Reviews

Epic Read: In This Land by Matthew Haldeman-Time

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 5/5

World building: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

In This Land Summary (taken from the website):

Bade, prince of the tiny, overlooked country of Nosupolis, doesn’t have a plan for his life. His ambitious older brother Tiko, heir to the throne, seems to have everything under control without Bade or his twin brother’s help. Bade hopes to marry well and find some way to be a credit to the crown, but never in his wildest dreams does he expect an invitation to court the Pharaoh of Orina Anoris, the divine ruler of the most powerful country in the world. Bade always thought that Tiko would be the one to change their homeland for the better, but now he has a chance to wed the pharaoh, ally their two nations through marriage, and do more for Nosupolis than anyone in centuries. Suddenly whisked away by Prince Orinakin, royal diplomat and handsome purple-haired child of the gods, Bade finds himself in an exotic land that dazzles his senses and opens his eyes like never before. The people of Orina Anoris are uninhibited, expressive, flirtatious, and don’t seem to know the meaning of sexual repression. The handsome Seven Siblings are no exception. Boyfriends, lovers, harems–it boggles Bade’s mind to witness a freedom he never even imagined. But the endless parade of beautiful men pales in comparison to the Pharaoh Anosukinom. Tall, gorgeous, and physically flawless, Anosukinom’s beauty is literally perfection. And if that weren’t enough, the rumors are true: he really is both god and man. Crackling with power, intimidating yet friendly, he is as unconventional as he is traditionally Anorian. Daunted in the face of his divinity, Bade isn’t sure if he can win the heart of a deity, but at the very least he hopes to bring attention to the plight of his ignored, forgotten country. After being exposed to a vibrant, colorful new world, nights of sizzling passion, and the possibilities of true love, how can Bade face the thought of being rejected and returning home? Will he be able to win the pharaoh’s heart and finally help his people? Experience the rich, luxurious fantasy world of Orina Anoris only in Matthew Haldeman-Time’s series, “In This Land,” and watch as eight handsome brothers try to balance ruling a nation with finding true happiness. Find out what happens to Bade, Anosukinom, and the sexiest siblings in the world.

The Review

I titled this an epic read, because this is a massive ongoing web serial that is one of the best things I’ve ever read. Now, please don’t let the fact that this stories isn’t complete stop you. This story has been going on for years and its updated EVERY SINGLE Friday/Saturday depending on your time zone. Also, if you haven’t read it before then even if you binge read it’ll probably take you at least 3-4 days (probably more honestly) to be all caught up on this story. There are hundreds of chapters. It does cost $5/per month to read, but that is pocket change compared to what I feel like this story is worth. This story makes me want to be a better person. Why you might ask? Let me tell you,

Love, positivity, and acceptance are the ongoing themes of this whole series. It’s such a long series that it’s hard for me to really explain all that goes on within the story without giving away some serious spoilers and everyone hates spoilers. But, let me tell you what I can. This series is full of lgbtq+ characters and it’s not even seen as a big deal, it’s just accepted as love is love. It smashes some gender norms. There are guys in dress, there are women in men’s clothing and it’s seen as a generally acceptable way to dress. There are people of color though I will say most of the main characters are what I would describe as white. Its sex positive which means that sex is seen as a normal and healthy part of a person’s life without the slut shaming going around. I could continue gushing about it, but those are the big hitters for me. It doesn’t hit every type of diversity in the world, but the message is very clear in this story.

On that note though while I love this series I would not say that it could be categorized as fantasy or paranormal more like perhaps speculative fiction and it would obviously fall in the romance section. This is not like a George R. R. Martin book where there is lots of murder and death and political intrigue. While there are discussions about politics and the negative things that are happening in the countries outside of Orina Anoris it’s not the main focal point. This is a fairly light read in that regard, but I do believe that this book gives you things to think about and consider. There is tension and struggle within this story it’s just more personal than political.  You’re guarantee to fall in love with at least one of the brothers and each one is getting or already has their own story with them as the main focus.

This series also has well thought out and detailed world building.  As I’ve mentioned in posts before I’m a sucker for excellent world building. This series has a multitude of countries in it and they all have histories to them, different cultures, and religions. Some countries are more explored than others, but the author has spent some serious time creating unique places for us to enjoy.

With that all being said I hope you’ll check it out. You can read it here. Also, if you are completely against monthly subscriptions Matthew Haldeman-Time has published some of his series into printed books. You can buy the first one here. A word of warning though, there is a copious amount of the online story that hasn’t been published into print. The author doesn’t seem to plan on releasing printed versions in the near future either so if you want the full story then you’d need to subscribe.

Reviews

Stunning- How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

World building: 5/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary: In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.

Review

I chose this book mainly based on the summary, but also because I’ve heard such great things about N.K. Jemisin’s writing, but was having a hard time committing fully to reading one of her full length novels. I’m generally not a fan of short stories, but Jemisin really impressed me. She has an amazing ability to pull you straight into a world in a very short amount of written words. She definitely introduced a lot of new ideas in fantasy and syfy that I hadn’t considered or thought about before, but really enjoyed. There was a large mix of stories and topics that were covered in this anthology. Most I really enjoyed though there were a few in the mix that I didn’t care for.

Characterization: I can’t go into detail about all the characters because there are so many for them, but even though most of these stories are no more than 10-ish pages I still felt drawn into all the characters lives that were exposed to me. These stories contained so much detail and at times emotions that it is hard not to root for most of the characters.

World building: Jemisin just throws you into her worlds with really no build up. When most authors do this it leaves me confused and left to muddle through it until everything is slowly revealed which I personally find frustrating. But, not here! Jemisin has talent to not only throw you into multiple different worlds through her stories, but also the skill to have it all make sense with little to no explanation. A mastery of the craft.

Diversity: This book focused mostly on characters of color with a variety of thoughts and sexualities. I would say we definitely had a lot of different enjoyable viewpoints.

Overall: I would say its definitely worth the read even if, like me, you’re not a fan of short stories. These stories have left me satisfied with their completeness as well as uniqueness.


Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? Let me know what you think!

lists

Must Read: My Top 10 Books with Strong Female Leads

I don’t know about you, but I love a well-developed, strong female main character. As a woman myself I love the positive representation. Below are my top ten fantasy books with strong female leads.

  1. Selene from The Olympus Bound Series
    by Jordanna Max Brodsky. I’m in love with everything about this series, but I think Selene is definitely what sold me to begin with. Selene in the fallen goddess Artemis. She strong, tough, and a little emotionally distant at times. I kinda want to be her.

2. Zélie from Children of Blood and Bone from Tomi Adeyemi. Zélie is one tough cookie. She has grown up where her people are oppressed, but instead of giving in she fights all the more. Mentally, physically, and magically strong. A role model for us all in a lot of ways.

Art by Megan Ward. Find it here.


3. Jude from The Wicked King by Holly Black. This girl has been fierce her whole life and though she may be scared at times she doesn’t let that stop her. She’s Queen of Shadows and usually a step ahead.

Art by Wictorian_art. Find it here.


4. Alina from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Alina, weak and sickly until she allowed herself to use her power. If that isn’t a metaphor for us all I don’t know what is.

Art from Golden Rose. Find it here.


5. Laia from An Ember in the Ash by Sabaa Tahir . She started out scared and a little helpless, but for those she cared about she accomplished some truly daring tasks.

Art by Tpiola. Find it here.


6. Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Agneiszka might be a bit of a mary sue, but she came from nothing and then she saved her kingdom. It was dark, but she makes it.

Art by Taryn. Find it here.


7. Meg from The Others series by Anne Bishop. Meg is not what I would consider physically strong, but she’s a strong female lead nonetheless. Meg like most of these ladies has been through a lot, but her force will and kindness alone make her a great pick for this list.


8. Wren from Girls of Paper and Fire. She’s the last remaining member of a special warrior family. Physically and mentally strong. She’s a powerhouse.

Art from Laya Rose. Find it here.


9. Fatima from The Bird King. She goes from concubine to runaway to leader. A hard choice in order to save a friend. She doesn’t have a lot of physical strength, but she has a strong will.


10. So many women in How long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin. Normally I wouldn’t put such a vague answer here, but there are just so many strong women throughout this anthology that I feel like I would be doing all you readers a disservice by not mentioning them.


What about you? Do you agree with the list? Do you have any other strong female leads you really enjoy?

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: The Traits of a Great Character

Happy Wednesday my lovely readers. This week I’ve been wondering a lot about what makes a great character. I watched Avengers: End Game this past Friday and I’m a huge Iron Man fan, but it’s hard for me to really pinpoint what about him I love so much. So, maybe all of you can help me think about characters and what in particular makes them so great. What, in your opinion, makes a character great? Now, I don’t necessarily mean a character that is morally great although that might be part of what draws you to a character. What I really mean is what makes a character so real that you can’t help but thinking of them as a real person/being?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: Where do you get your books?

Hello lovely readers and happy Wednesday! Today, I’ve been wondering where everyone finds new books that they want to read. Do you find all of your book while browsing the shelves of Barnes&Noble, searching for highly rated books of Amazon, through friend recommendations only, or something different?

I can’t wait to here all the places that you find new and great books.

Advice

Beginning Book Bloggers- ARC 101

Hello lovely readers, I hope the day is treating you well! Today I want to talk about ARCs. ARC stands for advance readers copies. This is probably one of the best perks outside of the book community itself to book blogging. It is where you get free copies of a book with the understanding that on some platform you will leave a review. As a lover of books this is amazing! However, it’s also really easy to overwhelm yourself if you’re not careful. In this post I’m going to discuss general ARCs stuff and also some precautions about what I call the ARC trap.

Where can you get ARCs?

NetGalley– my favorite site. Full of professional publishers

Edelweiss+ – also full of professional publishers. Haven’t personally used.

BookSends ARC – sends you an e-mail with ARCs you can choose. Very small selection. The deadline to read is usually very short compared to other sites.

Reading Deals – the first place I ever got an ARC. They’re very clear on book review expectations and etiquette which was nice, but their selection isn’t very good.

I’m sure there are even more than this, but these are the ones I’ve either heard of or used myself. You can also always personally ask the publishing company or author for an ARC though with no following and limited experience you probably won’t have much luck.

How do I get approved for ARCs?

This is the golden question. For smaller companies that handout ARCs like BookSends and Reading Deals anything you request you can usually receive no problem. Fairly straight forward. I’m not really familiar with Edelweiss+ so honestly I can’t really speak for that website, but I’ve heard a lot of people use it so I wanted to include it. NetGalley is where I get all my best ARCs from. It’s a great site! Now, NetGalley is hub for a variety of publishers that receive your requests and then either approve or deny them. If you look at the publisher’s preferences you will see that almost every publisher has the right to approve or deny your request basically just because they want to. However, there are some things you can do to really improve your chances. 1. You need a platform. I’ve been approved when all I had were Amazon and Goodreads accounts, but it’s not the best. A platform such as a blog really tells the publishers that you have a following and that you’re taking this seriously. You don’t even need a large following so don’t worry about having tons of followers! 2. You need to keep an eye on your feedback ratio. Your feedback ratio is the number of books you’ve given reviews for compared to the number of ARCs you’ve received. Some high profile bloggers may be able to get away with low ratios, but starting out I’ve found a low feedback ratio tends to be why I get denied a book.

Beware the ARC Trap

What is the ARC trap you ask? It’s when you requested lots of ARCs, think you didn’t get approved for any of them, and so request more only to later get approved for all of them and then you have six or more ARCs and limited time to read everything. Plus, your feedback ratio is now horrible. Now, if you’re thinking that’s oddly specific then you’d be correct. This has happened to me multiple times and I don’t want it to happen to you. It puts you under a lot of pressure that you don’t necessarily need or want to be under. Publishers are very busy and probably receive hundreds if not thousands of requests for books every day. It can take a publisher anywhere from a couple days to a month to see your ARC request. I didn’t realize this at first at it put me under a lot of pressure to quickly read a lot of books that I didn’t necessarily have time to read. I would encourage you if you’re just starting out as a reviewer to only request one or two books at a time. Most publishers are kind enough to e-mail you that they have denied your request for their ARC so you should usually know if the publisher has seen your request or not.

ARC Etiquette

So, I would say there’s definitely some ARC etiquette I would personally recommend that bloggers/reviewers follow. If you are getting a free ARC it’s important to remember that the author and publisher are giving you a gift. They worked very hard on it and probably put in a lot of love. What does that mean for you? You need to actually take the time to read the book. Don’t skim it, don’t give up on it even if you don’t like it. Read it. Now, there of course can be an occasional exception. I have DNF-ed one ARC, but that should be a rare occurrence. Once you’ve finished it, give a thought out review. It is 100% okay to give an ARC a bad review. Honesty is the best policy my friends and if you’re not being honest then you’re not helping anyone. But, if you’re going to give a single star to a book then there needs to be a reason just like if you gave it five stars. This is part of why you were given the ARC in the first place. Honor that responsibility.

Transparency is also important. If you were given an ARC it’s important to make sure you let readers know you received it as a free ARC. This has personally never changed how I feel about someone giving a review for a book, but again I think honesty is the best policy and letting readers know is a good trust builder.


Does that answer all your ARC questions? Were there things I didn’t cover? Let me know what you think!

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: Judging a book by its cover?

Hello lovely readers! I hope this Wednesday is treating you well! This Wednesday I’ve been wondering about books and their covers. There is a saying that says, “you should never judge a book by its cover”. Its an excellent analogy about how you shouldn’t judge people based on what they look like, but I have a hard time applying this to books. Cover art to me is like the first love letter to a book that you see and if it isn’t well done then I wonder at the time and effort put into the book that is behind it. Maybe that’s fair, maybe it isn’t. What I’d like to know: do you judge a book by its cover? And if you do, what most appeals to you on a book cover? If you don’t then how do you determine which book to buy?

I can’t wait to hear from you!