Armchair BEA Day 5 - Recovering From a Book Blogging Slump & Middle Grade/Young Adult

Friday, May 30, 2014 10:51 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

It's Day #5 for Armchair BEA! We're almost at the end, and I have really enjoyed myself so far. I've loved all the discussion topics and the giveaways yesterday were especially fun! By the way, my giveaway for a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card is still open if you want to enter. It's also so nice to meet new book bloggers and visit their amazing blogs! Today's dual discussion topics are a Topic of Choice and Middle Grade/Young Adult. I hope you enjoy this post! And if you'd like to check out more blogs that are participating today, here's the linky for Armchair BEA Day 5!

Recovering from A Book Blogging Slump

This is my topic of choice because it hits close to home, considering I recently returned from a book blogging break of several months. Why did I take such a long break, you ask? 1) Well, there was a lot going on in my life, and I needed to sort out everything. and 2) Honestly, book blogging had become a chore.

We've all been there, I'm sure. Blogging becomes so stressful, it's no longer fun. We're no longer excited to post our thoughts on books. You may only be posting because you feel you have to do it. At this point, it's time to step back and make a change. Today, I have some suggestions for book bloggers that are tired of blogging or just feel like it's no longer a rewarding experience. Hopefully, these suggestions help!

1) Read something you wouldn't normally read. Now, this may work for a reading slump as well. If your blogging and reading habits have become almost monotonous, why not change it up? For me, I may pick up some non-fiction, or a collection of short stories, or even some poetry. It's up to you. And then when you return to your favorite genre, you should feel more refreshed.

2) Blog at your own pace. If you feel like you absolutely have to post every single day, then you might want to rethink how often you post. There are some bloggers that can post quality content everyday, and that's awesome. But for others, posting 3-4 times a week, or maybe even 1-2 times a week until you regain interest, may work better. This gives you more time to visit other blogs, to sit down and read, or to just go out and do stuff. It's whatever works for you. I think quality always wins out over quantity, so if you need to spend more time on each post in order to write your best, slow down. This isn't a marathon; it's your blog and you should post as often as you want.

3) Read what you want and not what you think your readers want. I cannot stress this enough. If you're reading books because you think these are the types of books your blog followers read, then you're no longer blogging for yourself. You're blogging for someone else. What works for me personally is reading a mix of newer releases and older titles that deserve some love too. The bottom line is you should enjoy what you're reading and not feel like what you're reading is mandatory. If it becomes all about your page views and number of followers, it's no longer fun. And once you find the right blogging niche, your followers will most likely be into the same books you're reading, and I'm sure they'll appreciate some new book recommendations if they haven't heard of the books you're reading.

4) Learn how to say no. If you don't have time to read one more ARC or participate in a blog tour or even post a cover reveal, just say no. It sounds like an anti-drug commercial, but it's so true. Before you start a new feature or make a commitment, make sure you will be able to fit it into your busy schedule, or it will be just too stressful. You should never feel pressured to read more ARCs or post more author interviews. Post what you want to post, and never overload your schedule.

5) Be spontaneous. Organization may be key, but sometimes, we need to just say to hell with schedules, and do something spontaneous. If you're sick of sticking to a list of books, you could randomly pick a book from your growing TBR pile, maybe one you've ignored for some time, or you could make a book jar.
I made one recently for picking my next read, and it's a great idea if you're feeling indecisive about what to read next.

So there's some advice for the next time you're in a blogging slump, and I'm sure there's other things that have worked for bloggers. What has worked for you personally? Let me know in the comments!

Middle Grade/Young Adult
Our final genre of discussion is one that we know is a popular one these days: books for the younger crowd, from middle grade to young adult. If you do not normally talk about this genre on your site, maybe you want to feature books that you remember impacting you during this stage in your life. If this is where you tend to gravitate, maybe you want to list your favorites, make recommendations based on genres, or feature some titles that you are excited to read coming later this year.

I'm only discussing the young adult half of this topic because I rarely read MG books. I know, it's a shame, but Courtney Reads A Lot mainly features young adult book reviews, with the occasional adult book thrown in for good measure (I like feeling all grown up). I never planned for this blog to focus on YA books; it just kinda happened. Before book blogging, I occasionally read books from the young adult genre, but I read so many more adult books. I would read the classics and some contemporary fiction, and then there was, of course, some horror picks and psychological thrillers.

When I started blogging, my reading habits changed drastically. I started spending more time in the young adult book section at bookstores, and I was constantly looking out for new installments in YA book series I had started and fell in love with. I ran out of room on my bookshelves, and I was suddenly confronted with my new book buying addiction. My family couldn't understand my love for the YA genre; to them, it was a childish infatuation. YA books get a bad rep; they are often undervalued and judged by their covers. I was able to look past the book covers, and there are some godawful ones, and discover a deep appreciation for the genre as a whole.

So much happens during that time of our lives. We often discover our first love and then suffer our first heartbreak. We learn from our mistakes, or we don't and make them again and again until the lesson finally sticks. And we begin to make choices that will affect the rest of our lives. Through our decisions, we begin to learn more about ourselves. I'm not just talking about contemporary, as fantasy YA is no different. The young adults in fantasy series embark on journeys where they discover their identities and they find a purpose. Of course, the young adult years can be confusing, and we may have no idea what we want to do with our lives at that point, or even much later. But that is fine. By reading these books, I take comfort in the protagonist's indecision because, half the time, I have no idea what I'm doing either. Even as an adult, I can relate to what a teenager is feeling because I have my rough patches, my times of cluelessness (frequently), and I rarely feel like I'm an adult.

If you read the YA genre, I want you to celebrate your love for these books. Never be ashamed; you should proudly walk right up to the YA book section in your bookstore. And when you're there, you should check out some of my favorites. Here's some YA books that I love and that I think should not be overlooked!

The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist #1) by Rick Yancey

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.
So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthorpe, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.

A gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does man become the very thing he hunts? (Goodreads)

The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is. (Goodreads)

Blood Red Road (Dust Lands Trilogy #1) by Moira Young

Saba lives in Silverlake, a wasteland ravaged by constant sandstorms where her family scavenge from landfills left by the long-gone Wrecker civilization. After four cloaked horsemen kidnap her beloved twin brother Lugh, she teams up with daredevil Jack and the Free Hawks, a girl gang of Revolutionaries.

Saba learns that she is a fierce fighter, an unbeatable survivor, and a cunning opponent. And she has the power to take down a corrupt society from the inside. Saba and her new friends stage a showdown that change the course of her civilization. (Goodreads)

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lennie plays second clarinet in the school orchestra and has always happily been second fiddle to her charismatic older sister, Bailey. Then Bailey dies suddenly, and Lennie is left at sea without her anchor. Overcome by emotion, Lennie soon finds herself torn between two boys: Bailey's boyfriend, Toby, and Joe, the charming and musically gifted new boy in town. While Toby can't see her without seeing Bailey and Joe sees her only for herself, each offers Lennie something she desperately needs. But ultimately, it's up to Lennie to find her own way toward what she really needs-without Bailey. A remarkable debut novel perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Francesca Lia Block. (Goodreads)

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him? (Goodreads)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake. Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do. (Goodreads)

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? (Goodreads)

White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black

Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn't fit in at home or at school, so he's used to feeling like an outsider. He's also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen. (Goodreads)

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1) by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.

Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance . . . and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father.

But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin's faith in her . . . but in himself. (Goodreads)

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. (Goodreads)

Listing all of these favorites has made me want to reread all of them! They are just amazing books that I think everyone should give a chance. I'm sure I forgot others, but if you try out any of these, I'm sure you'll agree they are well worth your time.

What about everyone else? What are your thoughts on middle grade / young adult books? Do you have recommendations for me in either genre? I look forward to hearing from you!


  1. wonderful post, reading/ blogging slumps are so hard and it gets harder when you start thinking of it as a chore. Wonderful suggestions. I love the TBR jar, I just made myself one a few months ago and it has helped me read a random book a month but also get through books I own and need to read. To make sure I don't cheat (because I might ) I let my husband pick from the jar for me :)

    1. That's a good idea! I might have my bf pick mine :D

  2. Great advice on slump recovery. Love your book jar!

    Thanks for your YA list -- some were new to me!

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. Thank you! and actually, that's just a random picture I found. my book jar doesn't look half as nice haha

  3. I love the Chaos Walking series. Such an interesting concept.
    The thought of having to post something to my blog everyday makes me want to bawl! Three times a week is about what I can do.

    1. yeah, same here. Sometimes, on busier weeks, I'll even do 2 times. haha this week was so post heavy but still lots of fun. :D

  4. What a great list! I've been meaning to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone for a while now. And I love the idea of the Book Jar!

    1. Thanks! You should definitely check it out

  5. I love your tips for recovering from a slump. They're so true, and it's so universal that we all go through these phases. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're welcome :D Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I have been there with the blogging slump. I let myself get so bogged down with the reviews that I felt like I was never getting ahead. I got so overwhelmed that my blog essentially went dark for about 6 months. I allowed myself to get too overwhelmed and forgot why I was here and what I wanted to achieve with my blog, which was just being able to talk about books with other people. I had to remember I don't have to read every new release out there, and it is okay to say no when I get a review request and I don't have time.

    Lisa @Just Another Rabid Reader

  7. Great tips for a blogging slump! And I love that book jar--maybe I need to come up with a bunch of topics and put those into a jar to draw from when I'm lacking inspiration. Normally just a bit of a step away cures the problem for me. It's so easy to get overwhelmed!

  8. Great tips for a blogging slump! And I love that book jar--maybe I need to come up with a bunch of topics and put those into a jar to draw from when I'm lacking inspiration. Normally just a bit of a step away cures the problem for me. It's so easy to get overwhelmed!

  9. I have some less know authors/books on my Armchair BEA Day 5 post, if you would like to check them out. :)

  10. I love the Book Jar idea. I've seen it around a few times and now I feel the sudden urge to make one!

  11. That is great blogging slump advice!!!! Especially the bit about blogging for oneself, not doing what you think other people want from you.

    And a great list of YA books! (I wonder if you'll start working your way even further down in to middle grade-- try A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness.....

  12. Slumps are awful :( Graphic novels can usually pull me out of a reading slump :D

  13. I like the free topic you ended up writing about! I'll definitely have to keep your advice in mind for when I reach that point of wanting to take a break (which, really, is inevitable).
    And YES to everything you said about YA. It was a similar experience for me when I started blogging, but I've always enjoy reading YA and I will forever defend it.

  14. I've read all your recommended YA books except for White Cat and Finnikin -- so yay! I am thinking this summer I might try to read all the Lumatere or however it's spelled books.

    I like your slump advice - it's so true and for me, the trying something totally different piece really works.


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