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!

ARC, Reviews

ARC Review – Wild Country by Anne Bishop

Overview

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 3.5/5

World building 4/5

Diversity 2.5/5

Personal Summary: The 7th book is The Other series.

Bennett was a town wiped out the Namid’s Teeth and Claws, but it won’t stay that way for long. Humans are returning and with it the terra indigene are taking notice.

Jana wants to be a cop, Virgil has a grudge, and they’re going to have to learn to work together if they want to keep Bennett safe from humans that may have less than friendly intentions.

Note: This book can technically be read alone, but makes a lot more sense if you’ve read books 1-5.

Review

Note: I received Wild Country by Anne Bishop for free from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

First, let me say that I’m in love with the world of the others. It’s an urban fantasy like I haven’t read before and I just love it. There are many different types of werecreatures in this book and there’s so much going on. I must admit that while I did enjoy this book I will say that books 1-5, the original story line, are still very much my favorites.

Let’s start with the characters. There are so many. I loved those that I would consider the main characters. You have Jana whose always wanted to be a cop and has enough spunk to handle Virgil. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like Virgil, but he definitely grew on me and he’s a big softy at heart. He bark is worse than his bite (usually). I particularly like his voice within the book. It gives a unique perspective that I really enjoy. Tolya, he’s basically the equivalent of a vampire, and he was kinda bland at first. He has a lot of dealings with Jesse though and it really brings out his character when he’s with her. Jesse is really great too. I loved all these characters, but there were also so many more characters. Honestly, too many characters for me. We were introduced to A LOT of characters and I don’t feel like some of them were really necessary unless there’s another book in this particular town (which I don’t believe is the case) and it left me with some questions that I never felt answered.

World building was good for an urban fantasy based novel. It’s based loosely on the world we have now only instead of humans being the dominant species the terre indigene (mostly what I would call werecreatures) are. The terre indigene are what really draws me into the story. Bishop gives them all a unique voice that I find really enjoyable.

The plot was a bit scattered to me. There was a lot going on in this book and again it was almost too much. I won’t say much on that because I don’t want to spoil things, but be ready. This book also has some western book-inspiration that I didn’t think I’d like, but actually enjoyed.

The diversity in this book. I’m unimpressed. Now, there was a gay couple and there was a neurodivergent child so let me explain why I was unimpressed. They felt forced and that they were only there to say the book had diversity. I doubt that was the author’s intent, but the diverse characters are introduced and then just kinda fade away or are in the background and never really given much attention. They had no really point in the book and I found that disappointing.

If you’d like to purchase Wild Country by Anne Bishop it’ll be released on March 5th and you can buy it here.

ARC, Reviews

ARC Review- Prince of Air and Darkness by M.A. Grant

Release Date: February 25th

At a Glance

Overall: 3/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 2/5

Note: I received this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Personal Summary: Finn, an all American boy from a small town in Iowa, who has powers beyond his control.

Roark, the prince of the unseelie court, struggling to be true to himself under the weight of the thrown.

Roark and Finn both attend Mather’s School of Magick together and have been uneasy roommates for several years. Finn, is constantly being targeted for his powers and Roark is constantly helping him. This is both their final year at Mather’s and tensions are running high. There’s a war brewing and their growing feelings for each other could be what saves them or the very thing that destroys them both.

Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the premise of the book. I was highly intrigued by the idea of Finn having a power that was a bit beyond his control. What a flaw, right? I loved the characterization of Roark and Finn. They were obviously very different people with different dialogue and tone patterns which is something a lot of books I’ve been reading recently sometimes struggle with. So, I was very pleased with that. I think their behaviors also speak well to their backgrounds and personal histories. But, the world building was sorely lacking. There’s fae and even other patheons all at Mather’s, but it didn’t really play into the story in any major way that I was hoping for. I wanted a lush fae culture that somehow managed to stay hidden in the human world with the help of magic, but if you took out the fact that Roark was a fae and made him human it wouldn’t make much of a difference to his character. He was basically a human with powers. Now, there were tiny bits of world building in the novel with the concept of the knight of the winter court. I thought that was a really interesting idea. The pacing of this book is kinda shaky, but the end of the book the plot definitely picks up and things start falling into place. I enjoyed the last part of this novel way more than I enjoyed the beginning so if you pick up this book I recommend sticking with it until the end. With a note to diversity, our main diversity in this book is the two main characters are gay, but that’s all the diversity we get. Both characters are young white males.

In conclusion, it was an enjoyable, light fantasy read with two enjoyable main characters, but if you’re looking for something new spin on the fae and/or a deep, gritty story then this is not the book for you. If you would like to check out The Prince of Air and Darkness you can find it here.


Has anyone else read this book? Is it on anyone’s TBR? What do you think?

Reviews

Heartfelt: A review – No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll

Note: I received this book free of charge through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My brief personal summary: This book is a collection of short fairy tales featuring trans and nonbinary characters.

The book as a whole. 4/5

I really enjoyed it. The author’s note was so touching and I think the hopes for this book were realized. Diversity in all types of fiction is really necessary so that we might all find ourselves and our potential in the stories we enjoy. The one thing at the beginning that threw me off was that these really are short stories/fairy tales. These are not long novels with in-depth stories and though that is made very obvious in the description this sometimes made me feel left hanging. Now, to the stories themselves

Story One: Tangled Nets 3/5

Wren was an interesting character. Xhie had obviously been through a lot with xer sister and there was a lot going on, but I just didn’t feel attached to xer.  There was some cool world exploration, but right as I wanted to know more about xer the story was over. I think my biggest thing was there was some information about the other dragons and what happened to the white dragon that while interesting would have been better used as time to explore Wren more.

Story Two: King’s Favor 3/5

I liked this one better than Tangled Nets. There’s world building, but there’s also some exploration of Caran that I enjoyed about why nee was doing what nee was doing and why nee was specifically chosen. While I felt a bit of attachment to nee I wanted more. Caran got this amazing opportunity at the end and then it was over.

Story Three: His Father’s Son 5/5

This story was all I wanted! Nocien was the first character I really felt attached to in the book and he was glorious. We got his backstory through him remembering everything in a lot more detail than I feel like the previous short stories and I was hooked. Then, there was action, a great amount of it that really hit you and then the ending! I felt like I got the complete story.

Story Four: Daughter of Kings 4/5

This one got me right in the feels. Finndis is lovely, but there’s a past that is a bit painful. We get just enough of her history to really enjoy her victory. What a great story.

Story Five: Early to Rise 3/5

The most obvious retelling of a fairy tale in the book. An interesting retelling of Sleeping Beauty. It was short, but I enjoyed it well enough

Story Six: No man of Woman Born 4/5

Innes asks some great questions about prophesies that I admit I never thought about. I love that all the details don’t seem to slow any of these characters down. I think it really speaks to most of us who have dreamed of being heroes during at least one point in our lives. What a great story to give people faith in themselves.

Story Seven: The Wish-Giver 4/5

Short, but so heartwarming.

You can purchase No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll here.