Showing posts with label self-published. Show all posts
Showing posts with label self-published. Show all posts

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Refusing to Review Indie + Self Published Books? | YA Talk

If you have a blog I'm sure you've gotten pitches by self-published authors to review their books before.

The first people who reached out to me were mostly small presses and indie authors back when I started blogging. Since then the amount of pitches I get has raised exponentially - so the demand is definitely there.

There are a lot people who look for reviewers.

But what I've noticed is that many bloggers already state in their review policies that they don't review indie and self-published books at all. 

Why do reviewers prefer traditionally published books over self-published/indie books?

I always wondered why - I do get that there is a certain desire to always be on top of new popular releases in this community, but flat out refusing to read books that weren't published by the big five is a little harsh, is it?

I've asked around on my tumblr and received a couple quite interesting answers.

Generally the reasons people have given me were a mixture of:
  • Indie books are low quality
  • Indie authors are disrespectful
  • Indie books aren't interesting enough
  • Readers aren't interested in indie reviews

Even if that were true for the majority of books, is that a reason to doom all indie books?

I do love to review indie and self-published books because I feel like I owe it to the community of writers out there. There are definitely gems out there that I would have never discovered had I refused to read self-published books. 
Many now very popular authors like Kiera Cass and Jennifer L. Armentrout and Amanda Hocking started out as self-published authors. It would be an imposition to try to say that all indie authors are worse writers than traditionally published authors.

Of course you'll have to wade through the mud and read a couple of bad books before you discover something you truly enjoy, but isn't that the case for traditionally published books as well? I've read traditionally published books that were low quality, full of typos, boring, and got me very little views on my reviews before. 

I think it's definitely wrong and a little shameful to just refuse reading books that aren't traditionally published. I haven't heard a single reason that I actually consider valid, to be honest. Give indie authors a chance, guys. 

Do you review indie books? Why/why not?

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Friday, December 2, 2016

I'll ONLY Review Indie + Self-Published Books For 2 Weeks This December! | #ReadIndie

I know there are quite a couple of great self-published and indie books out there and I have enjoyed a lot of them. 

So I decided to dedicate one month reading time ONLY to reading those books and I'm joining Tracy & Christina's #ReadIndie challenge.

What does this mean?
  • You won't be finding ANY reviews of traditionally published books on my social media for the first two weeks of December.
  • That there will be more reviews than usual. Every second post will now be a review and will have the label #ReadIndie on it, so you know from the get go that it's an indie book!
Description of #ReadIndie from Cornerfolds:
So what is #ReadIndie all about? This isn't necessarily a read-a-thon. Instead, the challenge is simply to post indie reviews for two weeks in place of the reviews you would normally post. However, each review you post and link up will gain you an extra entry into an indie book giveaway! This is ALL about spreading the word about incredible authors who don't necessarily get the hype that they deserve.


To dedicate two weeks to only reviewing indie books because there still seems to be a stigma around them that's very much undeserved. Hopefully you'll find a couple books that sound intriguing to you this month and I manage to maybe inspire you to read more indie books or even join the challenge yourself.

What this doesn't mean:
  • That I'll give better ratings to indie books than they deserve. I'll still publish honest reviews, I'm not going to gift a good to rating to anyone. 
  • That I won't publish any other posts. There'll still be discussions and memes, and the usual stuff you're used to seeing on my blog. If you don't care for indie books, just skip the reviews!
  • That this is the only time I'll be reading indie books (I'll still continue accepting review requests for indie books and I'll still continue to write reviews for them)


  • Amazon gift cards
  • Signed copies of Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum
  • Physical copies & eBooks of The Bound Series by Stormy Smith
  • Physical copies & eBooks of Recoil by Joanne Macgregor
  • Physical copies of The Outlaw Series books 1 & 2 by Alan Janney
  • Physical copies & eBooks of Just a Few Inches by Tara St. Pierre

... and apparently there are going to be a lot more!

So sign up for #ReadIndie over at Cornerfolds and join us!

Have you read any good indie books lately? 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

[Review] Angelfall (Penryn & The End of Days #1) - Susan Ee: Angels and the Apocalypse

In ANGELFALL, the world has been destroyed by angels and people are forced to hide in the ruins of their cities. 

What intrigued me: Angels. I missed the angel hype a couple of years ago and am now in full obsession mode.

A typical post-apocalyptic dystopia

The setting of ANGELFALL isn't much different from what you'd expect from a dystopia, and the only thing that makes this world differ from the usual apocalyptic wasteland in YA, is the occasional angel flying above their heads.

It's a survival story at the core, a lot of walking, a lot of stalling time. Naturally, this isn't always easy to read, I caught myself skimming the generic descriptions of building ruins and empty streets and litter. The scenery is so generic that it almost doesn't need any descriptions at all if you've ever seen a post-apocalyptic movie in your life.

I longed for every little bit of explanation about the angels that didn't quite come. With novels with supernatural elements that are out there in the open in the real world, it's very important to me to understand how this happened. The only glimpse we get is that Penryn mentions that the messenger of God Gabriel came down to Earth and was immediately shot. That's it. Very frustrating, generally the book just throws things that happen at you and doesn't explain a lot, probably a technique to make people buy the second book. And yeah, I shamefully have to admit, it works.

Thank the heavens (or not?) for a realistic romance plot

Ee absolutely had me hooked through the character of the angel Raffe. Penryn's and his dynamics are hilariously wonderful and his dry humor and arrogance incredibly entertaining. Of course we have some obligatory side romance, but it's very subtle. 

The first time in a long time that I actually thought to myself that this story could really happen. It's very realistic, they actually take time to even just not be awkward in conversation. No premature declarations of love here. They don't even really care about the other one surviving this whole ordeal until 60% in. It's refreshing to see a relationship and friendship(!) develop at a realistic pace.

Another thing that absolutely needs to be mentioned is the ableism in this one. I was so happy to see a wheelchair user in the form of Penryn's little sister. This is a magical cure narrative. If you're a wheelchair user looking for representation, this isn't the book to pick. I'm extremely disappointed with Ee making that decision and it severely impacts my rating and opinion of this book.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

ANGELFALL is easily one of the better dystopias out there, however it could use some more world building and is ableist. Leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

Additional Info

Published: August 28th 2012
Pages: 288
Publisher: Skyscape 
Genre: YA / Dystopia
ISBN: 9781444778519

"It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again."(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite book about angels?

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are you awkward about getting Review Requests from Authors? | Book Blogging Tips (#44)

Even though I don't really mean to be, I have to admit I'm super awkward about getting review requests by authors. This is 100% on me.

Most experiences I've made so far were delightful and I ended up liking most of the books that were offered to me by their authors.

But what if I hadn't?


How do I phrase politely that I absolutely hated your novel and wrote a 300 word review about how much I hated it? Even though I feel like my reviewing style is at that point where even negative criticism is phrased respectfully, I'm sure no author wants to read this about their book. And yea, indie authors read reviews. I know they do because I get reactions to the reviews from them once I have sent the links over...!

I still want to review books that are offered to me by the authors, I think it's a great opportunity and I like that they are so approachable, but sometimes I just wish there was more .... distance. I wish I didn't have to bite my nails feeling ashamed. I wish I would stare at my email account, just waiting for one author to absolutely flip out when I send over a bad review. That stuff happens. 

Last year an author actually tracked down someone who gave them a negative review and wrote an article in The Guardian about this, not seeing what's wrong with that. Since I read that article I've been extra picky with accepting books for review that weren't offered through a publishing house.


Heck yea, I am. I'm scared of getting negative reviews, possibly managing to agitate a black sheep that turns out to be a psychopath. Things like this are known to happen. Remember that author who tracked down a reviewer and hit them over the head with a bottle? I'm flat out scared to get my face slashed by someone that didn't like my opinion. Is this far-fetched? Maybe

The thing is, while this probably, very likely *knock on wood* won't happen to me, there's always the possibility. The easiest solution would be to only work with big publishers then and completely cut off any contact with authors that isn't going through their publicists first. Well. I don't know if that really is a solution. 
  • I want to read indie books, 
  • I want to talk to authors, 
  • I want to see their reactions to nice reviews, 
... but there's always going to be this little voice inside my head that will tell me to keep this or that sentence out of my review.

It will tell me to censor my review a little more, which I definitely wouldn't have done if the book were offered to me through a publicist.

While I do know that not every author can afford a publicist and/or it doesn't make sense for everyone, sometimes I wish there was a puffer person. 

Am I weird or are you also awkward about getting review requests from authors?

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Monday, March 14, 2016

[Review] Trick - Natalia Jaster: Wit, Poetry, and Princesses

In TRICK, Princess Briar is determined to expose the arrogant Court Jester Poet, because she thinks he has a secret.

What intrigued me: Recommendation from friends.

Diversity in High Fantasy! Hallelujah!

TRICK won my sympathy very early on with its beautiful portrayal of sexually and ethnically diverse characters. It's very rare to find this in High Fantasy and it had me squealing with excitement. Jaster's characters feel absolutely real, from the way they talk to the way they present themselves. You won't find any generic YA stereotypes in here.

Princess Briar is a character that I very much identified with. I love how her mixed feelings for Poet are first expressed through frustration and anger. It's so refreshing not to see a heroine that's immediately melting into a puddle of goo at the sight of her love interest. I absolutely enjoyed her chapters, but I also liked Poet's. It's hard to choose here, I loved getting inside his head, to know what this insanely mysterious guy is thinking, but again, I struggled a little with the writing. 

TRICK is undoubtedly written lyrically, beautifully. Jaster is an insanely talented writer, but it's also very hard to get into the writing when you're not used to it. I'm not a fan of poetic writing personally and struggled with understanding and paying attention to Poet's lines. This isn't the book's fault, it's mostly personal preference. It truly fits Poet's character to speak like this, lyrically, poetically, but it made it hard to just let the pages fly by and get lost in the writing for me. 

Too much world building?

The thing that makes me knock off one star of my rating would be the world building then. I just didn't get it. There were too many things introduced very quickly. 
I did understand the basis of these four seasons-themed kingdoms, but I'm not a fan of this concept generally, which reminds me a lot of SNOW LIKE ASHES, and I would have wished for the novel to just leave this out because the story can definitely stand on its own if it would take place in a regular fantasy world.
With a stand-alone, too much world building is usually just ruining the experience a little for me. However, the characters just make this work and TRICK is truly a unique and magical novel that I'm sure will be even more enjoyable for high fantasy fans.  




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I think within the genre TRICK definitely stands out through the wonderfully diverse characters and the writing. If you're a fan of high fantasy, this is your pick.

Additional Info

Published: November 4th 2015
Pages: 310
Publisher: Createspace (self-published)
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9781517494957

"There is a rule amongst his kind: A jester doesn’t lie.

In the kingdom of Whimtany, Poet is renowned. He’s young and pretty, a lover of men and women. He performs for the court, kisses like a scoundrel, and mocks with a silver tongue.

Yet allow him this: It’s only the most cunning, most manipulative soul who can play the fool. For Poet guards a secret. One the Crown would shackle him for. One that he’ll risk everything to protect.

Alas, it will take more than clever words to deceive Princess Briar. Convinced that he’s juggling lies as well as verse, this righteous nuisance of a girl is determined to expose him.

But not all falsehoods are fiendish. Poet’s secret is delicate, binding the jester to the princess in an unlikely alliance . . . and kindling a breathless attraction, as alluring as it is forbidden."(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite High Fantasy read?

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

[Review] Pearl - Deirdre Riordan Hall: Rock star moms, boarding schools, and Frida Kahlo

In PEARL, the daughter of a rock star turned drug addict gets sent to a boarding school.

What intrigued me: The beautiful cover.

A very unique premise

PEARL starts off beautifully, intriguingly. The setting is unique, you don't read about addiction in YA very often, even less when it's about aging rock stars. It's fascinating to dive into this foreign world and Riordan Hall absolutely manages to make this bizarre scenario seem realistic, not over the top, and tragically exciting. 
I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning, getting to know Pearl and her mother JJ. 

I would have loved to see PEARL continue in this direction, to see what life is like for Pearl with her addict mother and her abusive boyfriend. PEARL takes a direction that just isn't for me. I'm not a fan of boarding school novels and I feel like much potential is wasted here by ditching the superb premise and simply turning the novel into one of those "story of a girl" coming-of-age ones. At the boarding school, the novel slips into cliches, losing most of its unique and interesting basic idea. 

Beautiful, beautiful writing

I didn't root as much for the protagonist Pearl as I would have liked, mainly because I never quite developed a connection to her. Though the novel is written from her perspective, it feels like you're watching from above, Pearl just seems like a vessel for the story, for the reader.

I am absolutely a fan of Riordan Hall's writing. Her writing gives the novel a very specific tone and voice that makes it stand out: This isn't a regular quickly read contemporary novel per se - the characters feel more mature, almost shamelessly honest. It surely isn't light reading. Because this novel isn't commercial fiction per se, you'll have to expect slower pacing, less stakes, less loud action. PEARL is a rather quiet read, a character study, but very much worth the read.

PEARL bounces back and forth between literary and commercial, sometimes light and dorky, sometimes so shockingly thought-provoking that you have to put the book down and think for a moment. 




Overall: Do I Recommend?

PEARL is a beautifully written and thought-provoking novel. It couldn't quite win my heart with the characters as I'd hoped, but the writing is absolutely promising, making it worth the read.

Additional Info

Published: March 1st 2016
Pages: 352
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781503948587

"Run fast and run far, unless you’re fearless. Unless you’re courageous. I’m not, but I’d like to be.

Pearl Jaeger is seventeen and homeless after drugs, poverty, and addiction unraveled the life she shared with JJ, her formerly glamorous rock star mother.

This moment of happiness is fleeting; someone will take it from me. 

When tragedy brings a chance to start over at an elite boarding school, she doesn’t hesitate. Yet the only salvation comes from an art teacher as troubled as Pearl, and she faces the stark reality that what she thought she wanted isn’t straightforward.

I trace the outline of my reflection in a window. I am no more than a replica of my mother. This is not the self-portrait I want to paint.

Through the friendships she forms at school—especially with Grant, a boy who shows Pearl what it means to trust and forgive—she begins to see a path not defined by her past. But when confronted with the decision to be courageous or to take the easy way forged by her mother’s failures, which direction will Pearl choose?"(Source: Goodreads)

Do you like boarding school novels?

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Friday, March 4, 2016

[Review] Monsterland - Michael Phillip Cash: Jurassic Park - Now With Vampires and Zombies!

In MONSTERLAND, Wyatt is invited to the opening of a theme park showcasing vampires, werewolves, zombies, and many more terrifying creatures.

What intrigued me: Excellent blurb and premise.

Poor writing and flat characters

The premise of MONSTERLAND is pretty much an accident waiting to happen. It's very reminiscent of Jurassic Park, but ultimately the premise couldn't quite be fulfilled to the extent that I would've liked - mainly because of the writing. I found it too descriptive, from lengthy landscape descriptions to changes in point of view and flat characters. All characters are very much clich├ęs, act predictably and are involuntarily, almost cringe-worthily funny while doing so.

My least favorite thing are the frequent changes in POV that just make it impossible to sympathize with the characters. Generally this novel would have benefited tremendously from being written from person's POV. 

Generic and not scary

While I was initially intrigued by the blurb, there isn't much more to this novel than that. It's very predictable. Following the example of the Jurassic Park movies, MONSTERLAND never quite manages to develop originality and it just isn't flattering. Even the very generic, poorly-written villain couldn't improve this. I was hoping to be scared, to have that eerie feel from the Jurassic Park movies, maybe even the occasional jump scare. Overall, I wasn't scared, I wasn't even remotely unsettled, which was what I was hoping to get from MONSTERLAND.

For me, MONSTERLAND isn't able to stand on its own, always overshadowed by the so much better movies which clearly were the inspiration for this.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

MONSTERLAND has a nice idea, but absolutely fails in the execution. I would love to see this topic executed once more, but with better writing.

Additional Info

Published: 2015
Pages: 284
Publisher: Createspace
Genre: YA / Horror
ISBN: 9781517180676

"Welcome to Monsterland – the scariest place on Earth. All guests can interact with real vampires in Vampire Village, be chased by an actual werewolf on the River Run, and walk among the dead in Zombieville.
Wyatt Baldwin, a high school student and life-long movie buff is staring bleakly at a future of flipping burgers. Due to a fortuitous circumstance, Wyatt and his friends are invited to the star-studded opening of Monsterland. In a theme park full of real vampires, werewolves and zombies, what could possibly go wrong? "(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite horror novel?

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

How I Pick Which Books I Request For Review | Book Blogging Tips (#39)

If you have the luxury of getting requests by authors and publishers, you also have to choose which ones to read and which offers to decline.

Here's a list of things that I take into consideration when I'm looking at a review request.

For a bigger list of DON'Ts when pitching books to bloggers, click here.

#1: Form
You probably know already that I'm not a fan of mass emails.
Unless they're coming from a big publisher and I've subscribed to their mail list/newsletter, I usually delete these immediately. Everything addressed to "Dear Blogger" etc. remains unread and gets deleted.

#2: Genre
I go through phases where I read a bunch of books in one genre and am absolutely not interested in anything else. Even if my favorite author has a new book out and it's not in a genre that I'm into right now, I probably won't read the book. It's arbitrary sometimes and has nothing to do with the quality of the work that's offered to me.

#3: Synopsis
If the form is impeccable, the genre is something that I'm interested in right now, the synopsis really has to get to me. If you've got a good pitch, I'm absolutely interested. It's important to have a good pitch, your book can be exactly up my alley, but if you've got a bunch of typos and didn't really put any effort in this, I'm just moving on.

#4: Amazon Preview!
My favorite feature. That's why I ask for official links in my review policy. If available, I always make use of the preview feature. If the form, genre, and synopsis are just right, the last obstacle is the preview. If I like writing style, I'm going to request! I don't request books that didn't make me want to desperately continue reading, the better the preview, the more intrigued am I! Cliffhangers are a plus here!

Niche Markets
If I've liked several books about a super specific genre lately, I'll probably try to get my hands on everything related to that. That's why it's always a good idea to look at my social media accounts and check what I've been reading lately. 

I've read books from that author before
There are some talented writers out there (not necessarily big names, also indie writers!!) who have just impressed me so much with their writing that I'll request their books no matter the genre or the mood. If you've received a good review from me once, there's a very high chance I'll turn a blind eye on my review policy and even try something I usually don't read.

How do you pick which books you review?

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Monday, January 4, 2016

[Review] The Quest for Integrity - Jaswinder Singh

THE QUEST FOR INTEGRITY is an enthralling tale about politics in modern-day India; about corruption versus integrity. It's set against the background of the Bank of the Nation and a worker's union made up of its employees. 

What intrigued me: I'm a huge politics nerd and a book about the gritty details of the dealings of a bank with its union is just my thing.

Characters lack personality

I've always been interested in politics and this is such a detail-oriented tale about corruption and the struggle against it that I just couldn't put it down. The various intrigues of the characters who only think of their own gain are fascinating to uncover.

The big setback of this novel are sadly the characters themselves. I love to connect with the characters of the books I read but this time it just didn't happen. Basically, there are only three types of characters: the good ones, the bad ones, and the ones that are good but made to behave in bad ways.
A little less black-and-white thinking wouldn't have hurt.

Plus, in the beginning I really stumbled over the way they talk. Their speech seems unnaturally formal and sometimes even stilted. This only adds to the characters' obvious lack of personality. Though I did get used to the way everyone speaks after a while, it's hard to identify or at least emphasize with the characters. I didn't really care all that much about who wins or loses.  

This novel leaves you thinking

Singh really knows how to pace. The plot develops at the perfect speed and before you know it, you're in the middle of it. I loved that the events slowly but surely escalated. At first the power struggles are expressed mostly verbally, but they quickly spread over into actions. The way the characters trip down the lane of their own lies and deceptions is absolutely fascinating.

THE QUEST FOR INTEGRITY is insanely philosophical. Don't mistake it for some light entertaining reading – this novel wants to make you think and it will. Ever so often, a line would make me pause, put down the book and really consider it for a while. The plot serves mainly to illustrate the ethical issues the book is exploring: the way power corrupts. Here, the book makes up for its cardboard characters. It reads like a Medieval Morality Play, with good struggling against evil, the characters serving only as representations of that. This feeling to it is what sets it apart from other books.

While the novel isn't easy reading, the topic got me hooked and the clean simple writing had me turning the pages.



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Yes – but: I'd only recommend this novel to someone who is inherently interested in politics like I am. If that's your thing, do pick up this novel because you'll love it. If it's not, I'm sorry to say but this won't be the novel to get you interested in it either.



Additional Info

Original Title: The Quest for Integrity
Author: Jaswinder Singh
Published: January 27th 2013
Pages: 300
Medium: ebook
Genre: Adult / Literary
ISBN: 9781481203876

"A noble, accomplished man named Purshottam Gill is chosen to replace the latest in a line of negligent managers at the Amlawar branch of India’s nationalized bank. As he attempts to improve the branch’s performance and raise employee morale, he becomes hindered by corrupt trade union officials, politicians, and even some of the bank’s senior officers. He soon discovers that top union leaders control not just the bank, but the politics of his country, causing its citizens to live under fear and great hardships. 

Having come from a life of poverty and disease, Neki Lal, the union leader for Purshottam’s bank, values money and success above all else. Viewing Purshottam’s integrity as a threat, Neki begins a deceptive and corrupt campaign to try and intimidate Purshottam and remove him from his position at the bank. And Purshottam’s loyal employees have no choice but to follow the union directive.

As Neki Lal and his supporters begin to take over the branch, deception and manipulation reign supreme in a battle of good and evil that will forever change the lives of everyone involved.

A riveting tale of power and corruption, The Quest for Integrity is a thought-provoking and inspiring story that illustrates the importance of dignity, morality, and social responsibility.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Do you like books about politics?

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