Reading Update #11

Okay so it’s been well over a week since I last updated you all. This isn’t for lack of wanting to update you all…it’s due to an unfortunate lack of reading [insert crying book steff here]!! It’s been tough to get in any reading other than uni work which is a little soul destroying to say the least.

Books I have read

Since my wrap up…none!! Literally none!!! I’ve literally got no books in my may reads list right now! It’s heartbreaking lol.

Currently reading

I’ve gotten 20% of the way through The Gems of Eslana, and I picked up mythago wood but haven’t continued with it yet 😭😭! So…obviously I’m feeling hella sorry for myself!

Books I plan to read next

Any…throw my a bone here! I need to read something other than uni related reading otherwise I’m going to loose the plot lol.

What books have you read in the last week? What book are you currently enjoying? Or perhaps you can comment letting me know you are having a tough reading time to make me feel better? No? Just me…okay.


Beta Readers??

Today I really wanted to chat to you all about being a Beta Reader. It is something I started a few years ago and it’s really been a lovely experience for me. I’m always keen to encourage others who are interested to try it out as it is most helpful to aspiring authors.

So, what is a beta reader?

Simply put, a Beta reader is an unpaid reader who has the opportunity to read through the unpublished and even unpolished manuscript of a writer/ aspiring author in order to give constructive feedback.

Beta readers are often brought on towards the final stages of the writing process, although that doesn’t always have to be the case. In most cases, when a writer has written, rewritten, and then edited the shit out of their book, they go in search of those willing to read it, and give their opinions. Beta readers act as a practice audience and give the writer an idea of how their book will be received. They may tell the writer that something didn’t add up on a particular scene or chapter, or that they didn’t feel connected to a particular character etc. This then means that the writer can go back in and make changes if needed.

It’s important to note that not all writers may take the beta readers opinions and advice into consideration and this may be because out of (let’s say) 15 beta readers only two disliked a certain scene. This tells the writer the majority understood the intent and were happy in general with that scene. You have to go with the majority in these cases.

The process

Normally it works like this…

  • Writer seeks beta readers
  • Beta readers apply
  • Writer picks a set amount
  • Writer and beta reader agree on method of communication (Facebook messenger or email etc,)
  • Writer sends over first 3 chapters
  • Beta reader reads chapters then lets writer know they have finished
  • Writer will ask set questions to guide the beta readers feedback (what were your overall thoughts? What are you predictions? How do you feel about character X? These are all commonly used qustions.)
  • If writer and beta are in agreement to continue then the next 3 chapters will be sent over
  • Repeat

How to become a beta reader?

Interested in helping writers make their books better, and working with them in their creative journey? There are plenty of opportunities to get involved. By simply googling the term beta reader things will come up, but personally I found that joining closed groups on Facebook and by interacting with people on Twitter I was able to get involved. I’ve met some awesome writers this way, and had the privilege to read their work.

Requirements?

As a rule there are no specific “requirements” as such, but some writers may ask for specifics on occasion. For example, they may wish to gather a group of 18 to 24 year olds to ensure they are getting feedback from their target audience. They may look for someone who is of a specific ethnic group or cultural background to ensure that the writer has represented that group well in their novel (this is sometimes referred to as a sensitivity reader).

Other writers may wish to have a beta reader who also writes themselves, or they may request that only readers apply. Really it all depends on the writer who is seeking beta readers. They will usually use a google form for beta readers to apply, or may even just put up a post describing their book, how long it is, and for anyone who is interested to leave a comment or dm them etc. It is all very straight forward if you are looking in the right places.

My experience

I’ve been very lucky in my experience as a beta reader, and have interacted with many amazing people because of it. There is truly something amazing about getting involved in this process and being able to read someone’s work before an agent/ publisher does. It is even better when you can work with one writer more than once, and see them take your comments on board.

It’s always important to be honest, even in your dislikes, because at the end of the day the writer is trying to straighten out kinks in the story. Be mindful when giving feedback, if you didn’t like a scene/ plot twist / character etc, try to explain why; be constructive with your comments. Always remember that this is the writers “baby” and it may be hard for them to hear your negative thoughts…so, please be respectful.

Well, there it is. I hope that some of you found this interesting, and maybe even motivated to try out beta reading for yourself.

Have you been a beta reader before? Are you interested or not? Let me know in the comments below!

My Rating System!

Hey Beautiful Booklovers! Today I thought I would let you all know how I rate my books as I know this can be such an individual thing, and for a lot of people they don’t really rely on a system they just go with a feeling…which I totally get because I have done exactly that before.

More accurately this post is so that you can share your methods too, or perhaps let me know what your thoughts are on mine – if you have any critiques and improvements etc.

So, lets get to it!

One star1* – Obviously, I hate giving this rating because inevitably it means I didn’t enjoy the story. Normally I give a 1* if I really didn’t connect with the characters and didn’t appreciate the plot! I may also give this rating if the writing is so poor it causes great distraction from the story line. I may also give this rating to books I end up DNFing, but generally speaking I tend to not rate those books at all.

Two star2* – I give this rating to books which I have managed to read but have found them very lacking. Normally it’s either lack of tension, lack of significant character intentions or goals, and generally speaking where I find that I could have been entirely happy to skip the book. These are books I, as a rule, do not recommend to others.

Three star3* – These are what I consider my “meh” reads. They’re okay, sometimes I even enjoy them quite a bit, but they don’t have enough to make me feel like I loved them. They are often reads I enjoyed, and can see others enjoying (so I do still recommend some). Essentially it comes down to a certain lack of wow factor for me. Good, but not wow.

Four star4* – Books I loved. I know you may be thinking “hey wait up aren’t 5* reviews for books you loved?” Yeah, they are but I still love a lot of my 4* reads, and quite honestly I can love a book and not consider it a 5* read. These books will normally be ones I loved but feel they don’t quite reach that 5* rating for some reason or another.

Five star5* – Reserved for my wow reads. The ones I rave about. The ones that give me book hangovers. The ones that I can’t stop talking/ fangirlling over! These are the books that I will revisit, and just can’t get enough of.

Do you have specific system you use for rating? Do you just wing it on a feeling? Or are you fa more structured than me? Let me know in the comments below! I’m truly curious to see what method you all use!

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers Review!

Hey Beautiful Booklovers!! As promised I am finally posting another review! I plan to catch up with my review posts as there are so many books I want to talk to you all about! So hopefully I should be able to get back to posting one a week or thereabouts.

You can find it here on Amazon!
  • Title: Grave Mercy
  • Author: Robin LaFevers
  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Andersen Press (3 Jan. 2019)
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • ISBN-10: 1783448237
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783448234
  • My Rating: 4*

Synopsisfrom Amazon

Young, beautiful and deadly.

Trained as an assassin by the god of Death, Ismae is sent to the court of Brittany, where she finds herself underprepared – not only for the games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

A dangerous romance full of intrigue, poison and finding one’s path

My Review

This book had been sat on my shelf for a while…neglected, and I honestly can’t remember why I picked it up; I just felt drawn to it that day, but I’m so so glad I did!

First of all I did not expect some of the hard hitting issues that come into this book, and in fact the series. As a woman, these books make me feel empowered – despite the terrible things these female characters go through they manage to bring themselves back into a state of control. One where they don’t need to feel afraid anymore! It was really refreshing to read a story where the main character wasn’t this perfect girl devoid of any tragedy and having read the next book – I believe this is a theme of these books.

I loved the beautiful historical fiction feel this book gave me. It is definitely fantasy as there are gods and magic to get behind but there is this tragic tortured past of France that leaves us feeling this tale could entirely be true in the most wonderful sense (probably has something to do with the fact I’m a dreamer, but aren’t all book lovers?). I liked reading about the political games being played, the worry over a warring country, and the general intrigue.

I loved the characters, their flaws, and the relationships that developed – particularly the enemies to lovers trope that cropped it. It was a book I didn’t want to put down, and made me immediately want to jump into the next one (which I did).

I love how Robin LaFevers manages to capture the self-doubt of her characters, and then follow through with the release of that doubt. You truly get to journey with them from the very beginning to a transformation of self, and I really enjoyed that aspect of the story.

You may be wondering why I’m being so vague on plot etc, but as is my way…I honestly think you will benefit from knowing little when going into this story. If the synopsis sounds like something you’re interested in then by all means pick it up and see for yourself. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Have you read this book? The series? What were your thoughts? Or perhaps it’s on your tbr? Let me know in the comments below!

General Update!

Hey Beautiful Booklovers! Sorry I haven’t posted this week I have had a lot of uni work going on, so between that and baby, haven’t found time to get on here much. Normally Wednesday is my reading update post, but honestly I haven’t been able to read anything since I last updated you! I know…it’s killing me lol!

Anyway, I thought I’d come on and show my face as it were.

So, first off, what am I reading? A lot of uni books, but luckily I’ll be handing in my last assignment of this years study at the end of the month and then will have a good old break until October (in which I will be reading and writing as much as I’m able). Aside from that I was gifted an arc and have just started digging into it. It’s called The Gems of Elsana by Christian Sterling, so of course I will let you know how that goes once I have finished it.

Also if any of you are in the UK, I have some books for sale on my instagram…because I am unhauling to make more room on my shelves. A tough task let me assure you. Sorry to international booklovers, but I just can’t justify the price of postage.

What have I been doing aside from uni? Well, baby is almost a month old now, and I honestly don’t know where time has ran off to! It’s madness, but he is filling a lot of my day obviously, and rightly so as he is a perfect little bundle of joy. My other kids adore him, and are often trying to smother him with loving affection!

I have managed whilst being “mum of a newborn” again to keep up to date with Game of Thrones, and oh my goodness folks..I’m dying for this series! I loved the books, and this series is killing it too! I am literally a wreck after each episode at this point so if you want to chat about your theories or about how the episodes are going…I’m your girl! I mean it…I need to chat about this stuff!!

Tomorrow I’ll be coming at you with a review…I know it’s been so long you are probably wondering if I know what those are! I do, and the review will be on Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, so look out for that if you are interested in knowing my thoughts.

May TBR

Hey Beautiful Booklovers 😘!! I know I didn’t post my April tbr last month and that’s because 1 – baby and 2 – I’ve been doing the whole “mood reader” thing recently. That being said, I still have a few books that I plan to read this month, and so thought I’d let you know what they are!

1 – Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin Book 3) by [LaFevers, Robin]

This is book number 3 in His Fair Assassins trilogy, and I am super excited to see where this story leads. I had planned to read this in April but other things got in the way, so can’t wait to continue this month!

2 – Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik

Throne of Jade (The Temeraire Series, Book 2) by [Novik, Naomi]

Book number 2 in the temeraire series. I own the first 6 books, and am having some serious dragon withdrawal so need books with dragons this month lol!

3 – Fire and Blood by George R R Martin

Fire and Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones (A Targaryen History) (A Song of Ice and Fire) by [Martin, George R.R.]

Same as the above…I’m having dragon withdrawal 😂! I am up to date with my Game of Thrones episodes and man I need some dragons!! I was contemplating re-reading the entire GoT series but thought that would be fairly time consuming, and I’ve already re-read books recently, so I should focus on reading new ones instead!

4 – Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

So, you should know…I’m trash for Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman! I adore their stuff, and just can’t wait for this book! I am so excited, and read the first chapter sneak peak, and I’m too excited!!!! I need it NOW!

Once I have worked my way through these books I plan to do some polls (either on my Instagram story or my Twitter) to get you all to help me pick which books to read next. I have so many on my shelves I want to read and may need your assistance picking the rest of my May reads!

Have you read any of the above books? Are any on your tbr? What books are on your May tbr? Let me know in the comments below!

April Wrap Up!

Hey Beautiful Booklovers!! Sorry I have been MIA recently…well pretty much all of April really, again sorry! If you follow me on Instagram then you will know that the reason I haven’t been able to post on here is because I had my little boy, and of course my family has taken priority as we have been getting used to the new dynamics of our household!

I am fine, had a comepletely natural and normal experience, baby is perfect – we are all besotted with him in the Book Steff household 😂! We are doing great, and now that things are becoming more “routine” I can now come back to mingling with you lovely people!

So, as stated above this is April’s Wrap Up post, and without further rambling…let’s get to it!

1 – A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

My Rating: 4*

This was a re-read for me, and I absolutely loved it…again. Mostly because well…dragons, but also because I love the relationship of Lady Trent and her husband. I love her inability to take no for an answer! If you haven’t read this…you should definitely look into it!

2 – Daugther of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

My Rating: 4*

Again, another re-read! After finishing Warrior of the Wild last month I needed more Levenseller goodness so picked up this duology again (because apparently despite my massive tbr I’m okay with picking up books I’ve already read 🙄)! Anyway I love this duology it’s some pirate/ siren goodness!

3 – Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

My Rating: 4*

Same as the above – a re-read that I really enjoyed!

4 – Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

My Rating: 4*

This had been on my shelf for too long, so I finally picked it up, and oh my fecking feck!! I adored this book, I loved the concept, the characters, the political manoeuvring! It was great and I needed the next book immediately.

5 – Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

My Rating: 4*

As I said, I needed the next book, and I read it! Normally I’m not a fan when you have one book in the POV of one character then the next book follows someone else, but I have to say I love it! I needed this POV, and I didn’t even know it until I started reading this! The thing I love about these books, are that they tackle such difficult issues/ topics. This book in particular really touched on some tough topics and I loved that about it!

6 – The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke

My Rating: 2*

This was another that had been sat on my shelf for too long! I decided to pick it up and have to say I wasn’t impressed. There was no tension, because I didn’t give a bloody hoot about the characters, and to top it all off I felt like everything was just too easy for the MC!

7 – Temeraire by Naomi Novik

Temeraire (The Temeraire Series, Book 1) by [Novik, Naomi]

My Rating: 5*

Okay, so I loved it!! I loved the dragon, I loved the relationship between the MC and temeraire, and it just gave me so many feels! I will definitely be continuing in this series!

8 – Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

My Rating: 3.5*

I enjoyed this book, it had intrigue, it had a good storyline. For me it was let down with the characters, although I didn’t by any means hate them, I found they weren’t as well developed as I would have personally liked. There were elements that let me see into the characters way of being etc, but I didn’t feel as connected to them as I would have liked. However, I will say that I wasn’t expecting the twist. I recommend this book, because I think it will be loved by many, but I personally needed a bit more.

9 – Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

My Rating: 4*

This has been a long time coming!! I read the first book nearly a year ago now, which is madness. It was time I continued, and I was really surprised, because I honestly thought I wouldn’t like it (no idea why lol)! I wasn’t expecting the twists this story took, and can’t wait to see what the final instalment brings!

10 – A Pack of Vows and Tears by Olivia Wildenstein

A Pack of Vows and Tears (The Boulder Wolves Book 2) by [Wildenstein, Olivia]

My Rating: 4*

I am officially trash for this series and Olivia knows it all to well! The amazing Olivia Wildenstein sent me an arc of this (I previously reviewed book 1 for her as an arc and so she kindly sent me the next instalment) and I just couldn’t put the damn thing down! I don’t own many shifter stories (a I own about 3 maybe 4) but this series just has me hooked; like I said…I’m utter trash for this lol! I will do a review later – closer to pub date – that way you won’t be spoiled if you plan on reading this.

11 – Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

My Rating: 3*

I wanted to love it, but sadly I just felt the pacing let the story down. It’s as simple as that really. I know many people have raved about this, and I can honestly say I wish I could be one of them, but it just didn’t do it for me.

So there you go 11 books later we have my wrap up, which if I’m being honest with you – I’m quite impressed with because I had a baby this month lol! Have you read any of the above? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!