ARC Review: The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

91giDZnnoyL.jpgSynopsis:

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Harper Voyager. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released today.*

Note: There will be spoilers from The City of Brass in this review.

When I first started this novel I wasn’t sure if I was ready to get back into this world. There was a lot going on here. There were different tribes of djinn, the shafit, old histories and secrets, and now three different points of view instead of just the two that were in the first book, not to mention the five year time jump. In sum, I was a bit overwhelmed and I was nervous that all the world building would leave me confused and frustrated. Thankfully, that was not the case.

I don’t know how Chakraborty does it, but even when I had questions I was still deeply enthralled in this novel. I needed to know what would happen next with Nahiri, Ali, and Dara and how their lives would come crashing back together once again. And boy was it a fun ride when they finally did. Can you say messy? But anyway.

At the start of the novel, the three main characters were separated and all dealing with their own issues. Nahiri was now married to Prince Muntadhir and had fully grown into her role as the Banu Nahida, healing many but still under the control of the king, Ghassan. Ali, the banished prince, was able to make a life for himself outside of Daevabad only to be dragged back to the city due to a ploy by his mother’s family. And then there was Dara. Brought back from the dead (again) he found himself working with Nahiri’s presumed dead mother, Manizheh, who planned to overthrow Ghassan and return Daevabad to Nahid rule, no matter the cost.

Each of the main characters were working towards what they believed was the good of Daevabad and it was so interesting to see how they all fell short in some ways and also clashed. There was a lot of animosity between the characters as well as the tribes they belonged to and honestly, I still don’t know if they can all ever really find peace amongst each other.

What I can say is this story didn’t pull back any punches. There were twists! There was murder! There were love connections that I pray come to fruition in the last book! It ended on a magnificent cliff hanger! There was a lot going on, but I was invested and the story and the characters, and more often than not when I did have questions they were answered.

In sum, while the world building can definitely feel like a lot at points, if you pay attention you get it, and once you do you’ll find yourself immersed in a world that you’ll find difficult to pull yourself out of. Trust me, I stayed up until 4 a.m. reading this book. I know.

Buy or Borrow: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life

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Synopsis:

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Crown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 15, 2018.*

I didn’t know about this book until I went to the New York City Teen Author Festival and Nisha Sharma was on a debut authors panel and read an excerpt of this novel. I thought it sounded hilarious, so when I saw it was available to request on NetGalley I immediately jumped on it and I’m so glad I did.

Told in a close third person narration, My So-Called Bollywood Life follows Winnie, a senior in high school who’s returned home from film camp to discover her boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend, Raj, is dating someone else. Although, in Raj’s defense, they were on a break. However, if he’d watched Friends he would know that’s not a reasonable excuse, but I digress.

The point is, Raj and Winnie are over, which is especially confusing for Winnie because all her life she’s believed in a prophecy she got from a pandit who said she’d meet the love her life before her 18th birthday and the guy’s name would begin with a ‘R’ and would give her a silver bracelet.

Now Winnie is fighting against believing that prophecy and wants to make her destiny, beginning with getting into NYU. To do that she needs to run the film festival at her school and be co-president of the film club…with Raj. Of course this doesn’t go well and it doesn’t help that another boy at school, Dev, is now showing renewed interest in Winnie and Raj just can’t seem to let go and still believes he and Winnie are meant to be.

With a love triangle, drama, a lot of Bollywood references, and the best parents you’ll ever meet, My So-Called Bollywood Life was a fun read that I just couldn’t put down. It also made me want to watch a Bollywood movie (I’ve never seen one!). My only issue was with the conflict at the end. It’s hard to explain without spoiling so I’ll just say I thought the conflict made it seem like Winnie should give up on something she worked quite hard for just for a guy, and the fact that her best friend, Bridget, seemed to also agree with this sentiment really irked me. If you want a more detailed explanation I’ll put it down below with spoilers.

However, this issue aside, I think the book kind of made up for it in the end, and overall I really did enjoy this book despite that one little thing, so I still highly recommend it. Definitely grab a copy of the book, which is on sale today!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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More Detailed Explanation Of My Issue With This Book Below (SPOILERS!)

In short, Dev and Winnie get together, they have a great time at the fundraiser dance for the film festival, but then the next day Dev is accused of stealing the money from the ticket sales and the money is found in his locker.

It obviously wasn’t him, but there’s no concrete proof it wasn’t so the faculty advisor for the club, Mr. Reece, pulled Dev’s movie from the film festival. Winnie was determined to clear Dev’s name, but she didn’t quit the film club, and for some reason both Dev and Bridget got angry with Winnie for not quitting. I thought this was absurd and for them to ask Winnie to quit the club, something that would boost her college application, was ridiculous.

Of course Winnie wasn’t going to quit the club and give up on something she’d been working towards for so long for some guy she just started dating. That’s crazy, and it was so unreasonable to me that everyone just agreed that’s what she should do. Maybe this why I’m still single but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to ask someone to give up on their dream for a guy, much less one she hadn’t even been dating that long.

That being said, I felt the novel sort of corrected the problem by having Winnie still pursue her dream, just in a different way. The epilogue also made it abundantly clear that Winnie could have both the guy and her career as a film critic, which I appreciated. Still, that one part just didn’t sit well with me at all.

How to Get Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)

A question I get asked a lot is “How do you get free books?” What people typically mean is, “How do you get advanced reader copies?” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, advanced reader copies are uncorrected proofs of books that haven’t been released. There are physical ARCs, which typically look like the paperback version of the book, although a lot of the times the cover won’t be final, and there are digital, or electronic, ARCs, which come in the form of a file that can usually be read on a tablet or reading device, like a Kindle.

ARCs are typically sent out to the media to create buzz about the book that’s going to be released. Media includes everything from big name publications like Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times to bloggers and social media influencers, like myself. So how exactly do people like me (and you) get ARCs? Well, there are a few ways.

1. Someone will reach out to you

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If you have your contact info on your blog or in your bio, publicists or self-published authors may reach out to you and ask if you would like an ARC or finished copy of their book. This is definitely the easiest way to get an ARC, because obviously they want you to have one if they reached out to you. The only downside to this is figuring out how to say no to books you actually don’t want or wouldn’t read.

Sometimes it can be really exciting to be offered a free book. When I first started I said yes to everything and then I ended up with a lot of books I never read. That’s why if you have a blog, it’s a good idea to have a Review Policy page, where you explicitly say what kind of books you do and do not want to receive. You’ll probably still get requests for things you don’t want, and if that’s the case you can either politely decline or you are allowed to ignore emails. However, just make sure that if you do ignore someone’s emails you have no intention of ever trying to work with them. It’s hard to rebuild bridges once you burn them.

2. Request a physical ARC

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If there’s a book you’re really interested in, you can request an ARC of the book. Typically, the way to do this is to find out who’s publishing the book and look up their publicity contact information. For example, if I wanted to request an ARC of A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas I would go to Bloomsbury’s website and look up their publicity contact information, specifically for the children’s department since Maas is technically a YA author.

For most publishers, specifically the Big Five, there’s an email address you can write to. There’s a number of ways you could write out your email, but this is how I do it. For the subject line I write, “ARC Request for ‘A Court of Frost and Starlight’ by Sarah J. Maas.” Then my email would say:

Hello,

My name is Zakiya Jamal and I am very excited for the release of Sarah J. Maas’ newest novel, A Court of Frost and Starlight. I absolutely love all of Maas’ books, both in this series and the Throne of Glass series. I know my followers, just like myself, are already excited about Maas’ new novel and I would love a chance to read and review it early.

I review books on my blog, To Borrow or Buy, which gets about 1,500 views every month. I also post pictures of my favorite books and books I review on my Instagram account of the same name, which has over 3400 followers. If I receive an ARC of A Court of Frost and Starlight I would promote the book on all of my platforms, which not only include my blog and Instagram but also my Tumblr and Twitter.  Below please find my name, phone number, and mailing address. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Best,
Zakiya

You always want to include your mailing address in the email, because that just makes it easier for them to just send you the book right away rather than having to ask you for it. Typically, you won’t get a response to your email either way, but if they do decide to send you a copy they’ll just send it.

The most important thing you want to do in your email is make it clear why they should give you a book. My following isn’t incredibly big on any one of my platforms, but when combined I actually I have a reach of about 5,000 people, so I always include all my platforms when requesting a book. Make sure to always play to your strengths and if you have done ARC reviews before, especially if you’ve received books from that publisher before, make sure to indicate that as well.

Also, some publishers now do forms for requesting ARCs, rather than emails. For example, I’ve received a few ARCs through The Novl, which is Little, Brown for Young Readers’ social media page. They send out these forms in their newsletters, which come out about once a week, so make sure to sign up for their newsletter so you know when they’re looking for new reviewers.Screen Shot 2017-12-18 at 10.23.39 PM.png

3. Request a Digital ARC

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There are two websites you can sign up for to get digital ARCs: NetGalley and Edelweiss. I’ve received ARCs on both. The best way to get ARCs through these sites is to sign up for their emails. Edelweiss sends out a weekly newsletter, which lets you know what new books have been added to the site and are available for request. NetGalley emails a bit more frequently, but you can adjust your email notifications for how you see fit. You can also always search both sites if you’re looking for a specific book to request.

I wouldn’t say getting a digital ARC is easier than getting a physical ARC, because it always depends on a lot of different factors, particularly how popular a book is. What I will say is there have been a few times when I received a dARC of a book after I couldn’t get a physical ARC. So it doesn’t hurt to try both, especially if it’s a book you really want.

4. Giveaways & Bookish Events

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Truthfully, I think I’ve gotten the most ARCs from going to bookish events. I got 10 ARCs from Book Con this year alone, and two more from attending the Brooklyn Book Festival. Additionally, I’ve also won a lot of ARCs from giveaways. In my experience, it pays to receive newsletters from publishers. I’ve won a number of ARCs just by reading literally every email publishers send me and entering almost every giveaway in them.

Additionally, Twitter is a great place for giveaways. Not only do publishers do giveaways regularly, but authors do them all the time. So do bloggers. If you’re willing to look for them, you’ll find there are lots of giveaways happening all the time and if you enter enough of them you’re bound to win some.

5. Books for Trade

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If you’re unfamiliar with Books for Trade (#booksfortrade), it’s a hashtag on Twitter in which people literally list what kind of books they’re in search of (ISO) and what books they’re willing to trade. Typically, it’s very hard to trade for an ARC if you aren’t also trading an ARC. There’s even a specific hashtag just for ARC trades (#arcsfortrade). However, it’s not impossible.

The biggest advice I can give for trading is just to triple check that the person is legit. I’ve traded multiple times and I haven’t had a problem because I always go to that person’s profile to check and see if they’ve done successful trades in the past. I also always ask the person to send me pics of the book before confirming an exchange. If you can make a legit trade, trading is a great way to get your hands on a book you really want.

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I believe that about covers it. If you have any other questions about how to get ARCs just let me know in the comments. I hope this helps, and that you get as many free books as your heart desires. Happy reading!

'Kids of Appetite' Book Review

ARC Book Review: Kids of Appetite

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Synopsis:

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from First in Line and B-Fest. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 20, 2016.*

If Coco was here she would say, “Did you have any intention of reading this book? Tell the truth.” To which I would say, “No CoCo I actually didn’t plan on reading Kids of Appetite, it just fell in my lap.” Because that’s the truth. I won this book at B-Fest and although I was so happy to win an ARC I had never heard of David Arnold before and I had no idea what I was in for. But free books are free books so I happily took my winnings home, put it on a shelf, and then left it there for months on end.

Until a few days ago when something compelled me to take this book off my shelf just to see what it was all about. Intrigued by the synopsis you can read above I literally stood in front of my bookshelf (mind you it was at least after midnight at this point in time; I had just finished another book) and began to read and was immediately sucked in just with the cast of characters. How many books begin with a cast of characters? Not many. And I needed to know more about these interesting characters and why people were being referred to as chapters. So I dived in and couldn’t put this book down.

First of all, the characters in this book are so well done and I loved all the Kids of Appetite. There’s of course Vic and Mad who tell the story in alternating first person point of views. Then you have the brothers, Baz and Zuz, and then the youngest of the group, Coco. Also, can I get a nice slow clap for the diversity in this book? Arnold, I applaud you. I don’t want to give anything about anything so sorry if this is vague but just know that Arnold put together an amazing cast of characters and did so really well. He deals with two important subjects and handles them flawlessly. Honestly, reading his author’s note at the end made me cry because you can practically feel how much he cared about getting this story right.

Kids of Appetite was the perfect mix of tragedy and comedy (which is apparently called a tragicomedy). It was heartfelt, the romance was there but not in a cheesy way, and it was just the right amount funny that didn’t make it feel like it was trying to hard. I liked the running themes throughout the book, like Vic’s Super Racehorse idea and CoCo’s use of “frakking” as a substitute for the f-word. I also liked how the plot fit together and everything came together in the end. I was definitely surprised and I also appreciated the fact that this book wasn’t as predictable as I thought it would be. In summary I just really loved this book, okay?

Anyway, I’m going to go grab Mosquitoland because apparently someone forgot to tell me that David Arnold is an amazing writer. In the meantime everyone go pre-order this book.

Stars:

5 stars

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