Let’s Talk Bookish – Controversial Blog Posts

Hey lovely people! Welcome to another Let’s Talk Bookish post! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by me, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Today’s topic is: Controversial Blog Posts

This post is so much later than usual, but I really wanted to write a discussion. So I decided it’d be better to wait and write it later, than to not write it and post it early. Gotta be willing to compromise sometimes.

Be sure to share your thoughts and any of your ‘controversial’ posts in the comments!!

I really like reading controversial posts. Writing them myself? Eh, sometimes.

It’s fascinating and interesting to hear a person’s opinions on a hot topic, and everybody loves some drama. Controversial posts always have some sort of drama.

I also think there is a difference between controversial posts, and posts about controversies. Controversial posts are the ones that create the controversy, and then everyone weighs in with their thoughts about it. Both are still unique and great to read.

My definition of controversies are topics that widely divide the community. Or, a hot topic that has very strong opinions on both sides.

I’ve written two posts that I would consider controversial. One is about Diversity and Representation in YA and also includes my thoughts on the Blood Heir controversy. I also wrote another post about Kathleen Hale and my thoughts on when an author has gone too far. The second one was actually an LTB topic, so you may have already seen that one!

Why did I write them? Because the topics resonated with me so much, I decided to shed my super shy introverted meekness and take a stand about a topic that I found important to speak about. I didn’t want to just sit in the shadows; I wanted to share my thoughts too.

That happens really rarely. I’m usually very passive, and I don’t like to argue with people I don’t know, or share my thoughts on a topic that divides the community. But I know you all, and those were two topics that I felt comfortable giving my two cents about.

They were also two topics that made me angry/upset enough that I had the courage to hit that publish button.

I think it also has to do with the fact that it was written and not spoken. If I had to get up and say the exact words that I wrote and posted, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’d rather die with my opinion inside, than get up and speak vocally about an issue that upsets me. It’s just the way I am.

This Week’s Participants:

Aria @ Book Nook Bits | Dani @ Literary Lion | Jane @ Blogger Books

Have you ever written a controversial post? How did it make you feel? Am I the only one who finds it easier to share my opinions through writing than to speak aloud? Chat with me in the comments below!

Let’s Talk Bookish – When An Author Has Gone Too Far

Hi guys and welcome to Let’s Talk Bookish! Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by me, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

Today’s topic is: When An Author Has Gone Too Far – Do you think authors have a right to call out/attack reviewers because of negative reviews?

I had a certain author in mind when I chose this topic, and after a bit of research into the whole scandal, I’m kind of terrified to say what I’m going to say below. It also gave me a bunch of new topic ideas so that’s a plus! But I don’t know if I’ll sleep well tonight, so that’s a minus. But this is my blog, my space, and I want to try and explain my point.

*Note: I’ve added a page to my blog where you can find the topics for all the months. Check back around the last Sunday of each month for the next month’s topics.

To frankly answer my own question: No, I don’t think it’s fair or right for authors to call out or attack reviewers because of negative reviews.

Do I think that maybe the reviewer is at fault sometimes? Yes, maybe.

But that doesn’t mean the author should call them out. As far as I’m concerned, authors shouldn’t be reading negative reviews* to start with.

And that’s for several reasons. Here’s my main two:

1.I highly doubt it’s good for the author’s mental health or self-esteem to be reading about why someone hated a book that they wrote and poured their heart into.

2.Because reviewers and the bookish community in general will probably fly into a fit if the author does read a negative review, and then decides to comment because they are trying to protect and defend their hard labor.

That’s the truth. If I wrote a book now, I’d probably make my settings permanently show only 5, 4, and 3 star reviews so that I could sleep peacefully at night. I would not want to read that somebody hated it, that they thought it was trash, and that how in the world did it get published because that would just make me hate myself, or worse, hate the reviewer and then I’d do something stupid because I’m hurt and angry (even then, there is a zero point infinite zero one percent chance that I will do something stupid because I’m a chicken anyway).

So, in conclusion: Authors should not read negative reviews and should avoid them like the plague, and they definitely shouldn’t try to comment, or get aggressive about it, because that would make everything worse. Even calling them out is a passive aggressive way of attacking them, because that author’s fans will go and attack that reviewer for them, even if they never explicitly said they should.

*Note: By negative reviews, I mean reviews that are more of the ranting type. I think there’s a difference between a 1 star review that is calm and not attacking the book, and a 1 star review that is just ranting and disappointment about the book. The author could possibly learn from the former, but the latter, not so much.


Now for the controversial bit of this post (well, I think it’s controversial).

This author that I had in mind was one who I initially was horrified to find out that she had done what she did. I was even more shocked and disgusted when she wrote an article about it. Oh, and to ice the cake of my shock and anger, she was now including this article as an updated essay and was going to publish it in a collection of other essays 5 years later aka 2019.

But then I read a rather interesting article, and now I’m not as mad at her as I was before please don’t kill me.

This author is Kathleen Hale.

*quietly waits for all the memories to flood in and the shock to come back*

And for those of you who don’t know who she is: She wrote a YA book back in 2014, and after seeing a negative review by a certain blogger, she tracked them down, found out they were using a pen name, and decided to go confront her, but ended up not ringing the woman’s doorbell. And the whole community blew up, because she stalked the reviewer.

So, before you pound out a furious comment, hear me out okay?

First of all, I agree, she did do something wrong. As a reviewer, as a blogger, it scared me, and yes, I am still horrified that she did it, and then she confessed to doing it, wrote a whole article about it, and yet nothing happened besides an uproar in the bookish world.

But I guess that’s punishment enough.

Goodreads and reviewers in general can make or break an author. That’s just the way things are now. Take a look at another recent issue, the Blood Heir controversy. Because of a few influential reviewers and the ensuing uproar, the author pulled her own book. But thankfully it’s back. You can hear me rage about that here.

Now, back to Hale.

5 years after the initial uproar, she’s decided to publish a collection of essays including her infamous article, now called Catfish, that she wrote for The Guardian, telling about what she did. (The link leads to the article that she wrote back then)

Based on what I said above, as far as I’m concerned, she should not have read a negative review, and she should have definitely turned the other cheek if she accidentally stumbled across it.

But she didn’t. And everything that happened, happened.

I understand why Hale would do something like that. If we all take a second, I’m sure we all can understand and see why she did that. We all might not do it, but it is not a far fetched and absolutely crazy notion okay maybe it is. Someone attacked her debut, her baby, and she was hurt by that. And she chose a drastic method to avenge for this crime.

Okay, so you’re wondering, where’s the controversial bit? What is it that you’re so afraid to say?

Are you ready? Cause here it is: Maybe we are being too brutal, too hurtful about this whole fiasco and to the author.

No, I have not lost my mind, and no, I am not crazy. Well, last time I checked I wasn’t.

And if you don’t understand why this author/situation might be controversial, I ask that you take a look at the GR page for her new essay collection. I’ll even link it here to save you a few clicks. I’m sure, if you’ve taken a quick look, you can see that the general consensus is that there is no way ANYBODY is willing to come anywhere near this book. And that they are still really livid 5 years later.

But why would I think that maybe we aren’t being fair? Why would I think that we are being too harsh? Because this same anger that Hale is facing right now, that she faced since The Guardian article, is the very same one that we preach against on any normal day.

Spread love. Not hate.

Some of you may have been on #TeamBloodHeir from the Blood Heir controversy, and I can remember that my argument was, we aren’t giving the book or the author a chance. That we aren’t being fair. Isn’t that what’s happening with Hale now?

But I can’t compare Blood Heir and Kathleen Hale. For one, the former is a book and the later a person. Hale has done something horrible in the past, and she’s chosen to write about it again now, re-igniting the hate and anger all over again. And as far as I’ve seen, she still hasn’t apologized for it.

But I can compare her book, and Blood Heir. They are both books, with no crimes committed by them. One might say that Hale’s book is a collection of essays about herself, and so it can still be counted as the “author”, but it’s still a book, with 5 other essays about other topics.

It’s not right for Hale to portray herself as a victim, because she honestly brought this on herself. But it’s also not right for people to threaten her or threaten her family. But then again, she did the same to someone else, so I guess it’s karma. And some will argue that she might be making that stuff about being threatened up to try and be the victim Um, it’s not far-fetched at all to believe that she might have been threatened. Frankly, I’d be surprised if she wasn’t. But still, we should be better than this, better than her. But like the Buzzfeed article that spurred all this thinking of mine said, “Hell hath no fury like book bloggers scorned”. Okay, enough buts.

Ignoring her, not buying her book, stating that you will not read her book, yes I completely understand doing that. Not allowing her back into a community that she betrayed, I understand that. Giving 1 star reviews that is supposed to be used to rate a book, not an author – I don’t get that. The book could be good, the author…not so much.

Take A.J. Finn’s book, The Woman in the Window, for instance. People are still reading it, people are still rating it based on how much they enjoyed the book, but nobody’s talking about the fact that the author has done a whole lot of questionable things. And if you don’t know about this, here’s a long and detailed article about it.

This is an example of everybody reviewing the book based on the book, not based on the author, and that’s good.

Why can’t we do that for Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker? Why all the 1 star reviews of a book that hasn’t been read?

I’m hoping, and would really really like to think that gender has nothing to do with this, but one has to wonder. I’m seriously hoping that people just don’t know about A. J. Finn, but that seems a bit hard to believe, because things spread like wild fire in the bookish community.

This has gone off in a whole new direction, and I apologize, but I just had to get that in there too. I think I’m going to stop here, or I might continue on into a whole new topic that I want to save for another date. I’ve kind of already delved into this new topic, but shhh

Quick re-cap: I think that an author should definitely not read negative reviews, and should stay away from them like the plague, but I also think that we are a bit hypocritical when we attack authors for doing wrong things, and not giving them room to grow or giving their new books a chance. However, that doesn’t mean I condone or agree with anything Hale did. On the contrary, I think what she did was horrible. But we are also being a bit horrible about this as well, especially with the 1 star ratings for a book that hasn’t been read.

I like reading about controversies and others do too. It gets people talking. And the point of this is for people to talk, to give their opinions, so I’m nervous but excited to see what everyone thinks about this!

And if you’re still here with me after that long and unbelievable ramble (this post is more than 2000 words long!!), I just want to say thank you, you are amazing, and I’m so glad you made it out of my thoughts alive!!

This Week’s Participants:

Jane @ Blogger Books | Ruqs @ Many Things Bookish | Syl @ Books and Coffee

What do you think about authors who call our/attack reviewers? Do you think they have a right to be angry? What are your thoughts on the Hale situation? Was my post as controversial as I think it is? Did you know about the A. J. Finn controversy?

Discuss with me in the comments below!

Diversity and Representation in YA feat. a rant about ‘Americanism’ – Discussion

Welcome everyone! Today, I want to talk about a very sensitive yet important issue in the world of Young Adult books: diversity and representation. This is very sensitive and has been the subject of many controversies in the YA community. I’ll also be venting my anger about what I’m dubbing, ‘Americanism’. It means people seeing everything through an American POV.

Recently, there has been a progressive movement to diversify the world of literature. To change the narrative that we all grew up reading about (or at least that I did). To represent the diverse group of readers who read books. To change the stories and to include the true nature of this world’s population.

To change racism.

To include other voices, those of Asians, Africans, Europeans (from countries that aren’t predominantly English) and people who aren’t ‘Western’.

To show the reality of this world, not just show what ‘the Westerners’ want us to show.

Let’s take a quick dive into history.

Books, especially classics, in general were written by white men, back in the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th century. Why? Because women weren’t really educated at the time, therefore they didn’t read these stories. Other men read these stories. And even those women who began to slowly change this idea, who broke from formation and wrote books, they sometimes wrote them under male pen names. Why? Because what man in his right mind would read a book written by a woman in the 18th century?

Take Charlotte Bronte and her sisters for instance. They published their poems under the pen names of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Why? Because no one would take them seriously if they published as women.

Thankfully, that has changed.

And now, the bookish community’s focus is to integrate minorities, POC, the LGBT community, and to fight all the prejudices by creating literature that accepts this and makes it all okay.

But there’s a problem.

You say: What problem? We’re changing things for the better! We’re creating characters who are Black, characters who are gay, characters who aren’t skinny and pretty, but curvy and beautiful. More women are authors – actually, it’s relatively hard to find male authors in YA. Things are getting better J, what are you yapping about?

This is all great. This is amazing. But there is this still small part of us that is human. There is this small part of us that is still resisting, still fighting this change, even if we want it or not.

We have this issue in YA where a certain group takes offense when an author who isn’t from that group writes a book about that group.

Example:

If a white person, or maybe even a half white-half black person, were to write a book with a black main character, the black community would go through hell and back to attack this author for not writing about what they know and can relate to. For writing about a black person when they aren’t one.

Yet, these very same people, will come back tomorrow to complain that there aren’t enough YA books with black MC’s. Yesterday, they attacked someone who tried to change this, yet today they complain that there isn’t enough.

It is very very wrong. Why? Because we all sit and attack others for writing about something that we, personally, don’t think they should write about it. We don’t think that they should write about Asian characters because they aren’t Asian. We don’t think that they should talk about depression and anxiety because they haven’t suffered from it. We don’t think they’ve suffered true racism, so they can’t write a book that talks about it.

Do we live in their shoes? Have we experienced life like they have? We visit their profile, and see a white person, or a person who isn’t gay, or a person who isn’t physically or mentally suffering from an illness and then see that they wrote a book with a black main character, or a gay character, or a person who suffers from a physical or mental illness and we go through the roof in anger and frustration that this ‘imposter’ has dared to pretend to be us. But, we don’t know the whole story. We haven’t seen what they did, who they spoke to, how they came to write this book.

We haven’t seen their mothers who they had to sit with in the middle of the night while she suffered from suicidal thoughts.

We haven’t seen the brother who was paralyzed from his youth and depended on them through-out their lives.

We haven’t seen them comforting their friends who are black and have been called racial slurs and humiliated because of their race.

We haven’t seen them taking care of their bi-polar wives/husbands and autistic children.

We see a white person, or a not gay person, or a not physically or mentally ill person, who wrote about these issues, and we decide that there must be something wrong with it because of that. That it isn’t going to be authentic, or it will be racist, or anti-gay, or degrading/making fun of physically and mentally ill people. All because the author doesn’t look like it.

Looks can be very deceiving.

And who are we, anyway, to judge?


Another issue that angers me: When Americans think that they are the only ones in the world.

Disclaimer: I don’t mean to offend anyone, I really don’t. I am American, and I am not out to attack or hurt anyone who is American. But I feel like this must be addressed and I hope, that if you’re American, that you understand and agree (or we agree to disagree) with me that this must be spoken about and addressed.

I’m going to share with you guys a story. An author wrote a book set in a fantasy land that was going to deal with slavery. After severe backlash by Twitter influencers, the author pulled the book from publication. Now, 3 months later, she has decided that she will publish this book anyway in November of this year.

I’m pretty sure this story is very familiar. It was one of the hottest controversies on YA twitter and had a lot of opinions from both sides.

This young debut author, is Amélie Wen Zhao.

But what happened? Why did YA Twitter attack her?

They attacked her because certain influential twitter users said she was racist in her book. Her book, which is based on Ms. Zhao’s cultural perspective, is said to have been racist because a character, who is presumed to be black, died to let the white main character live. They were also offended because they didn’t believe that the slavery was portrayed ‘correctly’.

My first issue with this: this character is presumed to be black because she was described as being “bronze” and “tan”. And she also is described as having “aqua marine eyes” and “ocean blue eyes”. It is extremely rare for an African or Black person to have blue eyes, especially when they have no Caucasian ancestry. Have you ever seen or met a black or an African person with blue eyes? Enlighten me, because I’m black, and I haven’t.

Second issue. This isn’t about America’s slavery past. It’s about the author’s cultural perspective on an issue in her home country. Slavery didn’t only exist in America, folks. I know, a shocker!!!! It existed and still exists in other parts of the world. The book is about slavery, not about American slavery, not about America’s history. It’s about slavery in Asia, from the point of view of a person of color.

This also upsets me. The fact that African/Black Americans instantly get defensive and angry, and instantly assume that this is supposed to be about them. It isn’t. Racism exists in other parts of the world. Racism can even be against white people too! It’s not just about you. Books about slavery and racism aren’t just about YOU or your race, it’s about all people who face racism and who are enslaved around the world.

Third of all. This is fiction. I’m probably going to get slammed for this, but I don’t care. It. Is. FICTION. Words that aren’t history, words that are from someone’s imagination and creativity. A story that is even fantasy for that matter. Fiction is according to Wikipedia:

any narrative that is derived from the imagination—in other words, not based strictly on history or fact.

So why are we getting all riled up? Why are we attacking and destroying an author’s dreams and career before it even starts because of fiction? Because of a select few who thought it was racist? A select few who almost deprived the rest of the YA community from deciding for themselves whether or not it is?

This doesn’t mean that the author should be racist. It means that she can choose what she wants to do with certain characters, and portray what she knows however she wants. We shouldn’t make ourselves sick over something that isn’t true. We can’t decide what we want authors to write because everyone has the right to express whatever they want. However, we can be a better person and not drag them through the mud and call them names and be petty. We can give constructive criticism to let the authors know what we think is wrong with their book. We don’t have to announce to the world and humiliate an author because we found a part problematic. I’m going off track here, but I had to point that out.

Back to the main point. Nothing is just about you, America. It’s about other countries, other worlds. They exist and we need to start opening our minds and accepting this. We can’t just have American characters who are black, or LGBT, or people of color. We need British, Romanian, North Korean, Thai, Somali, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Russian, Brazilian, Argentinean, and every last nationality to be a part of this diverse step forward. We need to stop thinking of everything in our own American POV. We need to open our eyes and see that there is a world out there that is different, that isn’t just us.

I’m so sick and angry and tired of this. A debut author who was probably very excited to release her book for us to read took this book away, because some people were quick to judge and take offense. A book that is supposed to touch on the fact that the author has experienced racism, the fact that she has been branded as an “Other” and a book that is supposed to fight this in it’s own way. A book that’s supposed to fight racism in other parts of the world, not just in America.

The author has asked that no one defend her, and I’m not trying to, even though it may seem like I am. I’m trying to show that this isn’t about Americans only. That racism isn’t only about black people. It’s about the rest of the world, too. Because everyone quickly assumed that this was supposed to be something about racism or anti-blackness, or America’s history with slavery, they attacked it, and destroyed it. But it wasn’t about America. And until a few days ago, we would have never known what this was truly about.

That was much longer than I ever intended for it to be, but I’m so glad that I got to share and vent my frustrations and anger regarding these issues.

Let’s discuss: What do you guys think about representation and diversity in books? Did you hear about the controversy surrounding Ms. Zhao’s novel? What did you think about it? Am I the only one who feels like books and bookish opinions are too “American-centered”? Let’s discuss in the comments below!