2017: Reflecting on a year as a book reviewer – James Tivendale

I have seen a few bloggers writing these sort of posts and thought I would reflect on what has been an amazing year for me reviewing books. I’ve been reviewing now for about 14 months and have obtained many Xbox-like book reviewer achievements.ย 

A few highlights:
Receiving 317 likes for my Mark Lawrence – Red Sister review on Goodreads.

Becoming a Goodreads top reviewer. I’m currently placed 18th. I’ve only read 60 books this year so that’s not too bad.

Getting accepted to write for Fantasy Book Review and Fantasy Book Critic. I chose the former as that was the site I used to get into Fantasy but I remain good friends with Mihir from FBC.

Being the first person to review Ed McDonald – Blackwing, RJ Barker – Age of Assassins, and Ian C. Esslemont – Deadhouse Landing.

Getting my review blurbs on the covers of Blackwing, Age of Assassins and the special edition Kings of the Wyld. I’m also quoted on about 10-15 Amazon pages for authors such as John Gwynne, Brian Staveley, JA Andrews, and Graham Austin-King.

I was a judge for the initial stages for the annual Booknest fantasy awards, I initially nominated John Gwynne’s – Wrath and it was the eventual winner.

Acting as a judge/blogger for Mark Lawrence’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off 2017. I have just chosen my finalist and am now ready for phase two.

Meeting some of my favourite authors and other influential bloggers. At Bristolcon some authors recognised me and came up to me throwing signed books my way. I left with about 20 books. It was great. ๐Ÿ™‚

Interviewing John Gwynne.

Meeting Dyrk Ashton – The author of Paternus and sleeping on his hotel floor in Bristol.

Doing some proof and beta-reading for authors such as ML Spencer and Graham Austin-King.

Receiving physical advanced review copies of books by my favourite authors.

Also, not really a highlight, but seeing a blurb of mine used to sell a book I haven’t even read. I’ve made it when people plagerise my quotes right?

Meeting with and drinking with some of my favourite authors.

What I’ve learned

Just over a year ago there was nothing more exciting than getting a free book to read and then review. The first authors who sent me books to review were Holden R. Johnson, Adrian G. Hilder and Mary Jennifer Page. They could have been books by any author in the world but I’ll remember these books as they helped me hone my reviewing craft. I got addicted to the thrill of getting free books and I will admit Iย accepted everything. From romance to sci-fi to a poetry book about gay love. I wish I hadn’t because there are still a lot of books from the last year I haven’t had time to read and I feel really bad about that. Especiallyย if an author has gone out of there way to post me a copy. I reflected that I had to tone down what I accepted. Now I tell authors they can send me books but I can’t guarantee ever getting to it. Most authors still send them though. I fell down the rabbit hole that was NetGalley and that had a similar effect. I didn’t know about the return review feedback ratio. I was like a kid in a sweet shop and just downloaded loads of books. The last half of the year for me has been trying to help my ratio with reference to NetGalley and the books authors have sent me. NetGalley is a great medium to get reviewing material and is a good way to get noticed by publishers. I was quite lucky with publishers as most the big companies approached me or I already had their contact details from fellow bloggers. Since I’ve become ‘popular’ I’ve had to start being a bit meaner I guess. Not in a nasty way but I no longer reply to review request e-mails as it’s in bold on my about page I’m not accepting and I won’t reply but I still get multiple e-mails every day. I love the blogging community. It started for me on Goodreads and is now on WordPress and also on Facebook and Twitter. This is just really a stream of consciousness without any real structure but I like it. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve also learned that some authors are terrible at e-mailing review requests. My favourite was:

“How does one go about getting a review from your good self. I write UF.”
– That was all! ๐Ÿ™‚

My favourite books that I’ve received since I started blogging

Ed McDonald – Blackwing – Physical ARC
Ed McDonald – Blackwing – Signed US Edition
RJ Barker – Age of Assassins – Physical ARC
John Gwynne – A Time of Dread – Physical ARC x 2
TM Lakomy – The Shadow Crucible – Physical ARC Signed
Anna Stephens – Godblind – Physical ARC Signed
Josiah Bancroft – Senlin Ascends – Physical ARC
Sam J. Miller – Blackfish City – Physical ARC
Mark Lawrence – Grey Sister – Physical ARC Signed
Rob J. Hayes – Where Loyalties Lie _ Signed
Rob J. Hayes – The Fifth Empire of Man – Signed
JP Ashman – Black Guild – Physical ARC – Signed
JP Ashman – Dragonship – Signed
GR Matthews – Silent City – Signed
Rosalyn Kelly – Melokai – Signed
ML Spencer – Darkstorm – Signed
ML Spencer – Darkmage – Signed
ML Spencer – Darklands – Signed
D.M Murray – Red Season Rising – Signed

The other favourite book from this year I had to pay for (drat!!) but it was a first edition Gollancz UK hardback of Scott Lynch’s Red Seas Under Red Skies that is worth a lot more than the ยฃ1.00 I paid for it so I shouldn’t really complain.

I’m not sure what the next year of blogging has in store for me apart from that I’m judging the #SPFBO finalists over the next 6-months. I’m not going to review books forever. I respect all my fellow bloggers because so much effort goes into helping out books we like with often little to no reward. You’re all doing a stellar job and I look forward to following your reviews, articles and writings in the next 12 months. Keep up the good work.

Merry Xmas.
Ps. Sorry if this post is rubbish. It’s more just for me to recap what’s happened in a pretty awesome year. Let’s see if next year is even better. ๐Ÿ™‚ x




  1. That was interesting. Cool that I got in early before the rush ๐Ÿ˜‰
    A quote from your review is on the Amazon page for The General’s Legacy Part One Inheritance and it will go on the back of the paperback of the single volume edition coming out in February.

    Liked by 1 person

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