NetGalley Says Yes!

Mutual approval…

Last week, I posted about my NetGalley rejections, so this week I thought I’d talk about why I love NetGalley nearly as much as chocolate…

Of the 402 titles I’ve been approved for since I joined NG in 2013, I’ve sent feedback for 373 books (the rest are still on my TBR) and have posted reviews for 302 (though for a few I only posted a brief review on Goodreads). The others I abandoned, either because they weren’t for me or because they were too badly formatted to be enjoyable reading. Of the ones I’ve reviewed, roughly 65% were either 4 or 5 stars reads for me – pretty good, huh? Not quite as high as my ratings for books I buy, but then I’m more likely to take a chance on new or new-to-me authors through NG.

Narrowing my best picks down to a reasonable number would be nearly impossible, so instead I’ve decided to list a few of the authors I was introduced to by NG who have now become firm favourites – most are established authors but were new to me. So, in no particular order, here they are – my…

NETGALLEY HALL OF FAME

(Click on the author’s name to see my reviews.)

Robert Harris

Robert Harris

My introduction to Robert Harris came through An Officer and a Spy, a wonderful fictionalisation of the Dreyfus affair in 19th century France. Since then I’ve read every new book he’s released, plus I’ve started on his back catalogue, and I’ve loved every one. However I have loads more to go – he’s quite prolific! Next up will be his Cicero trilogy. He achieves the perfect marriage of research, plotting and excellent writing – great stuff!

* * * * *

HP Lovecraft

HP Lovecraft

Given how much I’ve talked about various stories being Lovecraftian in my horror slot, it’s strange to think that I’d never heard of him till I read an Oxford World’s Classics collection called The Classic Horror Stories, with a very informative introduction by Roger Luckhurst (another entry to the Hall of Fame – I now look out specifically for books he introduces). I don’t altogether love Lovecraft – too long-winded, too racist – but I recognise absolutely the huge influence he has been on the ‘weird’ story and on horror in general. Since that first meeting, he’s made an annual appearance in my Tuesday Terror! slot.

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SC Gwynne

SC Gwynne

I was so blown away by SC Gwynne’s brilliant biography of Stonewall Jackson, Rebel Yell, that I gave it the FF Award for Book of the Year in 2014. The prize for this prestigious award is that I guarantee to read the author’s next book, even if I have to buy it myself! Imagine my… ahem… delight, then, when Gwynne’s next book was The Perfect Pass – a book about American Football, a subject in which my interest and knowledge tie for last place. And yet I thoroughly enjoyed it! Proof that a good writer can bring any subject to life. Oh, and I didn’t have to buy it – NetGalley gave me that one too.

* * * * *

John Gaspard

John Gaspard

I’ve loved every book in John Gaspard’s Eli Marks series, all of which I’ve been given via NetGalley. A little too dark to be cosies, these are plotted in Golden Age style but with a contemporary setting. Eli is a stage magician and each book is set around a particular trick. Gaspard is brilliant at bringing the magic to life on the page, while following the magician’s code of never revealing how it’s done. I still laugh every time I remember how he managed to read my mind during a trick in book 1! His next book is due this month – can’t wait! And I’ve also bought an earlier book of his that predates this series – The Ripperologists – which sounds like fun too.

* * * * *

Ken Kalfus

The first new-to-me author to whom NetGalley introduced me, when I fell in love with the cover of Equilateral and took a punt on it. He’s now a firm favourite – a writer who gets a lot of critical attention but still doesn’t seem to get the public readership and recognition I feel he deserves. I’ve read and loved a few of his books since then, old and new – only a couple more to go as he’s not nearly prolific enough! He spent several years in Russia so a lot of his books are directly or indirectly about life under the Soviets – he’s one of the inspirations behind my current fascination with that regime.

* * * * *

Arthur Herman

Arthur Herman

Arthur Herman has firmly established himself as my favourite historian, despite some stiff competition in what has been a golden age for history books over the last few years. My first introduction to him was The Cave and The Light – a comprehensive look at the competing influences of Plato and Aristotle over the last 2,500 years of philosophy. Phew! Not an easy read, but a brilliant one. Since then, I’ve read all his new books and most of the ones that interest me from his back catalogue. And I’m super excited that he’s bringing out a new one on the Russian Revolution this month – the perfect way to end my Reading the Russian Revolution Challenge.

* * * * *

William McIlvanney

William McIlvanney

As probably the most influential Scottish crime writer of all time, known as the Father of Tartan Noir, I’m ashamed that I had never read any McIlvanney till NetGalley offered a new edition of his 1977 book, Laidlaw. I was blown away by the quality of the writing, his brilliant use of Glaswegian dialect and the total authenticity of his portrayal of the city at the time of my own youth in it. I have gone on to read the rest of the Laidlaw trilogy and one of his fiction novels, and am looking forward hugely to gradually working my way through the rest of his stuff. For McIlvanney alone, NetGalley has been a wondrous thing for me.

* * * * *

So there they are – seven great authors I may never have read had it not been for NetGalley. And that’s not to mention all the wonderful books I’ve had from existing favourites like Jane Casey, Sharon Bolton, Belinda Bauer, etc., etc. All I can really say is…

THANKS, NETGALLEY!

* * * * *

What about you? If you’re a NetGalley member have you found new favourites through them? If so, I’d love to hear – either in the comments or in a post of your own.

52 thoughts on “NetGalley Says Yes!

  1. And from Netgalley to you to me: I’ve also enjoyed Robert Harris (also acknowledging LF); John Gaspard; William McIlvanney (plus Sharon Bolton etc.) and have gifted Arthur Herman, after reading your reviews. Thank you FF! 🙂

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    • I was trying to remember whether it was LF or I who started the Robert Harris craze – I think it may have been her. I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed some of these writers too – passing on bookish pleasure is one of the joys of life! 😀

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    • My massive TBR has made me more choosy recently, but this post has reminded me that taking a chance on writers I don’t know has paid off in the past – must do it more often!

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  2. Netgalley really has been a boon in a lot of ways, hasn’t it, FictionFan. And I’m very glad you’ve found some authors to love through the service. You’ve reminded me, too, that I must read Conclave. I’d like to try Gaspard’s work, too.

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    • It’s certainly great for readers, and I suppose it must be good for publishers and authors or they wouldn’t keep doing it, though I’m not convinced that blog reviews really influence sales much. Conclave is great – Harris is one author I really must make more time for. And Gaspard’s books are a lot of fun – and quick reading too, so easier to fit in!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great idea. I did a NetGalley rejection post but I definitely should do one to appreciate the site. I think my favorite NetGalley discoveries so far are The Book of Harlan, Born a Crime and the DCI Foster series by Robert Bryndza.

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    • I felt I’d maybe given non-NetGalley members a kind of negative impression last week with my vast number of rejections, so I thought I should redress the balance a bit! I’ve heard lots of good things about Robert Bryndza – must give him a try. I don’t remember the other ones you mention, but shall investigate… thanks you! 😀

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  4. I think one of the best things about Netgalley is getting to try books you might not buy and finding new authors as a result. Closely followed by being able to read favourite authors before anyone (or hardly anyone) else!

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    • Yes, I love getting pre-publication books too! Doing this post has made me realise I’ve kinda stopped taking a chance on new authors as much as I did when I started on NG – must get back to that, since I found so many new favourites that way. 😀

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    • I took lots of chances in the early days and this post has made me realise I’ve stopped doing that so much now, and am sticking mostly with authors I know. But it’s also reminded me of how many new favourites I found by taking chances, so I must do more of it again… 😀

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  5. Although I’m not a NetGalley member, I’m glad to hear there’s an upside (after those rejections you spoke about last week!). These sound interesting, FF (no wonder your TBR is so huge!)

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    • I thought I should redress the balance a bit after last week’s rather negative post – overall NetGalley is wonderful! But it’s definitely been a killer for my TBR and I never seem to find time to follow up on all these new favourite authors… oh well, there are worse problems in the world, eh? 😀

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    • Sadly that’s the only one I ever remember seeing, and it was years ago, so I suspect they don’t put them on NG any more. I got a couple of others via Amazon Vine, but they’re rare there too. One day I may beg directly to the publisher and see if I can get on their list, if they have one…

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  6. I love your yeses! You’ve put Gwynne, Kalfus, and Herman on my radar. I’m not sure I should be thanking you, though, since the pile on my bedside table fell over in the middle of the night last night….And my husband’s pile is now taking up floor space.

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    • Three excellent choices! Hahaha – my piles are out of control too, so to speak. I think I may either have to hire a truck to take them to charity shop, or have a massive bonfire… if I go for the latter, you’ll probably be able to see it from where you are… 😉

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  7. Ive not requested anywhere near the number of books you have but even then I am way behind on reading them – so this year I have deliberately reigned back on my requests. I figure its not fair to the authors to ask for a free copy and then not read it …..

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  8. ok logistical question about netgalley-what happens when you don’t review the books? Is there a time limit? I’m guessing no, but does it affect whether you’ll be rejected more often?

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    • Well, being a goodie-two-shoes, I’m not sure! They ask you to have an 80% level of feedback – not necessarily reviews – and mine has always been well into the 90%s. However, I know loads of people go on about being way below the 80% and they still seem to get loads of books. I’ve always thought that most of the publishers just give out a quota on a first-come-first-served basis, especially for crime novels, probably assuming only a proportion of them will convert to reviews. For top fiction writers or expensive factual books, they seem to be a bit more choosy when you’re new, but once you’ve established yourself as someone who sends feedback, then they don’t seem to mind if you’re late on some. I have a few that go back years – I will read them one day though! But mostly I do them within a couple of months of publication date at the latest. Where I think a lot of people make a mistake is in not realising that it’s perfectly OK not to read and review them, so long as you send feedback saying why you decided not to. It’s certainly true that I get rejected less and less often as time goes on… despite the fact that, as you know, I give negative reviews as well as positive ones.

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  9. I think I’ll do a post about NetGalley too. It has taken over my reading this year as I’ve become rather addicted to checking what’s on offer. I keep saying I’ll hold back and read my TBRs – and then find myself back on the site just to have a quick look, usually that’s fatal.

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    • Ha – I admit to checking every day! But I now try very hard to restrict myself to stuff I would otherwise buy. But doing this post has made me realise that means I’m not taking the chances I did at first, so am probably missing out on finding more great new-to-me authors. It’s so hard to find a balance…

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  10. Interesting stuff. I’ve been accepted for 47 and sent feedback on 39 so far (so have a feedback rating of 83% now, yay). I have reviewed all but about 3 on my blog, and one my husband begged me to try for because he wanted to read it, so I did, and forced him to write a proper review, which I posted on NG.

    I’ve read quite a lot by people I read already – Grayson Perry, Stuart Maconie, Danzy Senna recently, and Debbie Macomber and Lorna Landvik. I have taken risks on novels and I do go for popular science / psych non-fiction as well. I have managed to get it more manageable now by rarely browsing new stuff, but looking at the emails they send me, and I’ve read some great stuff myself.

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    • Oh, you’re much more restrained than me! I admire your willpower. I still check every day but I try to only take books I would otherwise buy now. Doing this post, though, has made me realise that means there’s less chance of me stumbling across more great new-to-me authors. It’s hard to find the right balance when there are so many great books out there waiting to be discovered…

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  11. I love Netgalley, but alas, also blame it for my downfall and my feedback rate is abysmal! I still really want to read all the ones I requested, but just have many others coming in too.

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    • Because I got onto NetGalley almost exactly when I started blogging I get far more books that way than from publishers – I only really request from them if a book doesn’t show up on NG, so at least I don’t usually have piles of other books for review. Until this last few weeks when suddenly I seem to have a little upsurge of unsoliciteds… 😱

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  12. What a brilliant post and like you I’m sure I could do a thank you to NG which has served me well over the last 4 + years – so many great reads and very few duff ones although like you some had to be abandoned because of the appalling formatting although I did manage to read one book (can’t remember which one now) which didn’t print the letter f or ‘ss’ which made it like a kind of puzzle as well as a read – I got very good at it by the end of the book 🙂

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  13. Thank you for this post! 🙂 I haunt Netgalley for Children’s Literature and Graphic Novels. Although I don’t see a repeat of a particular author’s works, it makes me insanely happy to steal children’s books, which I can also review in a short time. In India, we barely have access to such fun books. So I love Netgalley for that. 🙂

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    • Thanks for popping in and commenting. 🙂 I love how wide the range is on NetGalley – there really is something for all tastes. I’m more likely to grab a crime book or some literary fiction, but I’ve tried an occasional graphic novel and some manga, which I would probably never have done if they hadn’t shown up on NG. It’s brilliant having access to them all!

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  14. I discovered one of my favourite historical writers, Anne O’Brien on Netgalley 🙂 Also I have heard good things about the Cicero Trilogy, so I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to hearing what you think of it.

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  15. Completely agree about Richard Harris. I haven’t read the Cicero trilogy but saw that it was being adapted for the stage by the RSC I think by the same person who adapted Hilary Mantel’s novels for the stage.

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