Monday Morning Check-in: Blogging for Books

Good Monday morning everyone.  I have a confession.  I’m typing this up on Saturday, scandalous I know.  I had some time to fill and a topic to discuss so I decided to schedule this post.

So have you heard?  Blogging for Books is closing.  I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.  I did write a Bookish Thoughts post here, about being done with the program as they never had books I was interested in.  I lied, or rather I couldn’t give up the temptation of being offered a physical book to review that I could keep.  Don’t get me wrong I love the digital arcs but it is nice to have a book I can put on my shelf when I’m done.  Especially if it is one I loved.  For instance, I received my copy of The Martian through Blogging For Books and I’ve read it like three times now.  So I’m sad the program is closing down but not surprised.

I imagine they felt the cost of sending the books was not worth the reviews they were getting.  After all, they are still offering digital arcs through Net Galley and their (crappy) First to Read program.  I totally don’t blame them but I have to say if perhaps you offered books that people were excited about then perhaps the quality of reviews would have been better.  I only participated in the program for three or four years but besides The Martian, I never found anything truly exciting in their offerings.  It always felt like books they were second or third tier titles.  Maybe I just wasn’t a popular enough blogger to be offered better titles though.  I also didn’t care for the hoops they made up jump through.  Proving our influence on social media through a Klout rating.  Maybe another reason the program failed.

I’m still active on Net Galley but have noticed that many of the publishers are not listing their big upcoming release titles for request anymore.  I have been offered widgets through email from a couple of publishers but when I go to search the title I can’t find where people can put in a request.  So perhaps all the publishers are simply becoming more exclusive in who they offer their books to.  Or maybe not.

Others have mentioned to me it is nice to not have an arc to review as then there aren’t 40 different blogs reviewing the same book.  I agree but I still find it fun to score an arc by an author I’m a huge fan of.

I know I’ve not been a blogger for all that long but I feel like the environment is changing.  I can only control this little corner of the internet however and no matter what happens as long as I am reading I will be posting my reviews.  You might have to deal with older titles but that isn’t such an awful thing.  After all, it might be a great way to find some great book that perhaps you missed when it first came out.

So what are your thoughts about Blogging for Books closing?  Will you miss them or have you already written them off ages ago?


Ready Player One by Ernst Cline (reread)

Book Review


Book Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian

Book Series: Ready Player One #1

Released:1/16/2018 by Crown Publishers

Pages: 374 Price: $16.00 Paperback

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Site

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Blogging for Books



Book Synopsis:

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

My Review:

Confession time.  I had already read this book when I requested it or rather I had listened to it.  I borrowed the audiobook from my library a while back but had wanted to read it again before seeing the movie.  I loved listening to it the first time as it is narrated by Wil Wheaton who quite frankly made the book truly come alive for me.  I had been toying with adding the title to my home library and when I saw the movie tie-in version come up for review I went for it and put in a request.

I’m happy to report that reading the book was just as delightful as listening to it.  It really does surprise me that this book works for me when I struggle so much with his second title Armada.   This book, however, is such a fun trip down nostalgia lane for anyone that grew up in the 80’s.  I can’t wait to see it on the big screen!

Much of what I said in my first review carries over to this one as my opinion and observations haven’t changed in this rereading.  If you would like to know what I said in that review you can do so at this link.  If you are excited about seeing the movie please do pick up the book first.  After all the book is always better!

My Rating: 5 Stars

Bookish Thoughts: I’m Done…

…with the Blogging for Books review program. Every time I’ve logged on to the site over the past year there is never any books I’m interested in reading.  Because of that, I wasn’t actively posting reviews and I noticed the books offered to me became more and more limited.  That might also have something to do with my Klout score being low due to my reduced social media activity.

Blogging for Books was nice in that they sent you a physical book. But when the selection to choose from is so crappy what is the point?  I’ve never been a fan of how they ran their system, limiting review copies to one book at a time and a wait time before having access to a new title after posting your review of course… (example: I receive my book in two days, read it, yet have to wait their arbitrary amount of time before I can post my review) They would also not offer the same books to every participant.  If your Klout score wasn’t up to their snuff then you only had access to their less popular titles to review.   I understand it is their site and their rules but I’m done jumping through their hoops. I also understand this will probably put me on a blacklist over on Net Galley as well.  That’s okay too.

I’m also drastically reducing my review requests on other sites like Edelweiss and Net Galley.  Edelweiss has never been a lucky place for me to request titles anyway and if it wasn’t for one publisher granting me access to a beloved author through that site I would be giving them up as well.  Net Galley, on the other hand, has been a great way for me to try different authors and score some ARCs in series I follow.  But I have noticed recently that there are fewer titles I’m interested in requesting from that site as well.  I continue to check their new listings every day but rarely do I put in a request anymore.    Of course, there are some months that I find a bunch of titles I’m interested in but that tends to be the exception.

I’ve also noticed that I’m not being offered review copies from Indie authors as often.  Which honestly is fine with me.  I’m going to say 90% of the titles offered to me are nothing even remotely similar to the types of books I read.  Either the authors are offering less, actually reading my review request rules and honoring them, or I’ve fallen out of favor.  Maybe it is a mix of all three.

So have any of you noticed a decline in review copies available or of interest through any of these sites?  Are you scaling back or ramping up your review requests?  Or do you avoid them altogether and just read what you want?

Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda

Book Review


Of Cats and Men: Profiles of History's Great Cat-loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and StatesmenBook Genre: Non-fiction, History

Book Series: N/A

Released: 4/2017 by Ten Speed Press

Pages: 101  Price: $16.oo Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s Bio, More Info

Buy the Book: Amazon Of Cats and Men: Profiles of History’s Great Cat-Loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and Statesmen

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program for an honest review.

Book Synopsis:

A stylish, illustrated gift book from an award-winning artist that profiles notable cat-loving men throughout history in words and pictures.

Of Cats and Men presents a fresh approach to cat entertainment that’s smart, sweet, and driven by beautiful art (instead of tacky photography, as many cat books are). Appealing to both men and women, the “cat men” approach is a fun twist on the “cat lady” stereotype and makes for a highly giftable book. The 30 men profiled range from writers and artists such as Haruki Murakami, T.S. Eliot, William S. Burroughs, and Ai Weiwei, to historical luminaries such as Sir Winston Churchill, Nikola Tesla, and Sir Issac Newton. In addition to the portraits, the book features beautifully hand-lettered quotes about cats by some of the men, including Twain’s “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”

My Review:

The synopsis is pretty spot on for this book.  It is a charming little gift or coffee table book featuring profiles of famous cat-loving men throughout history.  Many of them you will know but some might be surprising.  The book is handsomely illustrated and features quotes from many of the men profiled in the book.

The book isn’t very long and would make a great gift for the cat man or woman in your life.  I have been fortunate to share my home one and might save my copy for him for Father’s Day.  After all, our cats are our children and he might appreciate the recognition and to see what great company he keeps.

Not a lot more to say.  It was a quick read and of exceptional quality printing wise. I liked it but wasn’t overly excited about it.  It was interesting but nothing profound inside its pages.  I still think it is a tad overpriced at $16.00 but at least you get something worthy of giving.

My Rating: 3 Stars

The Illustrated Book of Sayings by Ella Frances Sanders

Book Review


Book Genre: Non-Fiction, Coffee Table Book, Art

Book Series: NA

Released: 9/13/16 by Ten Speed Press

Pages:162   Price: $14.99 Hardcover

Links:  Goodreads, Author’s SiteMore InfoAuthor Bio

Buy the Book: Amazon The Illustrated Book of Sayings: Curious Expressions from Around the World

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program.

Book Synopsis:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller, Lost in Translation, come this collection of 52 artistic renderings of sayings from around the world that illuminate the whimsical nature of language.

Ella Frances Sanders’s first book, Lost in Translation, captured the imagination of readers with its charmingly illustrated words that have no direct English translation. Now, the New York Times-bestselling author is back with an illustrated collection that addresses the nuances of language in the form of sayings from around the world. From the French idiom “to pedal in the sauerkraut,” (i.e., “to spin your wheels,”) to the Japanese idiom “even monkeys fall from trees” (meaning, “even experts can be wrong”), Sanders presents sayings that reveal the remarkable diversity, humor, and poignancy of the world’s languages and cultures.

My Review:

What an interesting little book!  I was hesitant to request this title as I wasn’t exactly sure what it was all about.  I took a chance because it was the only book they offered for review that peaked my interest and I so happy to have received this title.  Sometimes it is worth taking a chance, sometimes it pays off!

I thought it was going to just be a coffee table book of sayings, idioms from around the world with some illustration.  To be honest I was expecting something kinda boring… sorry.  I thought my husband might find it interesting and I could pass it on to him after I read it.  I still plan to let him read it but this little gem is staying in my library.  What I didn’t realize was that the author went into detail about the history of each idiom and gave us some of the history or quirkiness associated with each phrase.  That is what made this book for me, totally.  It also didn’t hurt that two of the sayings I enjoyed the most were Bulgarian (where my husband is from) and Turkish (what my husband is: Bulgarian Turk).  Those two pages I quizzed him and covered the translation and made him read the sayings in their original language.  Pleased to report each one was translated correctly and he was delighted to see a part of his heritage in the book.  A couple other of my favorites were from Japan and India (Hindi).

This is such a delightful little book it would make a great gift to someone you might know that travels the world or simply wishes to travel. A linguist or philosopher would also find this book delightful as well.  Perfect for a college grad too.  The price isn’t too high, would love to see it around $10, but for the quality of the binding and being hardcover $15 isn’t unreasonable.  I really can’t find any fault in this book and plan to check out the other title by this author.

My Rating: 5 Stars

The Time Chamber by Daria Song

The Time Chamber: A Magical Story and Coloring Book
Links to Goodreads

Companion coloring book to The Time Garden: Published 10/13/15: 80 Pages

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through blogging for books for an honest review

 More Info : Author BioRead Chapter One

Book Synopsis:

Korean artist Daria Song’s sequel to The Time Garden takes readers on a visual journey into a magical nighttime world seen through the eyes of a fairy.

This second book in best-selling Korean artist Daria Song’s coloring series features the voyage of a fairy who, when the cuckoo clock chimes midnight, enters the human world. To the tiny fairy, everything seems enormous and magical, from the curtains to the chandelier to a mystical rowboat that takes her further into an inky adventure. Filled with the imaginative, intricately detailed illustrations Song’s readers have come to love, The Time Chamber presents a view of our world made new—and ready for coloring.


My Review:

I had the opportunity to review the companion book by this author about the little girls side of this story and found it delightful. When I found this book available I wanted to add it to my library as well. It is full of the same beautifully intricate drawings by this talented artist, Ms. Song.

Much of what was said about The Time Garden in my review can be said for this book also.  It is of excellent quality, made from thick paper that I put to the test this time with markers.  The pages held up and not one drop bleed through to the other side with any of the colors I used.  I did not use sharpies, but standard craft quality markers you can find someplace like Target.  My only complaint again is that I wish the pages could be lain flat to make coloring in the inside by the binding easier.

The story is cute and again a nice change from standard coloring books out there.  The pictures are lovely and quite intricate, probably best for more experienced color artists and those with a steady hand.  Slow and steady though and eventually all the illustrations will become colorful expressions of an afternoon or evening spent relaxing.  I plan to keep this book and its companion on my coffee table for movie watching and when ever I need to unwind.

The books would make lovely gifts for most anyone, but I recommend for those friends you might have that are in need of finding some inner peace through recapturing a bit of their youth.  Who wouldn’t smile to find one or both of these books with a fresh package of colored pencils waiting for them on their desk at work or their favorite comfy chair. Or perhaps pick them up and treat yourself to an afternoon tech free finding your own happy spot.


My Rating: 4 Stars

The Time Garden by Daria Song

The Time Garden: A Magical Journey and Coloring Book
Links to Goodreads page


Book one of companion coloring books: Released 9/1/15

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Blogging for Book for an honest review

More Info  &  Author Bio

Book Synopsis:

Journey through the doors of a mysterious cuckoo clock into its inky innerworkings to discover a magical land of clock gears, rooftops, starry skies, and giant flying owls—all ready for you to customize with whatever colors you can dream up.

Cuckoo . . . cuckoo . . . cuckoo . . . When the clock strikes midnight, you’ll wonder, was it all a dream?

The Time Garden features extra-thick craft paper, ideal for non bleed-through coloring, and the jacketed cover with flaps is removable and colorable. Special gold-foil stamping on the cover and spine and a To/From page make it perfect for gifting to adults and kids alike.

Then, explore the magical world outside the clock through the eyes of a fairy in the sequel, The Time Chamber: A Magical Story and Coloring Book!

My Review:

I’m sure many of you have heard or read articles about the latest craze of adult coloring books.  They are all over the book stores and libraries and nursing homes are starting up coloring clubs for color enthusiasts of all ages.  My own library has started up a program and when I came across this title I had to give it a shot.

The book is simply beautiful, worthy of any gift giving occasion with the lovely foil stamping on the cover and spine.  The pages have a nice feel to them and take a colored pencil well.  The designs are very intricate and perhaps even a bit intimidating for those returning to the world of coloring.  What I liked most about this coloring book though it that isn’t simple a collection of pictures based upon a theme and bound together.  This coloring book has a story to go along with the beautiful artwork inside.   The images then proceed to take us along with the main character on a great adventure!

Like I said the pictures are very intricate and I would use very fine tipped markers or colored pencils with a sharpener on hand.  This book would be great to keep someplace where you can spend a few minutes or longer working on a picture as you “watch” a movie with the spouse or visit on the phone or wait for an appointment.  Actually this book would be perfect for those times you are stuck waiting on tech support to fix some issue because it might actually succeed in keeping you calm.

This is my first adult coloring book and I’m afraid it has probably set the standard pretty high for the next that I add to my home library.  There is only two things I would have changed about this book.  The first is I wish it was bound different, with pages to are able to lay completely flat.  To get to the inside of the pages for coloring you are going to have to break the binding.  Also I would have mixed in some less intricate pictures so that “artists” of all skill level could enjoy picking out a picture to spend an afternoon with.  It is simply a charming book though and I look forward to seeing the companion book that tells the story from the fairy’s perspective.  This book is the beginning of a colorful and creative new hobby for me!

My Rating: 4 Stars