ARC Review: The Fangirls Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs

fangirls guide to galaxy

 

Expected publication date: 12th May

Author: Sam Maggs

Publisher: Quirk Books

Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way affected my review.

From Goodreads

Fanfic, cosplay, cons, books, memes, podcasts, vlogs, OTPs and RPGs and MMOs and more—it’s never been a better time to be a girl geek. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is the ultimate handbook for ladies living the nerdy life, a fun and feminist take on the often male-dominated world of geekdom. With delightful illustrations and an unabashed love for all the in(ternet)s and outs of geek culture, this book is packed with tips, playthroughs, and cheat codes for everything from starting an online fan community to planning a convention visit to supporting fellow female geeks in the wild.

My review

Bah, this book, it has me feeling so conflicted! It kind of felt like one of those lists “10 signs you are a girl geek” designed to make you feel oh-so-special and unique and just amazing in every way. You know the ones? So, because I am a human being, I really enjoyed reading it. I felt all the way through, “hell yeah, that is me! I am a total Potterhead/Whovian/Browncoat/Insert Other fandom Here”. That isn’t to say there weren’t really good parts to this book. So, as we are all *such fans* of these lists, here ya go! I made you a special one!

(I actually really like lists! Lists of the best books of the year, lists of why I like/dislike a book, lists of books with awesome covers featuring girls in dresses, I just hate the ego filling lists that you get all over Facebook. For an amazing blog post on this, have a look at this post by Jenna Moreci, a truly amazing writer who has first hand experience of these lists!)

Things I Liked About This Book

1. I liked the Geek Girl Feminism chapter. All of it. Especially when she says that as women, we should be supporting one another, not putting each other down to claw our way to the top of the geekery pile. Go sister!

2. I liked the interviews with the creators/writers/other geekgirl stars. Very interesting and honest.

3. I liked the packing list for conventions. I am yet to go to a convention, I am saving up to go to one next summer, but I found this useful!

4. I liked the list of comic books/ books/ TV series etc. featuring bad-ass women or written by bad-ass women, as some of them I hadn’t heard of and intend to buy.

5. The language was easy to read and approachable. I laughed out loud several times.

6. I loved the encyclopedia of useful fangirl links and places to go at the end of the book. I joined the International Geek Girl Pen Pal Club (IGGPPC) because of this list, which is one of the most amazing places for geek girls to hang out on the Internet. Also, Pen Pals! So much fun to write an actual letter!

Things I Didn’t Like About This Book.

1. The description of the fandoms. I know I am a Potterhead, you know how? Because I fangirl about Harry Potter! This section felt like a mix of one of those ego-filling lists I talked about earlier and a “How to become a geek girl because they are so cool now” book. The reason I like fangirling over things, is because I really enjoyed the TV programme/Book series/Comic Book to begin with. I didn’t start watching Doctor Who just so I could become a Whovian. The only good part of this list was the starting points for some of the comic books and TV series, as there are several series I quite fancy reading/watching and wasn’t sure where to start. But at the same time…Google. So maybe this isn’t a good enough reason.

2. The way this book was so blinking focused on the US. Hey, we have cool things going on in Europe too! And I am sure other continents were screaming the same thing. Where is our list of amazing conventions?

3. The assumption that most of towns would have a geeky meeting place such as a comic book store etc. Maybe I just live in a really backward-geek place, but I think I would have to drive and hour and a half to find my local comic book store.

Things I was neutral about.

1. Descriptions of Facebook/Twitter and how to use them. Come on, we are in 2015! Who doesn’t know what they are?

2. I felt this book could have just been a bit MORE! More detail, more fandoms, more universal. But, at the same time. I enjoyed it, so…

I am going to give this book three stars, because it was pretty funny and an enjoyable read. Also it had six things I like and only three things I didn’t like.

Threestars

I recommend it for people who want to get into more series, who want to find some great links for fangirls on the internet and younger people or people who are new to fandoms. It is good for a light read, most of it not to be taken too seriously. Apart from the feminist bit. That should definitely be taken seriously!

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Link me up below if you have!

Booky love
E. St. C
xxx

“Waiting on” Wednesday: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Waiting on Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted over at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

wrath and dawn

Release date: May 12th

From Goodreads

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Why I am waiting anxiously…

This is inspired by One Thousand and One Nights which has always fascinated me. I am excited to see which direction this story takes and I have really got in to “fairytale retellings” recently.

Also, what a pretty cover! I think this will definitely be a book I want a physical copy of!

Add The Wrath and The Dawn to your TBR list on Goodreads

What is your waiting on Wednesday? Link me up below and I will come and check it out.

Is The Wrath and The Dawn on your TBR list?

Much booky love,
E. St. C.
xxx

 

Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Fault in our stars

From Goodreads

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

My Review

I do not want to watch the film. I think it would spoil the utter perfection that is this book. It is 1.23 am, my eyes are swollen, my skin is blotchy and I am in love with Augustus Waters, Hazel Grace and John Green.

This is the reason I am glad I don’t give five stars to all of my books, I keep them for the really special ones!

Go, read this book. Don’t do what I did and let it sit on your shelf unread because you didn’t trust the hype. The hype is totally undeserved- this book isn’t about two kids with cancer who fall in love. This is a book about two teens who fall in love, find the lack of meaning in their lives, get pretty angry at the universe, get pretty philosophical towards the universe and then break your heart. See? Much, much worse! And far better!

Fivestars

Update: One day later and I still can’t stop thinking about Hazel and Augustus. I have a major book hangover, I can’t read anything else!

Friday Feelings: Advertising Your Book to Bloggers

Friday Feelings

Friday Feelings is a weekly post where I will be having my say about the latest news, books and other related things! This week, I am going to be having a rant about Empty Follows. As always, what follows is my opinion! However, this week, I think there is pretty useful advice in there too!

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 00.40.27

I log on to my email account and am greeted with forty new emails every morning. About ten of these emails are notifications from Twitter. I find this is a really useful way of keeping track of which blog posts and tweets are garnering attention in the Twittersphere. However, when I open Twitter, my follower count has only gone up by two or three people during the night. Why is this? An annoying thing I like to call EMPTY FOLLOWS!

What is an empty follow?

An empty follow is where a person follows and then unfollows a person on Twitter to gain their attention, normally in order to sell something. Authors in particular seem to give me empty follows, possibly due to the fact that my Twitter account is directly linked to my book review blog. So why is this a bad thing?

If you are following me on Twitter purely to get me to read your book and then review it, prepare to be disappointed. Just look at my TBR list on Goodreads. It has almost two hundred books at the moment. Why should I go out and buy your book over all the other books I really want to read. Furthermore, why should I create space in my already hectic reading schedule to read your book? I blog because I love to read. This means that most of my spare money will be going towards the books I am eagerly anticipating, and believe me, there are plenty. In fact, I participate in a weekly meme which highlights the books we are waiting to be released.

Let me give you a hint, one follow on Twitter is not going to be enough to pique my interest in your book. In fact, it could even turn me away from your book. How? Well, I have had one particular author who has followed me twenty times on Twitter! The first time, I checked out his profile and I actually thought his book looked interesting. I might have picked it up if I had seen it at my library. By the twentieth time I deleted the notification with a growl.

Don’t you like authors though?

Don’t get me wrong, I adore finding new authors to read, and I am honestly not a mean blogger. In fact I think I give quite nice reviews- even if a book isn’t entirely to my taste, I generally recommend it to people who might like it. What I don’t appreciate is an author trying to sell me a book in order for me to undertake the hard work of publicising it. Why should I make more effort than you to sell your book?

So how might I persuade you to buy my book in order to review it?

It is really quite simple…talk to me! I don’t expect huge conversations, a few favourites, retweets and replies on Twitter will do. Connect with me. Maybe even check out the blog on which I post my reviews and comment on a few of my posts which I have worked so hard on. I am far more likely to pick up your book if I think you post funny original comments, or even mediocre ones. The point is, you have made the connection.

I think this advice is especially tailored towards debut authors. Most serial authors have a loyal following who will help them advertise their book. Most of my empty follows come from debut authors or self published authors, who are doing most of their publicising themselves.

But it takes up so much time writing replies and clicking on blog links!

I understand completely, you want as many people to see your book as possible. However, if you follow one hundred bloggers in a day, I would be surprised if one or two of those bought your book and read it. On the other hand, if you connected with thirty, probably five or six will buy your book. After all, most bloggers are proud of their blogs, they have spent hours on the design and content, so if you stroke their ego, they will think kindly of you!

What if they refuse to buy my book?

Have you thought about sending them a free copy of your book? I know this might seem like a backward way of selling books, but if you can persuade a blogger with a loyal following to review your book, and then post that review on Amazon, Goodreads or any other site your book has a page on, more people are likely to buy it. I buy lots of books because bloggers I follow and respect have raved about a book. Also, a well known blogger commenting on a book on Goodreads has an authority and following which, as a first time novelist, is far more likely to sell books than the comments of your friends and families!

When I say a free copy, you don’t have to send them a finished paperback! I have read and reviewed books in PDF format before! My review criteria is based on my enjoyment of the story. You could always attach a picture of the cover if you want a review of that too? (I tend to only comment on a cover if it is especially pretty!)

You must remember that in asking a blogger to buy your book in order to review it, you are asking them to not buy another book they have been wanting to buy as soon as they get the money. Not many book bloggers make enough money from their blogs to afford a book. And all book bloggers love reading, which means they all have books they really want to buy. Your book would have to be REALLY special for me to not buy the next, say, C.L. Stone book. Speaking of C.L. Stone…

Are there other reasons asking book bloggers for reviews could be good?

YES! If a book blogger loves you book, they are very likely to become your biggest fangirl/boy. This means they will be shouting about future releases, featuring your book on Twitter and possibly setting up chats on book forums. Bloggers love the internet, and they love talking about their latest finds. A loyal following of book bloggers is just as valuable as one good review in a magazine or paper. You have a band of people who patrol the internet shouting your name! Honestly, C.L. Stone even has her own tag on my blog- I love her books that much.

Is there anything I should do before approaching a blogger about my book?

YES! Read their blog. If possible, comment on it! Even if you just like their review style or have read a book they reviewed, comment. You are creating a connection!

You should also read their review policy, probably before you waste time with anything else. This is especially important if you are a self published or “indie” author. This is because lots of bloggers won’t accept any books to review from indie-authors, although other blogs only review indie authors. The review policy might also mention genres the blogger reads and if they are accepting titles for review at that time. Ignoring the review policy and sending your book anyway will result in it just being thrown in the bin! These bloggers are busy people! (Personally, I welcome indie authors! See my Review Policy)

Finally, write them an email! Make it good, after all, this blogger will be performing a service for you! You wouldn’t write to a newspaper on a scrap of paper or not bother to use spell check! However unintentional on the bloggers part, you will be judged on this initial correspondence! If you can’t write a one page letter, how did you write a book? Try and personalise this letter, if the blogger is fun, make it fun, if the blogger is serious, tone it down a bit. Try to show that you have done your research, maybe mention how much you like their review style or that a particular review made you really want to buy a book. Make it short, snappy and to the point. No more than three paragraphs.

Isn’t all this a bit too much work for one blogger who may or may not review my book?

Yes! You are right. This is far too much work. Much better to let that book sit in your garage or on Amazon where it will only ever be bought by friends and family! NO! You have spent months on your project, your baby, now do your best to get it seen! In one day you could connect with twenty bloggers that you think are right for your book. Say five of those review that book, the important thing to remember is that BLOGGERS FOLLOW OTHER BLOGGERS! And when they also buy your book and review it, more bloggers will see that review. A good review, written well, can set off a chain reaction. That is why it is important to choose your bloggers wisely!

Once you are a famous author you will probably have a publicist to do all this for you. You might already have one! But often, for debut authors, they will share a publicist with twenty other authors so will end up doing a lot of marketing themselves. Unfortunately, being an author these days is about more than just being able to write well. There are lots of really good books out there which are unread just because other authors were louder or better known. Sorry! But you can do this, especially once you have read this post and know the do’s and don’t’s!

This also means that book blogs are even more important for you. Book bloggers review your book for FREE!! They are generally people who love books and their passion shows in their reviews. Lots of them will attach themselves to new authors and will be your biggest cheerleader for future books as well. Treat them nicely and you will be rewarded!

So what should I look for in a blogger?

Well firstly, look at their followers. This may be more obvious on some blogs, others you may not be able to tell. But even if a blog doesn’t have a huge following, don’t discard it yet!

Next, look at their reviews. Are their reviews well thought out? Do they also post their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads? It is pointless sending your book to a reviewer who can barely write. If their review is littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, however much they rave about your book, who will take it seriously?

Also, look at their bad reviews. You should be able to find these by searching for their one or two star reviews. Are these reviews fair or do they slam an author, and their book, parents, dog, cat and goldfish? Of course, you hope your book will garner a good review but you cannot be sure, so if they post a bad review, you want it to be constructive and positive. Maybe they recommend it for a different audience, or give a specific reason why they don’t like it, such as a hatred for love triangles. This means readers who adore love triangles will still pick up your book. So, to summarise, you want specific criticism.

Finally, look at their other activity. Do they participate in weekly memes with other bloggers? (A meme is a feature hosted by a blog in which other bloggers all write a similar article and then link up with each other. A popular one is “Waiting on” Wednesday hosted over at Breaking the Spine . More info in glossary below.) Why is this important? Well, if I post a list on my blog that features your book and then link it up to one of these memes, lots of other bloggers will then click on that link and read about your book. Extra advertisement! Lots of books have ended up on my To-Be-Read (TBR) list due to other blogger’s Waiting on Wednesday posts! I take part in three memes per week, so there is a fair chance a book I have just read will end up on one of them!

Anything else?

Yes! If you are an indie author, you may not be able to persuade bigger bloggers to read your book just yet. Lots of these bloggers will have publishing houses like Penguin and Harper sending them free ARCs of the most anticipated books of the year. So search for smaller bloggers who are active and on the up and up! There are new book blogs being started all the time, and some of these bloggers might be huge in a few years. If you can persuade them that you are their next favourite author, it could be the ultimate long term investment.

BOOKTUBE

Finally, there is another brand of book bloggers called Booktubers. These are the cool kids on the block, the ones who stand in front of a camera and rave about their new books and then post the video on Youtube. Booktubers often have followers in the thousands and are not to be ignored! To find them? Go to youtube and type in Booktube into the search engine. Some well known ones are Little Book Owl, ABookUtopia and Jesse the Reader.

I don’t understand the terminology I found on a blog!

Fair enough! Us bloggers are a weird bunch! However, there are a few terms and acronyms you should really know to persuade those bloggers you are down with the lingo!

TBR – To Be Read! This means the books a reader has lined up to be read! This could be books they own and haven’t read yet, or books they want to buy.

ARC– Advance Reader Copy – A copy of the book that is sent out to reviewers and professional readers for review before publication. This helps create buzz around the book in the weeks leading up to the release. This copy often is not in the finished format, is uncorrected and may not have a cover.

Book haul – The books a blogger has recently bought, borrowed or been given. If you give a blogger a copy of your book, they may well feature it in their book haul!

Wrap-up – A post that summarises all the books a blogger read that month. Again, another chance for your book to be featured.

Memes/Weekly Features/BlogHops – In blog-speak, this is an idea that is spread from blog to blog. This surfaces in the book blogging world as a feature which is hosted on a site, that lots and lots of other book bloggers do their own version of on their own blogs. They then post links on the host site so other bloggers can see what they wrote on that same topic! It is a way for bloggers to connect to each other and share booky love! Bookshelf Fantasies have a very useful Meme Directory which lists most of the booky memes that exist!

So I hope this helps you! The main things to remember is to Connect, Ask Nicely and don’t Empty Follow! 

Much Booky Love
E. St. C.
xxx

Why we should all pre-order a book: A reader’s point of view

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 12.06.09

I recently pre-ordered All Fall Down by Ally Carter, and as I clicked the little green button, I realised that I had probably pre-ordered a book less than five times in my life. As a girl who has read well over 1000 books, this thought shocked me.

First, I should point out that this post is predominantly about pre-ordering on amazon.co.uk as I have not ever pre-ordered on any other sites. However, after looking around, I noticed that most of the information in this post is true for the bigger bookshops as well as quite a few indie stores.

When you pre-order a book, you are not charged until the order is dispatched. Amazon also do this really cool thing called the pre-order price guarantee…

“For items with a future release date, the Amazon.co.uk price may change between the time of order and the date the item is dispatched. We don’t charge you until we dispatch an item; therefore, when you pre-order selected books, … you’ll be charged the lowest price offered by Amazon.co.uk between the time the order was placed and the item’s release date.

If the price is lowered on the release date and your order has already been dispatched, we’ll automatically refund the difference between the price you were charged and the release-date price.” (From Amazon)

(I must add, after doing a quick check, this is also true for Waterstones)

This all sounds pretty cool, not to mention the reasons why pre-ordering is great for our beloved authors.

1. Pre-ordering helps them get on the bestsellers lists. All pre-orders count towards the first week of sales, which is when an author is most likely to go on a bestsellers list. This may seem like a shallow thing to worry about, like a popularity contest, but it is really important for an author to get noticed, get their work read and be known. If they can prove they have a large reader base, this can help them get more marketing from their publisher and there is a greater chance of future books.  Good news for us! (Even well published authors get worried about their next book being accepted!)

2. Pre-ordering may result in a re-order. The book hasn’t been released and retailers have already run out, they ask for another batch of books from the publisher.  Again, this is brilliant for an author- retailers and publishers getting excited about a book which has sold out before being put on the shelves often leads to….

3. More space in the bookshops. If ten people have already pre-ordered a book in their local bookshop, the manager is much more likely to make space for that book on their shelves. It is selling well, and it hasn’t been displayed, why wouldn’t they? And books being displayed leads to a wider reader base, which leads to more sales and more book deals for our favourite author. Awesome!

All of these things mean that authors get more sales, and SALES ARE GOOD! For our author, and, in turn, for us, their devoted readers. If our favourite author gets lots of sales, their publishers will take note of this, which could be vital for not only for the continuation of a series, but as stated above, any other book they might write. If they have already proven they can sell big, they are likely to be published again. Which is excellent news for us.

So. Pre-ordering books is important. But I never did it. Why? Maybe due to a lack of money (“If I pre-order that book that doesn’t come out until the summer, will I still have that money in my account when it is released?”), maybe due to a need for instant gratification (I just never saw the point in committing to something I won’t get for six months). So, if you feel a bit like I used to, here are some reasons that are closer to home that might change your mind.

1. You get that book first! Well, apart from those lovely reviewers who posted all about their ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Reading a book on the first day it comes out is brilliant, as you won’t have to suffer from spoilers. And you can feel really smug when telling all your friends how brilliant it is, but you “can’t say anything, it might spoil it”, which, lets be honest, is a great feeling. Also, you don’t have to queue all night outside a bookstore just to arrive at the counter to be told they ran out. (Who would be crazy enough to do this? Well, er, um!)

2. Surprise! If it is a hard copy, you get that great feeling of opening a mystery package that just arrived (“Hmm, I haven’t ordered anything in forever, whatever could it be?”). If it is an e-book, it will just appear on your kindle or nook or other e-reader device (and you will feel like Father Christmas, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy all came at once). If you preorder a book six months in advance, there is a very real possibility you will forget that TODAY is the day. (Cue high-pitched fan-girl squealing.)

3. You might get exclusive deals from the author. Lots of authors now run contests and giveaways for their loyal fans who pre-order their books (“I most definitely would like a bag with a quote from your book on it, thank you!”).

4. You don’t have to rely on your bad memory. As I already mentioned, I read a LOT of books. Too many. My parents used to tell me off for the amount I read, which I do not think is normal parent-child behaviour. Although I might really love an author, I am usually waiting for about five books to come out at any one time, and my TBR pile is obnoxiously huge, so I might, might, just forget to actually buy that book I have been looking forward to for months.  But if I pre-ordered that book when I spotted it, I don’t have to worry about remembering, it arrives in a parcel of joy, and I am happy.

5. Be part of something amazing. If a book you pre-ordered hits a bestseller list, you can say, I helped to do that. And an author will be eternally grateful that there are readers out there that cared enough to pre-order their wonderful book.

So, if I haven’t convinced you by now, I probably never will. If I have, go and type in your favourite author’s name into Google, and see if they have any upcoming releases. Or go and look for some new authors and support their work. You might just pre-order the book of the next J.K. Rowling.

Lots of booky love
E. St. C
xxx