authors · On Writing · Random Musings · Reviews · Writing Advice

Tagging Authors In Reviews

Thanks to Angie Thomas, a much-needed and celebrated voice in contemporary YA fiction, the subject of tagging authors in readers’ reviews has exploded over the last few days.

Why is it such a big deal? Well, there’s a lot of back and forth between those for and those against tagging authors in reviews, especially when it comes to sharing negative ones.

Those for argue that they want to help an author they enjoyed, and expect the author to show gratitude that they’re spreading the word about their work. Consensus also seems to be that even negative reviews have a place in being brought to the author’s attention.

Those against argue that as soon as the book’s published, it’s no longer the author’s, really – it’s the reader’s. And any review the reader wants to share should stay amongst those it’s actually meant for.

As for my side of the fence, I am AGAINST tagging authors in negative reviews. With positive reviews I can see both sides, I understand why someone might want to show the author how much they squealed over that person’s work and how much it meant to them.

But in my eyes, nobody needs to be going about their day, only to get the “ding!” notification and see that they’ve been dragged about something in a novel they spent years working on.

I’ll try and explain why tagging an author in a bad review is not only in bad taste on the reviewer’s half but also unproductive.

Number one is that there’s only so many people’s feedback an author can listen to and implement in their work. For example, here I took “Planet of the Apes”:

Reviewer #1: Loved the romance but wish there were less monkeys.

Author: Right…. romance but less monkeys… got it.

Reviewer #2: LOVED THE MONKEYS. All the monkeys. Maybe include lemurs next time? Less of the romance, though.

Author: Oh….. so more… monkeys?

Reviewer #3: EVERYTHING WAS PERFECT AND I ADORED IT. WOULDN’T CHANGE A THING!

Author: …….. so don’t change the monkeys?

Reviewer #4: This was a garbage fire, DNF’d at 20%.

Author: *grabs bottle of wine*

Authors cannot possibly please every single reader. While one reader might have an issue with the writing, another won’t even notice it and simply enjoy the story.  While one might love the protagonist, another might hate them with a passion.

It’s understandable, then, that authors primarily write for themselves (or they should, because it’s damn hard to write for people whose reaction you can’t predict), and hope it resonates with their audience. Since the book is published, there’s a good chance it already resonated with an agent, an editor, their aquisitions team, and more editors who then worked to get it to the best possible version of itself before it hits shelves.

Authors write with the understanding nobody reads the same book. That’s why readers have different favourite characters, or favourite scenes in novels, it’s why some didn’t gel with the plot, or writing, or concept, where others might not be able to get enough of it all. It’s totally fine to have a different opinion, and to discuss it or post it on platforms other readers can see and make judgement calls for themselves.

With all this in mind — why would a singular reader believe tagging an author in their 1* or 2* negatively aspected review, think it is justifed? That the author must read it, and understand that their opinion should be included amongst the editors, agents, and publishers who helped get the book out?

I’ve seen it reasoned that the tagging-reviewer wants to help the author – that in some way their review might assist the author in understanding where they could do better in future. That they only want to help, and so they want the author to read the criticisms they had personally with the novel.

In some cases criticism is justified – harmful represenation, problematic plot, glorification of things which shouldn’t be glorified – this is 100%  necessary to voice because it could have a bigger impact than the readership. Books influence society, because they’re a form of art. Society consumes art. And I believe all art forms should not only be accessible and enjoyed, but critiqued so that we can learn from it.

Though… let’s say there’s nothing serious to point out about a book, such as a harmful racial stereotype or glorifying an abusive relationship, and that the tagging-reviewer simply disagrees with a plot point or character arc. Again, it’s not really clear why the reviewer would find it necessary to inform the author of their opinion where there is **nothing the author can do about it**. The book is out. In the world. In people’s hands. And if the author enjoys writing dystopias about primates taking over the planet, as long as there’s an audience who wants it, they will continue to write it.

It’s likely the publishers, agents, editors, will pick up on anything consistently pointed out in reviews and feed it back to the author to improve on in future. We all make mistakes, it’s how we learn. Authors want to get better at their craft.

But believing a singular opinion needs to be given directly to the author – who at the point of seeing the tag might be having a bad day, may be struggling, wondering if this is the career for them, even if they’ve had 15 books already published because **anxiety and imposter syndrome is a thing** – is not considerate. It’s entitled.

Do you want the author to notice your (negative) opinion? Ask yourself why.  If it isn’t to engage in a discussion about something harmful, why do you want to tell the author you didn’t like their book? Chances are if you didn’t like it, you’re simply not the audience for it. I’m personally not a fan of Justin Bieber’s back catalogue but I wouldn’t tag him in my 1* review of how “Baby” got stuck in my head too many times.

Plus, the whole thing is just plain tacky, I mean… come on. You wouldn’t like it if you posted some artwork online, or simply did your day job, and someone came along with a huge red ‘F’ and stuck it on your forehead, declaring to the world that they, a person, did not like The Thing You Created.

So before there’s any more debate about why it’s justified, I would like people to think why they feel the author should be grateful they took the time to include them in their distribution of a bad review.

They should be grateful the author wrote the book at all. Art is necessary, now more than ever. And we should be showing our support and kindness for creating in a world of destruction.


Editing services:Cover to Cover Edits

Twitter: @jadewritesbooks

 

 

book tags · Just For Fun

Hocus Pocus Writing Tag!

IT’S ALMOST HALLOWEEN!

Scorpio season, spooky season, the “excuse to watch Halloween movies every day” season.

In honour of the best Halloween movie, HOCUS POCUS, Kim Chance and Destiny Murtaugh have created the Hocus Pocus Writing Tag! Huzzah!

The tag is filled with questions that are all related to Hocus Pocus, and writing combined!

Let’s get into it, shall we sisters?

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THE QUESTIONS

1. Sarah, Mary, & Winifred Sanderson: Being a witch is hard, but so is writing. If you had magical, witchy powers what aspect of writing or what part of the process would you magically skip over?

The second or third drafts.

Don’t get me wrong I love editing – but it’s the progression of “this might work” – “no wait this might work!” that I don’t get along with. I would much prefer to have the shitty first draft then instantly know how to make it refined, polished, and multi-layered without the time-consuming months of in between.

2. Max and Dani: What relationships tend to be at the core of your books? Friends? Family? Romance?

Friends – found, established, unlikely or otherwise – united by the same mission: whether it’s revenge, truth, secrecy, there’s always a friendship at the heart of it. Sometimes it turns romantic, other times it’s just buddies fighting the good fight.

Also unhealthy friendships. In one or two books I wrote, there was an obsessive quality to two friendships, and I like exploring that.

3. Amuck, Amuck, Amuck!: How do you approach the chaos that is drafting? Are you a plotter, a pantster, or a combo of both?

At first I was a pantser. Now I’m a plotser. I tend to have an outline of what I want to write, but when intuition takes me on a certain road, I tend to obey it. It might not work, but on the occasions it DOES work it opens up a hell of a lot more interesting layers and insights into character.

4. I Put a Spell on You: How do you deal with book ideas that want to pull your focus from your main WIP?

Ah. This happens often. Usually I play around with the idea, write it down, throw a few characters, dialogue scenes, pinterest board. I allow myself a day or weekend to play.

THEN I IGNORE IT.

I can’t focus on more than one idea at a time and do the projects real justice, so I tend to mark it in the shiny box and wait until I have the mental capacity to write it.

5. Thackery Binx: Things aren’t always what they seem–Think back to when you first started writing to where you are now. How has your process transformed from then to now?

I took a lot longer back then. I had so many ideas and crammed them all into the same MS. I used to give up editing about draft two, and then figure that was okay. (it was not okay).

Otherwise the process of ideas and ruminating with them generally remains the same. I get feedback a lot more, and I can see my writing improving with every project.

6. My Lucky Rat Tail: Do you have a writing ritual? If not, what are some of your favourite writing tools?

I don’t have a ritual usually. I normally have a drink, usually it’s tea or coffee, and I light a candle before every writing session but that’s just for atmosphere and good scents ^_^

7. Boooooookkk: Favorite Writing Craft Book?

The Emotion Thesaurus! Full of different ways to show and describe people’s feelings without having to write “X is sad”

8. Another Glorious Morning: Do you enjoy writing in the morning? Or do you prefer the evening, like Winnifred?

Winnifred’s my girl, I prefer evening no doubt. Everything I need is done for the day, I don’t have the worry of not doing housework, or having to do something else. It’s just… me. The dark. And my thoughts.

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9. The Black Flame Candle: What’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve made so far in your writing journey? OR What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Biggest lesson is to get some trusted CP’s because they are INVALUABLE. Also to read more than I write. Devour everything, no matter what genre, just expand my tastes.

10. Billy Butcherson: What’s a trope that most people hate, but you love and would like to see “come back from the dead”?

I love a good hidden identity trope. Like “he was the prince all along!”. It’s not quite dead, but I really enjoy it when it’s done well.

11. Come Little Children: Songs that give you a “hypnotic” focus when writing? I.e., fav songs on your writing playlist.

Firstly – I adore Come Little Children. It’s got the same tone as Once Upon A December for me.

My playlist changes with each project but currently it’s:

Rauha by Lasse Ennersen
You Had To Go And Spoil It by Steven Price
Kill V Maim by Grimes

WHAT ABOUT YOU?! I TAG ANYONE WHO WANTS TO DO THIS! LINK BACK TO YOUR POSTS IN THE COMMENTS, I WANT TO READ!

Many thanks to Kim Chance and  Destiny Murtaugh for the inspiration!

xox

Random Musings

The Reader’s Curse – Reading Slumps

If you’re a reader who devours many books at a time, you’ll probably have experienced the dreaded reading slump –

It happens without warning. You could be half way through a book and then… just don’t want to pick it up a few nights in a row. Concentration wavers. You’re distracted by something shiny.

Image result for tower of booksI look at books piled on my bedside table, calling to me to finish them, only to get in bed and turn off the light.

Maybe I start another book, hoping it’ll cure it but – nope. For some reason I can’t get *into* it, I’m anxious, I’m frustrated, my mind wanders. And so the leaning tower of Pages takes residence beside my pillows until it’s knocked over by my flailing-sleep arm or a cat demanding breakfast.

There’s nothing quite like struggling to read, in the worst of ways. For me, reading is an escape–a way to shut out the world around me and get lost in another. And when those portals to other words aren’t registering, or not working as well as they should, I immediately feel guilty that I’m not doing my authorly duty of actually devouring someone else’s words.

Reading fills up the creative holes scoured out by life. (How depressed does that sound? But coming from someone who experiences depression, expected.) When I can’t fill up those holes, it takes its toll.

So what can you do – or what do I do – to combat reading slumps?

Continue reading “The Reader’s Curse – Reading Slumps”

jadewritesbooks · On Writing

Writing Is Hard And Other Obvious Things

When I first say to people that I want to be a writer, it’s met with one of two reactions –

“Oh, cool!”

or

“Nice, you know my friend/my boyfriend/someone I met randomly on the tube one time wrote a book, it’s 270k words but it keeps getting rejected, publishing doesn’t recognize genius”.

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Granted there’s a few “I couldn’t write a book” responses or “I’ve always wanted to write a book” thrown in there, but it’s more the first two options that I experience.

(FYI If you want to be a nice, supportive person, go with the top option. “Oh, cool!” is a safe response to most writers, but if followed by the scariest question of all time — “What’s your book about?” — be prepared for the author to shrivel up and cry rather than actually be able to tell you cohesively what they are writing about.)

The second option is one that many writers get, and it’s often soul-destroying. It insinuates that writing a book is something many people are doing, and doing well, and clearly because they have not got ahead in publishing us poor souls must be wasting our time.

Second Option Responders rarely recognize the sheer amount of hard work that actually goes into a book. The amount of tweets that are out there with the up and down cycle of falling in and then out of love with what you’re writing multiply by the minute. There are gifs, painfully accurate in their portrayal of a writer’s suffering, because if writing books were easy —

* EVERYONE would write one.
* The market would NOT be as competitive as it is today
* We would have way more whinging observations about how Life Is Hard for straight white males with money
* There would be no need for contests like PitchWars or mentoring systems

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I’ve struggled with writing my 4th MS for the past year. I can’t remember when I first started writing it — probably around the time President Grump was inaugurated – but I’m only just finishing the first draft. During this first draft I was finishing up my 3rd MS, entering PitchWars 2017, being mentored in the contest, doing extensive edits, querying, going at it tooth and nail and forcing all thoughts of 4th Book out of my head until finally, around March of this year, I decided to go for it.

It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. Even with an outline I struggled to get past scenes I wasn’t interested in writing, or figuring out why I didn’t like this scene here, or switching chapters, or just making my writing not suck. I read books on craft, I watched YouTube videos, I shoved so many nuggets of information into my head I looked like a 20 box at McDonald’s.

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Life got in the way as life often does, with money issues, illnesses, and the pesky inconvenience of having to keep the house in a functioning condition. Distractions were at every turn, a devil when I was actually 100% committed to my writing hour.

I had writing sprints with my darling CP, I focused on getting a word count goal for the day, and then finally – FINALLY – today I reached my 70k word count. I may not be finished, but it is book-shaped, and it has enough words to be considered a novel.

The finish line is in sight – I can see it – and I’m striving towards it. But next time someone tells you writing isn’t hard, or they want to write a book in their spare time, when you’ve buried the instinct of throwing water in their face please ask them why they haven’t written one.

Their answer may be because they haven’t had an idea, but I bet you it’s because “they haven’t found the time”.

Books aren’t made overnight. Books take care, and time, and graft, and sweat, and their fair share of tears. Writing is not easy.

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Be proud of every word you write, because each one is one more than those who’ve never written that book in their head have managed to do, and it’s a step closer towards your goals ❤

 


 

Have an MS you need editing? I can help! I have spots open all summer for developmental edits, query critiques and proofreading. Email me – jadewritesbooks@gmail.com – or visit Cover to Cover Edits for more information on how to reserve your place!

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday June 6th: Summer Reads

June 6th: Summer Reads
–With summer finally kicking off, now is the time to recommend your favorite summer reads, whatever that means to you!

 

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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY

I read this when I was on holiday in Ibiza, soaking up the rays — the book also has great summery moments and it was perfect whimsy to spend days on the beach.

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ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS

This is set in the desert, and it’s a lazy heat sort of feel to it, so I reckon this would match summer.

GEEKERELLA

This is a really fast-paced read set at a convention during summer – light, breezy and one of my favourites.

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THE FEVER KING

Ok so I’m cheating. A friend wrote this book, and it isn’t even out yet (publication is March 2019)  but I’ve read it and it’s amazing and it’s perfect for a summer read. BUY IT WHEN IT COMES OUT!

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AND I DARKEN

Set in a heavy summer with lots of heat, this is a slow read and was disappointing for me, but it’s the only one I’ve read recently that was set in summer. *blink*

Reviews

REVIEW- Final Draft by Riley Redgate

As you may know from the previous post, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. But before I hit that reading slump, I read Final Draft via eARC from NetGalley, courtesy of ABRAMS Kids.

Pub Date 12 Jun 2018

Thank you!

In the end I gave this book 3.5* out of 5.

I enjoyed a lot about this book, but after my original review, of which I will post below, I was kinda left thinking… what was the point of the book? It was a bit of a filler, to me.

Original review:

I can see that this book might get comparisons to Fangirl, but it seems much more grounded to me. It’s such a refreshing read and I related SO MUCH to the struggles Laila went through. I enjoyed the nuances throughout, the diversity, the humour. Sometimes the backstory was a little full on with descriptions but otherwise – a joy to read.

I stand by that, too. But at the same time I wasn’t really sure what feeling I should have been left with, or whether this was open-ended to go into something else, or… whether it was a happy ending, whether our main character had actually learned something from the teacher who came in, why the death was actually there.

The first parts of the book were 100% relatable, with the sci fi nerding and the keen sense of writing. But after a while I didn’t really understand it. The representation of depression was, to me, something that hit home but nothing ever seemed finished off in the story itself.

I did enjoy the romance, but even that felt like an add-on to me. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to take from it, like it was a snapshot of her life. Nothing mentioned ever seemed to come to fruition, things that seemed like they were going to be a big deal ended up being… left unanswered or never mentioned again.

It was well-written and I really think it has potential to affect many teenage readers in the right way, but it wasn’t 100% for me.

3.5*

 

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday – Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors

Booktube SFF Awards Babble Crossover Topic! — This month’s crossover topic is your auto-buy authors that write SFF.

I’m actually quite finicky when it comes to absolutely adoring authors enough to buy them automatically – mainly because of money – BUT there are a few authors I’m definitely going to buy immediately regardless of monetary status, and some that I will buy fairly soon after publication.

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LEIGH BARDUGO

QUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN.

I want her books now. King of Scars duology (? I think?), Ninth House! THEY CAN’T COME QUICK ENOUGH.

I devoured Six of Crows, she’s a wonderful person, and yes. I adore her. I met her when she did her UK tour with Rainbow Rowell and I am officially her loyal subject.

Continue reading “Top 5 Wednesday – Auto-Buy Scifi and Fantasy Authors”

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday – Forgettable Books

Whether you loved or hated them at the time, these are books that you just don’t really remember…

Here’s the thing, I’m pretty good at remembering books, or at least aspects of books. HOWEVER. I can’t remember what I read 10 days ago. I’m that sort of a person.

So I had to look back at my Goodreads list for this.

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Oh my God I hated this but I can’t remember anything about the plot, mainly because I DNF’d it when I was about 15.

Continue reading “Top 5 Wednesday – Forgettable Books”

TBR lists

TBR Tidy-Up – Maximum Removal!

Tis the season for Christmas, and with it will come books, book vouchers, and money to buy – books. Hopefully, also a new bookshelf.

So while I have given out lists of my TBR to friends who have asked “what books  do you like?!” I still need to reduce this wanting-to-read list simply because there is no way I will be able to read all the books I’ve put on here AND new releases I’m hankering for.

Time turner? Invent one, please.

SO in this post I’m going to try and get rid of 10.

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THE RULES

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

 

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I would buy this for the COVER ALONE look at that!!! It’s beautiful. Plus space, crews, intrigue!!! This book has me written all over it.

KEEPING

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m not sure “baby with a defect” is entirely unproblematic? Either way I’m not feeling post-apocalyptic space dramas with people wanting babies rn.

BYE

 

 

 

 

 

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This is a Middle Grade, and I didn’t know I had any of this on my list, so I’m keeping it – a delightful weird girl who can talk to ghosts? Yes. Gimme.

KEEPING

 

 

 

 

 

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Aaaaagh I mean I like the sound of this ish? But then there are some trope-y things I’m not sure about. Portal fantasy is dead right now but it seems to have been published when it was popular… I’m not sure. It seems like there’s some sort of love triangle and over sexualised shit.

Be strong. No.

BYE.

 

 

 

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Reading the synopsis of this religion-meets-mental-illness book, I was like oh, no. But then I realised it’s supposed to be a horror novel and it scared Stephen King.

KEEP (but probably won’t get to any time soon)

 

 

 

 

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Psychics in Victorian England…. like need I say more?!

KEEPING

 

 

 

 

 

I HAVE ONLY GOT RID OF TWO BOOKS. I NEED TO UP THE ANTE.

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Ok so this was probably added when I was crushing on a Swedish guy in my workplace, so I’m going to remove this.

BYE

 

 

 

 

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Wow, this preview is so small and it won’t get any bigger. Not to worry, though, since this is about alien/zombie/vampire hybrids and I have no interest in it any more.

BYE

 

 

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I’m a bit confused about what this is meant to be. Something about hallucinations and wrongful imprisonment and murder… I’m not feeling it, to be honest.

BYE

 

 

 

 

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I’ve had this on my TBR FOREVER. Maybe 2018 will be the year I finally read this fking thing.

KEEPING

 

 

 

 

 

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Nnnnngh. I think I added this since I was doing my own psychic detective story at the time, and right now I don’t really want to read this sort of stuff. It’s average is 3*

NAH SORRY

 

 

 

 

 

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A QUEER WOMAN OF COLOUR WITH AN ILLNESS – I don’t care about the mixed reviews I’m getting this.

KEEP

 

 

 

 

 

I must point out that I’ve now got rid of some other reference books, because I didn’t need any more, but I won’t include them here cause boring.

Where are we, 5 out of 10? Sigh. Ok I’m going to do THREE MORE books.

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A beautiful cover, and absolutely great premise, and though I try not to check there’s great reviews from friends.

KEEP

 

 

 

 

 

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A dear friend recommended this to me after I came out of hospital with a crush on my surgeon, since the protagonist here also has the same issue. But I no longer have  a crush on my surgeon (he’s probably still pretty hot to be fair) and I won’t ever read this, so.

BYE

 

 

 

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NNNGH. I really wanted to end on a definitive “no”. But this book has 3 POVs in a high fantasy (I mean… the book I’ve written may have similar ahem) so… God.

I’ll keep it.

 

 

 

 

 

SIX GONE. Not including the reference books. Now I’m up to my 2016 adding spree, where there could be more up to date titles and become more difficult for me. So I’m now on page 3 of my TBR, with 14 pages to rifle through total. This is gonna be a loooong series.

7 Sins Saturday · Just For Fun · Random Musings

Seven Sins Saturday – 7 Authors I’ve Never Read – But Maybe Should

Any of the Bronte sisters

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I’ve heard Wuthering Heights is a big complicated mess of ugly personality characters, and I don’t even know the plot of Jane Eyre – but they’re classic British female writers from t’north of England so I feel I owe it to them, as a British female writer from t’north, to go back and actually read some of their novels.

John Green

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Ok so recently I bought The Fault In Our Stars at a charity shop, and maybe like a week later everyone was screaming because of the recent news he’s got a new book coming out. I’ve heard bits and pieces about John Green which may or may not be entirely favourable, from personal conduct to quality of stories, but he’s such a big presence in YA I have to at least read something from him.

Roxane Gay

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I read a teeny excerpt in one of those “books coming out in June” or whatever things and I enjoyed it, but I haven’t ever read a book from her. I know she’s an incredibly influential writer, and her stark observations on modern day women and the situations surrounding them are second to none. I’m actually excited to read from her.

Margaret Atwood

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YAS MY FELLOW SCORPIO LADY! The Handmaid’s Tale is EVERYWHERE right now and I keep hearing how Margaret is exceptional with her storytelling. I feel so guilty I haven’t read anything from her. I will amend, I will amend.

Ursula Le Guin

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ANOTHER FELLOW SCORPIO. Maybe I should do a list of Scorpios. SFF Queen. Duchess. Whatever. I need to read her books, because she genuinely seemed ahead of her time and absolutely breakthrough in terms of storytelling and subject matter. I’ll actually look for a book RIGHT NOW.

Robin Hobb

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……that’s a lot of books. Queen of Fantasy, yeah? Forshame that I haven’t read any of her books! I think it’s a distilled need in me to avoid her novels, simply because when I was a kid I skimmed the blurb of her books in the library and didn’t really ‘get it’. I’ve still had no real interest to delve in to a fantasy world – adult fantasy worlds always seem so bloody complicated to get into – but I will definitely have to try and sample some of her work soon.

Terry Pratchett

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Holy heck. Now I may have told a teeny lie here – I have actually read some of him, mostly in Good Omens which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. The only thing is, I found Pratchett’s chapters almost unbearable to get through not because the writing or plot was bad, but because the rhythm was so staccato. It didn’t flow, it jarred me out of the story, and I couldn’t relate to the characters. It was the same when I read the first few pages of a Discworld novel I can’t remember, and the footnotes at the time weren’t cute or funny, it was more like an essay. I will try him again one time, but my previous experience has kinda put me off.

What about you guys? Any recs from these authors, or any ‘classics’ you need to read?