Should Authors Keep Expanding Their Own Universe?

Before I start with the actual post, let me first apologize for being absent the past few weeks. Classes started at the end of August. I now have classes all five weekdays (sighh) and work weekends so finding time to blog is getting even harder than before. I can barely find the time to read (if I didn’t commute to campus, I doubt I’d get any reading done).

I’m trying to get through all the ARCs I [foolishly] requested/accepted during the summer. I’m regretting it immensely now and have vowed to myself to not request or accept another ARC until next year (we’ll see how well that goes).

All that said, I will not be updating consistently in the coming weeks. I won’t be participating in any features at the moment [not that I was consistent in posting them anyway ]. And I [sadly and unfortunately] probably won’t be reading a lot of blog posts. I’ll try of course, but as of now, I make no promises.

Universe Expanding

Many YA Fantasy authors (and some from other genres) prefer expanding their own created universe instead of creating another one. Some of these authors include Cassandra Clare who has been continuing the Shadowhunters series for 10 years now and is now on her 14th book in that universe. Rick Riordan who has continued his mythology series, both his current ones have cameos of characters from Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus. Leigh Bardugo has five books in the Grishaverse with one more on the way. Maggie Stiefvater has her upcoming Ronan Trilogy coming out, about a beloved character from her Raven Boys quartet. And the recent news about V.E Schwab expanding her A Darker Shade of Magic world with a new series.

And not only Fantasy, but a few contemporary authors also write spin-offs with cameos from their earlier works. Becky Albertali’s Upside of Unrequited featured characters from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and she has another spin-off coming out about Leah [also from Simon vs.]. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is also getting a spin-off book about Rishi’s brother, Ashish. I’m sure there are more I’m missing.

I for one absolutely love world expansion. I get [overly] invested in characters and their worlds and knowing I get more stories about them makes me ecstatic. All the book series I mentioned above are favorites of mine and I CANNOT WAIT until their sequels or spin-offs come out.

Expanding a world also allows an author to explore all aspects of its society and culture and answer questions that may have been left out in the first series. I think Cassandra Clare does a great job of this where each of her new Shadowhunters installments goes deeper and deeper into the world without contradicting anything she wrote previously.

But that isn’t to say I want every author to expand their world; sometimes, the story they need to tell just consists of the books in their series and they need to leave it at that.

So what do you think? Are you for or against world expansion? Are you excited for any of the books I mentioned above?

 

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Should novel length fanfiction count towards your Goodreads goal?

fanfiction

I have always loved reading fan fiction so I can stay in a book world I love longer, to follow the characters’ lives or just see how other fans interpret and expand the book. There have been an ongoing argument on Goodreads on whether or not fanfiction should be added and counted on Goodreads as a book.

I recently finished a novel length Harry Potter next-generation fan fiction. It was better written than a lot of novels I’ve read, a good size (would be at least 300 pages if put to paper), and had a complex story expanding on the ideas in Cursed Child (here is the link if you’re interested, I thought it was fantastic). So my question obviously is, can I count this towards my Goodreads goal?

I know as book bloggers, there are what we call real books which are published books and then there are other reading material that aren’t published books. But there’s also the fact that there are many fan fiction that are published books: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro, even Harry Potter and the Cursed Child since it wasn’t written by Rowling. So if a printed fan fiction can count as a book, does that mean all fan fiction can count as a book? (I am speaking specifically of novel length fan fiction, short ones obviously do not count).

What’s your take on this? Do you think long fan fiction should count towards your Goodreads goal?

Being Shy in the Blogging Community

Shy Blogger

It’s been months since my last discussion post so here it goes.

I started blogging almost three years ago. Wow, it’s been a while. My blog started out in Blogspot and looked very different. For one, I had no idea what I was getting myself into or that it would take so much time or that I would love doing this so much. I also didn’t understand how interactive bloggers and the blogging community is. I thought having an online blog would be less social because it’s the internet and don’t people always say get off the internet and be social? I was so very wrong.

It turned out, blogging is a lot of interaction. And I’ve always been a shy person. My shyness showed up when I was blogging. I would read blog posts but wouldn’t comment on them. I didn’t participate in book clubs or readathons. I sucked (and still do) at social media because I didn’t know where to start. I was a little intimidated by other bloggers, especially if they had a large following [or any following actually. My mind cannot be reasoned with]. And this hurt my own blog because I didn’t have a presence in the community.

It took me two years to start getting the hang of it. To go comment and share blog posts. To actually make social media accounts related to my blog so I can be more involved. It’s still a work in progress, especially on Twitter, where I still find myself refraining from replying to tweets even if I have things to say. I even waited forever to make Netgalley and Edelweiss accounts because the idea of talking about myself felt strange.

I eased myself in, starting with a few blogs where I would comment regularly and expanded from there. Gradually over the past three years, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable commenting and replying to comments. Mostly because every blogger I’ve met thus far have been nothing but kind and welcoming which is the best encouragement I could have gotten.

What about you? Did you immediately get comfortable around other bloggers? Or did you ease yourself in?

Do diverse books matter?

diversity-matters-image

Instead of a Diversity Spotlight Thursday, I thought I should share a semi-discussion/rant post. Reading diverse books has been pretty hyped up around the blogosphere lately, especially after recent news. But does reading diversely actually matter?

I don’t usually get too personal with my posts so bear with me. Yes! YES a HUNDRED TIMES YES. Diversity matters SO MUCH. 

I grew up in a conservative Muslim family and there were a lot of things I was kept away from. These things include: other religions, other cultures and mainly, other sexualities. Things like homosexulity and bisexuality are NEVER talked about in our culture and most people (including my parents) are uncomfortable with it.

I remember the first book I picked up where they talk about two women being in a relationship in sixth grade and putting it down because I thought I wasn’t supposed to read things “like that”. Note that I absolutely hate old me and am ashamed of myself for ever thinking that way but it happened.

But I started reading more and realized how wrong my thinking was. A HUGE reason for it was reading more and more diversely (even if I didn’t do it on purpose). Writers started writing more books with diverse characters and diverse relationships without it being the main focus and somewhere along the lines, I became the person I am today. Diverse books in general are super important but diverse kids books can really be the medium that changes people’s attitudes.

The first book series I’ve read with a homosexual main character is The Mortal Instruments series later in sixth grade. And I’m going to admit, I almost put it down a few times. But I didn’t! And what made me want to continue reading the series was how much Alec seemed to struggle with his identity and it surprised me how much I felt for his character. And I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal but it was such a big deal to me.

Despite all the faults I have with The Mortal Instruments series and Cassandra Clare, those books will forever and always have a place etched into my heart. And then of course came the ball drop in House of Hades about Nico and thank the Heavens for Rick Riordan because it was exactly the kind of plot twist I needed.

Reading about other ethnicities was also very important but what affected me the most is reading about South Asian characters in YA books. This is still pretty rare and I’ve read very few novels where a South Asian character had nice, loving parents who supported her and didn’t have problems that seemed so other. By other I mean: forced marriages, evident sexism where the main character is emotionally or physically abused by either her father or husband, mothers who always take in their husband’s anger and daughters who hate their parents. These are important stories to tell, don’t get me wrong, and books about these topics are some of my favorite books but sometimes it can seem like that’s all there is for characters who look like me. (Granted I might have just also missed a lot of books with South Asian characters so I would love some recommendations!)

Diversity matters! It matters so much! 

Recommendations: 

My absolute favorite books with LGBT+ main characters that you MUST READ AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU HAVEN’T:

I’ll Give you the Sun” by Jandy Nelson
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli
More Happy Than Not” by Adam Silvera
When the Moon was Ours” by Anna-Marie McLemore

My absolute favorite books with South Asian main characters: 

Written in the Stars” by Aisha Saeed
A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini
An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green
Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfield
When the Moon was Ours” by Anna-Marie McLemore (hats off to McLemore for having such an awesome diverse book!)

I would love some more recommendations so feel free to leave me some! What do you guys think of diverse books?