The NetGalley Book Tag

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

For this blog post, I’ve decided to to answer some questions from the NetGalley Book Tag, a tag I’ve seen on a couple of other blogs. I joined NetGalley in late 2018. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, NetGalley is an online service which is free to join, and provides users with advance reading copies to review and promote upcoming releases before they have been published.

1. Which authors do you automatically want to read, regardless of what the books are about?

A few names spring to mind:

  • C.J. Tudor. I read and enjoyed her first novel, The Chalk Man, and requested her subsequent novels: The Taking of Annie Thorne and The Other People. Unfortunately, these requests weren’t successful at the time, but I remain optimistic for future requests.
  • C.L. Taylor. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of C.L. Taylor’s work and I like every book she’s written. Her stories and writing captivate me, and I was thrilled that my request to read her latest novel, Strangers, was approved.
  • Louise Jensen. I requested, read, and reviewed her newest novel, The Family, last year and gave it 4 stars. I then read one of her other books, The Sister, and also liked that too. I am confident I will continue to enjoy the books she releases.

2. What makes you want to request a book that you see on NetGalley?

Usually, I make my requests based on a combination of considerations, including:

  • Genre: Does it contain plot elements, themes, and ideas from genres I already love?
  • Plot Description: Does it sound mysterious and intriguing? Do the characters sound interesting?
  • Author: Am I familiar with the author’s work or reputation (via Twitter or book blogs)?
  • Publisher: Am I familiar with the publishing company? Have I enjoyed books they’ve published in the past?
  • Cover: Does it look like the next best-seller?

3. Do you review every book you read? If not, how do you decide what books to review?

Yes, I do review every book I read; I post the review to NetGalley, Goodreads, Amazon, and this blog. This may sound like a daunting task to some, but I only request books I am sure I will like, and only request a few books at a time. This means I don’t get carried away with NetGalley requests and then find myself with 100 books to review!

4. What was the last book that you received as an advance reading copy (ARC) that you reviewed?

The most recent book I have read and reviewed from NetGalley is We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk.

5. What’s one book that you can’t wait to read?

I am currently working my way through a number of NetGalley reads. My most recently approved request was for The House Share by Kate Helm, which I look forward to reading!

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more content like this, as well as plenty of book reviews.

Do you use NetGalley? If so, how would you answer these questions? 

– Judith

This post was last updated in January 2020.

Book Review: We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk

Hello, my name is Judith! Welcome to my blog, ReadandReview.

We Are Monsters is a horror novel set in a mental asylum, in which Dr Alex Drexler experiments on his patients, trying to find a cure for schizophrenia. In the process, however, the drugs administered have caused unforeseen and dangerous side effects, unleashing patients’ past traumas and inner demons, transforming them into monsters.

I love the convention of mad doctors and experiments within the horror genre – the last one I read was Doctor Perry by Kirsten McKenzie – so I was excited to read We Are Monsters.

It was dark and interesting to begin with, as we see Dr Drexler attempt a variety of experiments which all fail. This built up well a foreboding sense that something is going to go extremely wrong at Sugar Hill – especially when it is suggested to Dr Drexler to experiment on the asylum’s most notorious, dangerous, and violent patient.

Of course, this experiment does go wrong and, as a side effect, causes multiple characters to hallucinate. I really liked these sections, as I had no idea what was real and what was fake – the narration was delightfully unreliable. There were also some scary and gory scenes, which felt appropriate for the genre.

However, there are some elements on We Are Monsters which, for me, let it down.

Firstly, Dr Alex Drexler is not a mad scientist or doctor – he’s not even slightly psychotic or twisted. This was disappointing, particularly as the book is meant to be primarily a work of horror fiction. Alex only ever seems interested in his experiments in order to financially benefit from them, which made him seem much more like a businessman than a doctor. Personally, I think it could have been an interesting parallel if the doctor working so hard to cure his mentally unstable patients was as equally mentally unstable himself.

Secondly, the book does not solely focus on Dr Alex Drexler, but delves into other the backgrounds and characters of other staff members at the asylum, such as Dr Eli Alpert and Angela. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy their storylines very much, as I was only really interested in Alex’s character, and I didn’t think they were as relevant to the overall plot.

Finally, the latter half of We Are Monsters gets very confusing, very quickly. The patients kept talking about the shadows and the monsters within, but these things weren’t explained particularly clearly.  By the time I finished the book, I still didn’t understand what had happened, and I thought the ending merely added to the confusion.

To sum up, although I was interested in the premise, and some good ideas were displayed throughout, I think the execution of these ideas, for me, let We Are Monsters down.

Star Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Thank you for reading my blog post! Please click ‘Like’ to support my blog, and ‘Follow’ this blog if you would like to read more book reviews like this.

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Flame Tree Press, an imprint of Flame Tree Publishing.

Have you read this book? What did you think? 

– Judith

This post was last updated in January 2020.