Sunday, September 30, 2018

Weekly Recap: 9/23 - 9/29


Hi everyone! This has been a busy and honestly kind of stressful week. I had a bit of an overuse injury in one leg from running and had to take four days off, which was awful. This is hilarious to me from 6 months ago who HATED running, but I feel like I've been set back because now I'm trying to take things slower in order to avoid the same thing happening. Alas. I think the hearings and news from Thursday and Friday were probably stressful for everyone, but hopefully things will level back off soon (maybe?). Finally, I spend a couple days dog sitting and madly scrambling to get candles made! I did finish reading the Wicked King and may be the only person I know who didn't love it. Just another entry in the Black Sheep's club, I suppose.


Nothing new this week!




The topic was faves I need to read for Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday ARC Review of The Boneless Mercies
On Friday I talked about how NOT to request reviews



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Thursday, September 27, 2018

How not to request reviews and six thing you should be doing

A few years ago I posted on the blog about how frustrating it is to realize authors don't take the time to read review policies before sending requests (you can find that post here). In the time since then, I've realized that expecting an author to look at a review policy is a fantasy and I've moved on. I've passed denial and anger and now I'm into acceptance and laughing at the ridiculous requests that come through my inbox. Today's post is a mixture of asking you to laugh with me combined with a how-not-to for any authors who stumble this way.

Dear authors,

When you open your email and begin composing a message to ask a blogger to review your book, there are some things you should consider.

First, have you read the blogger's review policy? Like I said, I've accepted that most people won't but you could set yourself apart! The review policy is usually clearly located in the nav bar and usually includes genres a blogger enjoys and those they don't. It will also usually plainly state whether they're accepting review copies. If they aren't, please move to the next blogger.

Another important thing to keep in mind is what you're asking. When you email with a request, you're asking a total stranger to take the time out of their day(s) to read a 300+ page book, possibly take notes, and construct a thoughtful review. Courtesy goes a long way. Let's take a look at an example:

Immediately when I opened this email, I saw "Hi." When asking a stranger to do something for you for free, it is a good idea to take the time to find out and use their name. This is a pet peeve of mine and something I've noticed a surprising number of authors do. Even when I send my own requests to publishers, if I can find a name, I use it.

It's also somewhat strange to me when an author words an email in a way that assumes I will accept the request. Just because a copy of a book is provided does not mean that I will have the time to read it. Honestly, maybe just offer a free book if they're interested rather than including the book IN the email.

Next, when submitting a review request, always make sure what you're typing makes at least some sense related to the actual reviewer you're talking to. Here is an example:

The first thing to notice is that this author did actually take the time to find out my name, which I greatly appreciate! The first paragraph is somewhat informative, but the second goes off the rails. I did review Reawakened - I gave it one star. For some reason, this author assumed that meant I enjoyed it and that I would also enjoy his book. (Or more likely, he saw that I reviewed Reawakened but didn't even take time to look at the rating.) But even if I did enjoy Reawakened, how does that relate to his book? He gives me no information whatsoever on how they're related.

Now that I look again, neither of these authors actually took the time to tell me WHY I would enjoy their books. The first author said I'd reviewed a book of the same genre, but didn't tell me WHAT genre. The second told me I'd like his book since I liked Reawakened, but didn't say why he thought so. I mean? He did at least have a good last sentence.

In closing, here are six key things you should be doing if you're submitting a review request:

1) Find out the reviewer's name and use it.
2) Give some details about your book that will actually make them want to read it.
3) If comparing it to a book they reviewed, make sure they actually liked it.
4) Offer a free copy IF they're interested.
5) Don't close the email by assuming they're going to review your book.
6) Thank them for their time.

A blogger and reviewer

I understand that a lot of these emails come from independently published authors and I can see why they're eager for reviews. I do try to be understanding and take the time to find out if I'm interested (if I have time), even though my review policy clearly states that I'm not accepting review copies. I'm sure that some of them are not personalized because these authors send a ton of emails! But all things considered, at least using the name of the person receiving the request doesn't seem like too much to ask.

What is the most bizarre request you've received?
Do you have any review request pet peeves?
Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

ARC Review: The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: The Boneless Mercies
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke

Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Pages: 384
Add to Goodreads

A dark and gorgeously drawn standalone YA fantasy about a band of mercenary girls in search of female glory. Won in a major six-house auction!

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies—girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life.

When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies' one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. In fact, her actions may change the story arc of women everywhere.

Full of fierce girls, bloodlust, tenuous alliances, and unapologetic quests for glory, this elegantly spun tale challenges the power of storytelling—and who gets to be the storyteller. Perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater, V.E. Schwab, and Heidi Heilig.

The Boneless Mercies caught my eye first with its gorgeous cover, then with its haunting synopsis. This book is unique in the way that I always expect anything by April Genevieve Tucholke to be. It's a bit slow and strange and dark, but always interesting. Although I didn't realize at first that this was a Beowulf retelling, I can confidently say it's an amazing genderbent reimagining!

Frey is the main character of this story, although it's really about all the Mercies. I was worried at first that I wouldn't be able to keep up with all the characters, since I tend to have a hard time remembering character names, but each one was unique enough to stand out. The girls have been living and roaming together, working as Boneless Mercies for years. It's their job to bring death to those who seek it. I loved each of them for different reasons, although my favorites were Frey and Juniper, a Sea Witch.

Speaking of Sea Witches, I loved all of the different elements of this world. It would have been simpler to create a Norse-inspired world that only touched on the expected, but the larger mythology Tucholke creates is amazing. I loved the different trials and stories woven in! The world building, while vast, is thankfully not infodumpy.

Most of this book is the lead up to the encounter with the Grendel creature and consists of the aforementioned trials. Once Frey and the Mercies decide to face the monster, they encounter a number of obstacles that they're forced to overcome, always bringing them back to death in some way. And while dealing in the death trade sounds like it might be a bit tough for a YA book, but the subject was handled in a way that never made it seem overly morbid. I really appreciated the way that death was dealt with as just another part of life. The build up did feel a little slow at times, but it paid off in the last third.

One of the things I really enjoyed about The Boneless Mercies was the way the relationships between all the characters were written. There was a boy in the midst from the beginning and another later on, but there was never really one "ship," nor was there a love triangle. All the characters just seemed to flow where they wanted to. There was no jealousy or possessiveness, which is something you don't see often in books. Like I said, everything about this book was unique.

I can definitely see why this book won't be for everyone. It's slow and meandering and the action really takes a bit to pick up, but I think it makes up for it in world building and character development. The Boneless Mercies has the feeling of a Norse poem and it's a bit magical. I definitely recommend it to fans of Beowulf or dark, creepy fairy tales.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #206: Faves I need to read

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books By My Favorite Authors That 
I Still Haven’t Read or Can't Wait to Get My Hands On

Today's topic was actually a challenge for me, mostly because when a favorite author releases a new book I usually read it immediately... which means I don't have many TBR books from my faves. This week on my blog, favorite = I've read at least a couple of their books and loved them! Some on the list are upcoming books from my all-time faves that I can't wait to get my hands on! 

Alone by Scott Sigler
Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke
The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
Endless Water, Starless Sky by Rosamund Hodge
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd

The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Slayer by Kiersten White
Stain by A.G. Howard
Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Weekly Recap: 9/16 - 9/22


Hi everyone! This has been a super busy week but not a bad one! I did some dog sitting, ran a few miles, listened to a few audiobooks, and even found time to go to the Food and Wine Festival again for a couple hours. I'm also diving back into candle making for another couple weeks in preparation for October. I also signed up for the Fraterfest Readathon! This is super ambitious for me because I have a tendency to fail miserably at them, but I decided a spooky book readathon might be just the thing to make me finally meet a goal! Speaking of goals, I completed this year's Audiobook Reading Challenge this month! I only signed up for a few this year, but it looks like I might actually complete them all! What a nice change from 2017!






Monday ARC review of The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
The topic was my Fall TBR for Top Ten Tuesday
On Wednesday I went back down the TBR hole
Friday DNF ARC review of Black Wings Beating
On Saturday I talked about some book cover glow ups



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Saturday, September 22, 2018

Four popular books that got huge makeovers

Have you ever seen a book that was just so ugly you had no desire to pick it up? I have readily admitted several times that I judge books by their covers. I know, I know. We shouldn't do it, but I can't help it! Sometimes these hideous books are lucky enough to get new covers that breathe new life into them and bring a new audience. These are four that started out rather unfortunately but ended up being popular after they had a makeover. 

Eragon started out as an indie book, written by Christopher Paolini when he was just a teenager. Of course, the book, published through his parents' independent publishing company, did not have the prettiest of covers to start with. Shortly after it was published, it was picked up by a major publisher and given a makeover. It may not be the prettiest book, but it's certainly a huge improvement and fits the feel of the story a bit better, I think.

Let me start by saying that I HATED this book! But even I can appreciate how much better the newer cover is. Honestly, I have no clue what she was thinking when that first one was designed. I did read it years ago and I have no idea how that cover fits the book at all. This is another case of a Big 5 publisher picking up an independently published book, and thank goodness they did. Yikes.

Apparently, Call Me By Your Name wasn't popular at all before the movie came out. According to Wikipedia it had sold under 1000 copies before the movie in 2017. I'll admit it wasn't even on my radar before I saw the movie, so I definitely believe it! The new cover is a movie tie in, but anything is better than the original. Surprisingly, this is the only book on this list that wasn't independently published to begin with. 

This is another book I really didn't care for (and another indie published one), but the new cover was 100% what made me want to read it. I had seen the original cover for The Siren on Kiera's Goodreads profile, but had no interest in it solely based on how ugly it was. When it was re-published by Harper with a gorgeous new cover, I was sucked in. Unfortunately, it was still really disappointing. 

Do you judge books by their covers? 
What's the ugliest book you've ever read? 
Let me know in the comments!
Friday, September 21, 2018

Mini DNF ARC Review: Black Wings Beating

Title: Black Wings Beating (Skybound #1)
Author: Alex London
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 432
Add to Goodreads

//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review//
The people of Uztar have long looked to the sky with hope and wonder. Nothing in their world is more revered than the birds of prey and no one more honored than the falconers who call them to their fists.

Brysen strives to be a great falconer--while his twin sister, Kylee, rejects her ancient gifts for the sport and wishes to be free of falconry. She's nearly made it out, too, but a war is rolling toward their home in the Six Villages, and no bird or falconer will be safe.

Together the twins must journey into the treacherous mountains to trap the Ghost Eagle, the greatest of the Uztari birds and a solitary killer. Brysen goes for the boy he loves and the glory he's long craved, and Kylee to atone for her past and to protect her brother's future. But both are hunted by those who seek one thing: power.

Black Wings Beating was one of my most anticipated books of this year! It's gorgeous and the synopsis sounds so unique! I was thrilled to receive it in the mail earlier this year. Once I started reading it though, I quickly realized it wasn't going to be the book for me.

I don't have a ton to say about Black Wings Beating, but the main point I took away was that if you are not interested in birds and falconry, you may not love this book. I slogged through the first few chapters and there was just SO much bird talk. I guess I should've guessed as much from the things I mentioned drew me in, but I really didn't think it was literally going to be primarily a bird book.

The characters also weren't captivating enough to keep me interested. It's possible that they could've pulled me in had I kept at it, but Brysen seemed impulsive and annoying, and Kylee just didn't make a huge impression. I do like that the main characters were siblings, though.

Apart from the focus on the birds, the world building was interesting, if a bit of an info dump. The mythology surrounding the two clans was unique and in the bit that I read of this book I did find it to be well written. Sadly, these things weren't enough to keep me reading. If you love birds, you'll probably love this book! I just couldn't get into it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #4

Hi again! This week I'm back with five more books from my ever growing TBR list. Perhaps not surprisingly, there's another Disney book in the bunch, but my YA preferences are slowly becoming more apparent at this point in my TBR. It's interesting to see how my reading preferences changed as my TBR grew!

The Down the TBR Hole meme was started by Lost In a Story and it is the most perfect tool for cleaning off shelves that I've come across. Here's how it works:
  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?



First of all, I was always under the impression that this was a retelling and I have no idea why. Apparently it's a historical fiction/time traveling book. After reading some reviews, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I don't really read historical fiction and the reviews talk about instalove and slow pacing. On the other hand... Actually, I think I'll just go with the first hand on this one. VERDICT: PASS


I feel like I've been whining about wanting more dystopian books for awhile now and I kind of forgot this one existed. However, MC reviewed this book on Cornerfolds and, well, she hated it. The word "savage" is also used to describe the darker skinned character on the cover and that's pretty yikesy. Then again, I can't find any reviews mentioning it as an issue in the book itself. And SO MANY reviewers I trust liked this one. Still, a lot of the reviews say this isn't a true dystopian book, so I think I'll skip it for now. VERDICT: PASS


A Disney book! Who's shocked? This one is specifically about architecture and I think that could make for a super interesting read. It includes the architecture of their corporate offices in addition to the parks, but I guess I could just skip over those pages. The reviews say this also includes the architecture of Celebration, Florida! Now I just need to locate a copy. VERDICT: KEEP


This book apparently has no connection to the movie by the same name (and with a very similar synopsis), but I am still very intrigued by it! I was pulled in by the blurb then and I'm still super curious now. This book is about something being discovered in a cave, a labyrinth full of another race of beings, and it sounds so good! VERDICT: KEEP


I know that one of you prompted me to put this on my TBR. Was it you, Jessica? While it does sound interesting, I've realized over the years that urban fantasy just isn't my genre. I've kept it around just in case the mood ever struck, but I just don't think I'll ever read it! VERDICT: PASS

Once again, I've purged three books from my TBR. Never mind that I accidentally added a few more in the last week... Oops.

What have you added or deleted from your TBR lately?
Let me know in the comments! 
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #205: Fall 2018 TBR

Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Books On My Fall 2018 TBR

It's that time of year again when I get to share the Fall releases I'm excited to read! There are so many good books coming out that it was hard to pick just ten! Perhaps not surprisingly, the fantasy binge continues. Authors, please write dystopian books! 

Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
The Cursed Sea by Lauren DeStefano
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth
Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Monday, September 17, 2018

ARC Review: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author: Kiersten White
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 304
Add to Goodreads

Elizabeth Lavenza hasn't had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her "caregiver," and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything--except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable--and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth's survival depends on managing Victor's dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

I will admit that I have never read the original Frankenstein. I know, it's embarrassing, but I've seen and read enough retellings that I feel like I have an okay grasp on the story. Even if I didn't, I absolutely would have picked up this book as soon as humanly possible because I am obsessed with everything Kiersten White writes after falling in love with And I Darken.

This Frankenstein retelling focuses on Elizabeth, a young orphan who is taken in by Victor Frankenstein's family in order to befriend him and keep him out of trouble. Elizabeth does whatever she can throughout the story to make herself useful and irreplaceable in the Frankenstein household. I found Elizabeth to be a character who was morally gray and extremely interesting. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I loved her, but I was definitely intrigued by her motives and sympathized with her fierce need to belong.

Victor Frankenstein is about what you would expect. He's passionate and dark and and a bit terrifying. He has a very intense desire to conquer death, which leads to some extremely questionable, horrific actions. Elizabeth and Victor together were all kinds of disturbing and this book makes no effort to hide it. Although it's clear that they love each other, it is definitely in a very unusual and possibly toxic way. I still found myself rooting for them, at least for part of the time.

There were other characters along this journey who were all fantastic and Frankenstein's Monster was fantastic! I thought the writing was beautiful and the world was atmospheric. The story was interesting and different enough from any other I've read to keep me intrigued. All that said, there was one big issue I had with this book and that was the pacing in the first 60% of it.

In And I Darken, a very large chunk of the book was devoted to telling you how the characters became who they were. Because that book was nearly 500 pages long and part of a trilogy, it worked for me. Something very similar happened in this book, but Elizabeth Frankenstein is 300 pages long and a standalone, which made getting through the first 200 pages incredibly tedious. Had this book been by an author I didn't know I loved, I would have given up on it. Luckily, the last third made up for it and presented an incredible story. If you happen to love character driven books, you'll probably love it start to finish!

The ending of this book is very different than the ending of the original Frankenstein, which is perfectly alright with me since this is a retelling. I really enjoyed the ending and would love to see what happens next! The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a unique take on a story that has been told a million times. If you're a fan of the Frankenstein story or gothic horror in general, I would recommend this.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Weekly Recap: 9/9 - 9/15


Hi everyone! First of all, I hope everyone in the path of the hurricane this week is safe and has air conditioning! I've spent a few days following the storm and talking to family members who were affected. Luckily so far, so good! This week I completed my Platform 9 3/4k race, which was a lot of fun (surprisingly)! I've also been talking details for my friend's upcoming wedding. I'm so excited to be there for it! In my reading life, I gave up on Escaping From Houdini after learning that the finished copy has a completely different ending. :/ I guess I'll be waiting for the audiobook of that one. In addition to the new books I added this week, I also got the UK Waking Gods ARC to add to my collection! I'm so close to having them all!






Monday DNF ARC review of A Blade So Black
The topic was hidden gems for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday audiobook review of The Dead & the Gone
On Friday I talked about adaptations that need to be made
Things got spooky for Saturday Screen Time



We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!