How to Become a Book Reviewer for a Publishing Company

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Back when I started my Bookstagram, I hadn’t really put much thought into where I wanted to go with the whole thing. I knew I had a lot of thoughts and opinions about the books I had been reading, but I had never really done much more than drop a star-rating on Goodreads and be done with it. It wasn’t until I really started to delve into the Instagram community that I started to realise that running a blog could actually be a lot of fun! I started out writing my own content, “write what you know” as they say! So I wrote a lot of what I like to think is fun bookish content,  which included some how tos, book hauls and of course, reviews!

Once I had got some content onto my page, I thought about all those Bookstagrammers I had seen who were receiving books from publishers in exchange for honest reviews! I was so envious! Thinking that this could be something I do as more than just a fun little hobby, that maybe one day I could make it something more. That’s when I decided to really research how to become a book reviewer for publishing companies. Because there didn’t seem to be a lot of information out there, I ended up chatting to one of my Instagram friends who was incredibly helpful! But incase you don’t happen to have one of those friends, below are some of the things I have picked up along the way!

MAKE YOUR BLOG LOOK PROFESSIONAL.

First up, I recommend taking the time to set up a professional looking website! I am lucky enough to have a friend who is an incredible graphic designer, who was able to take my crazy, nonsensical ideas and come up with a really beautiful blog banner that fits my personality perfectly! I suggest getting something done professionally or even using the Canva app or website to try and create something yourself. You don’t have to do this step, but I honestly think it helps!

CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT!

Whether this is your instagram or your blog, you want to be as active as possible, so that the publisher can see you’re serious about what you do. I had had my Bookstagram running for about two years when I started getting serious about wanting to start a blog. It meant that I already had a great place to cross promote the blog too! Most publishing companies want to see that you have been posting consistently for about 6 months before they will add you to the blogger database!

ACTUALLY REVIEW BOOKS.

This goes without saying and ties in with the previous paragraph, but you actually need to be reviewing books you already have before you ask a publisher if you can be added to their database. It’s a really great way to get practice at reviewing books anyway and it helps show the publishers your style! A big part of becoming a reviewer for a publishing company is, well, actually reading and reviewing the books! So as long as this is something you’re able to do, you can go ahead and…

CONTACT THE PUBLISHING COMPANIES PUBLICITY DEPARTMENT.

Once you have your blog up and running and have been consistently creating content  for 6 months or more, go ahead and contact the publishing companies you’re interested in reviewing for. The easiest way I found was to jump on their website and send them an email. Make sure you are professional and courteous! A few things to remember to include in your email are:

  • Your website URL
  • How long you’ve been running your blog for
  • The amount of views your blog gets each month and
  • Links to your social media as well as the number of followers you have

And remember, be yourself!

FINALLY, DON’T BE DISCOURAGED IF YOU GET KNOCKED BACK!

Sometimes publishing companies have a set number of places to fill for bloggers, so don’t be discouraged if you get knocked back initially! Often times if you check back in a few months time they have positions that have become available!

Good luck on your blogging journey and happy reading everyone! If you ever want to chat books or blogging, hit me up here or on Instagram @readingsumpton.

Farewell To The Local Bookshop

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On Love Your Bookshop Day (August 10th 2019), along with a good friend of mine, I decided to head to the local bookstore we both know and love, to peruse the shelves, tell each other we really won’t be buying any books and then, of course, leave with a couple anyway. However, as I approached the store, I saw a large red banner covering its signage. “Stock Sale” it read.

My local bookshop has been open for twenty-one years. Twenty-one years. That feels like a lifetime, and I suppose for some, it is. Upon entering the store it was clear something wasn’t quite right. The once meticulously stocked shelves looked bare and unkept. The staff seemed forlorn. The store was closing down, they were given two weeks to get all their stock out the door. 50% off everything. That’s a pretty great deal, if only it didn’t come with a side of heartache.

twenty-one years. That’s more than half of my time on the planet. Now we won’t just be saying goodbye to the ink and pages that make this small corner of the shopping centre what it is, but also the potential new friends we could have made after spotting them contemplating the purchase of one of our favourite books or the cheerful look on the staffs faces when they are able to order you in that book you’ve been wanting desperately, but can’t for the life of you find anywhere else. We’re saying goodbye to an incredible independent bookstore.

Now, I can only speculate that this is possibly the result of higher rent within the complex, something a small, indie bookshop probably wouldn’t be able to compete with. But it also feels like a result of us. Supporting your local bookstore is important. I think this may have been the busiest I have ever seen the store. 50% off. What a steal, eh? Yet maybe, if we had chosen to shop there to begin with and paid the slightly higher prices, rather than bi-passing them in favour of large online stores or the chain department stores that are able to offer us cheaper goods, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

All I can really say is please, if you have a local independent bookstore near you, support them. Because it’s heartbreaking when they have to close down.

#supportyourlocalbookshop

5 Popular YA Books That Were Given Really Terrible Covers In The Beginning

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“Don’t judge a book by its cover” your mother would say. Which, when it comes to people, is great advice! But when it comes to books, is easier said than done.

Below I have complied a list of really popular YA books/series that were given terrible covers in the beginning! Thankfully a lot of these books ended up getting new covers over time, but how anyone (myself included) picked them up to start with I have no idea!

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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So it might just be me, but I absolutely hate when books have realistic looking character  portraits, or worse, an actual photograph of a person on the cover. I don’t need you filling my head with ideas of what these characters look like, I want to read the story and do all that for myself! The Throne of Glass series is one of my most highly recommended reads. Thank goodness it was given top notch covers after this debacle!

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

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So the original covers for this whole series where pretty terrible, but this one takes the cake for me! I remember I fell in love with this series despite its covers being horrible (and despite a certain weird plot twist at the end of book one! KEEP READING IT’S NOT TRUE!) These books were given a revamp fairly recently and are now much easier on the eye! Unfortunately I have the whole 6 book series in the above cover style though and I can’t bring myself to spend the money to get the new covers for books I already own.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Eeeeek… I hate these covers. I hate everything about them, there really isn’t much I can say I like! I guess the font is ok and of course I didn’t mind the story! Well, It was ok, I read the first couple of books years ago and I didn’t mind them. Sadly, even the new covers for the Vampire Academy series are pretty average, but thank goodness they decided to ditch the models!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games series had the biggest ‘glow-up’ I have ever seen when it comes to book covers! Once the movies came out the covers were changed, but not in that horrible “movie cover” way, where they chuck pictures of the actors on the front and call it a day. These books got some really beautiful editions! I’ve had my set with the original covers (above) on my bookcase for years! Until recently when I found the trilogy, second hand, in the most beautiful editions I have ever seen for just $3 each! I couldn’t resist and snapped them up right away! If I have successfully peaked your interest, you can find a picture of these editions on my instagram, here.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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So I read the first book in this series on a plane from New York City to Los Angeles and I loved it. I then promptly left it in the back of a taxi, along with a number of my other belongings, never to be seen again. But I can tell you now, I would not have picked this book up if it had had this cover. Once you start putting people on the covers of books, I lose interest really quick! Not to mention, this cover has very little relevance to the book in my opinion. I’m not sure what they were thinking here! This series did end up getting some really lovely covers though, which is probably what got me to buy the book in the first place!

So I know in the end it doesn’t really matter what the cover of your book looks like, it’s the story that matters! But I’m sure most book lovers would agree, a pretty cover sure does help!

Book Review: The Hearts We Sold By Emily Lloyd-Jones

Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

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I very nearly didn’t finish this book. It was a huge disappointment for me which I found to be a little surprising as most of the reviews I have seen for it are fairly good. There wasn’t really anything I liked about this book, except maybe the fact that they had some diverse character representation and that it finally did end. It’s such a shame to say, but I really, really, really, didn’t like this book.

Demons have come to Earth and they are making deals! They don’t want money as payment though, they want human limbs. The Hearts We Sold follows Dee Moreno, who is looking to make a deal to escape her less than ideal home life. The demon doesn’t want just any body part though, it wants her heart. Dee is thrust into a two year contract working for the demon where she, and her fellow heartless, get far more than they bargained for.

The premise itself is original and fantastic, but the execution was sloppy and underdeveloped. I had very little attachment to any of the characters and found myself unmoved by even the more drastic plot points. The story felt sluggish until the very end, where it felt like the author decided to drop everything on us at once and rush to a conclusion, leaving several questions unanswered. The ending however, was probably the only part of the book that I felt even a little bit for the characters. But unfortunately, an ‘alright’ ending doesn’t negate the fact that the rest of the book was slow, boring and a little repetitive.

The characters themselves were very bland. Even our main character, who’s back story was fairly interesting felt like cardboard. The character interactions felt forced and there seemed to be a severe lack of chemistry between the romantic pairing. So much so, that when they finally kissed, it felt weird and out of place for me. The story felt like there was just a whole lot of nothing happening at all times. It’s sad to say, but it was a down right chore to continue reading this book.

Over all, I wouldn’t recommend The Hearts We Sold. There was very little character or plot evolution which made the whole story feel stagnant and underdeveloped. The whole story felt very flat and one dimensional and quite honestly, it felt like a huge waste of time. Because the ending didn’t totally suck, this book has gained an extra half star from me, giving it a rating of 1.5 stars.

Why I Will Never Use An Electronic Reading Device

I can already hear what you e-book lovers are about to say! “But it’s so much easier” you’d protest. “What if you’re traveling?!” you’d scream, “You have hundreds of books right there in the palm of your hand!”

Well, as a girl who happily lugged at least 10+ books (yes, mostly hard covers) back from her last trip to America, I can assure you, I cannot relate. Physical books rock my world and I will never use, buy or borrow an electronic reading device. You can’t make me and below are a few reasons why!

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Smelling The Pages

Yeah, ok, don’t act like you’re above it! If you’re an avid reader, chances are you either do, or have done this at some point. But I cannot help but fan through the pages of a book, my nose pressed right up against the edges, breathing in that glorious ‘new book smell.’ Although ‘old book smell’ also has its merits, it isn’t quite the same for me. Perhaps it stems from my very real love of book stores, who knows. Speaking of which…

Perusing Book Stores

Have you ever stepped into a book store and had the overwhelming smell of ink on pages greet your sense? Because I have and it’s amazing. Not to mention, buying physical copies of books from your local book store helps keep them in business. There is nothing quite like spending hours in a book store perusing the shelves for your next read, or, lets be honest here, the next book you’re going to throw on that ever growing TBR (to be read) pile that you may or may not get to before you die of old age or it falls and crushes you to death.

The Feeling

Ok, so I might be getting a little pompous about it all here, but come on, the act of getting more than half way through a book and being able to feel when the pages you’ve read get thicker than the pages waiting to be read is the best. I don’t want to be told what percentage of the way through a book I am. I WANNA FEEL IT. The physical act of turning the pages is perfection and I will not give it up!

Also, what bookworm do you know that doesn’t carry a book with them everywhere they go?! That comforting thud, thud, thud of the heavy book whacking against your side because your bag is now 10x heavier than it should be, is glorious.

Public Libraries

LIBRARIES! Aren’t they the best!? Whether at home or at a dedicated establishment, libraries are just THE BEST. But public libraries are special! Much like second hand book stores, it’s nice to ponder at who read the book before you! What did they think of it? Did they dog ear like a savage and not use a bookmark? Did they spill coffee or accidentally smear orange Cheeto dust on one of the pages? It’s like a murder mystery only without the murder! Unless someone does the aforementioned savagery to your personal home library books, in which case, I have a tarp and a shovel.

So you see, physical books are the best. I won’t deny that there are merits in using an e-reader, but they just aren’t for me! I won’t judge you though, go ahead and use your soulless brick. In all seriousness though, read on whatever you like! At the end of the day, at least we’re all reading, right?

3 Easy Steps To Ensure Your Children Grow Up To Be Readers

From the moment I found out I was pregnant I had visions of my child sharing my love of literature. They would be someone who would happily sit on my lap and let me read to them and of course someone who would, eventually, jump at the opportunity to be sorted into their Hogwarts House (come on Bub, be a Ravenclaw, just like your mother!)

So along comes my beautiful baby girl. A lot like Harry Potter in the respect that she looks very little like her mother and very much like her father, but hooray! She got my eyes! My daughter is still just a baby so she doesn’t understand what I’m saying, but I read to her anyway! Below are 3 easy steps I’ll be taking (and you can too) to ensure my daughter and any future children I have, grow up to love reading.

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Give Them Easy Access to Books and a Cosy Place to Read.

Whether the books are purchased and kept on a shelf at home or you take a walk to the local library and get yourself a library card, books should always be made easily accessible for your children! Reading shouldn’t be a burden, so having access to books is key to having children that want to read! I can vividly remember being taken to the library as a child and it certainly felt like a magical place to me! I am now lucky enough to have been able to create my own personal library at home that I add to every so often. So I guess taking me to the library worked wonders for my mother in sparking my interest in books!

Now, this part isn’t completely necessary, but I think it helps! Set up a reading nook! Somewhere that is cosy and quiet, where you can sit and read to your kids, or if you have older children, somewhere they can sit and read without interruption. There are some really wonderful children’s reading chairs on the market if you’re looking to make it extra special! One of my favourite children’s chairs is from IKEA. It can be found here.

Start Young and Make Reading Fun.

Make it an event, make it theatrical and make it fun! As I said, my daughter is only young so story time isn’t so much about the story as it is about mum making funny faces/voices while she holds up pretty pictures. However, despite not having a clue what I’m saying, she laughs, giggles and squeals! Making story time a time for laughter and enjoyment is something I strive towards. I want my daughter to associate reading with enjoyment and I believe that starts now, while she is young.

If you have older children, try putting an emphasis on using their imaginations! Maybe ask them what they think certain characters look like, or how they picture the landscape the author is describing! Making a fun discussion out of it and taking the time to share your thoughts is, not only a great way to bond with your kids, but also a way to make reading more dynamic and interesting! Reading a book can be as good as going on an adventure or watching a movie and it makes for great family time too!

Make Sure They See You Reading For Fun Too!

And lastly this step, to me, is the most important to ensuring children grow up to love reading. Now I know the saying goes “do as I say, not what I do” but how often has that ever rang true. Children are our mirror image and, especially when they are young, they learn by watching us. Our behaviours, interactions and how we communicate is what shapes them as people. By making time to read yourself, you’re showing your kids that it is important.

My daughter is only little, but it doesn’t stop me for putting a book in her hands for a few minutes while I read a chapter of my own book next to her. She doesn’t read yet of course, she would rather be chewing the corner of her book. But I’d like to think that eventually, as she grows up, she will see the joy I get from reading and perhaps emulate that herself!

Maybe she’ll even ask if we can read Harry Potter together, one can only hope! Fingers crossed!

Book Review: The Wicked King By Holly Black

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the first book in this series: The Cruel Prince. You can find my spoiler free review here. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do. It’s fantastic!

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Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.

After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

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This book is going to give me such a hangover.

Have you ever had a book lull you into a complete sense of security only to have it rip it out from under you like some old woven rug with the very last page? BECAUSE I HAVE AND I AM NOT OK! This book wrecked me. To say I loved it just doesn’t feel like enough! I want to go back in time and stop myself from reading The Cruel Prince so that I wouldn’t have to deal with waiting a whole year for the last book to come out. The Wicked King was everything I had hoped for and maybe a little more.

The Wicked King picks up five months after the events of The Cruel Prince. Cardan Greenbriar, High King of Elfhame now resides on the throne. However, it is Jude Duarte, his mortal seneschal, who holds all the power! Jude has become increasingly distanced from her family and is well and truly caught up in the power she has over the King and his court. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is vying for the throne, while Jude and her Court of Shadows continue their scheme to keep Cardan on the throne until Jude’s younger brother, Oak, is old enough to take over.

This book was absolute perfection! Holly Black has such a knack for story telling that she honestly makes you feel that if you were to look up from the page, you’d be in Elfhame along side Jude. She takes the term “twists and turns” and knocks it out of the park! There were schemes on schemes on schemes and I was living for it. Jude and Cardan where EV-E-RY-THING! Their love-hate relationship  had me completely enthralled. The snide banter, sexual tension and slow unraveling of feelings was amazing. I quite honestly, wouldn’t have minded more of their interactions throughout the book. It was that slow development of trust for each other over time that was my undoing when I read those last few pages.

I am wholeheartedly invested in these books and it is going to take everything in me to not wail at the thought of having to wait another year to read The Queen of Nothing. So until then, you’ll most likely find me rocking back and forth, a copy of The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King in my arms, muttering hysterically about how much I love Cardan Greenbriar despite him being, in fact, rather wicked.

This book is very easily a 5 star read for me. The whimsical nature of the world of Faerie, the snarky, sexy character interactions and the seamless extension and execution of the plot all come together to create a truly incredible read. I need the last book, like, yesterday please.