Joining a Challenge

Intent to join post for #2021ReadNonFic and a few recommendations for others attempting the challenge.

Nothing like joining a tough reading challenge to make you examine habits. I saw this older post over at What’s Nonfiction about the 2021 Nonfiction Challenge and thought it was just the thing to pull me out of last year’s nonfiction reading slump. In fact, overconfidence was so high I thought “I’ve been blogging for five years now, why don’t I put together a list of some books I’d recommend?”

First mistake: I review books for all ages, so a lot of my nonfiction reviews are for children’s books.

Second mistake: I read a lot of books that don’t make it onto this blog, either because they aren’t diverse, or because I have to return them to the library.

Third mistake: Apparently the diverse adult nonfiction I do review mainly falls into three categories: biography, historical nonfiction, or parenting.

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Year(s) in Review and Goals

A few updates, some favorites from the last two years’ reviews, and very loose, mild goals for 2021.

So not only was 2020 a mess, I never really did a wrap up from 2019. I’ve gone ahead and updated my Review pages (2019, 2020) so let’s look at a few other things before getting into my favorites of the last two years and goals for 2021.

Middle Grade Mondays

For 2021 I am going to start a new occasional post, Middle Grade Monday. Towards the end of 2020, my Fiction Fridays were almost entirely diverse middle grade fantasy novels. I have a LOT more books in that category to read, review, or post about and am hoping to put out a second round up at the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022. But I also read a lot of other books including adult novels, YA, picture books, historical fiction, realistic stories, and even middle grade science fiction, all of which I would love to discuss on Fiction Friday.

I don’t want the diverse middle grade fantasy to overwhelm the blog, so sometime in the next few months I’ll be switching to posting that on Mondays and hopefully doing other fiction reviews for Fiction Fridays.

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Blog Housekeeping

TL;DR – The advertising fake “sponsored post” content is NOT from me. Might have to figure out a new place to take CBR depending on how this goes.

Greetings dear readers.

I prefer to focus my time on producing content, so it distresses me to make another one of these this year. The good news is as of right now, I’m still creating content, with Fiction Fridays at least continuing for the next few months.

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH WORDPRESS?

The bad news is that WordPress is very suddenly testing a deceptive new feature called “sponsored content” in several places, including this blog. This is a practice of making a fake blog post which is actually an advertisement that is incorporated into one’s blog feed.

Readers are more likely to click on it for two reasons:
1) because it is formatted and styled just like a regular post
2) or because some bloggers do get paid to create and post specific content, which in some cases may still be of use or interest to their readers

DO I EVER CREATE SPONSORED POSTS? (NO! NEVER!)

For this blog, I do NOT do any sponsored posts. At times I accept free review copies of books that interest me, but always with the understanding that I may not write a favorable review. These posts where I get free review copies are ALWAYS labeled as such. I even mark books to indicate if I got them at the library, purchased them myself, or received them as a gift. At times I might refer to or collaborate with others and these posts are ALWAYS LABELED.

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Rant About #coverfail in Earthsea

A thousand words (and some pictures) about depictions of Earthsea and the importance of cover art that better reflects diverse fantasy novels.

I was planning to cover this topic as part of my forthcoming review of A Wizard of Earthsea, the first book in the Earthsea Cycle (formerly trilogy) but could not cut it down to any reasonable length, and the same topic applies to many other books, including the rest of that series.

Ruth Robbins Wizard of Earthsea first cover
The first cover of A Wizard of Earthsea was illustrated by Ruth Robbins.

The first Earthsea book was published in 1968 and in the intervening 50 years, they’ve come to be seen as something of a classic of fantasy literature, frequently compared to Tolkien or the Chronicles of Narnia.  They are not without failings (which I’ll try to address in my reviews), but the Earthsea books do have one major difference to many commonly known “classic” works of fantasy – the vast majority of LeGuin’s Earthsea characters are NOT white.

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How I Get Books: Libraries

In this first installment of How I Get Books, I’m going to talk a little bit about some of the different libraries in my life.

There are four main types of libraries that I get books from.  Public libraries, the university library, the church library, and school libraries.

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New Series: How I Get Books

This is something of a departure from the normal content of this blog.  I read about 200 books per year (some are rereads, children’s books, or graphic novels), and while I do buy a LOT of books, that’s not the only way I get books.  Talking with other book bloggers, it seemed that there was mild interest in some of my techniques for finding different titles, whether to purchase or just to read.

So I’ll be doing a series of posts called “How I Get Books” throughout 2020.  Feel free to skip over them if you are not interested, or leave a comment if you want to discuss further.  As posts go up, I’ll be linking them here on this post.  Hopefully one of these posts will give you an idea or help you find a book you’ve been looking for!

Some Thoughts on Usborne

Later, a post will go up about a particular Usborne book I’ve decided to review.  But before that goes live, I thought readers of this blog might benefit from a brief background on Usborne.  In the USA at least (it might differ elsewhere), Usborne is a direct-sales company focusing on children’s books and related items such as puzzles, notebooks, etc.  They were originally known among teachers for having long lists of child-friendly internet links to back up every book.  Of course, with the nature of the internet getting better known and the passage of time, those printed lists no longer had the same value, and they are not a major part of Usborne’s marketing these days.

Usborne has a long history of being sold through company representatives, which is part of why I haven’t reviewed too many of their books.  However, it’s now possible to purchase through their website (where you will be assigned a consultant), buy select titles new through bookstores, find almost any title used, or buy them through Amazon (although I think those purchases are not endorsed by the company).  Basically, Usborne has gained enough traction that it’s possible to get the more popular titles even without going to a sales party or knowing a consultant.

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Why I Don’t Post My Book Hauls Anymore

In October 2017 we went on a little book-buying spree, our last book purchase of the year.  In the past, I’ve posted about book hauls and then never reviewed any substantial portion of the books.  It takes long time for me to post reviews (I have about a two month turn-around time assuming nothing else comes up).  However, I felt bad about posting pictures of the awesome books on my shelf and then never reviewing them.

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