Here are some links to Civilian Reader abroad (or, other people experimented with the idea that I had something interesting to say):
- “Turning the Tables” by Mark Lawrence
- “Blogger Query” on A Fantastical Librarian
- Guest Post on Jo Fletcher Books Blog (18th & 19th Century Fantasy Worlds)
- Interview with me on Jo Fletcher Books Blog
- Interview with me on ScyFy
Some comments about how I deal with reviews and run the site, because I get asked about these things fairly often…
If I receive a book from a publisher, I will do my utmost to give it a read and a fair look, but if it is unsolicited I cannot guarantee a review. If I specifically request a book, however, I will review it as soon as possible (or, if it arrives in advance of its publication date, nearer its release), but perhaps not immediately.
I would love to be able to read and review every book I get sent (and I do get a wonderfully large number), but there are simply not enough hours in the day, week, month, or year. Where possible, I will ask someone else to review the book for the website, if I think it would appeal to them — recently, for example, Ryan Frye has been helping me catch up on the fantasy backlog. I am very thankful to the people who have helped me out with reviews and provided content for the blog over the years. I may also leave books for a while before I get around to them — just because it’s not reviewed right away does n0t mean I’m disinterested. It’s just a matter of timing, and also my mood. And, of course, the fact that I sadly can’t be doing this 24/7. (Blogger’s gotta eat…!)
I buy a lot of books myself, too, so I will likely review these just as much as books I receive from publishers.
My reading preferences have gone through a major shift in the past year. I used to predominantly read fantasy and US-based and international political/crime thrillers. I have started to read more literary/contemporary fiction, and also more non-fiction related to the entertainment industries (you may have noticed the more-frequent music biographies featured on the site). I have become far more picky in the speculative genres, and especially wary when it comes to YA genres. I tend to binge-read, too, which means I have frequent bouts of genre fatigue or reader’s block. I also read a lot of politics, history, and current affairs books, which I don’t feature on CR, so that might account for occasional silences, etc.
Commenting is welcome and indeed encouraged! Only comments that are needlessly abusive of others or myself will be rejected (none so far, so thank you all for keeping things civil). Comments will not be rejected just because they happen to disagree with another comment or a review. By all means, point out things you disagree with or things I may have misunderstood. It adds to the larger conversation, and I like hearing what others think.
I will, however, probably reject comments that include spoilers for the book that’s been reviewed or written about. (This is also why I use the official blurb/synopsis at the start my reviews — it prevents unexpected spoilers creeping in.) In these instances, I might try to edit the comment.
CR’s Clear Preference for Positive (Or Non-Negative) Reviews:
I have posted far more positive reviews than negative. The reason for this is very simple, and in no way because I am a shill for publishers or attempting to curry favour with them:
I have limited free time, and don’t want to “waste” any of it reading a book I do not enjoy. Therefore, I will often not finish a book I just can’t get to grips with. This means some books aren’t featured on the site because I don’t like to review a book I haven’t finished. Therefore, I do not guarantee good reviews for any publisher, author, series, or novel.
No conspiracy, no ulterior motives. I want to let people know about books I enjoy and think they should check out. I work on this blog in my own time, for fun. That being said, there may be the occasional review of a book I didn’t finish: this will usually only be for “noteworthy” books (big releases, books by authors I ordinarily like, or… any other reason I damn well choose).
It is highly unlikely that I will read an unpublished or self-published novel, unless it is from an established author who has decided to release some of their work on their own. The simple reason for this is that books that have gone through the publishing system/process tend to be better put together and presented, not to mention edited and proofed properly. (There is nothing more annoying than a typo-riddled novel. This is doubly true for novels that have gone through the professional publishing machine, and I have come across a frustrating number of poorly-proofed, professionally-published books…)
If you want me to consider reading a self-published novel, by all means get in touch. But: I will pay no attention to emails that are cut-and-paste jobs, or look like a mess. Some attempt to find out what my name is (or the name of the blog, even) would be a good start. Some cover artwork, perhaps? There are plenty of publisher one-sheets and press releases out there, so it’s not difficult to adapt what you have to say into a format that is proven to be successful and eye-catching. If you don’t make any effort to investigate the people you want to review your book, and their tastes, why should we be interested?
Am I being picky? Yes. But, as in most walks of life, a little effort goes a long way. And I am picky about what I read. Very, very picky…