Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review Requests, Netgalley, and Peeves

I can be a rather laid back person. I don't think I'm that demanding. And usually, I'm just still thrilled I can get books early and that people want me to talk about their books. It's nice to feel that important! But there are some major turn offs. Major. Turn. Offs.


Netgalley's great. Or it used to be. I have some issues with Netgalley now.

1.) Sort Your Damn Books

Netgalley has categories based on genre/age group. Except too many people just...don't use them. There are HUNDREDS of books on Netgalley and sorting them into categories - the RIGHT categories - is a HUGE help. Another reason I appreciate it is that not all books show up in the main page, or they're easy to skip. I've noticed before that I couldn't find a book on Netgalley until I specifically searched or went to the publisher. Seriously, sort your books. And remember that YA is YA, not children's on Netgalley. And vice versa. Definitely vice versa.

2.) Too. Many. Books.

For me, Netgalley became 500% less pleasant with the addition of self-pub/indie pub. Because it feels like half of them don't know what they're doing. I swear I've seen at least a couple books labeled "draft." DRAFT???? You don't put a DRAFT on Netgalley. You put something that's mostly, if not entirely, edited. It's also lead to a HUGE overload. It shouldn't take me 20 minutes to see all the books posted in a 24 hour period. That's TOO MUCH and God knows I'm still gonna miss all the books I actually want.

3.) Weird Request Approval Times

Recently, I was approved for a request for a book that came out the NEXT DAY. This is an actual thing that seems to be happening more and more often. If I request a book months in advance, maybe you shouldn't be putting out approvals less than two weeks before release? Or even after release? Because I'm not going to read it in time if it's just before and it sinks down the consideration list considerably after it's out. I'm not saying all requests should be responded to within hours, but if you're going to put a book out as an egalley 4 months in advance...maybe approve it at least 2 months in advance?

Review Requests

1.) Not Including a Summary

You're asking me to do something for you. Yes, you're offering something in return, but you're still asking me to dedicate several hours to read a book, format a post, probably write a review, share the review, etc. Don't also make me go see what the book is about. All your praise and telling me what you'd like done is nice and all, but I'm not gonna accept a book I know nothing about. Just copy and paste the summary into the email. It's not hard. A link is OKAY, but really. Copy. Paste. It's not like you shouldn't have this handy anyway.


I don't know why I need to even say this. You should be able to properly capitalize our blog name. "Book Blog" doesn't need to be capitalized, neither do genres. You shouldn't use words like "whilst" because this is an email, not Shakespeare. Casual is cool, but this is till a professional thing. Check what you're writing. Especially if you're an author/freelance publicist. If you're an author and can't do basic grammar in an email, what does that say about your book? And freelance publicist? Why would I want to work with you? You now look like a scam.

3.) Don't Ignore the Review Policy

I don't generally know how people pitching me found my blog. NO idea. But my general assumption is that if I've never worked with you, you had to have visited my blog before pitching me. If you're on the blog, my review policy is pretty easy to find. Take an extra 30 seconds to read it before wasting an email on me by pitching a book that's not in my genre/category. Because now I'm just annoyed and don't want to help you and there are better people you could pitch.

4.) Use My Name

I get it, you've got a lot of people to email and you're trying to make this quick. But I find it irritating if you can't get my name/my blog's name in the email SOMEWHERE. Especially if you're someone I've never worked with before. And I think this is true with a lot of bloggers. I can forgive publicists I know for it because I can still trust them. But you, a new person, I've got NO idea what to expect from you. The least you can do is attempt to make this personalized. Because personalized emails have like a 50% better chance of me accepting them. 

5.) Give Me Time

Look, I got a lotta books. And I'm very much a mood reader. One week isn't enough time. Three weeks is not a long lead time. It's really best to approach 3-4 months in advance to get a better chance at a review by release. And that's STILL not a guarantee. I can't guarantee you'll ever get a review. But the less time you give me for that, the less likely it is to happen.

So, those are the peeves I can come up with off the top of my head. Do these seem unreasonable to you? Any that you share? Any peeves I didn't bring up? 


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Compulsively Collectible Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.

Today we're talking about authors we own the most books by and I'm honestly kinda shocked by which mine were. 

Note: This may not be totally accurate. I can't physically check and browsing every Goodreads shelves of books I own in various forms would take forever, so I cheated by seeing which authors I read the most of on my Goodreads shelf overall, then checked to see where I had the most books.

1. Meg Cabot - 23 Books: This surprised me a lot. I know I've had a long term love of Meg Cabot, but I certainly didn't think it was THIS intense. Probably has a lot to do with being able to find a lot of her backlist super cheap at the used bookstore near where we vacationed for ~5 years in Wildwood. Even more shocking? This DOESN'T include the Princess Diaries books. I read most of them, but I don't think I still own them. This is mostly her adult books, but a couple of her YA series. I also counted the one romance novel I have under her pseudonym, Patricia Cabot. 

2. Richelle Mead - 11 Books: This shouldn't have surprised me, really. I eagerly devoured her 6 book Vampire Academy series, have 2 books in her spin off Bloodlines series, and marathoned the VA graphic novel series - which she technically wrote - earlier this year.

2. Sarah Dessen - 11 Books: I mean, obviously. I own all of her books (even if I still haven't read 3 of them). And she's been at this shizz for a while so...only makes sense, yeah? [True Story: I somehow got on her ARC list and I'm not sure if I'm more shocked that I've gotten two of her ARCs or that they still MAKE ARCs for her.]

2. Sophie Jordan - 11 Books: Another surprise that shouldn't be one. I LOVED Firelight, so when she was her on tour I bought the rest of the series, I've got both of her New Adult books so far, and I LOVE her romances, so I've got a lot of those in my collection. Yet I still didn't expect this. Hmm.

3. Eloisa James - 10 Books: This shocked me a bit too, but it does also include some novellas. And since nearly half my collection is as ebooks, it's easy to forget just how many there are. She's one of my favorite romance novelists though, especially her fairy tale romance series. I have all of them (except possibly a novella or two).

3. J.K. Rowling - 10 Books: I kind of expected this one. I mean, the Harry Potter series alone is 7 books. Then I have multiple editions of the books. The first four of my original collection, I technically share with my mom, so I recently got the fancy new box set. Plus the additional Harry Potter world content and my precious, signed copy of The Casual Vacancy. So, technically 10, but if we factor in duplicates (and we say 50% ownership of 4 of the books counts), it's actually 17.

3. Melissa de la Cruz - 10 Books: So, this one's debatable. I do have ARCs of both of her new series I've been meaning to read but heard iffy things on. And I also have all the Blue Bloods books 1-6 including some novellas because they were my crack series...but it maybe 1-5. Goodreads says I got the sixth book as a finished copy for review, which I have NO memory of and I couldn't verify if this is true. So I'm not 100% sure if I do own book 6, but I'm assuming I do? I feel like I probably do, but if that's really how I got it is questionable.

3. Julie Kagawa - 10 Books: I'm HORRIBLY behind on my Julie Kagawa. I haven't started the spin-off series. I haven't read the Blood of Eden sequels. And I had to put aside Talon ages ago and haven't picked it back up. But I HAVE all of them, largely thanks to Harlequin cocktail parties/special events I've been invited to by them. Because they're amazeballs.

4. Scott Westerfeld - 9 Books: This shocked me more than it should have. Pre-blogging, I read two of his trilogies (one which became a...quadrology?), I own Leviathan, and I grabbed Afterworlds at BEA.  Man's written a lotta books, you know? P.S. I'd recommend starting with Midnighters. Screw everyone else who says Uglies, Midnights is STELLAR and such an awesome premise.

Somewhere in this Top 10.  Jane Austen: So, my Goodreads shelf is screwy and added a bunch of authors who...aren't Jane Austen. BUT, I do own at least one copy of 8 of her books (including some of the incomplete/finished by other editions). And as I own 4 copies of Pride and Prejudice (soon to be 5) and at least two copies of two other editions, she should definitely be on this list. I just don't know where she falls since my collection is spread out between my parents' and my apartment. But, I have approximately 13 of her books.

You'll notice this technically stops at 9 since Jane isn't "officially" on the list. Well, that's because when I get to authors I have 8 books by, there are another 4 authors and I'd rather not talk about another 4 authors and go definitively over 10. 

So, authors who have written 8 books that I own: Julia QuinnJodi Picoult, Christina Lauren, and Sarah MacLean.

A lot more adult/romance authors on this list then I would've thought, but it makes sense. I regularly burn out on YA series because I have to remember so many details and with the volume of books I read a year, that's just not feasible. Plus, by time the sequel's out, I just don't love the book as much. AND, I don't review sequels on the blog unless I get ARCs of them (which isn't super common) so they get pushed back further and I just don't bother buying many anymore. With all these romances I read, they might be in series, but I can read them in any order. I don't need to read the previous books at all. It gives me a lot more freedom, a lot less fatigue. Jodi Picoult doesn't even write series, I just went through a phase. 

And of the YA authors who CAN use series to explain why they're on my list? I read at least part of all those series pre-blogging or in the very early stages of blogging. My ability to read YA sequels has suffered a LOT from blogging, partly because of ARCs. It may also be because I'm more up on newer releases, so I DO have to wait a year+ between books and can't just binge read the series, as I did with a lot pre-blogging. 

Interesting little exercise. Definitely didn't expect these kinds of results!

How bout everyone else who did it? Any major surprises? Any overlaps?


Monday, 28 July 2014

Gennifer Albin on Book Boyfriend Qualities

Today, we have Gennifer Albin on the blog to celebrate the release of her newest New Adult title, TEACHING ROMAN. What's TEACHING ROMAN about, you may ask? WELL

 Jessica Stone has her life in perfect order until her perfectly boring boyfriend Brett puts things in perspective. So when she receives a call to action from her heartbroken best friend Cassie, she ditches her plans for Winter Break in gloomy Olympic Falls and sets off to Mexico for some fun in the sun.

Determined to use her oceanview to prep for her MCATS, she doesn't plan to run into anyone from Olympic State, least of all the cute communications prof she's been crushing on for a year. When he unexpectedly saves the day, the two are thrown together in a distinctly extracurricular activity.

Roman Markson doesn’t expect to run into anyone he knows from Olympic Falls while visiting his family in Puerto Vallarta, especially not a former student. Although Jess Stone has a way of catching men’s attention, a relationship with her is strictly off-limits. However, the rules feel less strict in Mexico, so they agree to a plan: one week in paradise and nothing more.

But avoiding each other back on campus is harder than they anticipated, especially when they can’t stay away from one another. Neither is sure what they have to learn—and lose—before life teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget.

 What is it about teacher/student romances? I dunno, but they do it for me.

So, today, Gennifer's going to tell us about all the qualities a good book boyfriend should have!

He should provide valuable services. Okay, get your mind out of the gutter! Nonconjugal services. For instance, I love food. I hate to cook. Give me a book boyfriend who can whip up some amazing breakfast. Or since I cant play an instrument, a guitar player would be hot.

I want him to be ripped without wasting too much time at the gym. This is a fantasy, right? I dont want my boy getting sweaty on the weight bench, when he could be getting sweaty doing other things. Okay, now my mind is in the gutter.

RESPECT! Ill admit that I get a little flustered when a book boyfriend swoops in to save the day, but I dont need him to boss me around or go 100% alpha male. I only want to be barefoot in the kitchen while he makes me breakfast.

The cliche is true. I want a guy who makes me laugh. Life is serious enough, my book boyfriend needs to be able to break the tension.

And book boyfriends should always put their dirty clothes in the hamper. Every womans fantasy.

Yeah, I can definitely agree with all of these, ESPECIALLY the laughter. It's one of the swooniest traits a guy can have, in my opinion.

For more about Gennifer and her books, you can check out these links:
Author Links: 
Facebook Fan Page: 

And if you're already sold on TEACHING ROMAN, it's available now!

Buy Links 
B&N - 


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Weekly Wrap Up (3)

On the Blog

Monday: Lanna reviewed her first Sophia Kinsella, I've Got Your Number
Tuesday: Lanna also finally read A Great and Terrible Beauty
Wednesday: Julie cheers for insecure heroines in Brazen
Saturday: Lanna was kind of underwhelmed by Nineteen Minutes


Book Haul

Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick (ebook from library)
Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson (finished copy from publisher)
Wicked Designs by Lauren Smith (egalley from author)
Blind by Rachel DeWoskin (egalley from publisher)

Books Read

Teaching Roman by Gennifer Albin 

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber
Upcoming Reads

Well, I've got some egalleys that will be expiring this week plus some library books that need to get returned soon, so I'll be working on those! 

American Blonde by Jennifer Niven
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie
Dearest by Alethea Kontis 
Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick

I'm not going to include the books I've read, because I'm pretty sure I've reviewed all the ones I've read recently. I will say though that the booktube-a-thon was an epic fail for me--I think I only read 2 books and half of 2 others out of the 7 I was aiming for (although I'm not totally disappointed by that because I spent the weekend in Dundee with my best friends and that was totally worth missing a few reading days for).

Moving on... Book Haul:

These are all the ones I've gotten in the past few weeks.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman
The Elite and The One by Kiera Cass (funny thing is, I don't remember liking the first one that much and I'm sick of dystopians, but I've had such an urge to read the rest of the series recently)

Emma by Jane Austen
Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine
A Rose Among Thorns by Rosie Goodwin
The Scandalous Duchess by Anne O'Brien (e-book...purely because it was only 99p)
Undertaking Love by Kat French (another e-book, that I didn't even realise I'd bought until I looked at my Amazon orders)

I pre-ordered Isla and the Happily Ever After because of reasons. Reasons like, that series is awesome and you should go read it now if you haven't already and I'm desperate to read the third one. 

And I pre-ordered the reprint of the Labyrinth novelization (!!! I've been wanting to read that for ages, but it's been out of print for so long and I just checked again today and they're releasing the new one on the 1st of August).

Upcoming/Current Reads:

I'm reading Amy and Roger's Epic Detour right now and I love it so far, I've put it down for a while though because I wanted something light and fun and that one has a lot more going on than I expected (like lots of grief and guilt and all that not so good stuff). 


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Nineteen Minutes
by Jodi Picoult

Summary: Sterling is an ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens--until the day its complacency is shattered by an act of violence. Josie Cormier, the daughter of the judge sitting on the case, should be the state's best witness, but she can't remember what happened before her very own eyes--or can she? As the trial progresses, fault lines between the high school and the adult community begin to show--destroying the closest of friendships and families.
This is the third Jodi Picoult book I've ever read (the others being The Pact and The Tenth Circle), and while I'm a big fan of her books, this one is definitely my least favourite. It wasn't a bad book, but it's not particularly good either, it was just okay.

The problem, I think, was that the book was just far too drawn out. There were too many characters whose points of view were being forced on us, to the point where it just got hard to care about any of them. And the most interesting characters were the ones we heard from the least.

The thing is...I get what the book was doing. It was telling the other sides of stories like this, the ones we don't usually hear. But it was too much. It was trying to tell too many different sides of the story, to the point where it just became this thing that went on and on and when it finally got to the point, I hardly cared anymore, I just wanted to be done with the book.

It was interesting seeing things from the shooters POV, to see what would lead him to do what he did. It was interesting seeing his lawyers POV, because I'd always wondered how someone could do a job like that--defend someone they know to be guilty of a horrible crime. It was interesting seeing Josie's POV because she had been there, she'd been friends with both the victims and the killer. Even her mums POV wasn't boring because her being a judge made it different than the usual parent side of things.

But then we also had  the POV of both of Peter's parents and they were predictable and boring and it felt like any time we were seeing things from their perspective the story started to drag. The detectives POV wasn't as bad, because there was a cute kind of subplot he had but was too much.

Basically, I liked the book, but it didn't have the emotional impact that a story like this should have and it felt like the author was trying to cram too much into the story and certain things could've been cut (or simply shown through other POV's) without it having any impact on the overall plot.

I'd rate the book 3 stars out of 5.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Katherine Longshore
Viking Juvenile
[June 12, 2014]
egalley provided by publisher

Mary Howard has always lived in the shadow of her powerful family. But when she’s married off to Henry Fitzroy, King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, she rockets into the Tudor court’s inner circle. Mary and “Fitz” join a tight clique of rebels who test the boundaries of court’s strict rules with their games, dares, and flirtations. The more Mary gets to know Fitz, the harder she falls for him, but is forbidden from seeing him alone. The rules of court were made to be pushed…but pushing them too far means certain death. Is true love worth dying for?

Oh Katherine Longshore, what you do to me (oh, it's what you do to meeeeeeeee /end Plain White T's reference).

Katherine Longshore does not write short books. This book? Over 500 pages. I read about 100 pages. Took a break, ate dinner, watched some TV, goofed off. Went to read a few more chapters before doing some other things...except instead I read the last 400 pages and didn't even get to shower like I meant to until after 3 in the morning. The writing and the story were just THAT gripping and Katherine Longshore is clearly an autobuy author for me.

Unlike her previous two books in this series, I didn't really know this story. I knew a little bit about Fitz's fate from watching The Tudors, but based on their portrayal and this story, it wasn't an accurate portrayal, so I had NO idea how this was really supposed to turn out. So besides just making for a more intriguing story where I don't know how it's going to turn out, it also enabled me to look at the story differently. I wasn't comparing Katherine's portrayal to others and trying to decide how much I agree with it based on what I know. I wasn't comparing the book to any other interpretations of the Tudor era because I didn't know any from this angle. I was able to see Brazen as Brazen, a heartbreaking love story with some serious politics, and nothing else.

And this was like the definition of a slow burn romance. Fitz and Mary were getting to know each other and really discovering their feelings and taking time to identify them. I thought it was such a unique way to go about a romance in YA. Mary asked the kind of questions about their relationship that I knew I would ask. She was insecure in herself because she was a kid, really, so she was totally off balance in her own marriage and I just felt that SO much. It meant that I really understood what Mary was feeling and that was really important as the book went on.

The way Katherine Longshore built the characters and the relationships was astounding. There was a pretty sizable cast, but I felt like I knew all of them and exactly where they stood with each other, but sometimes Mary and therefore my own perceptive changed. None of the characters or relationships were stagnant. They all grew and developed so it wasn't just Mary's story, even if the spotlight was on her. She needed the novel's focus, but the other characters weren't just going to sit there either.

I loved Mary and Fitz. They were complex and intriguing. I worried a little bit when they were introduced and definitely younger, only 14. That gets a little awkward reading about that age getting married and the voice of a younger teen wasn't what I was in the mood for, but I was silly to doubt Katherine Longshore. These two characters were crafted over the course of the pages and I just...God I loved them. So, so much.

There comes a point in the book where things start to hurt, but there's still pages left and I wondered why. What else could there be? Oh dear readers, I was naive. The ending was absolutely brilliant. Beyond amazing. It was evidence of the distance Mary came in the book and how her relationships have changed as she's gotten older and grown into herself. The ending I wanted just wasn't possible, so this was the next best thing.

I really think that Katherine's series works for anyone who loves history, but also for anyone who loves romance and political drama. The political drama is intense in ANY Tudor book. So much intrigue and backstabbing and gossip and maneuvering. And the romance was intense and just perfect. Unlike any I've seen in YA in a long, long time. Don't miss this book, is what I'm really getting at.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty
by Libba Bray

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Gemma has had an unconventional upbringing in India, until the day she foresees her mother's death in a black, swirling vision that turns out to be true. Sent back to England, she is enrolled at Spence, a girls' academy with a mysterious burned-out East Wing.

There Gemma is snubbed by powerful Felicity, beautiful Pippa, and even her own dumpy roommate Ann, until she blackmails herself and Ann into the treacherous clique. Gemma is distressed to find that she has been followed from India by Kartik, a beautiful young man who warns her to fight off the visions. Nevertheless, they continue, and one night she is led by a child-spirit to find a diary that reveals the secrets of a mystical Order.

The clique soon finds a way to accompany Gemma to the other-world realms of her visions "for a bit of fun" and to taste the power they will never have as Victorian wives, but they discover that the delights of the realms are overwhelmed by a menace they cannot control. Gemma is left with the knowledge that her role as the link between worlds leaves her with a mission to seek out the "others" and rebuild the Order. 

This is a book that I have been trying to read for years. I've started reading it a whole bunch of times but kept giving up on it. Everyone seems to gush about it, including people whose judgement I trust. I saw so many positive reviews of it that I bought the whole trilogy before I had even read the first one... Now that I've finally finished it, I can honestly say that I just don't get it.

I don't get what it is about this book that people love so much, because personally, I found it extremely boring at worst and average at best (and the "at worst" part made up the majority of the book). It took until the last 60 or so pages for it to kind of hook me but even then, it was just interesting in comparison to how uninteresting the rest of the book was and not actually what I'd consider good.

Gemma annoyed me sometimes and the rest of the time I was pretty indifferent to her, I think there was only a handful of pages where I could genuinely say that I liked her character. And the other characters...well, I appreciate that they're flawed and their relationships aren't perfect, it made it more realistic but I just didn't like any of them enough to actually care what happened to them.

Kartik was probably the most interesting character to me, but his presence in the book was minimal (maybe that's why he was the most interesting--he wasn't really given much chance to bore me).

I didn't like the plot much at all...I can't really pin point why, it just felt like something was missing, there was no spark. I never felt swept up in this world, it was just bland when it really shouldn't have been. Nothing hooked me or kept me interested, nothing surprised me and too many twists were easy to guess almost as soon as they were introduced and then we'd have to wade through pages and pages of the characters not having a clue.

Basically, the book left me very underwhelmed. I'd rate it 2.5 stars out of may have been lower, but I think the high expectations played a part in how disappointing the book was--when everyone seems to love a book while you're struggling to find things you even like about it, it makes reading it more frustrating.

I think this may just be one of those times where an author just isn't my cup of tea. I think Libba Bray is fabulous (from what I've seen of her online), but something about her books just doesn't click with me. I may give the rest of the series a chance, purely because I own them already, but I'm not really optimistic about them at this point.


Monday, 21 July 2014

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number
by Sophie Kinsella

Summary: Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.
So this is the first Sophie Kinsella book I've ever read and it probably won't be the last, because while I didn't love the book, I enjoyed it enough to be interested in checking out some of her other books.

Poppy was annoying a lot of the time and there were parts of the story that were just utterly ridiculous (like a couch conveniently being dragged loudly across the floor of an office building at the exact moment Poppy was trying to get someones attention, for example) but she grew on me and it wasn't too hard to overlook the silly things after a while.

Also, a lot of the humour in the book kind of straddled the line between actually funny and the kind of thing that is supposed to be funny but instead makes you cringe from secondhand embarrassment (something I hate in books and movies).

And this review is leaning more towards the negative side, but I did genuinely enjoy the book, it did make me laugh a few times and I finished it with a smile. Sam was lovely, he was definitely the highlight of the book for me and Poppy was most likable in her scenes with him.

I guess that's all I have to say about this one. Sophie Kinsella is one of those authors that I hear loads of good things about and this book, to me, wasn't really as amazing as people make her books out to be but it was a fun read. I'd rate it 3.5 stars out of 5 (would have probably been 4, if I'd reviewed it right after reading but because I left it a while, I've realised that it was kind of forgettable).


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up (2)

On the Blog

Wednesday: Julie's starting to catch up on some very overdue reviews, starting with some 2012 releases


Book Haul
Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber (ebook via library)

Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie (ebook via library) 
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (ebook via library)
I Want it That Way by Ann Aguirre (egalley via Netgalley)
As Long as You Love Me by Ann Aguirre (egalley via Netgalley)
Dare To Kiss by S.B. Alexander (egalley via Netgalley)
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (paperback via publisher)
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi (2 hardcovers via publisher)
Heart Breaths by K.K. Hendin (ebook purchased for Kindle)
Perfect Pitch by Mindy Klasky (ebook free on Amazon)
Fastball by V.K. Sykes (ebook free on Amazon)

Books Read

 I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre

As Long as You Love Me by Ann Aguirre
Brazen by Katherine Longshore

Upcoming Reads

I have no idea! New Adult reading week didn't turn out quite as I wanted. I got restless and impatient and didn't know what I wanted to read. Then yesterday, I got a new bed delivered and rearranged my pseudo-room and got to put a bunch of books I've had lying around on display and randomly picked up Brazen after everything settled. I read the first 120 pages or so, napped, did some family stuff, watched a baseball game, then went to just read a few chapters before showering and finishing up this post...then suddenly it was 3:30 in the morning and I'd read the whole thing and cried. So, hopefully the little slump I had will be broken!

Anything you guys are hoping I'll read?


Friday, 18 July 2014

The Publisher Effect

Since becoming a blogger, I've become way more aware of publishers. It's kind of hard not to when you're as deep in it as I've become. And there are certain things I've noticed.

1.) The publisher/imprint a book is released by matters.
2.) There are editors I trust implicitly.
3.) The accessibility of a publishers' ARCs directly effects the books reviewed on this blog and the books I buy.

So, point 3 is kind of obvious, but let's discuss these things, yes? I'll pair 1 and 2 together since they're along the same vein.

The Publisher/Editor Effect

In my years of reading, I've noticed that certain publishers and I...just don't work. I'm not naming names, but I've noticed in particular this one major publisher hasn't put out anything I've really enjoyed, even if in theory I should have. Several of their titles were SO my kind of thing, but nope. Bored. Nothing I can pin point usually, I just had 0 interest while reading.

But I've also noticed that one of their imprints I LOVE. Pretty much everything from that imprint, honestly. The imprint is (to my knowledge) just contemporary stuff. And I've enjoyed their adult titles with no problem. So, I used to be sure it was imprint based, but I'm now wondering if it's just that I don't like their non-contemporary YA. I think I have one of their titles that's contemporary but not from the imprint I love on my TBR, so I'll be able to test that theory at some point in the near-ish future.

On the other hand, some imprints I can really count on for quality stuff, usually because of specific editors. There's the imprint I mentioned above that I obviously can't name. At Harper, I've noticed Greenwillow puts out a TON of amazing fantasy. I haven't read much of it, but I have a lot of it on my TBR because how can I not? I also know that I tend to really enjoy Balzer+Bray titles there, especially those edited by one specific editor. This became especially clear when I got a package of just her books and have loved every single one I picked up so far (one was a late enough release that I haven't picked it up yet). She also recently acquired a title I read on submission when I was interning and LOVED to pieces. I knew while I was reading it that it would be her kind of thing and if my boss couldn't get it, she was definitely the best option. Another editor at Harper did a couple of amazing books and recently switched to another house and has already acquired like three or four titles I instantly added to my TBR because they sound amazing and I trust her.

So clearly, these things matter because editors matter. Something I kind of knew, but has really been hammered home with my internship and these recent thoughts, is that every editor is going to have a different vision for a manuscript. It may not totally change the story, but what you'd get giving the same manuscript to every editor would be SO different and those differences can be huge. They also all have different tastes so maybe the publisher that isn't working for me just has editors with taste that doesn't align with mine as well as it should in theory.

Has anyone else noticed a bias towards certain publishers/imprints/editors?

ARCs Matter

I said in my blogging confessions post last week that I need ARCs to blog, even though I don't really care about release dates in my reviewing/reading schedules. Well, ARCs and egalleys make up most of my TBR at this point, no matter how many books I've bought. And they DO get priority. If I'm in the mood for a certain genre, but not necessarily a certain book, I'm going to look through the ARCs and egalleys I have that fit that need before I even consider the books I've purchased.

So yes, I have ARCs that are rather old. But I have a decent number of purchased books and gifted books that are even older because they get neglected.

But only certain publishers easily give me access to ARCs/egalleys. Others consistently deny me or I just don't have contacts there to get in touch with, so my only chance to pick up any of their titles are at conferences. Even then, as NYCC is one of my main conferences, I don't feel AS big a need to review those titles in a timely fashion since this isn't a professional conference and they're given out to readers, not necessarily bloggers. So, BEA titles and things that come in the mail get priority over those.

Plus, at conferences, I'm going to be most aware of titles from publishers' I get things from. I keep up to date so I know what's available, even though it's less likely I'll grab them at a conference since I can get them through other means. I tend to be semi-aware of the other publishers, but some I just don't hear much about because other bloggers don't get anything from, so I don't even know what to look for or ask about when I do go to conferences and at many I've been to, it's been too busy for me to ask the publicists.

That then effects my book buying. I had been buying pretty freely before, but I'm now very limited and really only want to get things I have a good feeling I'll love, which means sticking to things from the imprints and editors and authors I trust and things I've seen the bloggers I trust love. So it cycles back to relying on mostly things I've gotten as ARCs/been reading for years or friends have gotten as ARCs (and many of them mostly get from the same publishers I do). And now that my budget is REALLY tight, I'll pretty much only be buying books I've already read and loved as ARCs. And what I don't pick up for signings is what gets first priority each year on my Christmas wish list/gift card book buying.

So, not only do ARCs enable me to continue blogging, but they also really effect the material that comes on the blog and on my shelves. I kind of hate admitting they matter that much, but at this point in my life, they do.

Basically, my reading life and this blog depend SO MUCH on things I have no control over. It's all about the publishers and what they want to do and who they hire and if they like me and how they publicize books. Which is the kind of thing that makes me uncomfortable.

I don't know if I'll try to ignore things more or change my reading habits, but it's just something interesting to think about and I wonder if any of you have ever though about all of this as well.


Thursday, 17 July 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
Candace Fleming
Schwartz and Wade
[July 8, 2014]
Finished Copy provided by publisher for tour

From the acclaimed author of Amelia Lost and The Lincolns comes more nonfiction at its very best—and a perfect resource for meeting Common Core standards.

Here is the riveting story of the Russian Revolution as it unfolded. When Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew.

Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants—and their eventual uprising—Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life. History doesn’t get more interesting than the story of the Romanovs.

I have a secret: I love good non-fiction. Narrative, voice-y non-fiction, really. It all started with my first college level history class being too broad and not teaching me enough, forcing me to look for my own. I don't read it a ton since I've got SO many books I should be reading and reviewing, but I jumped at the chance to join the blog tour for this title from my wishlist. 

The trouble with non-fiction is making sure it doesn't read too dry. If it is, then it's like a textbook and sorry, but I don't read textbooks for fun. I only kind of read textbooks for school, so let's not, you know? 

Candace Fleming isn't allowing that. It really felt like I was reading a novel sometimes. There was tension and character development and building and intertwining of different stories, but all of it was real. It all happened. History can make some fantastic fiction, but it can also just make fantastic stories. I guess my best example is the polarized views we tend to get of Communism and the Romanov family. There tends to be a very black and white view of both, either it/they were good or they weren't. But Fleming made sure to show that the Romanov's were people with good traits and bad traits who made bad decisions but weren't necessarily bad people. And she showed how Communism wasn't all terrible or all good, but it was a crucial movement for the Russian people that lead to the adoption of Communism and it wasn't meant to be all bad.

And it was so intricate, entwining the stories of the beginnings of Communism in Russia and Lenin's rise to power, the plight of most Russians, and the royal family. One of the other issues with non-fiction can be a lack of context. It's why generally you need a broad education of the time or place before you can really delve in when taking classes. So having these three different branches in one book were the best way to tell the full story and put everything in perspective.

This was also an incredibly well researched novel. So in-depth. I'm a history nerd and this is one of my preferred time periods, so I did worry I'd know too much and get bored. The first couple pages didn't really reassure me otherwise, either. It started out with a lot of basics about Russian society that I kind of knew, but tend to forget. But I got further into the story and there was definitely stuff I was familiar with, but somethings I had different information about and then so much I'd NEVER known.

Basically, I loved this book. It was incredibly informative, but a fun read. I was constantly turning pages, wondering where Fleming would bring us next, even though I know the basics of the story. It was addicting and wonderful and I highly recommend this for those who love history/historical fiction, but aren't sold on non-fiction and just those who love non-fiction.

And I'm thrilled to say I have a copy to giveaway! You have one week to enter and one person in the US/Canada can get a finished copy of this amazing book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Good luck!


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Review Catch Up Part 3

I did Parts 1 and 2 a while ago, then stopped while trying to actually write reviews. Then last week as I was looking over my to-review list, I realized pretty much everything comes out a bit later...or I don't remember well enough to really review. And now that the shelf is up over 70, it's time to fix it. So, I'm going to keep doing this, one a week, until I get through all the books I really want to make sure gets on your radars.

Huntley Fitzpatrick
Dial Books for Young Readers
[June 14, 2012]

I really, really loved this book. There just aren't enough next-door-neighbor YA romances, and this one also had some Romeo and Juliet-esque elements, as well as some more serious ones. It's a really cute, fun, lovely YA romance, but it's not all light and sunshine either. I'm dying to see what the sequel will be about and Huntley Fitzpatrick is basically an auto-buy now.

Bottom Line: Read it!!!! It's still summer and this is the PERFECT time to read it. And then you can pick up her latest book, which is also quite good. But this is definitely a 5 star read

Kat Zhang
[September 18, 2012]

I remember enjoying this book, but there was something missing in it for me. It was a really interesting premise and I liked the characters. It had all of the elements of things I should like - unique idea, likable characters, twisty, well-written. But there was still something that didn't quite fit. It may have even just been a timing issue. I do have a copy of the sequel (possibly 2, actually) and I do want to read it at some point and try to finish the series.

Bottom Line: Enjoyable, but kind of forgettable and just not perfect for me.

Morgan Matson
Simon & Schuster's Children's Publishing
[May 8, 2012]

Man, this book. I remember just sitting and crying at least once while reading. Morgan Matson is a rock star author and I've adored all of her books, even those semi-written by her. And this one was such a gut punch on top of the phenomenal writing. I really related to the family dynamic, especially since my grandparents' live near the Poconos and we used to vacation in a cabin near them (and we're actually vacationing in the Poconos this year. Weird coincidence). It was just so good and so emotional and an excellent summer read but also an excellent read if you need to cry. A rare but amazing combo.

Bottom Line: You need this in your life.

I think three's enough for now. Tune in next week as I continue attempting to chisel away at my needs-review shelf!



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