Review Policy

Given that The Shelf has (finally) got into a bit of a routine and seems to be making more of a name for itself, it seemed about time to put together something that outlines my own personal review policy and offers some guidance about what goes up on the blog and why.

Firstly I feel that I should state that I do BUY a lot of books that feature on this blog. I read and review solely for my own pleasure and enjoyment and I set up the blog to share the joy of a good book with fellow readers.  Receiving the occasional review or advance copy is a pleasant side-effect of this as opposed to the reason that I do it. I love books, I love bookshops. Especially independent bookshops – they’re awesome and everyone should go and support them as much as they can. Libraries are awesome too so go show them some love as well.

That said, receiving books feels a lot like Christmas and I do love Christmas. As such I am always happy to hear from publishers, agents or publicists about forthcoming titles. Before spending precious pennies on postage however, there are a few things I should say, namely:

  • The Shelf is a passion project so reading and blogging both have to fit around an extremely busy day job, as well as life, adulting and all that other boring stuff. If I accept a book for general review, I will do my very best to discuss it around publication but I can’t give any guarantees of review to a set deadline.
  • I am open to taking part in blog tours however, because of the aforementioned day job, life and adulting, I only commit to those that I know I’ll be able to participate in fully and on the specific date requested. Please contact me in the first instance if you think you have a tour I’d be interested in.
  • Owing to current life & blog commitments, I am currently closed to review requests from indie/self-published authors. 
  • I do not currently run giveaways on The Shelf and have no plans to do so in the foreseeable future.
  • I greatly prefer reading in print to ebook. So print copies are always preferred.
  • Please note that I am a UK based book blogger.

My tastes in fiction are pretty varied. I love:

  • Contemporary literary fiction – I know this is a wide remit but if you think Costa Prize or Women’s Prize for Fiction, you’re probably along my wavelength
  • Classic and Golden Age crime fiction
  • Historical true crime
  • Gothic fiction and ghost stories (classic or contemporary)
  • Historical fiction (but not Aga sagas)
  • Myths and Fairy Tales, or re-tellings of these
  • Arthurian Literature
  • Social histories (especially histories of the home, women’s history and eighteenth-century history)

I will read, but am admittedly picky about the following so best to email me in the first instance:

  • Swords & Sorcery/High Fantasy
  • Psychological Thrillers
  • Memoir
  • Modern True Crime
  • Poetry
  • YA

And I don’t tend to read or don’t enjoy:

  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Horror
  • Aga Sagas
  • Erotica
  • Violent/gritty crime and thrillers
  • Books featuring unnecessary cruelty/torture (to people or animals – I really dislike books where the cat gets tortured just to show what an evil person the killer is)

With regards to the reviews themselves:

  • I only review books that I have read and finished. This is because I don’t feel it does the book, the author or the publisher any justice to base a review on half a book.
  • Reviews will always be honest, which I am aware can be both a good and a bad thing. I want The Shelf to be a positive place so if I do criticise, I like to aim for it to be both justified and constructive – I don’t go in for hating on a book. Chances are, if I thought a book was complete bobbins then I won’t finish it anyway – life is far too short to read bad books.
  • That said, I recognise that my opinion is just that – an opinion. Wouldn’t do for us all to like the same things now would it? If the book didn’t push my buttons but I think it will have an appeal and I finished it, I’ll feature it but will also discuss my reservations about it.
  • If I accept a book for review and I’m really just not getting along with it, I’ll always endeavour to let whoever provided me with the review copy know. If I can’t finish a book, I won’t review it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad book – it’s just not for me and I’d rather be honest about that than write a halfhearted review just for the sake of it. I’m happy to discuss an alternative feature such as a guest post or a Q&A instead of a review.
  • My reviews are posted on The Shelf and promoted on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll usually also put an edited version onto Goodreads.
  • I will always state on the blog and/or Goodreads post if a book has been provided in return for an honest and unbiased review.
  • I include purchasing links to all books reviews on The Shelf. These are not affiliate links and I am in no way affiliated with any of the bookshops or online retailers mentioned. As of June 2020, I am no longer including Amazon links on my blog. The only exception to this is if the book is not available via an alternative UK retailer, or if a publisher has specifically requested an Amazon link be included with the review.

Links to contact me can be found on the Contact page. I really do appreciate the support and love shown to The Shelf and I love talking books with fellow readers and book lovers so please do drop me a line if you think you have a book I might be interested in.