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.

Book Review: Illuminae By Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Rating: ★★★★.5
Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

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I thoroughly enjoyed Illuminae! So much so, that I have put off writing this review in favour of reading the next book in the series, Gemina. It was a very interesting format, which I admit, was hard to get my head around at first and one of the reasons it took me so long to actually pick this book up in the first place. I even considered listening to the audio book instead (absolutely no shade on audio books, the reason I wanted to listen to it is because I’ve heard its phenomenal!) But I pushed ahead, got over the fact it had weird formatting and read it anyway… And I am so glad I did!

Illumine follows Kady and her ex-ex boyfriend, Ezra through an epic (and terrifying) space adventure. After their home planet is invaded and they are forced to flee, they find themselves separated onto two different space crafts. But the terror doesn’t stop there. Nobody in charge will tell them what’s really going on and as strange things start to happen, Kady puts her impressive hacker skills to work to uncover the truth.

This was amazing! It has all the right elements to create an intense and sometimes downright heart-wrenching plot. As I said before, the formatting took some getting used to as it’s almost as if you are reading through notes and photocopies of conversations for a trial, but after completing the novel, I don’t think a normal format would have done the story justice. It was different, quirky and really fun to read.

The characters, in true Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman style, were awesome. So much sass and great snarky banter! I found myself laughing out loud a lot while reading this one. Especially when I could almost feel the Aussie sense of humour coming through! On the other side of things, this book could also get really quite emotional and sad (also something this duo is incredible at!)

Overall, this was an amazing scifi! If you love rouge AI, deadly, mutating plagues and incredible badass characters, this one is for you! If you, like me, haven’t picked this up because the formatting “looks weird” just do it, go ahead and read it, its amazing! You won’t be sorry!

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.

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.

Book Review: Emergency Contact By Mary H. K. Choi

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Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

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I had a hard time reviewing this book. Mainly because I both loved it and kind of also, not hated, that’s too strong of a word, but, I disliked it too. I don’t often read contemporary YA novels and it’s strange to say that although I disliked a few things about this book, it was still interesting and gripping enough for me to know I could probably read it again and enjoy it if I wanted to.

Emergency Contact is a story that unfolds through the perspective of both Sam, a tattooed, sensitive, coffee shop manager and the intense, apocalypse survival kit enthusiast, Penny. After a not so smooth meeting, they exchange numbers and become almost immediately inseparable, spending nearly every waking hour text messaging each other.

When I first started reading this book I found the main character, Penny, rather obnoxious. Penny came across as self centred and judgemental to the point of being a hypocrite. She sees herself as something “other” and not like other girls. On several occasions I found her to be abrasive and lacking in any real compassion to anyone with different interests or a different personality to her. She sees nearly every other woman she interacts with as stupid and vapid. Sam was also very self indulgent, but he was easier to warm to than Penny for me. As the book progressed however, it was easy to see why these characters were so deeply flawed and it actually made me like them more as the story progressed and they started growing from their interactions and experiences. The characters, despite being a little unlikable at times, felt real and interesting.

The plot was great! It tackled some pretty intense issues including racism, substance abuse and sexual assault. There were times I did find myself skim reading through a lot of the more dense writing to get back to Penny and Sam’s interactions. I had a few laugh out loud moments when it came to their dialogue which I really loved, but I also had a few eye-roll moments when they both just seemed to come across as a little pretentious. Despite this, I really did end up loving both Sam and the (very) quirky, Penny.

Overall the book was hard to rate. I burned through it in a couple of days and I ended up liking it more and more as the story progressed, however my initial response was a feeling that maybe this was one YA novel I was just too old for (which never happens, I adore YA). I feel really perplexed and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I get the feeling I may read this again and enjoy it more the second time around. Because of this, I am giving Emergency Contact 3.5 stars.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy of this book!

Book Review: Four Dead Queens By Astrid Scholte

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Find it on Book Depository

Goodreads Synopsis:​

Get in quick, get out quicker.

These are the words Keralie Corrington lives by as the preeminent dipper in the Concord, the central area uniting the four quadrants of Quadara. She steals under the guidance of her mentor Mackiel, who runs a black market selling their bounty to buyers desperate for what they can’t get in their own quarter. For in the nation of Quadara, each quarter is strictly divided from the other. Four queens rule together, one from each region:

Toria: the intellectual quarter that values education and ambition
Ludia: the pleasure quarter that values celebration, passion, and entertainment
Archia: the agricultural quarter that values simplicity and nature
Eonia: the futurist quarter that values technology, stoicism and harmonious community

When Keralie intercepts a comm disk coming from the House of Concord, what seems like a standard job goes horribly wrong. Upon watching the comm disks, Keralie sees all four queens murdered in four brutal ways. Hoping that discovering the intended recipient will reveal the culprit – information that is bound to be valuable bartering material with the palace – Keralie teams up with Varin Bollt, the Eonist messenger she stole from, to complete Varin’s original job and see where it takes them.

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I was lucky enough to receive an advanced readers copy of this book from Allen and Unwin, and wow! I am so happy I got to read this incredible stand alone debut from, fellow Aussie, Astrid Schotle, early! I am still reeling from the high this book gave me, it was phenomenal! The plot, world building and characters! All of it was amazing!

Four Dead Queens follows a ruthless, sassy thief named Keralie, navigating a world full of deception, conspiracy, love and self acceptance. She is joined by the stoic and handsome, Varin, who together, become insnared in the tangled web that has left the four ruling queens of Quadara dead. We get to see this story unfold through several different perspectives- that of Kearalie and the four queens of Quadara. Each queen rules over a seperate region of Quadara and is responsible for overseeing  different aspects of life such as art, agriculture, technological advancement and exportation and exploration.

To begin with, I wasn’t sure about this book. I was having a hard time connecting with some of the characters, however, it didn’t take long at all for me to become so engrossed in the world, that I had a hard time putting the book down. The characters were beautifully diverse and it was really enjoyable seeing diverse, female characters in positions of power. The world building was rich and thorough and the plot itself was full of genuine surprises! Have you ever looked up from a book and audibly gasped because you didn’t see a twist coming? Because I have now!

The pacing was good. It was jam packed full of action, which I really loved. It felt like the story progressed well. My only criticism would be that it was, at times, hard to discern how much time had passed throughout the story because it was all action, all the time. This wasn’t too big of an issue though due to the fact the story was so well done and the use of different character perspectives had the story flowing nicely.

Overall, I haven’t got anything really negative to say about this book. I really enjoyed the fact that the author was able to blend a dystopian fantasy novel with a murder mystery and have it work so seamlessly. Four Dead Queens kept me guessing all the way though and it was truly a pleasure to read! Because of this, I am giving it 4.5 stars!

January Reading Wrap-Up

January was a great reading month for me. With my (fairly) new baby taking up most of my time, I didn’t think I’d get much reading done, so my TBR was only two books long! I ended up reading another three! With five books already under my belt, I am well and truly on my way to reaching my Goodreads reading goal!

One of my goals for 2019 was to read more and start a blog so I could review what I read! I feel like I have really hit the ground running this month! If you’re interested to see a summary of what I read in January, check out the list below! All of my corresponding in-depth reviews will be linked.

My Review System

5 Stars: This. Book. Blew. My. Mind. I’d read it again and again and would highly recommend it.
4 Stars: The book was great! I enjoyed it and I may read it again.
3 Stars: I could take or leave this book. It had some interesting moments, but nothing too captivating.
2 Stars: Not a very good book, I’ll more than likely forget about its existence once it’s lost in the expanse of my book shelves.
1 Star: A book I wish I didn’t waste my time on. I did not enjoy it at all and would definitely not recommend it.

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Title: Scythe (5 stars)
Author: Neal Schusterman
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Dystopian

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I would recommend this book to everyone. E-VE-RY-ONE! I am not usually a huge fan of sci-fi, but this book had the perfect blend of genres and it was really captivating! It really gets you thinking about life, death and your morals as a human being! I cannot recommend this book enough! Go read it!

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Title: Thunderhead (3.5 stars)
Author: Neal Schusterman
Genre: YA Sci-fi/Dystopian

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: If you enjoyed Scythe, I’d give this one a read. It wasn’t as captivating in my opinion and felt like it suffered from a little bit of “second book syndrome” in which reading it felt like it was more or less a bridging novel, necessary to expand the plot. I think because I enjoyed Scythe so thoroughly, this book had huge shoes to fill for me and it didn’t quite meet those expectations.

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Title: The Cruel Prince (5 stars)
Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA Fantasy

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I. Bloomin. Loved. This. Book. It was completely up my alley in terms of genre! It was utterly magical and had some awesome characters. I absolutely loved the overall plot and would highly recommend this book to fans of Cassandra Clare or Sarah J Maas.

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Title: Stalking Jack The Ripper (3 stars)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: YA Murder Mystery/Historical Fiction

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I’d recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t mind a light “whodunit” read. I found this book too predictable for my liking having picked who Jack the Ripper was within the first few chapters. The book was still entertaining enough due to the witty characters and Sherlock Homles vibes. However, it did feel like a lot of useless “filler” information was given to try and keep the mystery alive. It fell a little flat for me.

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Title: Truthwitch (3.5 stars)
Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: Fantasy

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I found this book really hard to review. It felt like the first section of one really long book, with no satisfying conclusions to any of the character storylines. I enjoyed the overall premise of this book, but I would not recommend it to fantasy lovers who enjoy in-depth lore or world building. It had some great moments and some really quippy character banter that I enjoyed. Be warned though, it has a pretty intense case of  “insta-love” that some might find cringey!

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Title: Twilight (chapters 1-5)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

You can read my in-depth review here.

This month I re-read the first 5 chapters of Twilight, 14 years after I read it last. I documented my thoughts and feelings which you can find in my in-depth “review.” I will be continuing my read through of this book as the year progresses as I really disliked it and I’m not sure I can continue anytime soon! I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, I found it to be utter trash. Ha! Sorry 15 year old Aimee!