Things I Wish I’d Known Before Joining NetGalley

See the source imageWhen I first joined NetGalley as a reviewer, I felt a level of importance. I felt like WOW I’m one of those “cool,” book bloggers/bookstagrammers because I request books and publishers give them to me. That feeling soon faded as I came to realize a few things:

  1. The format is not always polished (or even readable). This is probably my biggest issue with reading books from NetGalley. I had to quit several books because they were full of typos, wordweresmushedtogetherlikethis (and no, the book was not in Dutch, where that might have actually occurred for good reason), and the scene breaks were not clearly defined. I understand that ARCs are not the final draft, I do. But there were many books that were just unreadable and lowered my opinion of the writing quality.
  2. Well known authors are impossible to get while debut authors basically auto accept. This wouldn’t have been an issue had I known this from the beginning and not requested 20 galleys and then felt so much pressure to read them all before their publication/archive date. Which brings me to point #3.
  3. There is immense pressure to read by the pub date/archive date. I don’t know about you, but I think a big part of bookstagram or book blogging is finding ways to stay relevant. A lot of people do this by reading books and posting reviews prior to their publish date. That’s just too much stress for me. I read to escape and for pleasure. This added pressure to read the book by the publication date made me chastise myself and think what kind of content are you really contributing if you aren’t ahead of the crowd. And that mentality was just too much for me. Plus, I am a total mood reader, and being forced to read something to be cool or popular isn’t conducive to my reading lifestyle.
  4. Negative reviews or refusing to review a galley lowers your approval rating, and therefore ensures you don’t get coveted, clean versions. Yeah, I kind of found this out by checking out a few other readers complain about how their approval ratings lowered when they left less than 3 star reviews. I don’t think you should be penalized because a book didn’t resonate with you. I think you should be able to explain why the book doesn’t work and offer constructive criticism in order to help the writer.
  5. I’m not always getting the full, completed copy and it is not always being disclosed until AFTER I download it to my device. This happened to me twice, and was disappointing. One of the books I wanted to read in its entirety, but once I discovered it was only two chapters, I kind of felt like what’s the point? I just don’t feel like critiquing a few chapters and basing a review off of that alone works for me for a couple of reasons. If it’s not a showstopper in the beginning then I’ll rank it lower. I’ll nitpick more easily, and I hate sounding entirely negative. Reading excerpts doesn’t really give me an opportunity to find the silver lining. And yes, I am a “find the silver lining/deeper meaning,” kind of reader. So these types of reads offered within NetGalley just don’t work with my read & review process. 

In concept, I think the site functions well for people who are willing to accept that what they are getting are often free, unedited versions. From a business perspective, the publishing houses rationale behind for doing all of these things I mentioned makes total sense. People will always want to read books early and/or for free and likely won’t care if the quality isn’t as great.

But from someone who is a bit of a perfectionist and is often critiquing simultaneously while reading this service just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I’m just getting more particular in my “old-ish” age? Maybe being an English Lit student totally ruined the way my brain approaches reading? Maybe it’s just the way I’m wired.

I know a lot of people who utilize NetGalley and think its a great way to get those books before they go to publication. And also, did I mention they are also free? 😉 If that’s how you like your reading experience to be or if you have limited options in obtaining books, then great! Go for it! Request all the galleys!

In the end, this just didn’t work out for me and I wish I had known about how it all worked and the quality of the galleys before I signed up.

Anyone else out there leave the whole NetGalley scene? What are you thoughts on unscrubed ARCs? Do you enjoy them less/more than you would a final product? How do you shut off that critical part of your brain when reading them?

UpdatedBlogSignature

Wrapping Up Reads of 2018

Happy Christmas Eve bookish buds! For some reason the holiday season hasn’t been very merry for me. It has had moments of goodness, but there has mostly been a shadow of grey hovering over me.

There are a few things I think that have been consistently triggering this feeling. I have tried to avoid them, but sometimes you have to face your demons. Anyway, I preface this post with some less than joyous tidings because I think this will be my last post of the year.

I have mentioned a couple of books that I intended to read to finish off the year, but I don’t think I am going to cram them in. I think I am going to take it easy for the rest of the year to help restore my mental health and to also try to enjoy the holidays with my family as best as I can.

Below are some of this year’s notable reads that I wanted to share with everyone. I will also remind everyone that these all have reviews in some form on various sites, and to check out the drop down link beneath ‘Book Reviews.’ I included the links to my full reviews below and also some comments on books that I REALLY think everyone should be reading.

32895291My first review of the year: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware [x]. This one straddled between 2017-2018, but I still counted it as my first completed book of this year. 

A newer book that you enjoyed: Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone came out this year, and it was way better than I expected it to be! There is a of course a thriller element to it, the protagonist is an antihero, seeking justice for her best friend who was greatly wronged by a narcissistic man. There are so many comments on social justice and injustice in regards to gender in this. And it definitely gives you down with the patriarch feels! I recommend to all my feminist friends 🙂

An older book that you enjoyed: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. This is YA one that is really beautifully executed. I loved how it was so many genres wrapped into one, and they all worked very well together. 

A book I feel is not well known, but deserves all the recognition and praise: If you 36750086enjoyed books like The Kite Runner, I highly recommend Small Country [f: Petit pays] by Gael Faye. It isn’t set in Afghanistan, but in Burundi, and tells a similarly tragic yet beautiful tale of friendship, family, and growing up in a country that descends under the cloud of occupation and warfare. Originally in French, I read the English translation and found the language to be so poignant still. This read might be small, but it is definitely mighty! 

A hyped up book that lived up to the hype: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. If you’re someone like me who occasionally needs to break up serious fiction, thrillers, and mysteries with something more lighthearted, this is a great read to pick up! Its wry, empowering, and I mean…who doesn’t have a thing for a surly Scottish man? 😉 Check it out as a summer read or a summery read to break through the grey-ness of winter! 

My absolute favorite book (can only select one): The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Reid Jenkins was amazing! It touched me very deeply. This one is great for so  many reasons. Its well written, highly addictive, and heart wrenching. But seriously just read it. You will have no regrets, I promise. Favorite quote (out of many): “…knowing there are all different types of great love out there, is enough for me for now.”

32620332

The longest book I read: The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon came in at 1,443 pages! And I felt every single one of them haha. This book is in the Outlander series. And while it was a fun one because I did it as a buddy read with my bookish bestie, I felt it went on forever and ever. It was still convenient because I read it when I was flying around a bit earlier this year, so I didn’t need to pack another book 🙂

25403The shortest book I read: The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder came in at 151 pages. I read this for the #BoutofBooks read-a-thon challenge and it really helped keep my motivated to plow through more books due to its length. It was also SO beautifully written. I highly recommend this one if you haven’t read it!

Books I did not finish this year (or least favorite): Northanger Abbey & The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I just don’t think I am one for classical reading.

My last review of the year: For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt was a thrilling read about how far a person might go to save a person they love. This one kept my attention throughout and I actually finished it in a day and a half. I wasn’t as keen on the husband’s POV and the rushed wrap up at the end, but I would still recommend this one.

All in all, I read “40” [d: veertig] books this year, and FINALLY completed a Goodreads Challenge! I feel like it is an accomplishment and was the perfect amount of books for me to read in a single year. Originally I started out at 30 [d: dertig], but met that goal end of October/Early November, so I tacked on 10 [d: tien] more books thinking over enthusiastically “I got this. I can do this.” And for once, I actually did succeed, hah!

Knowing I can get to 40, I think I will aim for that number and then if I meet it early, I can increase the count 🙂 I am not yet confident to increase my number of books to 50, and maybe I am not meant to get that high of a count. But either way, I am content with where I am now, and what my initial goal is for the coming year.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! And if you are one of those people who doesn’t get much face time with your family whether by your choice, theirs, or due to circumstance, know that I can be someone who cares and will do my best to spread some holiday cheer or at least make you laugh with my terribly awkward jokes. Seriously DM me on Insta, Twitter, or just comment below (I won’t approve it, so no one else has to know you are struggling if you do not want them to). You do not have to be alone this holiday season. 🙂

Here’s to 2019 my friends [d: mijn vrienden]!

UpdatedBlogSignature