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[DISCUSSION] How Do You Deal With Book Blogger Envy?

File_004 (7)It’s Discussion Time!

And, of course, I decided to pick a bookish topic that’s near and dear to my heart (but really shouldn’t be) – book blogger envy and how we all deal with it.

I’m sure at one point or another, we all have been jealous of someone else’s book blog or book Twitter account or their bookstagram account or just them as a human being because they just seem to have it all. Said blogger gets all the comments, has all bloggers you admire following them, has a large following on literally all their social media accounts, has the perfect charm and blogger voice, gets to attend all the cool blogging events, is friends with all the authors, and gets the best ARCs. And even though you’re extremely happy for said blogger or you admire said blogger or said blogger is the one that inspires you in the first place, you still can’t help finding yourself extremely envious of all that they have.

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I probably experience this, like, three times a day? Maybe four?

But, seriously, I envy and admire so many awesome bloggers, some who pushed and inspired me to start my own little blog in the first place. And it’s not even a vicious sort of jealousy where I don’t think they deserve the things said blogger has, because they definitely do. It’s the sort of jealousy that sometimes makes me feel a little bad about myself. Even if I’m proud of my posts and I get a lot of likes and comments and I get a crazy good amount of page views sometimes or I see all the strides I’ve made, and I haven’t even reached six months yet, I can still get down on myself sometimes, because I’m just not like them. I don’t get those coveted ARCs that I would absolutely die for, a post I was excited about doesn’t do too well, or it just feels like everything is moving so slowly regarding the entire blogging process, even if I work super hard to make it there.

I think the most frustrating jealousy I have is towards people who just get into it so quickly. You know, those people who start around the same time you do, or in a lesser time, and manage to be more successful in terms of posts and stats and followers – and this goes for more bookstagram and blogging, because nothing can be more frustrating then feeling like you’re moving forward, but then seeing someone get to 100 Instagram followers within a matter of weeks while you’re still stuck on 82, and it’s been months, or if some other blogger that started only a month ago already has over 100+ followers and a consistent following, and you’re barely getting views at all, and you’ve been around for four months. I think that’s the most trying, because at least with big bloggers, you can just rub it off by saying they’ve been around for years, so of course they’re doing better, but with someone that’s been doing the same thing around the same time as you, but still being more successful is what hurts the most.

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Honestly, I won’t pretend like I have a solution to this.

I’m approaching my six month blogiversary, and I still can’t really figure out how to stop being jealous of other bloggers, or even how to quell my own jealousy, but that’s never stopped me from giving tips anyway, has it?

(The answer’s no.)

1. Observe what they do. I mean, even if we love that person’s blog, really, when we admire someone, we’re also sort of learning from them, in a way. I’m not going to say to start copying their blogger voice or all the blog posts/general ideas, because that sort of borders on plagiarism, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with seeing how they interact with other people or where they draw their inspiration from or what they’re doing that attracts readers and a huge following. Because, clearly, they’re dong something right. I do it all the time, which is my blog is not a catastrophic mess right now. #Facts

2. Remember that said blogger probably had to work hard, and so will you. When I envy big bloggers for what they have, I have to step back and realize that they didn’t reach their achievements from absolutely nowhere. That person probably worked hard, probably for years, to get where they are today. It always reassures me to know that maybe if I work as hard as they did, that maybe I can be at their level someday.

3. Be proud of your own achievements. Look at your own stats. Look at the blogger friends you’ve made. Look at your comments and followers across the board. Look at all the mini achievements you’ve reached. Be proud of that. You did that. You reached those rewards. You work hard. Even if some days or months or weeks just might not be yours regarding stats or follower counts or whatever, just remember that if you’re proud of what you’ve done, really, that’s what should matter the most.

4. Work hard. Let that jealousy you have push you to strive for greatness. Help it to improve your blog posts or maybe push you to brainstorm some better ones. I know that when I had lacking content back in January where all I did was tags and reviews, I looked to all my favorite blogs for inspiration and brainstormed a large majority of the ideas I have now. Those posts I made are what pushed me to churn out content that people actually enjoyed reading, and I enjoyed writing. Seeing all these gorgeous photos on bookstagram is what pushed me to re-start my own account and what finally got me to get creative and think up my own photo ideas  (and then eventually move on to include bookish photography)!

5. Know that everyone feels this way. I mean, I’m not going to claim I know for sure, but I truly believe that even big bloggers are jealous of some other bloggers. And just know that there’s probably someone out there that’s as jealous of your book blog just like you might be jealous of someone else’s. So don’t feel bad for ever feeling jealous, because I honestly think that we all suffer from it, and we all will no matter what.

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And, yes, jealousy will still prevail.

I know it does for me, and I like to think of myself as lucky, because all the things I have now regarding blogging, I definitely didn’t think I’d get in a year, nevertheless in five months. I’m incredibly thankful for what I have, and I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who follow me or read my posts or comment on them. It means the world to me; it really does. But, hopefully, we can all get a little bit better at it.

Let's Chat

How do you deal with book blogger envy? And what are some of your favorite blogs that inspire you or you draw brainstorm from?

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54

[LET’S CHAT] What Makes An Original Book Blogger?

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Ah, yes, one of the biggest questions when you enter the blogosphere: do you have to be an original blogger?

I feel like that’s something that every blogger sees as some sort of requirement. Even in my own post when I talked about what makes me follow a book blog, I said that I really liked seeing original content that would continually inspire me. And, also, who wants to see a blog that looks like pretty much every other blog? We don’t just push creativity and non-conformity in the blogging world, but pretty much everywhere. How many times have you heard someone say that they’re tired of superhero movies and sequels and want an original movie? Or someone saying a song is overrated because it sounds like every other song on the radio? Or someone complaining about how a TV show is using the same old tired cliches?

But, is it necessary to be completely original as a blog? There seems to be a sort of look-down on people who just post memes and tags and awards, and even some people who have pretty much sworn off all of those things in favor of original content. So I wanted to talk about my experiences with all those things, because I am the blogging queen.

(Just kidding, I am 100% not the blogging queen.)

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So, of course, you’ve probably heard of these things called weekly memes, and contrary to what I used to think, memes aren’t just those things that get popular on Twitter and become annoying after a day. Basically, there’s a concept, and you’re supposed to pick books relating to that concept. Some of the popular ones I’ve seen around are Top Ten Tuesday, Saturday Situation, WWW Wednesday, and Waiting on Wednesday. There are definitely a lot more out there, and several for pretty much every day of the week.

If you’ve been around since the very beginning, you’ll know that I used to do WWW Wednesday for the month of January. Eventually, I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying them, and, surprisingly, they weren’t really doing too good in terms of stats (even though I’ve seen so many people say they’re memes do the best in terms of stats), so I ended up quitting. It’s definitely worked for me, since I’ve now opened up a spot that’s been taken in favor of more original posts, but I know that might not work out for everyone.

I’ve definitely seen a general consensus that seeing too many memes when you first stumble upon someone’s blog makes it less likely for them to stay, and I’ve also seen some people say that they just straight up avoid their Reader on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of the amount of memes. I definitely get it; I feel like with WWW Wednesday and WoW, it’s hard to really say something other than, “Oh, cool; I loved those books, and that one’s on my TBR! Here’s my link!” and “Yes, I’m super excited to read that book as well! Here’s the link to my post!” With TTT, I can definitely find something to comment about, because I’ve seen several people turn those posts into something creative (like what Cait @ Paper Fury does), but even if it’s just a list, I can always find something to relate to!

I don’t know if it’s a way to meet new people, but I have seen lots of people say that’s how they got their outreach when they were first starting out, so I can see why new bloggers like me jumped on the train! Personally, I don’t think I was really discovered by my WWW Wednesday posts, but I guess it might depend on what type of meme you’re doing.

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I guess you can say it’s mixed regarding tags and awards. On one hand, I feel like they’re fun and easy to do, especially if you don’t have something to do that day, and it’s always fun being tagged in an award. But, I’ve also seen some bloggers say that they think that they can get boring every once in a while, which they definitely can be, depending on the tag. There are some tags that I’ve managed to turn into full-blown post ideas, so they’re not completely useless.

I used to do tags a lot, and those who’ve been here around since the beginning, again, know that all I used to do were tags and reviews, before I got sick of it and opted to do more original content. And, as you guys know, I’m a huge planner when it comes to my blog, and even though I’ve been nominated in so many blogging awards and tags, only about three or so tags are on my agenda until August of next year, and don’t even get me started on blogging awards. I just feel like I’d rather post a Let’s Chat or a recommendations post or a list over a blogging award, because even though they’re nice, I don’t get excited about posting them. So, I decided that since I’ve been nominated for so many, why not just combine them all into one huge Q + A post? That way, I don’t have 248028 awards to do, and it’s fun and creative!

I’ve seen some people say that they don’t do tags and awards anymore, which I can totally understand if you want more original content on the blog. I think some tags are definitely fun to do since they reveal more about yourself, and same with blogging awards because you usually have to list facts for those, but I feel like they’re best in moderation, so I reserve them for every once in a while or when I just have nothing to post (which will probably never happen, so there’s that).

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As you guys probably know, I freaking love lists. Basically, for me, what falls under the “List” category are Monthly Recommendations, Anticipated Releases, Monthly TBRs and Wrap-Ups, and Book Playlists can be put under this category.

I did a lot of lists in February when I was trying to branch out in terms of more original content, and I was very happy to see that it gained so much popularity. I thought it was not only a great way to try something new on my blog, but I also got to share a lot about myself (my favorite ships, my favorite series, some facts about me, etc.), and I love doing that since it reminds everyone that there is a human being behind the blog. I also got a lot of comments from those types of posts, so they obviously push people to talk and share about themselves as well!

I’ve never done monthly TBRs, and I have an entire post dedicated to that whole subject that you can find right here if you’re interested. But, you’ve probably noticed that I don’t do much in regards of Wrap-Ups anymore. I realized during the month of March I really didn’t feel like doing a Wrap-Up post, and I realized that I don’t HAVE to do them at all. It’s my blog, and I can do whatever I want with it, so I chose to just skip out on it and just continue on with the month with more original content that I was really excited for. I like seeing other people’s wrap-ups, but it’s just something that I don’t really like doing, so I decided I wouldn’t.

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Ah, yes, the real money-makers. It seems to be that everyone in the book blogging community agrees that discussion posts are what’s really good for your blog and are what rake the numbers in, which is definitely true. When I posted my first ever discussion post – which I was incredibly nervous to do – I was blown away by how many likes and comments I received from it! And I realized how much fun it was to write that discussion, so I thought, why not keep doing this?

People seem to worry a lot about the topics they discuss, though. Some people never know where to get their ideas from or don’t really know how to get their thoughts into a blog post. Some feel like so-and-so topic has already been talked about by SO MANY PEOPLE, that their input will mean nothing in the long run. But, I definitely don’t think you SHOULDN’T talk about something just because someone else already has, and I don’t think that you have to be completely original to write up a discussion.

Personally, when I started out blogging, after getting frustrated with my lack of original content in January, I ended up brainstorming. So, really, pretty much all the discussion topics I’ve come up with have been thought up months ago. I don’t think I’ve ever thought up a discussion post the month of, basically. I use Discussions to talk about things that I don’t think too many people in the blogosphere have already talked about, and Let’s Chat is more for topics that have already been discussed by a range of people, but I just want to put in my own two cents anyway. Obviously, I post several Let’s Chat posts a month, but only one Discussion per month, and that works for me. They tend to get noticed a lot, and also generate conversation, which I love.

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So, that’s basically all the categories I can think of.

Hopefully, there aren’t many more than that. For me, the answer to the question is no, you don’t HAVE to be a completely original blogger. It’s pretty hard to come up with an idea that someone hasn’t already thought of and written down. But, it does seem like the general consensus is that bringing something new to the table can push your blog to several heights and even get better stats!

Let's Chat

What are your thoughts on each of the categories? Is there one you prefer over the others? What do you think makes an original book blogger?

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95

[DISCUSSION & ANNOUNCEMENT] Is the Book Blogging Community Too Clique-y? (Introducing My Blog Project)

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Woohoo, it’s that time of the month again where we talk about a blogging and/or bookish things! Okay, it’s more like, I talk for 1000 words, you guys read it, and then we talk in the comments section, but, you know, same difference.

Anyway, I talked about something that I can’t decide if it’s controversial or not, but I wanted to talk about it anyway: how, sometimes, book bloggers can be clique-y, which definitely isn’t a good thing or a bad thing, but just a simple observation.

(Also, I’m going to be announcing a project at the end of this that I’m hoping you guys will participate in so please, stay tuned!)

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This post was mostly inspired by Karen @ Kissin’ Blue Karen’s discussion where she talked about how she visited 365 different book blogs in the course of a year (which is a crazy accomplishment).

One point she made was that book bloggers seem to run in the same circles, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, and I agree. Most of the so-called “cliques” I wormed my way into, are really nice people that I would consider my friends and people I always trust. 

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I will say, I’ve been around the internet in two different websites: Wattpad and Goodreads. Both of them had cliques that I wanted to be a part of (now, looking back on it, I cringe).

For Wattpad, I tried as hard as I could to cater my stories to their “type,” because I knew that if the leader of the clique liked it, commented on it, and added it to her reading list, it’d blow up. For Goodreads, I tried so hard to friend all the most popular users and comment on all their reviews, but that proved to be ten times harder than trying to fit in on Wattpad. Basically, I tried as hard as I could to belong.

Blogging was different. I wouldn’t say that the cliques on Goodreads and Wattpad were cold-hearted or anything – it’s just hard for anybody to open up their tight-knit group of friends to somebody else, whether on the Internet or in real life, even if you really want to do so, or you don’t even mean to do it in the first place. But there was just something about the book blogging community that was so welcoming. I remember being shocked when popular book bloggers, ones who’d been around for forever, decided to follow me. Sure, there are some who haven’t even interacted with me since doing so (that sounds like I’m bitter or something, but I’m not, I swear, because I have so many awesome people that enjoy my posts), but some of them went on to like and comment on a large majority of my posts, and now some of those people I admired from afar, are people who I’d call blogging buddies.

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Back when I was a newbie blogger in late December of last year, when I had literally just started out, I remember following all these popular blogs, and often browsing through usernames in the comments section.

Most of the time, blog-hopping around from those usernames, I noticed a lot of the same people commented on a lot of the same people’s posts. I’d go to one person’s comment section, and then another person’s comment section, and it only took me a little while before I realized I saw the same people commenting on the same people’s blogs within the same circle – and most of the bloggers just happened to be popular.

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And it wasn’t even just that. When I searched on some of the more popular blogs I admired for what their favorite blogs were or some of the blogs that inspired them, I remembered not being surprised by many of the favorites. Usually, a large majority of the time, I’d already heard of the blog or was already following the blog, and 99% of the time those people were part of their “clique,” as in I’d see them in most of their comments sections. Even if those blogs weren’t on their comment sections, most of the time, those blogs were already popular, established book blogs that had a lot of followers and had been around since the dawn of time (just kidding, I’m exaggerating), not anyone who was new, or had just started out. Even in monthly wrap-up posts, where some bloggers link back to some interesting posts/discussions they’ve found, those bloggers were already popular ones that had a lot of attention on those posts, and, often, I’d hop from one monthly wrap-up to another to see that two bloggers had already mentioned the same post.

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So, as a newbie, it was pretty daunting. I remember thinking, “How in the world is anyway going to even find/read my blog when there are so many people that are constantly advertised everywhere?” Obviously, it was silly. I ended up commenting on some of those blogs I found inspiring. And, for some reason, some of them were kind enough to check out my posts and comment back and even follow me (it’s been almost four months, and I’m still not over it). Some of them tagged me in tags and awards, and it surprised me so much because it meant that they had noticed me. That even if these bloggers got 394480 comments a day (estimated number), apparently, I stood out. 

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So, really, is the book blogging community a bit too clique-y? I’d say yes.

There are definitely times where I feel like we’re so caught up in the people we usually interact with and mention, that we fail to ever get the chance to discover new book bloggers that aren’t even doing anything wrong, they just aren’t part of the “group,” so to speak. But, is the fact that we’re sometimes a bit clique-y bad? Definitely not. As a newbie, you will definitely feel a bit intimidated, because why would any of the “big” bloggers follow you or pay attention to you? But that’s false. Immediately get out of that mindset if you’re a newbie yourself. Most of the “big” bloggers are the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. We all love books in the end!

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Would I say that I have some sort of solution as to how we can branch out? Well, that’s where I introduce my blog project.

I’ve noticed that among my followers I have a mix – some book bloggers I’d consider “big,” and some that are just starting out, or I’d consider smaller book blogs. So I’d thought this would be a good idea to bring the two of you together – introducing Project Big Blogger, Little Blogger.

Basically, much like being a Big Brother, I thought it’d be nice to pair up a bigger book blogger with a smaller book blogger. For the purpose of this project, I’m considering a smaller book blogger one that has less than 100 followers, while a bigger book blogger will have more than 100 followers. The bigger book blogger will support the smaller book blogger in any way they choose for a month. Some suggestions might be liking their posts and leaving comments, sharing their posts on social media, giving them a follow – whether on their blog or on a different form of social media, linking back to their posts in weekly/monthly wrap-ups, etc. I’m sure you guys are much more creative than I am.

Once the month is over, the bigger book blogger will dedicate a whole blog post to their Little Blogger, much like a guest post. You could have them on as a blogger interview or do some sort of blogger spotlight or let them guest post about a certain topic, etc. so other bloggers who follow you can have a chance to learn about this Little Blogger.

Once every Big Blogger participating has done their blog post, I’ll compile them all in a masterpost of some sort and post so then there’ll be even more promotion for said bloggers. Hopefully, this will push all of us to find new bloggers and promote these newbies. I know when I was a small blog, it was the help of some of my blogging buddies and those bigger than me that really propelled me forward, and I want others to have that opportunity.

If you want to sign up for this, the Google form is right here. The form is open to both Big Bloggers and Little Bloggers to sign up for. Feel free to share this post on social media or repost this post on your own blogs or promote it in any way you can because I really don’t know how big my reach is. I’ll be leaving the sign-ups open for all this week and will close them on Sunday night, which is May 7. Throughout the week, I’ll be pairing people up and sending e-mails to you guys so you know who you’re partnered up with. On May 14, the project will begin, and will go on until June 11. After that, I’m giving all the participants the rest of June to create a post dedicated to their Little Blogger, and in July, I’ll hopefully have the Masterpost up on the blog!

Hopefully, this won’t flop terrifically, but I’m really excited for this project, and I hope you guys are too! If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them in a comment down below!

(Also, the reason I ask for a piece of advice you’d give a new blog is because of a blog post I’m doing, if you were wondering.)

Let's Chat

Do you think the book blogging community is clique-y? To the established bloggers, how do you find newer, smaller blogs (like mine all those months ago lol). To newer/smaller bloggers, do you feel like you matter in the community? Will you join in on the project (hopefully, you will)?

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31

[TV SHOW DISCUSSION] 13 Reasons Why // In Which I Flail, Cry, and Over-Analyze

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I had no plans to watch 13 Reasons Why. As I do with most things that I get involved with and end up taking over my life. I’d never read the book, I didn’t want to, I wasn’t interested, I’ve never been a huge fan of teen dramas, I suck at binging shows, basically a whole slew of excuses. BUT, because some of my friends in real life said how good it was, I decided to cave. And, boy, am I glad I did.

This show is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m not a crier. I’ve never full on sobbed before reading a book. I’ve teared up, yes, but never full on snot-dripping, tears running down my face crying. This show made me cry. And it wasn’t even when I was watching the actual show. It was when I was watching the mini-documentary, Beyond the Reasons. It just resonated with me so hard that I cried, like, so many times. It was such an emotional experience, and I highly recommend it. Highly.

A couple things before I spoil the heck out of this show:

#1: I absolutely loved the intro to the show. I mean, it doesn’t really matter overall, but I’m glad that it was short because as someone who’s a fan of Sense8, Daredevil, and Orange is the New Black, which are all Netflix shows with minute long intros, it can mess with the binging quality. Also, I loved the animation. So cute.

#2: The characterization was spot on. Like, seriously. Even the characters I hated, still gave me feelings, whether it was anger, sadness, love, I want to cuddle you in a blanket and hug you forever. None of these characters were perfect – all of them made mistakes and all of them were in a gray area, which I absolutely loved (though some of them were bigger assholes than others).

#3: The acting was brilliant. Seriously. I feel like I recognized some of the actors’ faces, but at the same time, I couldn’t place their name, so I wouldn’t say they’re “famous” but they all were so good at bringing their characters to life. Especially Katherine as Hannah. She was absolutely wonderful.

#4: It had one of the best depictions of high school. Like, yes??? This is all I asked for! Probably one of the rawest depictions of high school, because it can either be a Glee where it’s just straight up cheesy or a Degrassi where it’s too many issues at once or a Riverdale, where it’s just…crazy and unrealistic, but this one was probably the best. Not saying my school is like that (though my school is a mess and I don’t like 90% of the people – and I go to a private school), but the things that happen are stories I’ve heard via the news. So it was nice to see something like this, FINALLY.

#5: Though I do love this show and recommend it, if you’re a sensitive person or anything regarding depression, suicide, or sexual assault triggers you, just know that the show and my review shows/talks about these things in-depth. So, again, warning to those who are sensitive to depression, suicide, or sexual assault, just be careful reading my review or watching the show. I’ll make sure to properly warn what will be discussed in my review at each episode if you want to skip.

And now I’m going to say good-bye to those who haven’t watched it yet and are planning to, or those who don’t want spoilers. Leave now and watch it.

13 Reasons Why

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So, first off, probably my favorite thing about this is that the characters are supposed to be sophomores in the flashbacks and juniors in the present, AND THEY LOOK LIKE THAT. It really bothered me when I watched the little of Riverdale that I did that they kept trying to tell me they were sophomores…mainly because I’m a sophomore, and no guy in our grade has six-pack abs, and the girls don’t look like they belong in college. Of course, there are attractive people, but it looked so fake in Riverdale. Which is why I appreciate 13 Reasons Why for having authentic actors.

We find out the first reason is that Hannah goes out on a date with Justin, gets an unflattering picture taken of her on a slide, kisses him, and that’s it. Bryce, who I want to murder (but that’s another story), spreads the unflattering photo around, and everyone immediately starts slut-shaming her. This starts a ripple effect with Hannah’s rep, and I’d probably say this is the first instance of people labeling her a “slut.” It actually breaks my heart that this happened to her, especially because she’s so confident and funny and such a go-getter, someone I’d love to be friends with if she were real. So it sucked to see her spirit broken, and this happens more and more as the series goes on.

We also find out that Tony is apparently involved with this. I was actually shocked, because I totally didn’t think Tony was going to be the whole ringleader in the tapes thing. And, also, because my school put on the musical West Side Story, and now I can’t stop thinking of him as Tony from the Sharks. So, there’s that.

And, also, why does Clay look so recognizable??? Even after learning the actor’s name, I still don’t know if I’ve seen him before or not. He really does remind me of Logan Lerman. But, already, I want to hug him and hold him tight. This feeling will overcome me often.

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First off, we see tidbits of Hannah making out with someone at the beginning. I honestly couldn’t tell who it was because the flashes were so quick, but, obviously, we learn it’s Clay. This piqued my interest because there are so many white boys in this series and what she said over the quick flashes threw me off.

We learn the subject of the second tape: Jessica. She was Hannah’s best friend at the beginning of sophomore year, and we also get to meet Alex, another key character. They were all close friends, but then they all stopped coming to meet each other, and, eventually, Hannah was left alone. And then, shocker, Jessica and Alex start dating. I was actually shocked because I truly thought Alex was going to be gay…but the actor is rumored to be dating the actor who played Justin, so there’s that? Then, this list gets passed around, which ultimately breaks up the Jessica-Hannah friendship. More thoughts on this list coming up in Episode 3.

It’s revealed that Clay used to talk to a therapist and take meds, which doesn’t get talked about often in this show, though it does seem like listening to Hannah’s tapes triggers hallucinations in the early episodes. It isn’t really talked about as to why this happened or what was going on in Clay’s life, but I’m interested.

We also get to meet Bryce a little bit. I’m well aware that he raped Hannah because I knew it happened in the book (or at least, I heard it did), so I already hated him from the beginning. Of course he’s a popular jock; is anyone surprised? I wanted to hurt him. We also see that Tony is involved with Hannah’s parents, and is talking to them. About what, exactly? Who knows.

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So, this is the tape where we learn more about Alex and this whole list. Basically, the list talks about the girls in their grade who have the “Best/Worst” in terms of body parts – and Hannah is voted Best Ass and Jessica is voted Worst Ass. Jessica thought that Hannah and Alex were tag-teaming to try to embarrass her, even though Hannah was truly unaware,  and that was the whole conflict in the previous episode. We find out Alex did it because he tried to have sex with Jessica and she said no, so he just went along and wrote her name on the list for revenge (why am I so surprised?).

We’re also getting introduced to the whole group of assholes who have listened to the tapes previously before Clay, and decide the best course of action is to keep it secret to save their own skin. I’m annoyed at this for several reasons, but mainly because they KNOW that some of the tape-receivers have done illegal things – like rape, for instance, not once, but TWICE – and try to protect themselves. And the more I learn about this group in future episodes, the more I hate them (especially Courtney). But moving on.

In one of the flashbacks, we get to see more of Bryce’s douche-y side because at a liquor store, he GRABS HANNAH’S ASS and says lewd things to her because of this list. Obviously, this spirals a whole thing in which Bryce continually gets away with this, and it unfolds into something really bad.

We also learn more about Justin’s crappy home life, which plays a part in this. He’s hiding out in Bryce’s house because his mom continually hooks up with abusive boyfriends, and doesn’t do anything about it. Even though I still sort of hate him, and have mixed feelings about his character overall, I really don’t believe he should suffer like this, and it’s really sad to see the situation he’s stuck in.

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So, we get to see a look at the school and Hannah’s parents because of this whole lawsuit thing. Clay’s mom attends this meeting with the counselor and other parents where they talk about suicide and warning signs and all that, and Hannah’s mom invades by talking about how everyone should monitor their kids because of some graffiti she’s found on the bathroom stalls. Of course, the school acts like a total snake about it and tries to hide it by painting over it, because OUR POOR PRECIOUS SCHOOL WHAT WILL WE DO UNDER A LAWSUIT. I’m basically angry at two-thirds of the people on this show.

We get to learn more about two characters: Courtney and Tyler (though the fourth tape is mainly about Tyler). Hannah feels uneasy because she thinks that she hears someone taking photos outside her window, and her and Courtney hatch a plan to catch who’s stalking her. Hannah and Courtney get drunk, and we learn that Courtney’s a closet lesbian, and that Tyler is the creepy stalker taking the pictures. I really didn’t expect that to happen, but so many other terrible things happen that this one pales in comparison.

Hannah goes to Tyler and tells him to give her all those pictures from yesterday because Courtney doesn’t want anyone to find out that she’s the one in those photos, but, for some asshole reason, Tyler keeps one and spreads it around the school, and, again, because of miscommunication, Courtney gets angry at Hannah instead of Tyler and everything gets messed up again. We learn more about these repercussions in the next episode.

I definitely have mixed feelings about Clay’s revenge. He basically takes a photo of Tyler naked from behind and sends it to the entire school, causing Tyler to be bullied. I DO understand why he did it because Tyler did some jerky things himself that were definitely illegal and creepy, but at the same time, I don’t really think the best way to handle it was to do the same thing, especially knowing how hurt Hannah was by it, and how Tyler was already bullied anyway. I’m curious to know anyone else’s thoughts on it.

Also, nothing to do with the actual show or anything, but I totally fangirled at seeing the actor who played Ben on my favorite TV show of ever, Queer as Folk, play Courtney’s dad. Literally looks like he hasn’t aged in 13 years.

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So, in this episode, we get to learn a lot more about Courtney, and how much of a snake she is. I mean, I have such mixed feelings about her. That scene at the cemetery where she says the reason she doesn’t come out is because of the way her gay dads are treated both makes sense and doesn’t? Mainly because I feel like there’s a difference between her being a lesbian and gay couples raising kids – I feel like there’s still more discrepancies about the latter than the former – and then there’s the fact that there are other out gay kids at the school, and none of them are really treated differently? I mean, sure, those guys were awful at the dance, but that was two people out of the entire student body. But, still, I hate her.

Lots of things happen at this dance. One, apparently there are no chaperones at this dance to prevent teenagers from bringing flasks and grind against each other. Pretty sure that doesn’t happen in real life, but okay. Two, we see how Hannah and Tony developed a sort of semi-relationship when he starts up her brand new car when it stops working. Three, HANNAH AND CLAY WERE ADORABLE AT THAT DANCE. THEY DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER. Four, that song is now stuck in my head, and I need to know what it is.

I loved that moment between Tony and Clay at Hannah’s grave. Especially when he marked where she was buried for her. IT HURT SO BAD. And then we learn that Clay’s mom is trying to defend the school against Hannah’s lawsuit, and Clay does that thing where he’s super vague to his mom about knowing Hannah and whether there was bullying. Like he does 3849284 other times throughout these episodes.

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I think an alternate title to this episode could be, “CLAY IS OBLIVIOUS.” I mean, all the episodes could be titled that, but this one especially.

Let’s have a little chat about Alex. We see him get into a fight with Montgomery, which definitely isn’t something that he would typically do. And he totally loses. This sort of plays a part into an event that happens in the finale, but we’ll talk about this later. I also loved the whole Honor Counsel thing where it was a metaphor for Hannah’s suicide. It was just entertaining to see everyone confused, and I loved seeing more into the character’s insights.

The topic of the sixth tape is Marcus. Who was surprised that he was yet another douche-y jock? Nobody! I’m actually shocked that Hannah was actually his number one choice for Dollar Valentine, and he was so eager to ask her out even though they’d never talked before. Also, the fact that they’re giving out real cell phone numbers??? Am I the only one low-key concerned about people’s safety and what people will do with these phone numbers???

But, yeah, Marcus practically stands her up, then when he finally arrives, brings all his awful jock friends, then proceeds to try to sexually assault her, and then act like she’s crazy for telling him to go away. WHY?

Also, we get a painful scene where Hannah is basically begging Clay to ask her out, and Clay’s like, “LOL whut.” IT’S SO PAINFUL. And then Clay’s all devastated, but you had your chance, Clay. And you lost it. Then we get to see Clay do this in the present with Sheri, even though, come on, she was ten times more obvious than Hannah was. Sheri is revealed to have been on the tapes, and I feel like I should have seen it. She was too nice.

Also, this is probably the start of Justin and Jessica’s relationship slowly falling apart, but more of that in later episodes.

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So, this is a huge Clay episode regarding his character development. Clay hallucinates heavily in this episode (which was unfortunate, because I really wanted him to have punched Zach in the face), and it leads him to key Zach’s car. He also briefly gives up the idea of listening to the tapes – and that scene where he’s nice to the whole group conspiring against him and they’re so confused made me laugh out loud – but then his tone totally shifts during his Communications class, and we get to see him act out towards the foreign exchange students during his tour (which, again, highly entertaining). Clay was probably at his best in this episode.

We get more insight into Zach’s character. He’s a classic “nice guy” – you know, the type who thinks that just because he’s nice, he therefore deserves to date all the girls. Yeah, that guy. I actually have mixed feelings about him because he was a total jerk who was so petty that he stole her compliments without any remorse, but he’s well aware that what he did was a jerk-y thing to do, and he even kept the letter she wrote to him. This sort of brings up a point about whether Hannah is lying or not because she said he threw the note away, but he’s actually kept her note in his wallet. This begs the question if she lied about any other details, but no one else says she lied about what happened, so I’m going with no. But food for thought.

We also get to see a little bit more about Clay and his relationship with Skye. Supposedly, the two of them used to be best friends, but sort of fell apart in freshman year. Skye also sticks up for Hannah when the Communications teacher reads out her anonymous note because she knows she wrote it from working at Monet’s.

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So, the eighth tape surrounds an unexpected character: Ryan. I honestly didn’t think he was going to be in the tapes since he was barely in the earlier episodes, so I was surprised to see him in it. Apparently, Hannah attended a sort of poetry group, and Ryan was the only person around her age to be there. Hannah writes a gorgeous poem and presents it to the group, but Ryan decides that he should publish the poem in the school magazine, because it’s art, and art’s supposed to be shared. BUT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE SHARED WITH THE CONSENT OF THE ARTIST, RYAN. Hannah is completely and totally embarrassed because everyone is laughing at her, and then her English teacher decides to dissect her poetry. As someone who used to write and hates it when people I know read what I write, I feel her pain.

Also, we have another edition of CLAY IS OBLIVIOUS because he reads Hannah’s poem, and we get to watch him say, “Oh, yeah, it’s a nice poem, but I’d never be friends with the writer of the poem because they sound depressing.” CLAY WHY.

I have to say, it hurt so bad seeing Hannah have all these goals and dreams of being a writer and going to college in New York, but we know what happens to her, and her soul is just crushed by everyone laughing at her poetry. My heart hurts. Also, her rant about the education system was on point.

We also get to see Tony make Clay skip class and rock-climb with him. I find it so hilariously Tony that he basically risks Clay’s life even though they could have just taken a path up to the rock cliff just to inspire Clay to keep listening to the tapes. I loved seeing Tony have these emotions about the day Hannah committed suicide; how she left the box on his doorstep, but he ignored it, and when he finally listened to the first tape, he ran over to her house, but it was too late. It makes so much sense why Tony wants her wishes to be carried out; probably because he thinks that he played a part in killing Hannah as well. Though I am sort of confused about Clay saying he’s never seen a dead body/been on a crime scene when he saw Jeff’s dead body and was on the scene of the crime for the car accident. BUT WHATEVER.

Also, I totally knew Tony was gay and that guy was his boyfriend. Okay, I didn’t know until, like, the sixth or seventh episode, but I figured it out! Once again, CLAY IS OBLIVIOUS (and adorably confused).

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Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

Okay, so this was a HUGE EPISODE. We start this whole “Jessica’s party” narrative, and a lot of things happen in these next three episodes. There are three stories, and the one we start with is Bryce raping Jessica when she was drunk and unconscious. Honestly, I thought it was Justin that did it because the flashes were cut so quick in the intro that I couldn’t tell which white boy was which, but it is Bryce (because we all need more reasons to hate Bryce).

Let’s talk about the present first. So, the group totally escalates out of control (or maybe just Marcus, really), because he decides to buy weed from Bryce’s dealer and put it in Clay’s backpack and get him suspended so no one will listen to him once he starts talking. Obviously, this is frustrating because no one believes him, but these are the struggles of being in the third person as a TV show watcher.

Clay’s told to go to the police to enroll in some sort of drug prevention program (if this is how schools handle a student having weed in their backpack, we’re really having some problems), and it seems like he’s on his way to tell his mom everything and maybe confess to the police about what happened, but of course Clay doesn’t because WHAT IS LOGIC. He does tell his mom that Hannah actually meant a lot to him than he said he did, so that was a nice moment between the two of them.

I also loved the entire way the episode ended with Clay being angry at Tony’s garage, and him having this moment with Tony where he calms Clay down and encourages him to keep going on with the tapes to get the full story. It’s not an episode of 13 Reasons Why if Clay isn’t asking, “BUT WHY AM I ON THE TAPES, DAMN IT?”

And now into the past. We see Hannah wants to have a fresh start for junior year since sophomore year was so awful. She decides to cut her hair (AND LOOKS SO BEAUTIFUL; HANNAH DESERVED BETTER) and wants to focus more on her studies so she can get into college. Clay mentions going to Jessica’s party and tries to ask her to it, but Hannah turns him down, and poor Clay is heartbroken even though she secretly loves him. In the end, Hannah caves and goes, which I both hate and love, because, hey, cute moments with Clay, BUT IT’S ALSO THE SECOND WORST NIGHT OF HER LIFE.

It was heart-breaking to watch Jessica get raped, especially since she wakes up in the middle of it and is completely disoriented and terrified. It hurt so bad, and then you realize that her behavior makes total sense because it’s clear she’s been quietly suffering. Not to mention how much I sort of hate Justin. It’s not even because of the rape – clearly, he couldn’t stop it, since Bryce throws him out of the room when Justin is drunk as all hell, and then locks the door – but just the fact that he knows, and he’s still FRIENDS WITH HIM. AND LIVES WITH HIM. I wouldn’t be so furious if he disassociated himself from Bryce, but he continues to hang out with him as if nothing happened – AND DOESN’T TELL JESSICA. WHY?

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So, we get to learn about the second story pertaining to Jessica’s party: the one dealing with Sheri. This takes place after the events of the last episode, and Hannah is totally disoriented, so she decides to leave with Sheri to get home. On the way to Sheri’s house, she ends up hitting a stop sign and knocking it over, and though Hannah wants to report it, Sheri refuses AND THEN DRIVES OFF. Thanks, Sheri!

We also deal with a second sort of storyline dealing with Clay. On his way home, he runs into an accident at the point where Sheri had knocked over the stop sign earlier in the night, only to find Jeff dead in his car and an old man crying out for help. It is one of those things that shocked me, since you’re so caught up with everything else that you don’t realize that Jeff is only alive in the flashbacks, not the present. It truly is heart-breaking to see yet another precious soul die senselessly.

In the present, SO MUCH HAPPENS. The Jessica/Justin situation totally launches out of control, where Justin just wants to help her feel better, but Jessica’s just going through this whole range of emotions, and is quickly becoming an alcoholic. Also, there’s this whole thing where Jessica goes off with Bryce, which is all kinds of a terrible idea, and I seriously thought she was going to shoot him in that one scene (and was highly disappointed when she didn’t), and then she agrees to go into his hot tub (and knowing what I know now, it’s even creepier), and WHAT ARE YOU DOING JESSICA?

We also deal with Clay learning that his tape is coming up! I didn’t like that Tony said that Clay killed Hannah Baker since we literally learn in the next episode that he didn’t, but WHATEVER. Finally, we approach Clay’s tape.

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THERE ARE LOTS OF FEELINGS REGARDING THIS EPISODE. I ship Clay and Hannah so hard, and even though it never happens, this episode was just so wonderful to see. First off, I loved how Jeff continually pushed them towards each other and how Hannah took notice of it. And that whole superpower conversation was ALL KINDS OF CUTE. We have that wonderful moment where the two of them finally kiss, and Clay adorably asks if what he’s doing is okay (which, unfortunately, is the only instance where a guy actually asks about what Hannah wants or even asks for consent) AND JUST ALJFLAJFLAJFJ.

I thought the mini-docu Beyond the Reasons explained this better than I could, but the way Hannah was continually treated by other guys and slut-shamed really did break her spirit. She feels like having sex with Clay would actually make her a “slut” – make her live up to her awful reputation. Add that with all the guys who completely and totally ruined her life, and she’s terrified that Clay will be the same way. It’s so sad seeing her push Clay away when she most needs him, and Clay just not understanding and thinking he did something wrong.

I also love the moment in the present when we see Clay react to this. That little moment when he’s on the edge of the cliff and thinking of an alternate ending where he talked to Hannah and let her open up to him. WHY DO YOU TORTURE ME LIKE THIS? But it’s so nice to see Hannah say that he isn’t really one of the reasons why; he just plays an important part in the story.

Lots of things are revealed in this episode: Hannah’s mom finds the bubble map she used to plan her suicide (we first see Mr. Porter’s name circled – at least I did – which made wonder what part he played), Skye is cutting herself, Clay is going to have to testify for the school, and Justin announces to the group that Bryce raped Jessica, which is a big no-no, but definitely commendable on his part.

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Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

So, this is the first of two episodes that just pack an emotional punch overall. I was already spoiled on the fact that Bryce raped Hannah, and already those little flashes at the beginning pierce my soul, but more of that later.

In the present, the group gathers together at Monet’s because the subsidies have been handed out, so they’re all figuring out what to say when testifying. Tyler has a plan to blame everything on Bryce so when their awful stuff comes out, it’s seen as not-so-bad, which I agreed and disagreed with, mainly because Tyler is STILL a law-breaking creep. Also, continual frustration at Marcus and Courtney – but ESPECIALLY Courtney – for not calling out Bryce for rape. Courtney calling him an “alleged rapist.” GET OUT, COURTNEY. We also see Sheri finally own up to hitting the stop sign that night, which was good to see.

So, let’s talk about the rape scene before we talk about Clay and Bryce. Hannah decides to just take a walk because it had been a really crappy day for her with her parents not getting a lot of money from the store and such, and they’re constantly arguing. She happens upon Bryce’s party, runs into Jessica, and climbs into the hot tub with her and her friends. Everyone leaves the hot tub, and Hannah is left alone, until Bryce decides to jump in with her, proceeds to flirt with her while Hannah CLEARLY WANTS TO LEAVE, and then when that doesn’t work, YANKS HER BACK INTO THE HOT TUB. I’m emphasizing this because Bryce has this weird perception where Hannah was “making eyes” at him and flirting with him. I hate him so much.

And it’s awful. Like, I knew it was going to happen, but it was so awful to watch. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable, and that’s the point. Nothing can express how truly awful it is watching Hannah try to fight him off, and then she just gives up. And the light just completely leaves her eyes, and you see her walk home shivering and crying. It’s so, so awful, and I think the fact that it just completely breaks her soul is what makes it hurt so much. Hannah immediately goes into work on making the bubble map for the tapes, and we see her plan start to work.

Now, back to the present, with Clay’s plan. He decides to drop in and pretend that he’s trying to get weed from Bryce, but then spontaneously tries to get him to admit that he raped Hannah. I just love Clay in this scene; how clever he is to bring the tape, how it doesn’t even matter that Bryce beats the crap out of him, he will do anything to get him to confess.

We also see this sort of out-of-place scene where it’s talking about a seventeen-year-old boy who’s been shot in the head. This is juxtaposed with Clay’s parents wondering where he is, which, of course, spirals everyone into panic, AND I NEED EPISODE 13 RIGHT NOW.

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Trigger Warning: Suicide

And now we reach the finale. Boy, there’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it!

First, let’s tackle Hannah’s last day. I thought Christine from PolandbananasBOOKS expressed this perfectly: even though you KNOW she doesn’t make it, you hold out hope that maybe she’ll choose life. Maybe she’ll make it. And after following her journey for so long, you can’t help but just want her to live.

We see Hannah has finally finished all of the tapes, but then decides to grab a thirteenth tape (we find out this is for Mr. Porter), but also makes a last-minute decision to grab some razor blades. THAT’S FINE; MY HEART ISN’T HURTING. Hannah attempts one last school day, and it was so frustrating and painful to see Hannah try to tell Clay what happened; I just wanted to scream, “TELL HIM; HE’LL UNDERSTAND; HE LOVES YOU,” but she just says, “Never mind,” and my heart continues to break into a million pieces.

We find out that Mr. Porter is a total snake. The entire time during the show he’s insisted that he only talked to Hannah once when they were talking about their college aspirations…but then we learn this is a total lie and that he literally talked to her probably only a couple hours from committing suicide. Of course, Hannah spills everything to him, tells him that a guy at the school sexually assaulted her, and Mr. Porter’s wonderful response is victim-blaming and asking her if she said no or stop. DO YOU WANT ME TO HURT YOU, MR. PORTER??? And then he tells her to basically move on with her life. SHE WAS RAPED. WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM.

I thought it was awful watching her just walk out of that office, waiting for him to run after her, but he didn’t. And that moment when she’s walking in the hallways, and saying, “People cared. They just didn’t care enough.” I CARE, HANNAH. I CARE SO MUCH.

We actually get to see Hannah commit suicide, and oh my God, it was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever watched. And I watch violent TV shows. The entire scene is just so raw and real, and that moment when Hannah makes the first cut and just screams out in pain just tugs at the heartstrings. And then she just continues to cut her arms, and then she just lies in the bathtub, panting and crying while the tub overflows with water. It’s so heart-breaking. Not only because she gives up, but just because she dies alone and in so much pain; I honestly just want to be there to hold her hand and tell her that she’s not alone at all, that someone cares for her.

And it’s just such a powerful scene. The consensus is that it was disturbing to watch, which was the exact point. Suicide and depression can sometimes be so romanticized, and I’m so glad that the show finally showed how awful it is. It’s not pretty, it’s not beautiful; it’s painful, and horrible, and it’s permanent, and it effects people. Seeing Hannah’s parents rush in, and her mom thinking she has a chance of living, and her dad just freaking out seeing her, knowing she’s gone. It’s simply heart-breaking. Everything hurt.

So, back to the present. We get to see a snippet of some of the people testifying, and it’s nice to see them finally owning up to all their crap. Tyler actually admits that there are tapes detailing everything that happens to Hannah, and that Clay is the last one out there with them. Then, Jessica decides to lie and say there aren’t any tapes. WHY?

Clay goes to confront Mr. Porter about the whole thirteenth tape. I loved seeing the juxtaposition between their meeting and the meeting between Hannah and the counselor. I was so glad to see Clay stand up for Hannah and give him the tapes, which ultimately disobeyed Hannah’s wishes since he skipped giving Bryce the tapes, but we all know that’s a terrible idea. Clay has recorded the other side of the thirteenth tape with Bryce’s confession, and leaves everything up to Mr. Porter.

We see Mr. Porter put in the tape, but then the principal comes in and says that Alex shot himself in the head last night! Obviously, this is a shocker to everyone, and with all the weird stuff surrounding Tyler, there’s been a couple of theories surrounding this whole thing since it’s left open-ended.

Theory #1: Tyler is planning a school shooting. He bought a gun, and then it’s revealed he has even more gun paraphernalia in his room, which he hides from his parents. He’s last seen in the dark room taking down Alex’s picture and remembering when Alex told Montgomery to back off bullying Tyler. Taking down Alex’s picture might imply that he shot Alex.

Theory #2: Tyler is planning a school shooting. BUT, him taking down Alex’s picture doesn’t mean he shot him, it just means that since Alex is already in critical condition OR because he was the only person to show him an act of kindness, so he’s off the hit list, so to say.

Theory #3: Alex really did shoot himself, and it has nothing to do with Tyler. Hannah talked about how other people fail to see the signs of depression until someone kills themselves, and with Alex’s spiraling behavior throughout the entire series, it does point to the fact that he had suicidal tendencies. The only reason I don’t agree with this theory is because he wanted to testify for Hannah, but one of my friends pointed out that Alex’s dad said he was going to get Alex out of testifying, so there might not have been anything left for him to live for.

That’s all the theories, but yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on there that feels like it needs clearing up, but I really do like open-ended endings, so I don’t mind too much.

I loved seeing Tony finally give the tapes to Hannah’s parents. It was so nice, and I’m so glad to see that they finally get closure and learn more about what happened to their daughter since that seemed to be killing them the most. That moment at the end when they’re holding each others’ hands and listening to Hannah was so beautiful to watch. And then Jessica breaking down to her dad as she gets close to confessing that Bryce raped her was also a moment that brought me close to tears. And then seeing Clay ask Skye if she wants to hang out, and his entire speech to the counselor about how we all need to treat each other better. THE PAIN.

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And that’s basically all my jumbled thoughts on the show. I hope you enjoyed reading about my long ramblings!

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30

[DISCUSSION] Do We Put Too Much Stock in Reviews?

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Yes, it’s that time of the month. That time for my monthly discussion (which is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to do on this blog). Most of these topics (okay, pretty much ALL of these topics) stem from something that has personally bothered me, and I’ve always wanted to hear what other people think about it, because I can’t be the only one, right? And today’s topic is one that I guess is sort of close to my heart, and it’s putting too much stock into other people’s reviews.

(Also, this topic has zero to do with people who still read books that have been called out for being problematic because they want to check it out for themselves. That’s a whole load of BS, but it’s not the point I’m trying to make.)

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I first noticed this problem on Goodreads. Take Goodreads user Emily May. She’s probably one of the biggest and most influential voices on the site, who has the maximum amount of friends and is followed by tens of thousands. People anxiously await what she’ll have to say about upcoming releases. Back when I had a Goodreads account, I followed her. She’s an honest reviewer, and I always know that I’m listening to an opinion that I trust who doesn’t just needlessly snark on every single book they read (cause there are way too many people like that on Goodreads). So, of course, I saw her positive reviews, and her negative reviews.

Nothing is wrong with Emily’s negative reviews. I think most of her criticisms are fair and she doesn’t completely destroy books just because she might hate them. I can disagree with her, and I don’t feel like I’m trash for liking something, like some Goodreads users might make you feel about liking a book they hate. But I noticed a trend that I really hated once the comments started rolling in. There’d always be one person, or even several who said some sort of variation of, “Oh, no, this was one of my most anticipated releases this year! Ah, well, guess I have to take this off my TBR!” 

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For some reason, that statement always rubbed me wrong. Just because one reviewer, even one that you trust, doesn’t like a book you were excited for, that means you won’t pick it up? That means there’s no possible way that you could ever like this and disagree? You won’t even give it a try? And all because of someone’s opinion? And then I realized that this happens a lot, for a whole slew of popular users. Which, of course, made me wonder why.

From my personal experience, I used to do this a lot. I was obsessed with Goodreads, which is funny to look back on. I would try so hard to gain a lot of friends, to get likes on my reviews, etc. If one of my more popular friends hated a book, or rated it one or two stars, I completely ignored it. If they didn’t like, then I obviously wouldn’t like it, right?

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One of the biggest examples of this was with City of Bones. The series was quickly gaining popularity, and I wanted to check it out and see it for myself. Of course, I went to Goodreads, and was met with negative review after negative review after negative review, all saying it was a clear rip-off of the Harry Potter series. I decided to completely denounce the series and vowed that I’d never pick it up. Only a couple of weeks later, I actually read a sample of the first book. I devoured it. It ended on a mini cliffhanger, and I just had to know what would happen next. And before I knew it, I had bought the books that had already come out, I was reading them one after another, and I was completely and totally obsessed. Now I consider Cassandra Clare one of my favorite authors, and I’ve (almost) read all her books. I would’ve missed out on one of my favorite series just because I saw a large majority of negative reviews and believed them all without reading them for myself. 

Last year, in the month of October, I deleted my account for a multitude of reasons. But I remember how happy and how much lighter I felt that I could read any book I wanted without feeling like I had to adhere to popular opinion. Maybe not all people feel this way, but I did, and it’s so much better to go into books without feeling bad for swaying one way or another, maybe even going against the flow. Red Queen was a book I read two summers ago and fell in love with. It got me back into reading, and everyone on Goodreads slaughtered it, making me feel sort of bad for liking it. And with Throne of Glass, where I might’ve skipped out on it if I hadn’t read a sample on iBooks and loved Sarah J. Maas’s writing. And, probably a whole slew of other books like All the Missing Girls and All Is Not Forgotten and The Cursed Child. Like, a lot of books. Not to mention that I hate a lot of books that Goodreads love, continually making me ask what was wrong with me, if I was missing something that was so obvious.

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Do I understand why people will take a book off their TBR because of seeing a negative review? Totally. Some people don’t have all the money in the world to buy books, and don’t feel like wasting money; some people just really trust that person; some people don’t feel like wasting their time; or maybe there’s some other mysterious reason as to why all their stock is put into one single reviewer. Even I myself have done it from time to time.

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BUT, I wish that sometimes, we as bookworms could be a bit more open-minded, and not completely close ourselves off from something just because a lot of people don’t like it. Who knows, maybe you’ll love it. Maybe it’ll be your new obsession. Maybe it’ll get you out of that reading slump or make you happier when you’re having a crap day. Let’s stop feeling so afraid to be in a little party of one, even if people might look at you as “less than” for it. 

(Trust me, someone will totally be there to fangirl with you. Always.)

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How do you feel about this topic? Do you feel like people put too much stock into other people’s reviews? What makes you take a book off your TBR (besides bad author behavior and being problematic)? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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45

[DISCUSSION] Is the Romance Really Necessary?

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And I’m back with another discussion for the month of February! Valentine’s Day has long since passed and love has most likely dissipated from the air, but since it’s still the month of love, I thought I’d center my discussion topic around it! I was also supposed to post this on Friday, but I posted my last discussion post around this time, so why not do it again?

Imagine you’re reading a book. It’s a thriller, a fantasy, a sci-fi, a dystopian, pretty much any genre except contemporary. You’re completely entranced in the world the author has created. The main character is the perfect main character, tailored just for you, a character you’ve always dreamed of. The writing is absolutely stunning. Literally everything about this book is perfect, every element is coming together so wonderfully…and then the Generic Love Interest enters the building and entrances your hero/heroine into insta-love. You sigh, you scream, you throw your book against the wall, because, damn it, why does EVERY YA book have to have a stupid romance in it, when there doesn’t even need to be one? Can there ever be a YA book without a romance? Is that possible?

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Pictured Above: Everyone Reading Insta-Love

Which introduces the discussion topic: Is the Romance Really Necessary in YA Books and Why is It There in the First Place?

I’ve mentioned before in other posts that I just hate when romance comes in and ruins a perfectly good premise. It’s one of my main problems with YA mysteries/thrillers: it’s so damn good, so gory, but the author decides to focus more on the angsty backstory between the heroine and the love interest rather than, you know, solving the mystery. But this isn’t even just a problem in the mystery/thriller genre. This is basically a problem in all different types of genres, whether it be the assassin that’s too busy falling in love to actually do anything in fantasy or the revolutionary symbol who can’t choose between two hot guys in dystopians. 

I definitely am not against all romance that takes place in a different genre other than contemporary. Take Sarah J. Maas, for instance. I know some people hate her books, but I’m a huge fangirl of them, and if you know anything about her books, you know they create the biggest shipping wars the world has ever seen. Both Feyre and Aelin go have at least two different love interests in each of their respective series – the ACOTAR trilogy and the TOG series – but never have I ever felt that that the romance has gone first before the plot. The world-building is epic, the plot is complex, and the characters all shine in their own respective ways, and, yeah, there are hot sex scenes going along with that. Same with series such as the Raven Cycle, where even though the entire premise of the series is surrounding a forbidden kiss, relies more on friendship and magic than romance, or the novels These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner and The Program by Suzanne Young, that both feature gorgeous romances, but also take the time to deliver on their promising premises and push them to their full potential, even beyond what I thought I’d be given.

But with the good, comes the bad. There are two series that I think would’ve been absolutely fantastic if not for the romance – the 5th Wave trilogy by Rick Yancey and The Selection by Kiera Cass. My love for the 5th Wave trilogy waned as the books went on, and, unfortunately, completely halted once I finished The Last Star, and I remember that when writing my review, I realized that the series could have done without the romance. Evan and Cassie weren’t the adorable ship they had been when they first met, instead fighting and partaking in one of the worst sex scenes ever, and Ringer and Ben came out of absolutely nowhere (and you guys know how much I hate ships with zero build-up). And concerning The Selection, it’s probably one of the best examples of a dystomance I’ve seen in recent years. During the rise in popularity of books like The Hunger Games  and Divergent, most authors decided to write their own dystopian novels, where they basically all ended up being about a world where a basic right is taken away and a sixteen-year-old girl has to serve as both a revolution symbol and a love interest at the same time, but focuses more on the romance than the world-building or the plot or basic realisticness, hence dystomance. The Selection could definitely have potential, as expressed much better than I ever could in this Goodreads review from a user named Kiki, but is instead wasted on an infuriatingly stupid heroine and a love triangle between the Boring Prince and the Boring Ex.

This goes without mentioning other popular and extremely loved series whose premises were ruined by romance, in my opinion, namely the Shatter Me trilogy, the Mara Dyer trilogy, and the Winner’s trilogy. All series that had such amazing plots and a great cast of characters, but ruined it with love triangles, crappy love interests, and boring forbidden love subplots.

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And then you have to wonder why it’s there in the first place. And the answer is consumerism, that’s why! We, as readers, usually consume these types of books, hence every new debut that comes out that now explicitly states that we’re in for a “steamy” or “forbidden” romance with a “mysterious stranger.” And though it might be met with snarky pre-reviews or eye-rolls, it really doesn’t matter when it comes down to the sales. It’s sort of the same thing when reviewers complain that books are super cliche, so why are they still being published? Well, of course they’re being published when there are five-star reviews for the book plastered everywhere on Goodreads. 

To conclude this discussion, I thought it’d be nice to include some books that have no romance at all, or little to none to the point where it doesn’t really affect the plot. I haven’t read all of these listed here, most of them have good reviews, and even if they don’t, I believe in reading it for yourself because you never know what you’ll like, so feel free to explore! There are a lot of genres included, so no one should feel left out!

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Vicious, The Giver, Illuminae, 172 Hours on the Moon, and Red Rising

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This Savage Song, Half A King, The Darkest Corners, The Women in the Walls, and Everybody Sees the Ants

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Wonder, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Stranger Game, and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

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Two Boys Kissing, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, All American Boys,  The Book Thief, and Scythe

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MARY: The Summoning, The Merciless, The Call, Bird Box, and The Detour

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Dangerous Girls, With Malice, Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, A Monster Calls, and Scary Out There

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And if you want even more recommendations, here’s Cait @ Paper Fury’s post recommending YA books without romance! I haven’t read many of those either, so, obviously onto the TBR list they go!

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This wouldn’t be a proper discussion post without asking your opinion, so here it is: What do you think about romance in YA books? Do you prefer romance or plot? What are some series that you think balanced the romance well or did it horribly?

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[DISCUSSION] Is It Really Too Much?

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So, I thought something that’d be fun to do was have a monthly discussion – basically have a discussion around books once a month. And, I was thinking, “Hm, what should I talk about?” and I thought something that’d be interesting to talk about, in the wake of a lot of people seeming to be unenthusiastic about new Harry Potter things, was authors adding more books, movies, novellas, etc. to their world and bookworms’ slightly hypocritical thoughts surrounding these additions.

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If you’ve been living under a rock for this entire year, an eighth Harry Potter book was released on July 31 called The Cursed Child, released as a screenplay. Everyone was excited. The world blew up. The book sold extremely well, and so did the play. Then the reviews came in. People absolutely hated it. The characters acted out-of-character, it didn’t have the same magic as the original seven books did, there were too many plot holes, there was just general WTF-ery, etc. 

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After that, three mini short stories were released from Pottermore and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was reported to add five more movies and be published as a screenplay. After the general disappointment of The Cursed Child, people just complained. “She’s already rich.” “She’s dragging it out.” “Stop with the Harry Potter stuff.”

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Yet, funnily enough, if I asked most of these people if they wanted more Harry Potter books and movies just a year ago around this time, I would be met with extreme excitement and general fangirling. How could these same people who were so excited just a while ago think that J.K. Rowling needs to stop now, just because she published one book that was a disappointment? Did they mean it when they said they wanted more in the first place?

Rowling, obviously, isn’t even the only author to come under fire for this. When Cassandra Clare is announced to have a new novel, some people immediately take to Goodreads to rate it one star and complain, even though they’re in no way forced to read the book once it comes out. Sarah J. Maas announced she was adding more books to the ACOTAR trilogy, and it was immediately met with negativity and trepidation. Rick Riordan continues to write in his magical world of Greek mythology with several spin-offs, and even long-time fans, the same ones who have mentioned once or twice that they could never get enough of Percy Jackson, are getting mildly annoyed. Sabaa Tahir and Victoria Aveyard also added more novels to their series, again, with some people being worried instead of excited.

Adding more books to series or adding novellas isn’t anything new, nor is it limited to YA series. Even back in the Twilight years, people were anxious for The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and Midnight Sun, which was supposed to be Twilight, except from Edward’s POV, but never got published. The 50 Shades trilogy recently got another addition to its series by the name of Grey, which was the first book from Christian Grey’s POV. Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster turned into a whole Maddox Brothers series. Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series has been going on since 2006 – over ten years – and so has Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, which is on its twenty-third novel, and has been going on since 1994. There were two more books added to Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series, also met with complaints from some of her die-hard fans.

But should we really be complaining as fans? Is it really too much, if we’re the ones who demanded it in the first place? I really want to explore the fact that it’s not always an author’s choice, and that we, as readers, definitely play a part in this. We as readers have more influence than we think. Take the recent controversy around The Continent, a book that hasn’t been released yet, but several bloggers/reviewers took to Twitter with ARCs in their hands to discuss how problematic it was in their eyes with its POC representation. A petition was created to delay the publication of the novel, and Harlequin TEEN responded by saying it would push back the publication date to fix these issues.

So, obviously, we have influence. It can do good things, and, as with all influence and movements, it can do bad things. The thing is, publishers listen to us. So, for example, when a publisher sees that a debut has done better than they expected it to do – such as the case with Sabaa Tahir and Victoria Aveyard’s debut novels – they probably think, “Well, how can we make money off of this?” Hence, more books. Money makes the world go round, as everyone says.

I mean, why let Cassandra Clare or Rick Riordan do something new when their original series sell so well? Both of these authors have different series outside their most popular ones – the Magisterium and the Kane Chronicles, respectively – that didn’t/don’t sell as well as their main series, which basically shows publishers, “Readers don’t care about this as much as they care about that.” And bringing it back to J.K. Rowling. She has written four other books – The Casual Vacancy and the three Cormoran Strike books. The Casual Vacancy had a TV mini-series in 2015 and her Cormoran Strikes novels were picked up by HBO , and she’s writing up the next book in the series now, and might have a whole different book idea up her sleeve. Yet, I’ve seen people make false claims that “she’s not doing anything else.”

And let’s also consider the fact that these people get paid for this. So, yes, authors write more books in their popular series, because that gives them their incomes. Just because some authors might be rich doesn’t mean that they should just stop doing their jobs, and I find the phrases “They’re doing it for the money!” or “It’s a cash grab!” to be quite silly. Yeah, they are, and yes, it is. It’s their job. They need to pay bills and shop for food and support themselves just like pretty much everyone else on this earth. For some reason, only jobs dealing with the arts are treated like this. How many times have you seen directors hated for series that amass over billions of dollars worldwide that continue getting sequels? Same with TV shows with several spin-offs or based off of movies and books.

Not only that, but it seems that fandoms like to flip flop whether they want more of something or not. After the fantastic-ness (get it?) of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the excitement for Harry Potter is back once again. And not only that, but Maggie Steifvater announced a couple of months ago that she was penning a brand new trilogy around Ronan Lynch, and, for some reason, it was met with positivity. Michelle Hodkin is writing more books taking place in the Mara Dyer universe, also met with positive reviews. Marissa Meyer wrote Fairest with popular reviews, and she, Leigh Bardugo, and Marie Rutkoski wrote novellas adding to their worlds met with excitement. Benjamin Alire Saenz, David Levithan, and Jenny Han are releasing sequels/spin-off books to their contemporary stand-alones/series, and not many people complained about that. There’s going to be a whole new spin-off trilogy added to Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, again, met with pure fangirling. (And all of that isn’t based off, like, scientific research, just Goodreads pre-reviews). It’s not as if Sarah J. Maas or Rick Riordan’s quality has dropped – in my opinion – so why are they met with negativity while Stiefvater and Hodkin and Brown are met with good vibes?

So is it really too much? For me, personally, if the quality is still great, then I’m ready for it. I trust my authors to do with the story the best they can. I’m super excited for Cassandra Clare’s three other Shadowhunter series, even though they probably won’t end until I’m, like, 30; I’m excited to dive into The Trials of Apollo and the Magnus Chase trilogy; I can’t wait for the Chaol novella and the three new ACOTAR stories; I’m ready for the new additions to Victoria Aveyard’s and Sabaa Tahir’s series; and, yes, I’ve been hella excited for the five new Fantastic Beast movies since they were announced, and that will never change (at least, I don’t think it will).  

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But, do I see the point in ruining the excitement for those who begged for it? No, definitely not, especially if you’re excited for a totally different book/series that’s pretty much doing the same thing that you seem to hate so much. And, trust me, I’m a culprit for this as well. I was ready to write a whiny review of Twilight: Life and Death, the gender-swapped version of Twilight, and Grey, but as you can see above, I’m excited for additions to my favorite series, too. I feel like some people (and I’m talking more about Goodreads than blogging because Goodreads can be a bit…much at times) just need to realize that instead of writing up a snarky one-star review for a book you’re not even going to read (this video from Emma at her Youtube channel, emmmabooks, explains all my issues with that), that they can just leave it alone, walk away, and let others enjoy what they want without guilt-tripping people and acting like they’re above them. Isn’t that what reading’s about? Loving books no matter what genre, page number, author, etc? As long as someone is reading, it’s a good thing, whether we like that book or think it’s necessary.

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Anyway, that’s it for this month’s discussion! I hope you enjoyed it and it wasn’t too sucky. I’ve thought a lot about this ever since the negativity surrounding J.K. Rowling, and I’m curious as to what everyone thinks about this topic. Feel free to leave your own comments and opinions and continue the conversation, since that’s the point of discussions!