ARC Review: Tease

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Title/Author: Tease by Amanda Maciel
Publication Date/Publisher: April 29, 2014/Balzer + Bray
Series: No
Source and Format: Received advanced copy from publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 4 stars
 
From Goodreads:
Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault.

At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.

During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page.

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Right away, it’s very clear that Tease is not a book everyone will enjoy. Some early reviews and the subject matter even led me to believe it might not be the book for me, but in this case I was pleasantly surprised because I very much enjoyed it from beginning to end. Tease could have come off as offensive or distasteful very easily, but the story is presented in a way that feels real.
Tease is told from the bully’s perspective, with past and current timelines. We see Sara’s actions and what happened leading up to Emma killing herself. Sara gets kind of swept up in the name calling and “pranks” as they call them – her best friend, Brielle, has the more dynamic personality and is the one to kind of spur things on. At least, until Emma is caught (by Sara) making out with Sara’s boyfriends, and then things really escalate.
No character really comes off as sympathetic. Sara does seem to have a change of heart – she wants to look like a nice girl as she tries to win her boyfriend back.
The “past” timeline is all the bullying events. The “present” timeline is Sara preparing to go to trial for Emma’s death – she’s finishing her junior year in summer school, taking care of her little brothers, meeting with lawyers and therapists. She doesn’t get to see Brielle or her friends anymore. Now the only person that will talk to her is the weird boy who maybe called in a bomb threat to the school a few years ago.
Social media just wasn’t a thing like it is now when I was in high school. We had livejournal and AIM, and Friendster for a brief moment. “Social Media” was you away message.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Things I NEED to Own

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Bookish Things I Need to Own.

1. A wall of books that requires a ladder.

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2. Neil Gaiman’s library would also be acceptable.

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3. The most perfect couch for reading. Any reading position is possible!

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4. My mother in law gave us some wolf bookends as part of our wedding gift. A few days later, on our honeymoon in Reno, we bought some kitten bookends. Since then, it’s become a thing we do for our anniversary or when we take a trip – look through pawn shops for bookends. This shark set would be perfect for us.

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5. Another thing we’ve started collecting is mugs. We have a Reno one from our honeymoon, a windmill one from our anniversary in Solvang, and a general, some Sharks ones we found. When we buy a house, I’d like to have them out somehow, or in a cabinet without a door or something so I can see them – and get to them even more easily since I drink so much coffee.

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6. A book nook!

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7. This sweatshirt with a cat reading!

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8. Pretty much everything from the Frostbeard store.

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9. These book clutch purses!

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10. My Hogwarts Acceptance Letter. I just realized I should have done this list completely different. TOO LATE NOW!

ce41ec4ef2d16d6479d5fd1ade322fd8What are the bookish things you NEED to own?

 

ARC Review: The Taking

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Title/Author: The Taking by Kimberly Derting
Publication Date/Publisher: April 29, 2014/Harper Teen
Series: Yes, The Taking #1
Source and Format: Received advanced copy from publisher via Edelweiss
Rating: 3 stars

From Goodreads:

A flash of white light . . . and then . . . nothing.

When sixteen-year-old Kyra Agnew wakes up behind a Dumpster at the Gas ’n’ Sip, she has no memory of how she got there. With a terrible headache and a major case of déjà vu, she heads home only to discover that five years have passed . . . yet she hasn’t aged a day.

Everything else about Kyra’s old life is different. Her parents are divorced, her boyfriend, Austin, is in college and dating her best friend, and her dad has changed from an uptight neat-freak to a drunken conspiracy theorist who blames her five-year disappearance on little green men.

Confused and lost, Kyra isn’t sure how to move forward unless she uncovers the truth. With Austin gone, she turns to Tyler, Austin’s annoying kid brother, who is now seventeen and who she has a sudden undeniable attraction to. As Tyler and Kyra retrace her steps from the fateful night of her disappearance, they discover strange phenomena that no one can explain, and they begin to wonder if Kyra’s father is not as crazy as he seems. There are others like her who have been taken . . . and returned. Kyra races to find an explanation and reclaim the life she once had, but what if the life she wants back is not her own?

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The first half of The Taking saves the second half, but it’s not enough to make it more than “I liked it, but…”. I wanted to DNF several times, but I had already invested so much time and I wanted to see if it got as good as the first part again. I still wanted to know what happened – it’s a series, so basically just a cliffhanger – and it wasn’t really worth it to me, in the end. This is a series I will not be continuing without hearing from several sources that book 2 is amazing.


Kyra disappears one day while in the middle of an argument with her dad. She wakes up behind a dumpster five years later, though literally no time has passed for her. She goes home, but strangers are now living in her house. She goes across the street to her boyfriend’s house, and is so relieved to find him…until she realizes that’s actually his twelve year old little brother – all grown up now.


The relationship switcheroo didn’t bother me, but it was kind of weird when you think about how quickly Kyra adjusted to it. Like, Kyra just saw him as a twelve year old and now he’s like an even hotter version of her boyfriend and is her same age now so it’s okay. My younger brothers are 4 years apart from each other and in their twenties, but I still think of them both as being 12. But they’re not super hot guys already in love with me, so I’m sure it’s not the same.


Kyra’s relationship with Austin was infinitely better and more interesting than her relationship with Tyler, so I’m sad we only get to see a glimpse of it. In fact, I wish we had spent time in Kyra’s before life, if only to make the more enjoyable Part One longer.



I couldn’t figure out if Kyra was pronounced like eye-ra or like ear-a. I had to assume it was ear-a, because everyone kept calling her Kyr, and that doesn’t make sense if it’s eye-ra. If this is the case, I believe her name should be Kira.
 

ARC Review: The Break-Up Artist

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Title/Author: The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel

Publication Date/Publisher: May 1, 2014/Harlepquin Teen
Series: No
Source and Format: Received an advanced copy from publisher via Netgalley.

Rating: 3 stars

From Goodreads:

Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the mall. Becca Williamson breaks up couples.  

Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca’s older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple’s relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they’re second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca’s best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and the football team’s star player, Steve. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars…not to mention sneaking back into Huxley’s good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val’s new boyfriend.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.

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Hmmm, where to begin? While I did enjoy The Break-Up Artist, there were some things that rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not sure if it’s because I was perpetually in long-term relationships in high school or what, but Becca’s inability to let it go didn’t seem right to me.

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We all want to believe our friendships will last forever, but there’s nothing that say’s Becca and Huxley would have remained BFFs all though high school. On the first day of 7th grade, my best friend completely ditched me for a whole new crowd. I spent quite a few lunches sitting with a group of girls who only spoke in Spanish for the whole 30 minutes. In 8th grade, a boy asked me out but I didn’t really know him. The next day when I was going to agree to it, he was already dating that same girl who ditched me – and she was the one who told me he wanted to go out with me. We got over it (she went on to date his best friend for a while and we all went on a double date).

Even before the part where Becca is supposed to break up Huxley and her boyfriend, she is weirdly obsessed with the couples in her school. She is weirdly obsessed with couples in general, including her parents and her older sister who got dumped on her wedding day a year ago. Becca claims that love is so stupid and horrible, yet has some pretty strong ideas about what it’s supposed to look like.

A thing that I really like in books is footnotes that contain humorous asides. The Break-Up Artist starts using these…and then stops for like 98% of the book and then starts again. It’s possible that the galley I had just didn’t have these in the formatting – the humorous asides continue, but in chunks of text that make them feel kind of weird. Like, what is the point of Becca noting that she is notorious for forgetting to get cards for people? It never comes up before or after that one mention.

The Break-Up Artist is going to be a great, summer-y read. It’s light enough and a fast enough read that it’s perfect for a day or two at the beach.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read

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This week, The Broke and the Bookish is asking for the Top Ten Most Unique Books I’ve Read.

  1. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: This is a nightmare of a book, in more than one way. It’s hard to read, both in scope of story and because the words go in crazy directions across the page and there are footnotes upon footnotes AND stories within stories.
  2. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness: A town full of men where everyone can hear everyone’s thoughts…even animals. And it only gets crazier from there!
  3. The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien: If you ever want to completely lose touch with reality for a little while.
  4. As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathon Letham: A physicist creates, and falls in love with, a void.
  5. Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami: Two bizarre, parallel narratives starring a human data processor working for a government agency, and a man who has become separated from his shadow and is traveling through Dreamworld. Plus: unicorns!
  6. Anything by Tom Robbins: From his wikipedia page: His best-selling novels are “seriocomedies” (also known as “comedy-drama“),[2] often wildly poetic stories with a strong social and philosophical undercurrent, an irreverent bent, and scenes extrapolated from carefully researched bizarre facts.
  7. The Contortionist’s Handbook by Craig Clevenger:
  8. Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick: Magical dresses!
  9. 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad: Teens in space!
  10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: The world has gotten so terrible that everyone spends all of their time in a wholly immersive video game world – going to school there, hanging out there, working there.

ARC Review: The Falconer

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Title/Author: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Publication Date/Publisher: May 6, 2014/Chronicle Books
Series: Yes, The Falconer #1
Source and Format: Received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via Netgalley

Rating: 5 stars

From Goodreads:

Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

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WHY IS IT CALLED THAT??

Oooooh, okay. I get it.

But where are all the falcons? Is that another word for faery?

There’s one…mentioned. WHERE ARE THE FALCONS??

(I got kind of hung up on the title.)

The Falconer is the first faery book I’ve read, I think, and I SUPER LOVED it. 5 stars, for me, is usually something that wrecks me emotionally…or fantasy – though the two are never mutually exclusive. I always think that I don’t even like fantasy, but I’m always wrong.

Because I love it. I always put it off because the books tend to be so long and part of a series with equally long, or longer, books – so the time commitment and the waiting between books is enough to put me off it entirely.

The only thing you need to know about The Falconer is to READ IT, but if you take some convincing, here is a checklist of things it has that I love:

  • Nicknames based on last names: this is only my whole life’s goal and like 80% of the reason I got married.
  • Girls kicking butt: Faery butt, but also SOCIETY’S BUTT.
  • Love triangle: kind of. I don’t really even like love triangles but this one isn’t so bad.
  • Pixies getting drunk on honey: okay, this isn’t a thing I normally love, but I love it now.
  • Steampunk?: I don’t know, but there are a lot of cogs.
  • Science!: Aileana is an engineer! At 18! In 1844 Scotland! AND SHE HAS A TITLE! (she’s amazing).
  • Cliffhanger: This is not a thing I like it all, so consider this a warning! The Falconer #2 is slated to fly in until 2015 and anything could happen by then. The world could end! I could go blind and deaf and lose my hands in some sort of freak accident and never find out what happens after they….

Oh. Spoilers. Just read it!

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ARC Review: Exile

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Title/Author: Exile by Kevin Emerson
Publication Date/Publisher: April 29, 2014/Katherine Tegen Books
Series: Yes, Exile #1
Source and Format: Received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via Edelweiss

Rating: 2.5 stars

From Goodreads:

Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a professional—she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. Summer knows that falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels isn’t an ordinary band boy—he’s a hot, dreamy, sweet-singing, exiled-from-his-old-band, possibly-with-a-deep-dark-side band boy. And he can do that thing. That thing when someone sings a song and it inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will.

Summer also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming. When Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father, one band’s past becomes another’s present, and Summer finds it harder and harder to be both band manager and girlfriend. She knows what the well-mannered Catherine side of her would do, but she also knows what her heart is telling her. Maybe it’s time to accept who she really is, even if it means becoming an exile herself. . . .

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Exile was definitely never mentioned as being the first in a series. Imagine my slight discontentment with the open ending turning into a violent rage at finding out this is actually a series.
Catherine S. Carlson is living dual lives. As Catherine, she is ranked seventh in her class and talks to her parents about going to law school. As Summer, she is a band manager and frontman girlfriend, keeping her good grades under wraps. Even as Summer, her life is practically split in two: is she acting as girlfriend or as management? Her boyfriend can’t even tell sometimes. It’s never really explained why there is a difference between Catherine and Summer. Wouldn’t it be cooler to be Cat, the band manager?
New boyfriend, Caleb, has just learned that he is the illegitimate son of the long deceased frontman of Allegiance to North, Eli White. This leads Summer, Caleb, and the rest of the band (Dangerheart) on a wild goose chase to find some long lost songs of Eli’s.
Summer and Caleb’s relationship is meh. Caleb gets caught in compromising positions with Dangerheart’s bassist, Val, a few times and Summer doesn’t break up with him or anything that a girl who was repeatedly cheated on by her last frontman boyfriend would do. There are some nauseating inside joke moments, but they’re re-used too frequently, and who doesn’t want to read “earlube” over and over?
What should be a fun, although unrealistic, look at a high school band trying to make it is actually kind of a mess. It’s obvious that Kevin Emerson has a passion for music but it’s a bit heavy handed at times. There is no good way to describe music, and so much of Exile is Summer describing the songs Dangerheart is playing or the music of bands around them. One song is described as a dragon, which is weird, but then I thought “this song doesn’t exist and neither do dragons” so maybe it works?
Throughout the first part of the book, as far Dangerheart’s first practice as maybe even farther, the music “jargon” is used heavily to make sure the reader knows that Summer is srs bsns and knows everything about music. Does the average reader know what a paradiddle is? Possibly – and that’s the most rudimentary term used.
I spent 85% of the book thinking that Allegiance to North was an old school rock band from the ’70s…and then it’s mentioned that they (or possibly just members of AtoN in a different band – it’s hard to keep them all straight!) opened for Dave Matthews Band and I immediately hated everything.
fridgedisappointmentDiaspora: Try to describe your favorite song to someone who has never heard it – points for the use of dragons in your description, but negative points awarded for actually trying to do this instead of just playing them the song.

Paperback Recap: March 2014

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March was pretty boring for me! I started a new temp position on the 18th – and then immediately got tons of calls from other recruiters. But now that I’m working again for a while, I can probably finalllly start booking for ALA – which I say every month, but I need to actually get on it soon.

I’ve had some personal epiphanies – but I’ll probably change my mind again, because that’s what always happens. When I first moved here, I’d been ready to quit Crossfit to focus on weightlifting exclusively. Then the Crossfit Open happened and I did horribly at almost everything, so now I feel like I need to prove myself and NOT quit and become some kind of elite athlete. I’m going to give myself the year to get ready for the next Open and just kind of…see what happens from there.

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Favorite Book of March: I read 22 books in March. Top honors go to Grave Mercy, House of Ivy & Sorrow, Great, and Deadline. At the time of this writing, I actually have 200 pages left in Deadline, but it’s already completely blown my mind. My husband assures me there is another mind-melting event to come (he’s currently reading Blackout, and I wish he was a faster reader so I could start it right away!)

Favorite Movie of March: We spent a lazy Saturday watching Anaconda 3, though I definitely wouldn’t say it was a favorite. I watched the new-ish The Great Gatsby after reading Great, and I really enjoyed it. My Pretty Little Liars binge is still going strong – I’ve started season 3: haircuts! Toby is still around (boo)! Jenna looks weird without sunglasses!

Favorite Musical Discovery of March: I don’t think my March Spotify playlist is anything to write home about, but my new favorite song is Hurry, Hurry bu Air Traffic Controller.

Favorite PR of March: March was all about the Open and I pretty much stayed out of the gym except for those events. I’ll be getting back to it in April, since I have a ton of new personal and aesthetic goals.

Top Blog Thing of March: Things slowed down around here this month. Since I went back to work, I didn’t have as much time to devote to blog things.

Favorite Search Terms in March: No good ones this month!

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I’ve been on a DNF streak lately! I’ve backed off review books for a bit as a literary palette cleanser – not to mention those library book due dates are coming up! Things might be a little slow, review-wise for a while. I’m going to be doing some giveaways this month, probably one here and one on twitter, so be on the lookout!

ARC Review: Nash

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Title/Author: Nash by Jay Crownover

Publication Date/Publisher: April 29, 2014/William Morrow Paperbacks
Series: Yes, Marked Men #4
Source and Format: Received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher via Edelweiss

Rating: 3 stars

From Goodreads:

Will their past determine their future?

Saint Ford has worked hard to achieve her childhood dream of becoming of nurse. Focused on her work and devoted to her patients, there’s no room for love. She doesn’t need a guy making waves in her calm, serene life—especially when he’s the unforgettable hottie who nearly destroyed her in high school. Dark, brooding Nash Donovan might not remember her or the terrible pain he caused. But he turned her world upside down . . . and now he’s trying to do it again.

Saint has no idea that Nash isn’t the cocky player he once was. Uncovering a devastating family secret has rocked his world, and now he’s struggling to figure out his future. He can’t be distracted by the pretty nurse he seems to meet everywhere. Still, he can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them —or how she seems so desperate to get away from him. But the funny, sweet, and drop-dead gorgeous Saint is far too amazing to give up on—especially since she’s the only thing in his life that seems to make sense.

When Nash discovers the truth about their past, he realizes he may have lost her heart before he could even fight for it. Now, Saint has to decide: is Nash worth risking herself for all over again?

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Anyone already invested in the Marked Men series will love this latest installment. If you’re not already into the series – what are you waiting for?!
In Nash, we get to meet Nash for real as he reconnects with Saint, a girl he went to high school with. She was in love with him, and through a misunderstanding thought that he thought she was horrible and fat and ugly. Already shy and overweight, she takes these remarks to heart and they kind of continue to define her adult life – even though she’s a totally confident nurse now she just can’t believe anyone would think she’s beautiful.
Meanwhile, Nash is dealing with his Uncle Phil’s illness AND just finding out that said uncle is actually his dad. Nash and Saint are both dealing with family drama and run into each other at the hospital where Saint works and is taking care of Phil.
Together, they try to work through all of their issues, but some things like jealousy and insecurity are just too much to get past sometimes.

All our favorite characters are back – there’s a wedding and a baby! I love seeing the continuation of the other character’s lives in each subsequent book, even though the focus isn’t on them.
I also really love that the books are about normal people covered in tattoos and piercings and weird hair – while I’ve taken my facial piercings out and toned the hair down A LOT, I’m only getting more and more tattooed. I dislike the way the covers don’t really represent the character in the book – Nash’s is especially bad since his dark colored skin is mentioned all the time, and that’s not even getting to the missing piercings and tattoos. With that said, this is probably the most attractive cover guy this series has had, though he looks more and more RPattz-y to me every time I see him.

As always, here are some cover alternatives:

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Coffee Talk: Spoilers Aren’t Just For Books

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This is something that has been bothering me pretty much since I started blogging and based on the responses I see during my twitter outbursts make me believe that I’m not alone in this.

I live in California, which hopefully everyone knows is in the Pacific Timezone. What NO ONE seems to grasp is that timezones mean that 8pm on the east coast is 3 WHOLE HOURS before 8pm on the west coast. I don’t watch many shows but I get spoiled for every single one of them every single time a new episode airs.

Book bloggers: hate spoilers, love live-tweeting.

Sharing reactions to things is fun – that’s kind of the whole point of book blogging. But when you review an ARC, don’t you take care not to post spoilers? Or heavily warn your readers of a spoiler? You want your readers to read the book for themselves and find out what happens.

So why can’t the same thing apply to television shows? I should at least be given the chance to watch something the first time it airs in my area without being spoiled. If it was every once in a while, I could let it slide. But this is 4x a week, and that is incredibly ridiculous. I used to not even watch shows when they aired because I hate commercials and prefer to binge-watch, but I’ve had to change my personal habits in an attempt to stay spoiler free, and it doesn’t even work!

I’ve even seen bloggers live-tweet movies at the first east coast showing the day the movie comes out. One: that is so incredibly rude to other patrons, and if I saw someone doing this I would get them kicked out of the theater SO FAST I don’t care if we’re the only two people in there, and Two: REALLY, YOU ANIMAL?

I know the counter-argument to this is that people should just stay off the internet completely if they don’t want to see spoilers. But is it really fair to expect people to stay off the internet from 5pm on? So from the time I get off work until the time I go to bed, I should not go on the internet because some people have absolutely zero awareness of the world around them?

I’m about to go on an un-follow spress, I’m just waiting to decide if I should let people know exactly WHY I’m un-following them, but apparently, that’s not a very nice thing to do.

Is my only viable course of action retaliation? Do you watch a series based on books you haven’t read, such as The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones? I’ve read those books. I could spoil the whole season for you before it even starts, yet somehow I’m able to refrain. Do you do Waiting on Wednesday posts? Wouldn’t it be terrible if someone who has read that book came along and posted some spoilers in your comments?

Oh – it’s rude to intentionally put spoilers on the internet?

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