THE EDELWEISS+ EXPERIENCE… AND IT’S NOT A LULLABY

So Hollis and I feel kind of in control with NetGalley, with the odd ‘it controls me’ moments. Edelweiss+, however, is a totally different kettle of fish. Now, we know that this is a platform less used by readers and more used by book professionals but there are some blogger/reviewers only (like us) on there.

So what’s different about Edelweiss+, I hear you say? For starters, it’s a pretty clunky platform and definitely not as user friendly as NetGalley. It does work on the same principles though; you see a book, you request it, and ideally the publisher will grant access. Instead of ‘read it now’, it also has a ‘download’ option rather than request for some select titles.

What has been Micky’s experience, is that getting declined is the default (see the left of the photo above *laughs/cries*). For example, say for every ten that are requested, access might be given to one or two. Why continue? Well, there are publishers that use Edelweiss+ and not NetGalley, or favour Edelweiss+ more.

Unlike NetGalley, your profile is very basic and there is no running tally or reads, reviews or percentages. I miss that element, I like competing to get myself in a better position! Now over to Hollis who has had a better experience than me (somewhat), which is probably to do with regional issues.

Micky isn’t wrong, I have had some better experience. For a while it was all books, all day, download download download! Now? Less of that. I do think there is some logic behind the “provide a reason for your request” box but realistically I don’t imagine your enthusiasm sways anyone. I think it’s just hit or miss.

I have no screenshot to show you because I clear my dashboard, refusing to linger over the rejections, but I, too, would prefer there was some kind of feedback ratio to indicate that, strong profile or not, I’m reading and reviewing what I’m given. Maybe there’s something on the other side of the screen? Hard to tell. But I’ll keep clicking, keep enthusing over new titles, keep hoping those books that only show up on Edelweiss+, as opposed to NetGalley, might make their way onto my kindle.


What has been your experience? Do you use Edelweiss+ or have you thrown in the towel?

THE NETGALLEY SHUFFLE

We all know the struggle. You log into NetGalley, particularly when you first get started, and go a little.. click-happy. Suddenly you’re drowning in ARCs, approvals coming every which way, and your feedback ratio drops and drops and you don’t know how you’ll ever reach that recommended 80% milestone. Heaven forbid you hit a slump and take a break from ARCs only to keep clicking, keep requesting, and thus the cycle repeats.

We don’t know how it happened but here’s our humblebrag : Micky & Hollis are both in the 90%+ margins. Micky has been approved, and read, almost double what Hollis has, but still. It does get easier to keep that percentage high, and have it stay that way, the more you get approved for, the more you read or keep pace with said approvals, but it can be equally easy to request, clicking on more — no matter your %.

Neither of us know the magical workings behind NetGalley, we don’t have any particular tricks, but we wanted to open the floor to you and see if there’s something you’ve learned, something you’ve struggled with, and help each other out. There’s lots we still probably don’t know and we always find it interesting when publishers post recommendations or suggestions to improve your profile (you can sometimes catch these threads on twitter).

It’s easier said than done to just say read what you click, keep an eye on publishing dates so you don’t overload yourself in back to back months, but part of the fun is stumbling through these trials and errors and learning from them. Or, like us, even with our high percent, crying over a month with sixteen ARCs and no end in sight. It happens to us all! That said..

Here are our Top Ten Tips for Netgalley :

  1. Take the time to write a strong profile. Have a photo of yourself — publicity assistants tell us it helps to see who you are. Add a bit of relevant stuff about yourself, how you enjoy sharing your love of books. We started ours with no blog/bookstagram presence, just reviewers, so don’t feel you don’t have enough to have a go. Add all your social media links that are relevant to books. There’s a section just for that.
  2. Go slow, it’s so tempting to click on everything you find even slightly interesting. Try and resist the urge to do that. Our rule of thumb is.. do I really want it, do I really need it?
  3. Try and read and review the arcs before release, ideally a week or two at least. What publishers are looking for is your views before release, to build up reviews and get the word out there! I (Micky) try and stay a month ahead with my reviews but I can be the week before, Hollis is much more organised than me at this.
  4. Keep a tally/list of how many arcs you have due and once you get to a number that is your threshold for enough that month DON’T LET YOURSELF REQUEST MORE. Micky keeps checklists for this, Hollis uses a dedicated Goodreads shelf to keep track; whatever works for you. We map our physical arcs into this too.

5. You don’t need the elusive 80% to get approved by publishers. It is definitely something to aim for but you will still get approvals without it.

6. Share your completed reviews on publication date with the outlets suggested by that publisher e.g. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones. Publishers need you to do this and it is part of what you are signing up to do.

7. Be honest. You don’t need to bump up the rating to please the publisher, honest reviews are sought. We have not had a reduction in approvals from publishers who might have had a low rated review from us previously and neither of us shy away from those one-star ratings.

8. As you fall deeper into the reviewing rabbit-hole, maybe you do start a blog, or a bookstagram, so make sure to add those links in the relevant section. Cross-post your reviews to all your platforms, tag authors/publishers when you do (in positive reviews only, please!!), and update your Bio routinely with any change in stats (followers, subscribers, etc).

9. Don’t read only arcs, you will exhaust yourself with deadlines and potentially put yourself in a book slump. Make sure there’s room for reading the things your like, your owned tbr, maybe library books, a mood read or a re-read.

10. The same goes for blog and bookstagram tours connected to NetGalley arcs, don’t sign-up to everything, give yourself some space. In reality, you can be late with netgalley arc reviews but you can’t for a blog tour. Keep the pressure manageable.

We’d love to know your experiences, how you do the NetGalley shuffle! We are happy to answer any questions you have. Watch out for our Edelweiss blog feature coming soon where we expose this different creature of a platform and tell you our experiences with that.

LAST LIGHT by Claire Kent

It only took four years for the world to fall apart.

Now the last member of my family has died, and I’m forced to travel across what’s left of three states to find the only people I know left alive. To survive, I’ll have to salvage food and supplies and try to avoid violent men who’ve learned they can take what they want by force. The only way I’m going to make it is by trusting Travis.

Travis used to fix my car, and now he’s all I have left in the world. He’s gruff and stoic and unfriendly, and I don’t really know or like him. But he’s all I have left. He’ll keep me safe. We’ll take care of each other. Until we reach what’s left of our town and can finally let go of one another.

Last Light is a standalone post-apocalyptic romance set in the near future after a global catastrophe.


Title : Last Light
Author : Claire Kent
Format : eARC
Page Count : 335
Genre : Post-apocalyptic romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : November 13, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

I’ve been a long-time fan of Claire Kent ever since her book ‘Escorted’ and while this isn’t a pen name the author writes under much, I jumped on the chance to read and review this one. I have enjoyed a number of post-apocalyptic stories, those with and without romance and this take did not let me down. I read this book in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down.

LAST LIGHT is carried by a cast of two, Travis and Layne. They were from the same home town, a few years after the world-changing event and having to travel to safety. All the things you might expect from this kind of setting were prevalent, no food, no power, gangs of vigilantes and increased vulnerability for women. That said, at no point was there a thread of the weakness of women, on the contrary, Layne was empowered and fierce in her own way.

This story centred on a slow growing connection and a romance to light fires. I lived for it and I loved it. I found everything about their past and presents engaging. There was a strong and detailed world in the background and a plenty of storyline to hang on to. The steam was pretty strong in this read but it fitted so well.

There were other characters that came into the story, friendlies and not-so-friendlies. There was a background of mild tension as you might imagine in a world such as this which added to the pacing of the story.

I would love to read more of this world and characters and I continue to love anything written by Claire Kent.

Thank you to the author for the review copy through netgalley.

ASK AGAIN, YES by Mary Beth Keane

How much can a family forgive?

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.


Title : Ask Again, Yes
Author : Mary Beth Keane
Format : eARC
Page Count : 390
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Penguin Michael Joseph
Release Date : August 8, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


3.5 – 4 stars

ASK AGAIN, YES is something of a heavy read with challenging topics; I felt like I had completed a marathon when I’d finished but I mean that in a good way. The book had wrung me out emotionally and I needed time to rest my mind and think afterwards.

This is a complex story of two families across two generations. Their lives were so interwoven and yet they were not close to one another. Through proximity, circumstance, tragedy and then attraction, they were repeatedly brought together and pushed one another away.

The storyline starts with the parents of these two families but over the whole of the book, it felt like the story centred on Peter and Kate. I held my breath over these two and I didn’t feel a completion at the end; I don’t think the reader is supposed to. Anne was incredibly difficult to like as a character and I admire the author for where she went with mental illness and this character. We rarely see books that will go to the extent of exposing the psychology and behaviours of someone with this level of illness. I liked Francis, I found him solid, reliable and real. George was the unsung hero of this book.

Most readers will feel the heaviness of the topics expored in this book, which include acute psychosis, addiction, cheating, first love, the effect of trauma on the psyche, grief and loss and abandonment. It’s a lot but it didn’t feel unrealistic for the timescale, the range of characters and the narrative gently and sometimes bluntly led you into these issues with skill.

This was an impressive, memorable and epic story. I felt a lack of completion overall and needed a bit more in terms of closure. Mary Beth Keane wrote the complexity with simplicity and I would read her work again.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the early review copy.

DISCRETION by Karina Halle

From New York Times bestselling author Karina Halle comes a delicious saga of wealth, luxury, and scandal—and the wicked secrets of success behind an envied family dynasty.

The Riviera means indulgence—if you’ve got money. For Sadie Reynolds, a down-on-her-luck student, the Riviera means dingy hostels and back streets. When a wrong turn puts her in jeopardy, the last thing she expects is to be saved by the most handsome stranger she’s ever locked eyes with. When she later wakes up in a luxury suite with a Mediterranean view, she’s in the tender care of her rescuer: Olivier Dumont, France’s most eligible bachelor, billionaire hotelier, and heir to the Dumont fashion fortune.

Olivier also owns his reputation for scandal. But Sadie is unlike any woman he’s ever met. Her humble persona and wild innocence promise real passion. He’s promising Sadie something too: anything she wants. From Bordeaux to Cannes to Paris, Sadie’s past in America is swept away and replaced with a fantasy too good to be true.

Pulled into Olivier’s orbit of wealth, glamour, and excess, Sadie discovers that the Dumont dynasty comes with a legacy of wicked secrets. And Olivier’s secrets may be the most damning of all…


Title : Discretion
Author : Karina Halle
Series : The Dumonts #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 288
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Montlake Romance
Release Date : August 6, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


2.5 -3 stars

I have to admit, requesting this arc was somewhat influenced by the cover, that guy just had some appeal and when I read the blurb it was definitely interesting. I mostly enjoy Karina Halle’s books but this one was a bit of a miss for me and I will try and explain why.

The Dumont family were alluring French designers and hoteliers. They were a rich and entitled set of two sides, one side of inscrupulous types and another side with some integrity. Olivier was a rescuer with a great accent when Sadie needed a knight. Their meeting had all the potential and promise. I really liked how they were from opposite sides of the track.

I could buy into their insta-attraction for a time but I didn’t buy into the emotional attachment that ensued rather quickly. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy or feel their connection when reading their physical relationship. I felt outside of the situation and not drawn in. I struggled to connect with either Olivier or Sadie on an individual level and so I felt separate from them as characters, with neither love nor hate.

What I did appreciate was the suspenseful element to the storyline although I do feel even that went a little far sometimes with the evil side of the family.

I think this will appeal to those seeking a quick, hot romantic suspense but unfortunately this wasn’t to my taste. Nevertheless, I know that Karina Halle is likely to write another book or series that will be.

Thank you to Montlake Romance and netgalley for the early review copy.

A HIGHLANDER WALKS INTO A BAR by Laura Trentham


The timeless romance, soaring passion—and gorgeous men—of Scotland comes to modern-day America. And the rules of love will never be the same… 

Isabel Buchanan is fiery, funny, and never at a loss for words. But she is struck speechless when her mother returns from a trip to Scotland with a six-foot-tall, very handsome souvenir. Izzy’s mother is so infatuated by the fellow that Izzy has to plan their annual Highland Games all by herself. Well, not completely by herself. The Highlander’s strapping young nephew has come looking for his uncle…

Alasdair Blackmoor has never seen a place as friendly as this small Georgia town—or a girl as brilliant and beguiling as Izzy. Instead of saving his uncle, who seems to be having a lovely time, Alasdair decides he’d rather help Izzy with the Highland Games. Show her how to dance like a Highlander. Drink like a Highlander. And maybe, just maybe, fall in love with a Highlander. But when the games are over, where do they go from here?


Title : A Highlander Walks Into A Bar
Author : Laura Trentham
Series : Highland, Georgia #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : St Martins Paperbacks
Release Date : July 30, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 3 star review

I think I shot myself in the foot a bit with this read because I had self-hyped it such a lot. I loved the title, I loved the synopsis and the cover is pretty cute too. However, for me, this was just a cute, okay read; it didn’t blow me away like I wanted. That said, I want to tell you what worked and some of things that didn’t.

Firstly, it’s important to understand going into this that it is set in the US not in Scotland, if you’ve read the synopsis, you’ll know this. It is a story of two couples coming together in a mirrored way. Rosie and Izzy (mother and daughter) run an estate that is a piece of Scotland in Georgia, US. Izzy’s mother returns from a Scottish trip with a highlander as a ‘souvenir’. Soon enough, his nephew Alasdair comes to investigate who has captured his uncle’s interest and what her intentions are. From this, Izzy and Alasdair find themselves thrown together for practical reasons.

I found Rosie and Gareth’s story incredibly cute, even though their story was very much in the background. The secrets and lies were less appealing and made for something of a predictable plot point. I found Izzy to be a character that was rather difficult to get to know and this was a barrier to liking her overall. Alasdair was infinitely more likeable. The chemistry between Izzy and Alasdair made for the best part of the book.

My main issue with this story was pacing and the slow sense of the story moving along. I can’t quite put my finger on why I felt a difficulty pushing through but it was pretty consistent. I’ve read and loved Laura Trentham’s books before, so I know this isn’t her normal style of pacing.

The story wrapped up in an amusing and sweet way, also laying the foundations for book two. I am undecided whether I will continue with this series.

Thank you to netgalley and St Martins Press for the review copy.

HOW TO BUILD A BOYFRIEND FROM SCRATCH by Sarah Archer

Dating is hard. Being dateless at your perfect sister’s wedding is harder.

Meet Kelly. A brilliant but socially awkward robotics engineer desperately seeking a wedding date…

Meet Ethan. Intelligent, gorgeous, brings out the confidence Kelly didn’t know she had and … not technically human. (But no one needs to know that.)

With her sister’s wedding looming and everyone in the world on her case about being perpetually single, Kelly decides to take her love life into her own hands – and use her genius skills to create Ethan.

But when she can’t resist keeping her new boy toy around even after the ‘I do’s’, Kelly knows she needs to hit the off switch on this romance, fast. Only, when you’ve found (well, made) your perfect man, how do you kiss him goodbye?


Title : How To Build A Boyfriend From Scratch
Author : Sarah Archer
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Harper Collins
Release Date : July 2, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★


2.5 – 3 stars

This title is called The Plus One in the US but here in the UK, we like to really spell it out and to be honest, I prefer the UK title and cover. HOW TO BUILD A BOYFRIEND FROM SCRATCH was such an up and down read for me. I struggled to get through the first 20%, then it became rather interesting and from there I had wavering interest that peaked and troughed.

This book is pretty much what it says on the tin, full of quirkiness in terms of the heroine, Kelly. Ethan, said boyfriend was really interesting but he just didn’t get enough word time. I longed to get more insight into Ethan, who or what he was, how he was evolving and more than anything the dynamic between Kelly and Ethan. I just felt deflated that the focus was more often than not on Kelly, her work and infuriating family relationships.

There was some fantastic dialogue and banter between the characters, especially Ethan and Kelly when we actually saw them together and those moments were gold. It told me that this author has such potential in terms of narrative but it was inconsistent.

“Is Confibot giving you grief again?
Want me to give him a talk, mandroid to mandroid?”

“So did you see how that was supposed to be funny” she asked him as they walked to the car afterward.
“I think so,” he said. “Breasts are funny, anuses are funny, penises are funny, and testicles are funny.”

I had an issue with one throw-away comment by the mother with regards to downs syndrome which I found offensive, as the author didn’t deal with it. Therefore, she should not have written this in her narrative.

So reading my review, which to me seems full of contradictions, you can probably see how conflicted I was reading this. I loved the idea of the book, I enjoyed some of the content, there were pacing issues and I didn’t enjoy other elements. I wasn’t overly satisfied in the end.

Thank you to Harper Collins UK and netgalley for the review copy.

OUR STOP by Laura Jane Williams

What if you almost missed the love of your life?

Nadia gets the 7.30 train every morning without fail. Well, except if she oversleeps or wakes up at her friend Emma’s after too much wine.
Daniel really does get the 7.30 train every morning, which is easy because he hasn’t been able to sleep properly since his dad died.

One morning, Nadia’s eye catches sight of a post in the daily paper:
To the cute girl with the coffee stains on her dress. I’m the guy who’s always standing near the doors… Drink sometime?

So begins a not-quite-romance of near-misses, true love, and the power of the written word.


Title : Our Stop
Author: Laura Jane Williams
Format : e-ARC
Page Count : 368
Genre : Contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : 13 June 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 2.5 -3 star review

I feel pretty ambivalent about this read, it was okay and it was definitely a book that built as it progressed but despite the cutest cover, the lovely synopsis, it just didn’t wow me. However, it was a sweet story that probably would make a good summer holiday read.

This is a book of missed opportunities and maybes which I’ m beginning to see is a trope that I struggle with. I get frustrated after a number of ‘nearly’ moments. I mean, how long can you spin that on without the reader tiring and needing the couple to meet?

Daniel was a cute guy, there was nothing to dislike about him and I felt that he was not the problem with the nearly moments. Nadia, however was a bit of a hot mess, always carrying a coffee stain and running late. Considering this story was about seeing one another on a certain train, the being-late-bit really did get in the way. Nadia frustrated me throughout.

These two do meet in the end but I think I may have been a bit beyond the moment at that point and I struggled to appreciate the overall build to the culmination.

Laura Jane Williams wrote with wit and had a light approach to narrative. I would read her again with a trope that I am more tolerant of. Lots of people have loved this book, so I am in the minority but I do think that others will also struggle with the drum roll that goes on rather long.

Thank you to Readers First for the review copy.