mini about me, some social media links, or some art. 

I had one problem with the menu once I reached the PUB 101 side of the blog, as it menu no longer worked. What I mean is when I am looking at your process posts for example, and I want to return to the homepage or gallery, clicking the menu doesn’t redirect me there – it does nothing, so I’m not sure if something is wrong on my end or not but it’s worth looking into. *I’ve inserted a screenshot of this where you can see on the top bar that I have clicked the page and have not been redirected*

Overall, I think you’re a really talented artist and I’m glad to have viewed your blog. Can’t wait to see more art from you!

10 Books I am Not a Fan of.

Hi! This post is going to be dedicated to ten books I read over the years which disappointed me or I couldn’t finish. Let me know how you feel about these choices!

Persuasion – Jane Austen ⭐

Oh my goodness. I did not like a single part of this book at all. I read this book for a class on 19th century literature, and I had the hardest time getting through it. The predictability in Anne and Wentworth’s relationship was very annoying, and I honestly wish I hadn’t read this. I attempted to read Northanger Abbey after this, and I could not do it, so many Jane Austen is not for me.

The Drowned World – J.G. Ballard ⭐

Another book I read for class – this time a class on literature, culture, and nature. This was just so difficult to read. So gloomy, dark, boring, and confusing.

Did I Mention I Love You? – Estelle Maskame ⭐

This book was so weird and uncomfy. They tried to make it not weird, but the relationship between the Eden and her step-brother was not cute.

Also they named their dog Gucci. Why.

Henry V & Richard III – William Shakespeare ⭐

These two plays were unbearable. I can’t recall a single thing that happened in these plays except that everyone died and was betrayed.

Shakespeare is not for me I’m really sorry.

A Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas ⭐

I. do. not. like. Sarah. J. Maas. books.

I could not get through this book. I read a few of the Throne of Glass books as well and they were bad. Really bad. This was even worse if that’s possible.

I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with this because this book was very hyped up…but I did a buddy-read for this, and neither of us could continue after less than 100 pages.

Snow Like Ashes – Sara Raasch ⭐ ⭐

Oh my god. All the names of the people and places in this book: Jannuari, Yakim, Cordell, Bithai, Rhythm Lynia, Oktuber,  Greer, Dendera, Henn, Alysson, Sir, Finn, Meira, Mather – the list goes on.

This was so bad that it was good – I could not stop laughing. I’m going to insert my favourite quote really quickly and move on: He’s the kind of good-looking that makes me physically ache, makes me stumble for chairs when I’m caught unawares.”

What is that.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams ⭐ ⭐

It is with a heavy heart that I add this book to this list. I can’t tell you enough how badly I wanted to read and love this book, but I just didn’t get it. I found some parts funny, but mostly I was just confused. Maybe I’ll re-read this some day.

Red Queen & Glass Sword – Victoria Aveyard ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

When I read Red Queen I didn’t enjoy it too much, but oh my goodness the sequel was so bad I didn’t finish. This series was so hyped up and I can’t understand why.

Please someone explain it to me.

Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I don’t even want to talk about why I didn’t like this because I love Leigh Bardugo SOOOOOOO much. Maybe it’s my fault because I read the Six of Crows duology first, but my expectations were so high for this book and I was completely let down.

I am considering re-reading.

The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Another hyped up series.

This was just not it for me. With these types of books (YA Fantasy) I either am obsessed or completely bored, and in this case it was the latter. I thought this book sounded so interesting and had so much potential, but it was really disappointing.

I gave it three stars because I didn’t mind some of the characters and their stories, but this story was far too slow for me.

Peer Review Reaction

Recently my blog was reviewed by Savannah Swatske (you can view the post here). This post will be my thoughts on this, as well as some actions I’ve taken after reading the post.

I appreciate the comment about the animation at the top of my blog – I really enjoyed making this and I did attempt to make it “fairytale-esque” as Savannah mentioned, so that was really nice to hear!

Savannah suggested I remove the “About” section from underneath my recent posts because it doesn’t really draw attention to it, and people may look at other content instead. I actually really loved this suggestion, and I have changed the setup of my homepage so that it does not include the “About” section, as I gave it its own spot. I am much happier with the setup now, and I think it draws attention to the right spots.

Another suggestion was to make the header animation at the top of my page smaller because of the white space. I actually have not done this because I created the animation on Canva and I am not able to edit it without recreating it. I’m not sure if I will do this, because I’m really happy with how the animation turned out and I’m not sure if I’d be able to recreate it. For now, I don’t mind the white space too much, but I will consider fixing this as well.

I also really liked the idea to add a sign-off to my posts, as I see Savannah does this as well and it’s a really nice touch to her posts! I’m not sure if I want to add this to all of my posts yet, but I have gone ahead and added it to my “About” page and my “Contact” page.

Thank you Savannah for reviewing my page – I think you had some really great ideas which have helped me a lot!

The Online World: Democracy or Hierarchy?

The Online World: Democracy or Hierarchy?

The internet has undoubtedly granted speech and space to people from all different walks of life, taking freedom of expression and speech to a whole other level, but is it as democratic of a space as it initially appears to be? The internet creating this type of environment is monumental, but this paper will argue that this is not necessarily democratic, as many of what people come across on the internet is a product of what those in authoritative positions want users to see, and in some ways is even comparable to a hierarchical system. While people may feel fortunate to have this space to freely chat, view whatever they want, and post whatever they wish, what needs to be considered is that this is then used to further the platform which is being used, and often information is unknowingly taken from users, leading to the censorship – but also the highlighting – of certain information. 

While the internet provides a lot of new options, it also violates some important aspects, such as user privacy. This breach of privacy is a product of a power structure, as many times people’s information is taken for the benefit of those who own or run the platform that is being used. Simply, web pages can take information from people such the type of content one looks for, one’s location, general setup choices, account details, and more, all which are used to track people and learn what sorts of content and advertisements people would be attracted to (“What Kind of Information Is Being Collected about Me Online?”). However, it can be more personal than that, which Tolentino explains in “A Story of Seven Scams”: “It’s our attention being sold to advertisers. It’s our personal data being sold to market research firms, our loose political animus being purchased by special interest groups…Facebook has allowed other companies, like Netflix and Spotify, to view its users’ private messages” (Tolentino 172, 173). Although it seems as though the people are the ones using a platform such as Facebook, many times the platform and its leaders are also using the people. These companies can then control what users come across, and suggest other sites or advertisements to them. 

Information and behaviours are being observed and used, but the control does not stop there, as this inevitably leads to the censorship of information. While this can happen simply with custom advertisements or suggestions, this can also affect wider groups particularly in the area of politics. About “three-quarters of Americans (73%) think it is very or somewhat likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints they find objectionable” (Vogels, et al). This takes away people’s ability to fully view and learn what they want about politics, as they are being presented only some of the information. This is becoming increasingly relevant, as people are becoming dependent on social media to teach them information, but they do not often consider that what they view is tailored.

On the other hand, not only is information censored, but certain viewpoints are highlighted too. Often this tendentious practice happens to benefit the leaders running the platform in which the content is being highlighted. An example of this can again be found in Facebook, who “bent the media’s economic model to match its own practices: Publications needed to capture attention quickly and constantly trigger high emotional responses to be seen at all. The result, in 2016, was an unending stream of Trump stories” (Tolentino 173). In order to further their own personal gain, Facebook monitored and changed the content that its users would see, which shows an overall lack of regard for their users to decide for themselves what political content they wished to read about, and likely had a lot of influence on how the voting went for that election. 

This is a growing concern, especially considering how many people now turn to the internet for their news. News can be found on almost any platform now, even ones such as Instagram or Facebook, and is not limited to only credible news sites. According to Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project,  “Within the digital realm, mobile news consumption is rising rapidly. The portion of Americans who ever get news on a mobile device has gone up from 54% in 2013 to 72% today” (Mitchell et al). These platforms in which people go to for news can choose not to mention certain stories, such as those which they believe may not trigger intense responses from viewers. 

President Donald Trump is a clear example of a person in power trying to manipulate what people can access on the internet. After being fact-checked by Twitter (Romm and Dwoskin), Trump released a new executive order regarding censorship on online platforms in which he said the following: “As President, I have made clear my commitment to free and open debate on the internet. Such debate is just as important online as it is in our universities, our town halls, and our homes. It is essential to sustaining our democracy” (Trump). While Trump may be making it appear as though he is in favour of promoting democracy in the online world, this in fact adds to the power structure, as it gives the power to another authoritative figure – the U.S government. Again, this does not promote democracy, but rather hierarchy, as it is just another person exercising their power to control what can and cannot be on the internet.  

While it is undeniable that the internet does provide people with a space to speak their mind, it is also clearly evident that there is a movement towards people in power controlling how the internet is used. This is transforming this space, whether people are aware or not at this point, into one that is quietly removing the democratic possibilities that the internet holds, and placing ordinary internet users at the bottom of a hierarchy.

Works Cited

Mitchell, Amy, et al. “How Americans Get Their News.” Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project, Pew Research Center, 7 Jul. 2016, www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/pathways-to-news/.

Romm, Tony, and Elizabeth Dwoskin. “Trump Signs Order That Could Punish Social Media Companies for How They Police Content, Drawing Criticism and Doubts of Legality.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 May 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/05/28/trump-social-media-executive-order/.

Tolentino, Jia. “The History of a Generation in Seven Scams.” Trick Mirror. New York, Random House, 2019. Trump, Donald. “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship.” The White House, The United States Government, 28 May 2020, www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-preventing-online-censorship/.

Trump, Donald. “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship.” The White House, The United States Government, 28 May 2020,www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-preventing-online-censorship/.

Vogels, Emily A., et al. “Most Americans Think Social Media Sites Censor Political Viewpoints.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center, 19 Aug. 2020, www.pewresearch.org/internet/2020/08/19/most-americans-think-social-media-sites-censor-political-viewpoints/ 

“What Kind of Information Is Being Collected about Me Online?” Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, 23 Jan. 2020, www.priv.gc.ca/en/about-the-opc/what-we-do/awareness-campaigns-and-events/privacy-education-for-kids/fs-fi/choice-choix/.

Blog Review: Savannah Swatske

Hello everyone, today I will be posting a different kind of review – a blog review. This blog review is going to be for Savannah Swatske – or Savannah Lynn – over at http://savannahswatske.com/, who posts lifestyle, travel, and health and wellness posts on her blog. I will be formatting this post in a way that directly speaks to Savannah.

For starters, I really love the overall design of your home page; the cream and blue colours work really nicely together, and the font you chose also creates an overall aesthetically pleasing affect. The images you chose for each of your posts also add to this affect, as they all match together really well! Your blog is also really easy to look through, and each post is easily accessible in its designated category.

One thing I initially thought you could do is add something to the sidebar such as a search function, or maybe include a “related posts” section for after someone is done reading a post so that they can continue to look through your blog.

Onto the writing: I love your writing style, and I find it to be really personable and relatable – like you’re having a casual conversation with your readers. Your posts are fun to read, and I have to say that the overnight oats recipe sounds delicious!

As for the academic postings, I would suggest making the process posts a little bit longer and in detail, and I might suggest deleting or saving a draft of the stranger post for now until you add content for it. I really like your Hulk post, but maybe you can make it more clear that this post is being taken over by Hulk, because I didn’t quite know who was the guest until the end. If you want, you could do something like you and the Hulk writing your workout routine together, and he keeps interrupting you with suggestions to do more reps or something – but it is completely up to you!

I love the Instagram widget you included at the bottom of your page, and I think it is the perfect touch to your blog! I like that you also included a button so that someone can easily follow your Instagram directly from your blog. Your Instagram pictures are just as professional looking as the other images you feature on your page, so I think that consistency is really great as well. I would suggest adding some of these pictures – or different ones – to your about me page as well, because your blog seems to feature a lot of photography, so adding some to your about page might make it more visually pleasing.

I also checked out your Youtube, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts as well, which are really well put together, and a great way to attract more readers/viewers to your social media platforms.

One last thing I will mention is the contact page, which highlights a lot of ways that people can reach you. The variety of options are really great, as it gives more room for people to connect with you across several platforms. I would just suggest making them clickable links to make them more easily accessible!

Glad to have viewed your blog!

-Kayla

Blog Progression

As I continue to develop my blog and create my posts, I am starting to realize that limiting this blog to book reviews – as I had initially intended – is not something that I want to do, and that’s okay. My book blog is my own space to create whatever content that I want, and I’ve had a lot of fun writing content aside from my reviews, such as participating in book tags and writing about my favourite characters. While I’m still going to be doing reviews, I’ve just simply decided to expand the blog to more than that.

I think I find a lot of my inspiration from Booktube, which is a space for book lovers to talk about limitlessly about anything book related, which I love to watch. I get a lot of my inspiration – not just for this blog but for things I read or partake in in general – from Hailey in Bookland, The Reading Rush, and way too many more to list, and I want to do my own unique take on this. This is the direction I’m now going to be taking my blog in, so for now I’ve changed my “Review” category to “Reviews and More”, but I may have to make different categories for different posts as I discover what exactly it is that I’m doing.

I think I may also want to start incorporating more book photography into my blog, mostly because I have a lot of fun taking pictures of my friends with our books, but more on that later!

Who am I? Book Tag

I found this book tag on the blog Never Not Reading , though apparently it was started by The Great American Read | PBS. Anyways I thought this book tag would be really fun and a great way for readers to get to know me!

If your life was a book genre, what would it be?

I guess the most obvious answer for this would be contemporary, so I’m going to try and avoid using that. Like many avid book readers, I so wish I could answer this with fantasy, but I would probably say comedy (is that a book genre?). I have a really fun family and we are ALWAYS cracking jokes and making fun of each other. We’re super loud, super silly, and it’s always non-stop laughter in my house.

What villain from a book do you most identify with?

I’m not really sure about this answer but maybe Snape from Harry Potter? I just feel like he was really misunderstood and never accepted with the good guys or the bad guys. Also that whole James Potter bullying him and looking like the good guy still REALLY bothers me.

Okay wait also the Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Love that guy. He was justifiably annoyed, and only resorted to living alone on the mountain because of the way the people in Whoville treated him. Also he brought back the presents okay it’s not that big of a deal.

What protagonist are you most similar to?

Okay I really want to answer Blue Sargent to this because she wants to experience magic so badly, and she’s strong and brave and can’t resist boys. However, I want to share with you the very well thought-out response from my sister: Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter. So now you see what I mean about always making fun of each other.

Which book did you connect with in the past that you no longer do?

I was actually just thinking about this because I was looking at my favourites shelf on Goodreads and there were so many books that I could barely remember. I know I’m answering this question kind of differently, but there are two series in particular that I was obsessed with but now I struggle to remember, which are All for the Game and Shades of Magic. I LOVED these books so much so I know I need to re-read them ASAP.

What recent book read would you love to be a character in?

OOOOOOOO well obviously I would want to be in The Raven Boys, because I love love love love this world and all the characters! Honestly I’m starting to think that I am subconsciously turning this into a Maggie Stiefvater appreciation blog.

How do your reading habits show off your personality?

There are a couple of ways I can answer this: One is that I often read outside, because I love being outdoors – like I am constantly on walks (mostly to the library if I’m being honest) or just sitting in my backyard with a cup of tea and a book. The other one is that I sometimes accidentally start reading like 7 books at once – and that is because I am SOOOOOOOOOOOO indecisive about everything.

I thought of another thing too: I put sticky tabs all over my books (I’ll insert an image of one my favourites) so that I can always go back to my favourite parts. I’m the type of person who is always thinking about fun moments or days I had with people, so I think this probably reflects that.

What book taught you something about yourself?

Maybe this answer is me cheating but I think all the books I’ve read – in some way or other – have taught me something about myself. In general though, a lot of books make me want to be a better and braver person, not so cautious or judgy, and it’s definitely worked.

The featured photo for this post was taken by my friend Victoria! Make sure you check out her blog as well!