[Pitch Slapped] A look at 600 recent review requests

600 Book Review Requests

I’ve been checking the canary review request inbox periodically, browsing around for jewels to catch the eye, but last week, I decided to get serious about it.

The Unread pile had grown to a little over 600 emails since February, and I wanted to do something about it. Over the next hour or so, I cut the pile down to a more manageable 100 review requests that had piqued my interest, then down again to some 50 books to check out and try.

I thought I’d share some general observations about my process and what worked and didn’t work to intrigue me as I powered through the requests. Here are some things that immediately struck emails from consideration:

1. Not the right genre. Poetry anthologies, political thrillers, historical literature. Gone.

2. Couldn’t find the blurb. If I couldn’t immediately see what the book was about, or if it asked me to open an attachment to read the blurb, or if I had to click a link, I moved on. Continue reading


[Book Review] Conceptually intriguing, casually terrible

Eyre Affair.jpgBook Review: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

So many things to dislike, so little time to talk about them all.

(Spoilers ahead. All the spoilers, because idgaf.)

I rarely try books more than once, so I should have trusted my gut when I got stuck a couple chapter in – not once but twice. But this week, I got the audiobook, because I really wanted to get through this book about a murder mystery in an alternative history fantasy world of time travel and literature. Lesson learned, because this book was terrible.

I grit my teeth through the prose style and weird perspective shifts. I was willing to suffer through the self-indulgent literary babble and fangirling, because, okay, literature is as religion in this world, and as a book lover, I totally get it. I even powered through the weird inconsistencies: Okay, this universe has casual time travel, and yet the biggest mystery in Fforde’s world is the identity of the true author of Shakespeare’s plays? And Thursday is the first person ever to ask a time traveler to check? Fine, whatever. Continue reading

This month in the mine shaft: August


  • The Dictator’s Handbook by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita, Alastair Smith ★★★★☆
  • The Everything Box by Richard Kadrey ★★★☆☆
  • Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen ★★★☆☆
  • Omega Rising by Jessica Meats ★★★☆☆
  • The Rook by Daniel O’Malley ★★☆☆☆






Onward to September! What’s on your to-read list?

Want to buddy read something?



[Book Review] That’s one way to make it in New York


Book Review: Omega Rising by Jessica Meats

What’s this? A quick 90-page novella of a story about a down-on-her-luck Jenny who moves to New York City in hopes of getting a minimum wage job to cover her rent, only to find herself hired by a security firm and leading a secret battle against aliens.

I know, right? Continue reading

This month in the mine shaft: July


  • Sabriel by Garth Nix ★★★★★
  • Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil by Paul Bloom  ★★★★☆
  • Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker  ★★★★☆
  • The Courtship of Julian St. Albans by Amy Crook ★★★☆☆
  • Ghost in the Wires by Mitnick, Simon & Wozniak ★★☆☆☆
  • Zoobiquity by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, Kathryn Bowers ★★☆☆☆
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley ★☆☆☆☆



Onward to August! What’s on your to-read list?

Want to buddy read something?

This month in the mine shaft: June


  • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari ★★★★☆
  • Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson ★★★★☆
  • Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale ★★★★☆
  • Minority Report and Other Stories by Philip K. Dick ★★★★☆
  • And Then You’re Dead by Cody Cassidy, Paul Doherty ★★★☆☆
  • Discontent and Its Civilizations by Mohsin Hamid ★★★☆☆
  • Waking Up White by Debby Irving ★★★☆☆
  • You Don’t Look Your Age: And Other Fairy Tales by Sheila Nevins ★★★☆☆
  • The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes ★★★☆☆
  • Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler ★★☆☆☆
  • Radio Shangri-la by Lisa Napoli ★☆☆☆☆


Onward to July! What’s on your to-read list?

Want to buddy read something?

This month in the mine shaft: May


  • Embassytown by China Miéville ★★★★★
  • The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan ★★★★☆
  • The City & the City by China Miéville ★★★★☆
  • Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay ★★★☆☆
  • Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen ★★★☆☆
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk ★★★☆☆
  • The Integral Trees by Larry Niven ★★☆☆☆
  • Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold ★★☆☆☆
  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle ★★☆☆☆


Onward to June! What’s on your to-read list?

Want to buddy read something?