Discussion: Do ARC Reviews HAVE To Be Positive?

Aren’t you proud of me? Being all consistent and writing discussions regularly for the first time ever? I told you had a list of ideas a mile long – I’m just working through it now.

Anyways. Onto the discussion you came here for.


I’ve seen a handful of bloggers touch upon this topic and I wanted to give my own view of it. Arcs are, especially, a book blogger’s lifeblood – one of my most popular discussion posts is on How To Request ARCs.

And for many of us, they are a perk to our hobby – but they are also a responsibility.

Regardless of your stance on negative reviews in general, we have do decide if its okay to negatively review on ARC.

ARC, simply put, stands for Advanced Readers/Review Copy.

An ARCs entire purpose of existence is to generate prerelease reviews and hype, so that the book sells better. Obviously, positive reviews are whats going to accomplish this, not negative reviews.

But upon reviewing an ARC, we all give a statement along the lines of “I received this book for free but it doesn’t influence my opinion”. I think for most of us, thats not even a conscious thing to write, its a legal, automatic, robotic thing. Like a user agreement – you mark agree and proceed to ignore it.

Even if you don’t consciously tailor reviews because its an ARC, I think it subconsciously motivates us to try and like the book a bit more – we feel bad giving a negative review when a publisher/author went out of their way, and spent money, to have us review the book.

But we need to be honest – thats the only way book blogs function. If our readers can trust us, if our fellow book bloggers can trust us.

If you heartily dislike the book – and you don’t want to give a negative review, maybe contact the publisher and let them know. Give them your feedback.

Otherwise, be careful with what you request or accept – if you’re not sure about it, don’t take it just because its offered – you don’t want to get yourself in that position.

Now, if you are reviewing an ARC, and you didn’t like it, DON’T BASH IT.

Explain why did and why did not work for you – what made you dislike it, its it a personal/subjective reason? Could others of certain tastes like it? Is the writing objectively good? Even if its a low rating, can you mention some positives?

We want to promote books. We want ARCs to serve their intended purpose, but not at the sake of our integrity. Be honest – just don’t be harsh or cruel.


What do you think?

Do you agree with me?

Do you have a different stance?

Let me know!

Netgalley Review: Lies We Tell Our Kids

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I received an e-arc of this book from Netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

Feb. 20th 2018

Date I Read The Book:

May 2017

My Star Rating:

3 Stars

Official Summary:

From acclaimed artist Brett Wagner comes a book about the tall tales that parents tell their kids in the hopes of getting them to do something—eat, sleep, apologize to their sibling, or learn to do something the right way. Fun, heartfelt, and a little bit weird, Lies We Tell Our Kids exposes the not-so-great generational parenting tactic of lying to your child for the greater good!

Brett Wagner is a Pittsburgh-based illustrator and filmmaker with a penchant for puns and visual anomalies. A generalist by trade, he works mostly in commercial video production, while his short narrative film All Raccoons Are Bandits has been screened internationally. When not on set, he spends most of his time with a box full of Copic markers drawing colorful creatures for himself and others.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

This book was essentially…fine. A few pages made me giggle. The illustrations were really well done. But it just sort of fell flat for me. I’ve never heard of any of the “lies” show cased – and I’ve heard some weird ones – save for 3 or 4. A lot weren’t even particularly funny or sensical. It wasn’t the worst thing or anything like that, but I didn’t particularly care for it.

Check out:

 Netgalley Review: I Love You With All My Butt

and

Netgalley Review: United States of Absurdity – Untold Stories From American History

NetGalley Review: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (But You Could Have Done It Better)

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

January 10th 2017

Date I Read The Book:

March 2017

My Star Rating:

3 Stars

Official Summary:

Anonymous break up stories from men and women, old and young, serious and silly and the cartoons that inspired them. Author and artist Hilary Campbell turns the painful into the hilarious, validating emotions from forgotten middle school tragedies to relationships that ended only hours ago.

Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and cartoonist. Her films have won top prizes at Slamdance, SF IndieFest, and more. She was the co-illustrator of Jessica Bennett’s critically acclaimed Feminist Fight Club.Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, But You Could’ve Done Better is her first book of cartoons.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

I read through this book in about 30 minutes after finishing an essay in class and was waiting for everyone else to finish.

It was enjoyable enough, a short, pretty funny read.

The illustrations are well done and the funniest part of the book.

But several of the submissions feel flat, or were too similar to be repetitively funny. Others were very funny, but with the writing styles and lengths inconsistent, and all the stories being straight, probably unedited submissions from others, it felt like you should get more from a book you buy.

It was pretty funny, and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t the best.

Discussion: The Great Book Format Debate – Paperback, Hardcover or E-book?

This is a discussion post virtually every book blogger ever has added to.

I felt I should to.


Hardcover:

Pros-

  • Looks a lot nicer on a shelf.
  • Tend to have nicer covers.
  • Surprises under dust jackets.
  • First to be released.
  • More satisfying to possess/smell/feel/read usually.
  • The classic form of a book.

Cons-

  • Heavy
  • Hard to carry around / hold up to read for extended periods.
  • Dust jacket can get messed up or lost.
  • Way more expensive usually.
  • Take up a lot of space in one’s house/room.

Conclusion:

Hardcovers are preferable for looks but sometimes impracticable and expensive.


Paperback:

Pros-

  • Easy to read and carry than a hardback.
  • Cheaper and still physical for display and collection.
  • No dust jacket anxiety.
  • Easier than hardback to read for extended periods.

Cons-

  • They can take long to be released (over a year past the hardcover at times).
  • Usually have worse covers.
  • Get damaged easier (bent spines)
  • Don’t look as nice on a shelf.

Conclusion:

Easier, cheaper, but not as pretty.


E-books:

Pros-

  • Easy to carry around.
  • Doesn’t take up room/house/shelf space.
  • Generally the cheapest.
  • The modern book format.
  • No worries about loss or damages.
  • Don’t have to worry about being intimidated by book size.

Cons-

  • E-books can be tricky, because depending on the reader you have ( as in iPad vs. kindle vs nook vs app vs desktop vs what ever else exists) can make a big difference on the experience.
  •  Some books, especially image or formatting specific ones usually become unreadable in the best of times.
  • Can’t be lent to friends.
  • No physical shelf to be prideful of.
  • Have to buy a device that can cost $80+

Conclusion:

I love reading on my kindle – when I have mobis, PDFs only work on the desktop and I never have time to read there. Adobe Digital Editions gets tedious.

I’ve been using e-books since early middle school, as its easier to carry around in a bookbag and on vacations, and long books seem less intimidating. Also, decreasing shelf space.

E-books as a preference or option varies greatly by device and by the person.

E-books are the cheapest, easiest, and least satisfying.


Audiobooks:

Despite this discussion being ever popular, audiobooks are never included it seems. They always get a separate rave or rant. Its a book format like any other, only far it gets included. Hell, I made a rant about them in my first ever discussion.

Pros-

  • Easy to read on the go/ when multitasking.
  • Lets people who don’t usually have time to read, read.
  • Can be inexpensive.
  • Fun to listen to voices for the characters (on the better or full cast ones at least).

Cons-

  • Can be hard to focus on.
  • Can take longer to listen to than actually read.
  • Quality of audiobooks in narration varies drastically.
  • Makes it difficult to imagine characters for yourself.

Conclusion:

Audiobooks have less objective pros and cons, they mostly fall down to personal preference. I don’t abhor them or anything, but I prefer to read for myself. They I may have to listen to some that are full cast narrations, as those sound fun!


Overall Conclusions:

I will continue to prefer hardcovers, and only buying paperbacks when I’m desperate for a physical copy/at a second hand store.

My e-reader will continue to be for arcs.

Really there is no conclusion to be reached in this sort of discussion, I just wanted to make my pros and cons lists.


What do you think?

Which do you prefer?

Do you agree with what I said?

Let me know!

Netgalley Review: The Wendy Project

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

July 18th 2017

Date I Read The Book:

May 2017

My Star Rating:

4 Stars

Official Summary:

 

16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy — a once rational teenager – shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw. But is The Wendy Project merely her safe space, or a portal between worlds?

My Review: 

Retellings are beyond popular – and I am a particular fan of them. Some involve the fantasy world colliding with the real world (as in Alice in Wonderland retellings where in she is psychotic – or at least perceived as psychotic). Peter Pan in particular is popular for retellings. It is also popular for theories – one prevalent one being that the lost boys are all dead and Peter is their guardian angel.

The Wendy Project plays into these ideas. We follow Wendy’s point of view through her journal/sketchbook after a devastating accident where-in her brother dies – though Wendy believes him alive, and that he has simply been taken away. We see her coping with this lose and these ideas – both her high school life and ideas of Neverland in her art, colors used to differentiate reality and fantasy, and we are generally left as unsure as Wendy is.

It is well written, and the artwork is gorgeous. I particularly liked the interspersing of Peter Pan quotes from JM Barrie.

My only issue is that its quite short – and so didn’t go into the depth that it had the potential to, and feels quite abrupt at the end.

But overall, I really enjoyed it.

 

Netgalley Review: Man Vs. Child – One Dad’s Guide to the Weirdness of Parenting

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.


Original Release Date:

May 9th, 2017

Date I Read The Book:

May 2017

My Star Rating:

5 Stars


Official Summary:

Moms have hundreds of parenting advice books willing to tackle the more cringe-inducing questions of parenthood. But what about books for the other half of the equation: the dads? Man vs. Child is a funny, fresh take on the parenting guide, written from the dad’s perspective.

Author and popular Upright Citizens Brigade performer Doug Moe knows first-time fathers are as worried about being terrible at their new terrifying jobs as new moms are. But while most modern fathering guides center on men’s oafish parental failings, Man vs. Child forgoes condescension in favor of fresh and irreverent wit. This guide for first-time dads tackles funny but important questions, like how to be a good dad without becoming a BabyBjörn-wearing tool in the process, or what to do if your child loves your iPad more than they love you. From caring for a newborn to dealing with a kid on the verge of adolescence, author Doug Moe breaks fatherhood down into survival lessons like “Time to Decide About God” and quizzes that ask dads to reflect on hilarious parenting questions like “Is My Child Too Annoying for This Restaurant?”

Chapters include:
-Newborn: Keeping This Weird Thing Alive Awhile, Even As It Tries to Kill You
-Your Interesting Baby, Maybe the Most Interesting Baby Ever
-Man v Toddler: Does Your Toddler Want to Kill You?
-Now That My Kid Doesn’t Need Me, What Is My Life Worth?

Balancing relatable humor with heartfelt advice, Man vs. Child will appeal to any dad looking for both laughs and real guidance from a man who has had—and survived—these experiences himself. A perfect Father’s Day gift or present for a first-time dad!


My Review: 

Don’t even ask why I, a 17 year old girl with no plans to have children for – at least – a decade, has requested, read and now, reviewed a parenting book. I have a bad habit of requesting random things on Netgalley on a whim when bored.

That being said, I found this pretty funny and well written.

Man vs. Child makes no secret what it is a humor book about parenting but not really meant to offer concrete advice. There is no – or at least, very little – in the way of “scientifically this is how you care for a child” but rather a funny commentary on becoming a dad and being a stay-at-home dad raising your child. Its light-hearted, quick, and while not particularly informative, witty, well written and entertaining.

Make of that what you will when deciding to read it.

Netgalley Review: The Shape of Ideas

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

April 18th, 2017

Date I Read The Book:

May 2017

My Star Rating:

4 Stars

Official Summary:

What does an idea look like? And where do they come from? Grant Snider’s illustrations will motivate you to explore these questions, inspire you to come up with your own answers and, like all Gordian knots, prompt even more questions. Whether you are a professional artist or designer, a student pursuing a creative career, a person of faith, someone who likes walks on the beach, or a dreamer who sits on the front porch contemplating life, this collection of one- and two-page comics will provide insight into the joys and frustrations of creativity, inspiration, and process—no matter your age or creative background.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

This is a little graphic novel type book on creativity from the perspective of an artist. Its pretty clever, using different ideas, stereotypes, etc. of art to convey a message. The artwork is really well done with a pretty distinct style that I enjoyed. Some sections were more enjoyable than others, but if you enjoy art or other creative end overs, it may be worth checking out. Its quick to get through and it made me smile.

Netgalley Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy

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I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher via netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

June 6th, 2017

Date I Read The Book:

May 2017

My Star Rating:

5 Stars

Official Summary:

After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

I requested an arc of this book for several reasons:
1) a nerdy, smart, bookworm main character,
2) Classic adaptation as a blog series a la Lizzie Bennet Diaries and
3) AN ASEXUAL CHARACTER OH MY GOD.

I haven’t read much classic literature, Tolstoy included, so that didn’t grab me in more than the abstract, unlike some reviewers.

The ace representation did draw me in though. I’m ace (somewhere on the scale not quite sure where) so I was super excited to read a book with an asexual MC because I have never in my life heard of one let along read one.

Let me tell you I was not disappointed!

 To me at least, I thought the representation of asexuality was very realistic. People say stupid things about it, and it feels weird to be different, but at the end of the day, you have the same feelings as everyone else (Tash is asexual but NOT romantic which are often equated when they are NOT the same thing).

The characters are all real (occasionally flawed) people, the character growth is great and I loved it. The friendships were really realistic and I related to Tash so hard!

Plot wise, it was really interesting. YA stories featuring you tubers are particularly common now, but I thought the story of the making of their show was well done. A bit slow at times, but it balanced out.

The writing was good, quick, easy, cute YA reading.

I highly recommend this story!

Netgalley Review: One of Us is Lying

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I received an e-arc of this book from netgalley and this is my honest review.

Original Release Date:

May 30th 2017

Date I Read The Book:

March 2017

My Star Rating:

5 Stars

Chronology:

Debut, Standalone

Official Summary:

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Review: (Vague Spoilers)

Cover:

I love this cover, with the cut out faces and sharpie it looks like a defaced yearbook and it is great.
Characters:
All the characters are unique, and their voices are distinct. I did find my self most drawn to Bronwyn’s POV but since I relate most to her that’s understandable. I like that they all begin to defy their stereotypes throughout. And that their is diversity sprinkled through without a big deal being made about it. Everyone has different home lives, and not every character is straight and white. I liked he side characters and sibling relationships a lot. And I like that the romances were varied, none the main focus, and nine were instalove or an instant fix to anyone’s problems.
Plot:
There is foreshadowing like crazy and I loved it. The story is fast paced and intriguing all the way through, and lots of little details and side plots for each character really tie it together. I guessed part of the ending before he characters did, but not the whole think, and I like that it was able to surprise me. I had some issues with the legality of some of the police actions and certain things that seemed overlooked by adults irked me, but these were all things addressed later on in the story and it was good.

Top Five Wednesday: Summer Reads

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started, and is now hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes.
If you want to join in checkout the Goodreads page!


May 17th: Summer Reads
–The weather is heating up (for half of the world), so what books remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads?


I’m going with 5 summer-y arcs on my TBR – because I need to get to these this summer…

Also, if I straight up g with summer-y contemporaries, my list will be identical to every other “Unexpected Everything”, Kasie West, and “Since You’ve Been Gone” filled list that are the first summer-y books that come to mind, arguably for many people.


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1 – Hook’s Tale – Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself

by John Leonard Pielmeier

I LOVE retellings. Peter Pan retellings being among my favorites. I also love redeeming villain stories (its a thing, go with it). This combines those two things – apparently its inspired by Wicked…which I have never seen/read/heard in full. But it seems cool none-the-less and I’m excited to read this.


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2 – Song of the Current

by Sarah Tolcser

This is another book featuring ships and the seas. I’ve been on a pirate kick lately, I don’t know. I don’t think this book is directly about pirates, but its about river gods and kickass, ship sailing females (which is close enough to pirates) and seems intriguing so I’m excited.


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3 – The Possible

by Tara Altebrando

Superpowers are just a summer-y thing to me. Probably because all the superhero movies come out in the summer (I’m dying for GotG2 and Spider-man!). I don’t know much about this, it it seems really interesting. I was mostly just hooked by the concept of X-men-like powers.


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4 – Sovereign – Nemesis – Book Two

by April Daniels

I Loved the first book (NetGalley Review – Nemesis #1: Dreadnought) which come out earlier this year. I wasn’t expecting this one to come out so soon, but it comes out this summer and I got approved for an arc on netgalley. I read and loved the first one over winter break (but I was in central america so it was summer!) and I really want to read this, so here it is.


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5 – The Comic Book Story of Video Games – The Incredible History of the Electronic Gaming Revolution

by Jonathan Hennessey, Jack Mcgowan

Summer is the only time I actually have the time to play video games, and comics in general just seem a summer-y thing. So, there it goes on the summer reads list.


Some Honorable Mentions:

I have two mandatory summer reading books this year – as I’m taking AP English Literature next year school. I have to read Pride & Prejudice and Thousand Splendid Suns.