The Chimp Paradox Book Review (by Professor Steve Peters)

The Chimp Paradox Book Review

"It's not good or bad. It's a chimp"

The Chimp Paradox is a bestselling self-help book based on the Chimp Mind Management programme that has transformed the lives of many of its readers – notably in the field of sport psychology.

Steve Peters has worked with a number of sporting icons including Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hoy (amongst others), before going on to work with Liverpool Football Club and the England national football team.

Self-help books tend to raise an eyebrow from this reader, but The Chimp Paradox presents a genuinely interesting psychological framework that is highly applicable to all readers.

What is The Chimp Mind Management Programme?

The Chimp Paradox posits a highly simplified metaphor for psychological theory. 

Essentially, our minds are divided into three categories: Chimp, Human, and Computer.

The Chimp

The emotion-led, primal part of our brain. The Chimp is about evolutionary instinct, self-preservation, and winning at all costs. It’s the ‘gut feeling’ one gets (which may or may not be accurate).

The Chimp's reaction speed is five times faster than the Human. Whilst The Chimp can be highly inappropriate in certain settings, it’s also important for survival.

After all, “It’s not good or bad. It’s a chimp”.

The Human

The Human is the rational part of our brain.

It’s highly logical, processes information as things are (rather than as we would like them to be) and ultimately wants a positive resolution for all parties.

The Human is the mediator, the social animal, and the ideal state for social situations.

The Computer

This is our pre-programmed behaviour. Essentially, it’s how our brain responds to things, without having to even think. For example, learned behaviour such as riding a bike, or unwritten social rules that we don’t think about - we just do.

The Computer allows us to act before the Chimp, which is preferable due to the Chimp's destructive tendencies. However, when adverse experiences are introduced to the computer, they can be harmful and difficult to remove.

The Chimp Paradox presents a number of means and methods to calm the chimp whilst ensuring its needs are represented. It also discusses how to keep the computer in healthy balance, removing unhelpful ‘gremlins’ and fostering socially beneficial ‘autopilots’.

Interestingly, it has a lot in common with CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and also touches lightly upon trauma therapy, as covered in Bessel van der Kolk’s excellent book The Body Keeps the Score.

Is The Chimp Paradox a Difficult Book to Read?

Professor Steve Peters does an excellent job of making an incredibly complex field of psychology easy to follow.

The book also includes summaries of each section throughout, as well as practical ways to implement the theory. Its universal simplicity is brilliant – anyone can apply this logic to their own lives.

Some have criticised the book for its simplistic approach to psychology, but this is a fairly superficial point. Peters acknowledges this in the introduction and that The Chimp Paradox is a surface-level introduction to a much deeper topic.

Where the book can be criticised is its occasional lapsing into esoteric thinking. For example, Peters builds upon the Chimp / Human / Computer analogy by situating it within a cosmic universe. The ‘divided planet’ is where the human and chimp wrestle for control, whilst the ‘guiding moon’ is the computer that pulls the divided planet in the right direction.

It just about works, but it stretches the metaphor further than necessary, when the Chimp / Human / Computer explanation itself is fine.

Still, The Chimp Paradox is essential reading for those interested in personal development. If you’re an anxious person, quick to confront people, or feel like life is passing you by, this is a genuinely enlightening read.


There’s a reason that The Chimp Paradox remains a bestseller, many years after publication. It’s a compelling theory that anyone can use to improve their lives.

Whilst those with a qualification in psychology may find shortcomings in the theory, this is a book review – and as a book, it’s a very good read. 

Unlike some other self-help books, which border on smoke & mirrors, The Chimp Paradox is the real deal.


13 Halloween Book Recommendations for 2023

13 Halloween Reads for your TBR
13 Halloween Reads for your TBR

The spooky season is just around the corner, so you’re probably looking for some suitably spooky Halloween book recommendations as the dark nights draw in.

For books featuring ghosts, vampires, witches, and all things supernatural – here are a selection of thirteen books to add to your Halloween TBR.

Halloween Book Recommendations

13 Spooky Halloween Reads Edgar Allan PoeLet’s begin with one of the icons of the gothic horror genre – Edgar Allan Poe.

The Boston-born author lived a rackety life of alcoholism and poverty, and even the circumstances surrounding his own death remain a mystery.

A prolific short story writer of spooky, sinister tales, Poe penned classics such as The Raven, The Black Cat, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, and so many more. The Complete Tales is a great way to enjoy all that Poe has to offer – plus, you can get some amazing editions. 

Perfect for your Halloween bookstagram!

Henry James’ most well-known ghost story is a classic for good reason – it’s genuinely terrifying.

The Victorian novella tells the tale of a Governess who, taking care of two children, becomes fearful that the estate is haunted. Structured as a framed narrative in which the narrator reads the testimony of the governess herself, the reader is unable to ascertain the absolute truth of events, adding an additional layer of fear.

With ghostly children, apparitions at every turn, and the ambiguity of an unreliable narrative, The Turn of the Screw is a perfect read for Halloween.

Halloween Books IT Stephen KingClowns are generally regarded as all kinds of scary.

Whether this has always been the case, or whether Stephen King brought about this cultural phobia, is up for debate.

IT – one of King’s most well-known stories – has been adapted to screen numerous times, with the malicious clown Pennywise now a staple of Halloween popular culture.

The novel itself is no exception.

Wild and Wicked Things isn’t an out-and-out horror novel.

However, it’s drenched in a delightfully witchy aesthetic. And as a Sapphic, supernatural retelling of Gatsby, May’s novel excels. It’s dark, moody, and mysterious with illicit magic and alcohol-fueled antics.

In short, Wild and Wicked Things is a terrific novel and a must-read this Halloween.

Here’s what I said in my review of Wild and Wicked Things:

“An atmospheric, slow burner that delights throughout, it’s clear that May has poured love and passion into building her characters, as well as the dark, moody setting of Crow Island. The result is a tangible and authentic world – a kind of richness that many authors dream of.”

If you’ve only seen the movie adaptations of Dracula – even the excellent Christopher Lee version – you need to read the book.

Whilst it’s a little silly, (the obsession with Mina’s purity is almost comical at times) the novel remains sufficiently dark, gothic, and creepy.

And despite its age, Stoker’s vampiric classic actually reads really well.

Acutely sinister, Dorian fears the waning of his youth. And after meeting socialite and all-round party guy Lord Henry Wooton, Dorian binds his soul to a portrait in exchange for eternal beauty.

But trading away one’s soul entails a heavy price. 

Renowned more for his poetry and plays, The Picture of Dorian Gray was the only novel Oscar Wilde ever wrote.

And it’s a shame because it’s terrific.

Of all the books on this list, A Monster Calls is the most disturbing book due to its portrayal of child trauma.

Conor O’Malley’s mother is undergoing chemotherapy, and with an absent father, he’s highly troubled. Meanwhile, he’s also bullied at school.13 Spooky Halloween Reads

Each night, he’s visited by a monstrous tree that tells a number of tales.

The real-world setting, with real-world problems – interspersed with supernatural interludes – is what makes this book such a troubling read. 

With most people having faced death or family break-ups (sometimes both) Conor’s trauma is the reader’s trauma. 

A Monster Calls is a terribly sad read, but it’s very, very good.

Similar to A Monster Calls, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a blend of the contemporary and the supernatural, which is what makes it such an unsettling tale. 

Following a family breakup, the narrator goes to visit his father in the countryside. But infatuated with Ursula Monkton, his new lover, the narrator’s dad becomes distant.

Going to some surprisingly sinister places, Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane is poignant, thought-provoking, and intensely unsettling.

Not one of my favourite books, but it’s well loved by many.

A rare ghost story by Charles Dickens, The Signal-Man tells the tale of an apparition haunting a railway signal-man in rural England.

Living an isolated life in shame after failing to achieve his academic dreams, the taciturn signal-man operates a small signal box near a darkened tunnel. 

Meeting the titular signal-man in passing, the unnamed narrator of Dickens’ novella becomes concerned by his apparent hallucinations of the supernatural.

Preceding a tragedy on the tracks, the signal-man claims to witness a spirit at the entrance to the tunnel, covering their face as if cowering.

Like all good ghost stories, the truth of the tale is open-ended, provoking discussion for readers.

There is also a brilliant 1970s BBC adaptation of the short story, if you’re unable to get hold of a copy of the text itself.

10) Winterset Hollow, Jonathan Durham

Morbid fairy tale meets slasher horror – this is Winterset Hollow, in brief.

And yet it’s so much more than this. Durham’s text is also a really clever metafiction novel, playing with ideas of authorship whilst questioning social values.

The novel sees fans of Winterset Hollow – also the name of the in-universe text – visit Addington Isle to celebrate the anniversary of the book’s release. But with the island itself harbouring a dangerous secret, things deteriorate rapidly.

This dark fantasy is a must-read for your Halloween TBR.

“It’s as if Beatrix Potter’s merry cast of creatures developed a predilection for torture and violence. Disturbing, but admittedly a lot of fun.”

Okay. Hear me out.

The Worst Witch is obviously not a scary Halloween read. It is, however, an absolutely wonderful children’s book. Long before Harry Potter, and the various dark academia books spawned as a result, came Jill Murphy’s witchy classic. 

Mildred Hubble, our protagonist, is enrolled into a school of witchcraft and is waiting to receive her customary broomstick and black cat. Things don’t go according to plan, with the school running out of black cats and instead granting Mildred a curious, misbehaving tabby cat, and from here onwards, hijinks occur.

The writing is charming and the illustrations (by Murphy herself!) are a delight. So, no matter your age, if you haven’t read this wonderful series of books, then you need to add this series to your list of Halloween books.

Sadly, Jill Murphy passed away this year, but her legacy lives on in the adventures of Mildred Hubble, Tabby, and the girls of Miss Cackle’s Academy.

The Passage is an unusual book.

The first half of the book is primarily a contemporary thriller surrounding a lab outbreak, a missing girl, and a policeman gone rogue.

The second half goes full-tilt YA post-apocalyptic vampire world, which sounds really naff but it genuinely isn’t. Somehow, it just works.

Great characters and a well-told story create a terrific beginning to Cronin’s trilogy. If you’ve not read this book, Halloween is a great time to begin. Be warned though – at 766 pages, it’s a long book!

Convicted of witchcraft, Geillis Duncan sits in an Edinburgh prison cell awaiting her execution. Whilst reflecting, she is visited by Iris, a woman claiming to be from the future.

Bridging the gap between the 1571 of Geiller’s world and the reader’s contemporary world, Hex explores the way in which women are still routinely discriminated against.

This is a short book at circa 100 pages, but Fagan is able to exhibit the rage, sadness, and defiance associated with the fight for equality over the years.

What are you reading this Halloween? Let me know down in the comments!

How to Blog More Efficiently

How to Blog More Efficiently
How to Blog More Efficiently

Blogging is incredibly rewarding, but it’s also very time-consuming. Learning how to blog more efficiently is therefore paramount.

You need to research the topic (then the associated keywords), draft the post, make edits, create media assets, proof the article, and then, finally, publish it. Of course, then you then need to promote your hard work!

But let’s face it – most of us have busy lives; studying, working, exercising, parenting, and sometimes all four! Oh, and at some point you need to sleep.

So, here are several tips I’ve learned over the years to save time and ultimately helping me make time for blogging.

Add your own in the comments too 👇

Why Can't I hold all this free time
That moment when you're struggling to hold all your free time

Tips to Help Blog More Efficiently

Learn to Draft Articles on your Phone

Google Docs is your best friend here.

It’s free, possesses more or less the same features as Microsoft Word, and is PERFECT for on-the-go word processing.

So, if I’m waiting for the kettle to boil or waiting for the bus, I simply fire up Google Docs on my mobile and plot out an article outline in bullet-point form.

Then, when I get to a desk where I can write up the full blog post, I’ve already got an outline to work with. 

Here’s an example of one I’m currently writing!

How to Blog More Efficiently with Google Docs
How to Blog More Efficiently with Google Docs

It’s a really powerful way to write more efficiently. (Sometimes, I’ll even write up the full thing on my phone!)

Set Realistic Goals

Ask yourself the following question: ‘How often do I want to post?’

Then ask another (this one is even more important): ‘How often can I realistically post?’

Having this perspective, both of time limitations, and your potential capacity, is a great way to set your own internal expectations.

If you want to post once a week, but keep getting to the end of the week without having finished an article, it’s easy to become demoralised. This will make you disillusioned with your work and more likely to quit.

On the other hand, setting a realistic expectation of one post every 2 weeks, or even one post a month allows you to liberate yourself from unrealistic expectations.

Keep a Bank of Blog Ideas

Back to my old friend, Google Docs (or, if you’re feeling extra technical, then Sheets – the Google equivalent of Excel).

Every now and again, you’ll have a shit-hot idea that you forget to write down and it passes beyond memory.

But why do that when you can simply keep a file of ideas?

Even filter it by theme or content type. So, when you’re motivated or have time, you can simply pick one and get going.

Don't Compare Yourself to Other Bloggers

In the words of Baz Luhrmann, “If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.”

But in all seriousness, being a blogger means you’re usually reading loads of other blogs. And sometimes other bloggers publish more than you, even multiple times a week!

Don’t let this dispirit you – everyone goes at their own pace, depending on free time.

Currently, I aim to publish once a month. Sometimes I hit that, sometimes I don’t. This doesn’t always keep me current in the blogging game, but I’m always updating older content to keep it fresh and relevant to readers.

As a result, my articles do pretty well on Google because they’re well researched, well written, and optimised for search engines.

Just enjoy the process!

Download the Canva App

I’m sure many of you will already be aware of Canva, but if you’re not, then you must check out

It’s a free template-driven, drag-and-drop design tool that you can use to create a range of media assets. An absolute essential for bloggers.

Canva Mobile App

The desktop and browser versions are awesome, but did you know that Canva has an app? 

It’s actually surprisingly intuitive and allows you to create images and videos on the go.

Once you’ve got a few templates up and running, you can typically make your assets on your phone or tablet.

So, simply create your blog post’s visual assets on your phone and, if necessary, perfect it when you next get to a laptop.

This saves a bunch of design time because, as with creating outlines in Docs, you’re doing the grunt work before sitting down and writing or designing!

Stop Doom Scrolling on Social Media

It’s so easy to convince yourself that you don’t have time to blog, but then dedicate a couple of hours a day to mindlessly scrolling on social media.

If you find yourself doing this, stop.

Either draft and schedule a couple of social posts, or grab a notepad (or, even better, your trusty Google Docs)  and start drafting your next article.

As an aside, I’ve been using the minimalist app on Android to curb distractions.

Freshen up Old Articles

Let’s face it – writing new content takes time.

However, updating old content is a nice quick win and can see massive gains in terms of organic traffic.

I recently did this with my blog’s most popular article, Top Book Bloggers to Follow in 2023.

At the end of 2022, I reviewed the content to make sure that all the book bloggers included were still active. I also added some new entries, including some Bookstagram and BookTok content creators, and updated the title and meta descriptions from 2022 to 2023.

The results were extraordinary.

Blue line = Clicks / Purple Line = Impressions

Since then, it absolutely exploded on organic search (for context, this means that people have found a Tales from Absurdia article via Google).

This is because Google serves its users with relevant, up-to-date content.

So, if you’ve written an article with a date attached to the title, then update it. Don’t simply change the date though – create some additional content and make it a stronger blog post.

Promote Existing Content

Most articles are dead on arrival because bloggers fail to promote their work.

So, if you’ve written an awesome blog then promote it!

This can range from posting on social media, WhatApping it to a friend, or even emailing it to contacts you know will be interested in it.

Better yet, set up an email marketing list in a tool like MailChimp and email your followers.

But get inventive about your promotion – don’t just simply spam the URL all over social. Creating fun, engaging graphics on Canva that appeal to your readers is a good strategy too.

You can also seek out similar articles on the topic and leave a comment saying how much you enjoyed their post. It’s then a nice opportunity to share a link to your post to start a discussion.

Ready to Blog More Efficiently?

Let’s face it – most of us have busy lives. We’re either studying, working, working out, parenting, or sometimes all four!

But whilst blogging can be incredibly time-consuming, there are always ways to plan, write, and publish more efficiently. 

Give these tips a go and let me know how you get on in the comments 👇

(p.s. if you’ve found this article useful, please consider sharing it. It helps the blog immensely!)

Why I Left Twitter

Why I Left Book Twitter - A Dying Platform

When Elon Musk first took over Twitter, a great number of users, somewhat hysterically in my opinion, proclaimed the doom of the platform. 

He’s undeniably a divisive figure, and with Twitter a broadly liberal consensus, it’s not unsurprising that the takeover raised the ire of a lot of people. I’ll freely admit that I did not share this pessimism. At least not initially.

Then the firings happened. They were swift and ruthless, and it’s estimated that Musk has slashed around 80% of the global workforce. And since then, the platform has been riddled with issues.

Firstly, the changes to verification were an unmitigated disaster, allowing a platform for anybody to spread disinformation, provided they’re willing to pay the requisite tithes to ‘Daddy Musk’. 

And whilst verification has sometimes been a vanity emblem, it also served an important role for identifying authentic government agencies, news platforms, and prevented people in the public eye from being impersonated.

Meanwhile, the platform has been critically unstable with NetBlocks, a cybersecurity observatory, reporting 11 major outages during 2023 (vs 8 in the entirety of 2022). Only recently, users were hit with the infamous Rate Limit Exceeded issue – a deliberate throttling of users’ engagement with the platform unless they were willing to pay the ransom subscription fee. 

So, discounting even the flagrant disregard of its now ex-employees, Twitter has allowed misinformation to flood the platform and reduced users’ ability to engage with it. Hardly the ‘town square’ of Musk’s imagination

However, there was more. And this is the key reason I’ve finally decided to leave the platform. Moderation, or the lack thereof. Put simply, it’s completely gone to shit.

Most of us value free speech, but we also value necessary moderation. Abuse, malicious communications, and videos of extreme violence do not belong on a public-facing platform. And yet, since Musk took over, I’ve seen some of the most gratuitous violence I’ve ever witnessed on a mainstream social media platform. All without actually searching for it, I should add.

Musk claims he’s reduced hate speech on the platform, despite compelling evidence to the contrary. And speaking anecdotally, I never saw a man murdered in front of his family, or video footage like that of the Annecy knife attack in a children’s play park, prior to 2023. Again, without actively seeking this content out.

As with many readers of this blog, I spent 95% of my time on #BookTwitter – with the rest dedicated to a combination of cat memes and current affairs. And yet over the past 12 months, my feed has been packed with irrelevant content, an extraordinary amount of bots and, occasionally, gratuitous violence.

Let’s not delude ourselves – Twitter is a dying platform. The servers drop out like they’re running on dial-up internet, content curation has gone to the dogs, and moderation doesn’t appear to exist in any meaningful form. 

Even advertisers have stayed away, with Twitter reporting a 50% drop in advertising revenue since Musk took over. 

And so, after 3+ happy years on #BookTwitter, I deleted my account recently – and it’s not a platform I have any intention to return to in its current state.

If you wish to keep in touch, you can contact me via Mastodon’s MastodonBooks server and via Meta’s latest social media darling, Threads.

Are Tolkien’s Books too Complex?

Tolkien Books too Complex Blog Header
Tolkien Books too Complex Blog Header

Something I’ve noticed about Tolkien is that he’s often criticised by readers both for being too complex and yet, paradoxically, too simplistic.

Evidently these two positions aren’t expressed by the same people, but it’s nonetheless an interesting contradiction.

Is Tolkien too complex? Too simplistic? Let’s dig into this further.

Tolkien's Reputation for Complexity

Anyone remotely aware of Tolkien’s work will be familiar with the criticism that he ‘takes X number of pages to describe a tree/leaf‘ – a charge undoubtedly deserving of the phrase cliché.

Only recently, I was chatting with a friend who has yet to pick up a Tolkien novel, having been put off due to this observation.

This is nothing new. 

I recall Tolkien’s attention-to-detail, specifically of the natural world, being called out as long as 20 years ago. Having given up during the Old Forest chapter – the litmus test chapter for readers of The Lord of the Rings – as a nine-year-old reader, I think I complained about the same thing after hearing it from an adult.

But here’s the thing – like most clichés, there may well be a pinch of truth in between the hyperbole. After all, Tolkien was undeniably concerned by creeping industrialisation. 

His writing certainly contains an environmentalist angle, with the menacing fire & industry of Saruman standing in direct opposition to the aged, ethereal presence of the Ents. The battle for Isengard in particular pits industry in direct opposition to nature.

And yes, Tolkien is rather fond of trees. Most readers who give up reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time become ensnared in the Old Forest chapter along with Frodo & his companions.

Yet, on the other hand, there are plenty prepared to line up to argue that Tolkien’s writing is too simplistic and lacking in real world details.

Is Tolkien's Writing Simplistic?

George R. R. Martin – another fantasy writer who happens to have R.R in his initials, and author of the successful A Song of Ice and Fire series, is one such person.

Martin, in an interview with Rolling Stone once remarked:

“What was Aragorn’s tax policy? Did he maintain a standing army? What did he do in times of flood and famine? And what about all these orcs? By the end of the war, Sauron is gone but all of the orcs aren’t gone – they’re in the mountains. Did Aragorn pursue a policy of systematic genocide and kill them? Even the little baby orcs, in their little orc cradles?”
George RR Martin, on Tolkien

Martin’s tongue was perhaps slightly in his cheek, but it does represent a prevailing view that Tolkien’s Middle-Earth is a bit ‘vanilla’, or basic in its plot resolution and character motivations. 

If somewhat nit-picky, this isn’t an entirely redundant criticism – aspects of Tolkien’s plots are characterised by fate, circumstance, and a dash of good fortune.

Some characters lack complexity, and issues of power aren’t always explored in as much depth as they might be. For example, did the people of Gondor want a king? Would Denethor really just give up the throne? Why didn’t Aragorn’s return not spark a civil war?

Fantasy authors are amongst the most talented world builders in fiction. They craft worlds populated with people, cities, and laws. To seek greater depth, and a stronger internal logic within a fantasy universe isn’t unreasonable. 

And yet I can’t help but feel that these criticisms over a lack of complexity miss the point of Tolkien’s writing. Nor are many other fantasy writers able to create the blend of beautiful prose, timeless lore, and scope of ambition within Middle-Earth. 

The Context of Tolkien's Writing

To explore this further, it’s worth looking into a wider historical context of Tolkien’s novels.

Fantasy was in its infancy

Consider when Tolkien was writing. The Hobbit (a book written for his children) was published in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 1954. 

There wasn’t a particularly large commercial fantasy market, mainly because fantasy itself was in its commercial and reputational infancy. Tolkien was,  of course, not the first fantasy author – a title greatly disputed and perhaps one for another day – but his writing stood largely alone in the mainstream (bar a certain author and friend C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia).

Fantasy in the 1930s looked very different to the contemporary landscape. It was more simple, rooted in the ordinary everyday, and this humbleness is a core message behind the hobbits’ journeys through the land of the big folk. 

Tolkien is more concerned with broader themes of good & evil, rather than the intricacies present in more contemporary sci-fi and fantasy books, such as power levels, magic systems, and so on.

Could this be mistaken as simplistic? Perhaps, but there is an undeniable beauty in Tolkien’s writing. 

Less concerned about arbitrary ‘mechanics’ and politics of his world, Tolkien spends more time exploring the geography of Middle-Earth and the people who live there.

Tolkien as the perceived father of fantasy

Whether Tolkien is the father of fantasy or not, he certainly popularised it. So naturally, his successors have borrowed elements from Middle-Earth to greater or lesser extents.

This does mean that reading Tolkien for the first time can feel overly familiar. You’ve likely experienced Tolkien-esque elements in books ranging from Harry Potter to Discworld, or games such as the Warhammer Fantasy tabletop game and the World of Warcraft MMO.

Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, and Orcs are almost tropey races at this point – with the latter echoing particularly uncomfortable racial imagery. So it’s easy to feel jaded by the atypical mellowness of Elves, the grizzled bad-tempered dwarves, and the poor attempts to deviate from fantasy races such as Orcs by simply calling them ‘Orks’.

But this is a modern high fantasy problem – not Tolkien’s.

The Lord of the Rings is a quest narrative,
not a political intrigue

Due to the sheer creativity on display, it’s hard to read books written by C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, and not wonder ‘what if…’?

Does this mean that George R. R. Martin’s observations have merit?


After all, Middle-Earth is a vast world, populated by a wide variety of beasts, birds, and beings. Dwarves, hobbits, men, elves, Easterlings, orcs, wizards – and so much more. 

In some respects, these writings have fuelled readers’ need for granular details. It’s not unreasonable to want to know, for example, how Aragorn was able to claim the throne with very little dispute.

The key difference between Tolkien and Martin’s books, or even Frank Herbert’s Dune, is that both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are quest narratives. They just aren’t concerned with palace intrigue and political deception of the above examples.

And that’s okay.

Tolkien’s stories were written for his children

The excellent The Lord of the Rings movies have somewhat skewed people’s views of the books. And who’s to blame them – they’re amazing films that have redefined how movies are made.

However, because of the epic visual scope of the movies, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Tolkien’s writings were written primarily for his children.

Could he have written a fantasy novel with more gore and more political intrigue, akin to Martin’s A Game of Thrones? Sure – Tolkien fought in the Somme. He knows real war. It just isn’t the predominant concern of his writing.

Incidentally, Tolkien did start planning a darker sequel to The Lord of the Rings, provisionally named The New Shadow. He eventually abandoned it after deciding it wasn’t the right tone for his novels.

Prose versus Plot - The core issue?

In reality, Tolkien’s mixed reputation probably comes down to readers’ experiences of complex prose versus basic plot. I’m not certain that these are necessarily fair criticisms, but they do seem to be the prevailing views.

His prose is known to be rather flowery and, perhaps a little too over-descriptive in parts. Take this very brief example, highlighted by A Lent of The Lord of the Rings:

"Ling and broom, cornel and larch, cedar and cypress, tamarisk and terebinth, olive and bay, juniper and myrtles, thyme and various colored sages, marjoram and parsley, saxifrages and stonecrops, primroses and anemones, filbert-brakes and asphodel, lilies and iris-swords, briar eglantine and clematis."

Meanwhile the plot in his works (The Hobbit particularly) do tend to rely on pre-ordained fate, and in some cases a deus ex machina.

Most are familiar with the eagles plot hole, which argues that there was no discernible reason why the eagles couldn’t have flown Frodo & friends to Mordor. There’s a fantastic study by Sean Crist which came to the conclusion, using textual evidence, that there was no reason the eagles could not taken the ring to Mordor.

To conclude, it is possible that some are put off by the complexity his prose, whilst others are disappointed by his sometimes overly convenient plot resolutions. And whilst these aren’t criticisms I share, there is a sound logic behind both.

The Lord of the Rings is not a perfect trilogy of books (in spite of my tongue-in-cheek insistence that they are). However, they are timeless for a reason. Frodo’s journey is relatable on a human level, whilst the moral and ethical lessons contained within will endure for evermore.

What do you think? Do you find Middle-Earth to be a little simple? Too complex? Just right? Let me know in the comments below.

The Simple Guide to NetGalley [2023 Updated]

The Simple Guide to Netgalley
The Reader's Guide to NetGalley (2023 Edition)

NetGalley is a great way for bloggers to get ARCs (advance reading copies) of new books.

However, in order to be approved for the more high-profile books, you need to be seen as a reliable contributor. And that means proving your worth as a reviewer on the platform.

It’s actually nowhere near as hard as it sounds, but is NetGalley worth it?

The (very) simple guide to NetGalley

Simply sign up at

It’s worth keeping in mind when searching the catalogue that many NetGalley books are proof copies and may contain errors. They aren’t always the final version.

What is NetGalley?

NetGalley is a book marketing platform through which authors and publishers pay to share proof copies of their latest books, prior to publication.

This is often to create anticipation, raise awareness of an upcoming book, and to get initial impressions from dedicated readers.

For readers and bloggers, NetGalley is an excellent way to get hold of books that are months away from publication. Pretty exciting, right?

However, publishers are usually quite strict about who they approve. Otherwise anybody could sign up and grab a free book. Fortunately, I’ve produced some tips below that’ll help you get approved for almost all of your requests!

Is NetGalley worth it?

If you’re a book blogger, a service like NetGalley is incredible.

The reality of blogging is that it’s simply not affordable to buy books every other week, especially if your blog isn’t monetised.

NetGalley is an almost bottomless pit of reading goodness, plus it’s free-to-use. Even if you don’t plan on using the service straightaway, it’s good to get signed up to the mailing list and become familiar with the platform.

Put simply, it’s a great way to acquire free content, which you can then review and discuss, driving traffic to your blog.

Plus, most of the books on the platform are yet to be released, so the chances are that you’ll be one of the first people in the world to review certain book! For example, I was one of the first people to get eyes on Richard Osman’s debut novel, The Thursday Murder Club (it’s just a pity that I really disliked it!).

Just make sure that you keep up your end of the bargain and leave feedback for the publisher. Otherwise it will significantly affect your ability to request new books (more on this later). 

It’s worth mentioning that there are alternative websites like Edelweiss and BookSirens. However, they don’t tend to have anywhere near as wide a variety (or quality) of books as NetGalley.

Do I need to be approved for books on NetGalley?

Yes and no. 

You will require approval for most books you wish to read on the platform. Especially books published by high-profile publishers. This approval is decided by the publisher rather than the service.

Publishers of all sizes (including self-published authors) put their work on NetGalley. 

As a new user, you’re far more likely to get approval for smaller publishing houses.

This is largely because their aim is to build the biggest readership possible ahead of their book’s launch. Whereas, the ‘Big 5’ publishers can be a lot more selective with who they approve, simply because they’re usually guaranteed a bigger audience anyway.

Simple Guide to Netgalley Homepage

That being said, if you’ve built a strong NetGalley profile and you’re already an established blogger, you’re far more likely to be accepted for some of the more high-profile proofs.

Don’t be afraid to take a chance on some lesser known titles, however.

There are some fantastic works on NetGalley that you’ll have otherwise never heard of. I had a lot of fun with The Playmaker Project – a novel where the two seemingly disparate worlds of soccer and neuroscience clash!

After reviewing The Playmaker Project, I reached out to the author for some comment, which turned into an interview, which you can read here.

With books that are less well known, you’re creating more original content that helps readers find new material, with the added bonus giving a platform to authors with a smaller profile.

The good news is that there is also a very generous amount of books on the platform that are available to all readers, without approval required. It’s good to review a handful of these in order to build up your profile.

5 tips to help you get approved on NetGalley

Approval for ARCs can be somewhat of a lottery – especially for the in-demand books. Copies of R.F. Kuang’s Babel, for example, was extremely limited.

But sometimes, you’ll be approved for some books you didn’t expect to be approved for – other times you’ll be left scratching your head as to why you weren’t approved.

Ultimately, it’s nothing personal. Sometimes it’s a case of demand. Other times, publishers may decide that your book blog niche doesn’t match their genre, therefore there’s less for them to gain from any coverage. They’re paying to use the platform after all, so they want quality, relevant feedback.

However, there are a few things you can do to make your profile stand out. 

1) Complete your profile

Your profile is your shop window. It’s the first thing that publishers see when you request approval for an ARC.

Take a look at my profile page as an example.

Simple Guide to Netgalley Profile

I’ve uploaded a photo for a start. It shows publishers that I’m a real person and establishes trust.

They’ll then look at the ‘feedback ratio’. Currently, mine is 75% – lower than the recommended 80%, which means my ability to request ARCs could be affected. 

I’m currently reading the two outstanding books, so once they’re read and I’ve provided feedback, I’ll be back at 100%.

Now look at my bio. In the first sentence I’ve outlined my credentials, using persuasive language. This demonstrates a level of commitment to the publisher, making them more likely to approve my request.

I also give readers an idea of what they can expect from me personally, as a reviewer. From my profile, they’ll see that I’m organised, diligent, and honest with my feedback.

2) Include links to your blog & social handles

Simple Guide to Netgalley Social

Crucially, I’ve included a link to my blog to prove that I’m an authentic reviewer. If you aren’t a blogger, your Goodreads profile may suffice.

There are also options to link your social handles (currently Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads).

It gives publishers and authors a chance to see what you’re all about. If you’re active on social media, steer clear from drama, and create engaging content – these are all good signs.

3) View your profile through the eyes of a publisher

Do you have a blog niche? Say you’re a sci-fi book blogger and want to target publishers of SFF books, you’re going to want to lean into that experience in your profile.

Think – if you were an author looking to market your book, who would you want to review it? You want someone who’s experienced in the genre and isn’t simply requesting approval for the sake of it. Remember – NetGalley is an extension of an author and publisher’s marketing strategy.

Furthermore, and most importantly, what is your feedback ratio? The general rule of thumb is that you should aim to keep your feedback ratio above 80%

Some publishers may be more strict, however, and prefer it to exceed 90%, so make sure that you’re giving good quality feedback every single time – even if it isn’t positive.

4) Don’t request too many books at once

It’s easy to get excited about being approved, and there are books littered all over the platform.

In order to provide feedback (and therefore boost your feedback ratio), you need to finish the book. So make sure you don’t request approval for every book you see. It’ll harm your chances of securing future ARCs if you don’t see it through. 

Never give feedback without having read the book. It’s obvious, plus it’s very unfair to publishers and authors.

So, be selective with your books. Read the blurbs, perhaps even read some existing reviews to find out if it’s of interest. If you enjoy your books, you’ll read them more quickly, therefore allowing you to request even more! 

And of course the more you read and review, the better impression you’ll have on influential publishers. You never know, they may even list you as an ‘auto-approved reviewer’ – the holy grail of NetGalley goals.

5) Beware the archive!

Finally, beware the archive.

As soon as you’re approved for a book, download it to your device immediately. You never know when the publisher will archive it. This usually occurs post-publication, but not always. 

Once a book is archived, you’ll have no access to it but your feedback ratio will count against you if you haven’t been able to read the book. This can be incredibly damaging to your NetGalley profile.

The good news is that you can still leave feedback once a book has been archived. Just make sure you get into the habit of downloading your copy as soon as you’ve been approved!

What do you think? Is NetGalley worth it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

No. NetGalley is a purely digital platform. They do offer audiobooks, however.

Tip: If you would prefer a physical ARC or proof copy, you can always reach out directly to the publisher’s marketing team. 

Yes. For readers, NetGalley is a free service.

For authors and publishers, however, NetGalley is a paid-for marketing service.

Getting auto-approved is incredibly difficult because it’s entirely at the publishers’ discretion.

Writing regular, informative reviews will certainly help. Plus building your audience on your blog or social platform of choice will likely play a factor!

Are AI Novels Theft? Examining the Ethics of AI in Publishing

Are AI Novels Theft
Are AI Novels Theft

*This article will forego the use of ‘written’ in favour of ‘generated’ where AI is used for long-form writing – it is this writer’s opinion that authors using AI are not writers.

AI is here, and it’s not going away. 

In fact, Anthropic, an AI safety & research firm, believes that there’s a 10% chance of human-level AI systems being developed in the next decade.

For now, tools like Hyperwrite, Sudowrite, Bard, and ChatGPT (amongst others) exist to offer incompetent would-be ‘writers’ a bevy of options at their fingertips.

So what do we do about it as creatives? It’s therefore time to examine the ethics of AI in publishing. Should AI-generated writing be embraced as an inevitability, or should it be resisted at all costs? 

What exactly is AI writing?

AI-generated content is produced by an online platform (ChatGPT being the most famous) where ‘large language models’ (LLMs) are used to form sentences.

Large language models are algorithms that leverage enormous amounts of data from the internet (and from users’ interactions with the AI tool) to generate responses to the user.

In essence, AI tools see sentences as computational puzzles, predicting the next word in a sentence based on a) what makes logical sense, and b) the nature of the user’s request.

And to be fair, it’s an impressive feat of software engineering.

How does AI writing work?

To use an AI tool like Bard or ChatGPT, the user needs to provide the tool with a prompt or brief. This might be as simple as a question on a specific topic or as complex as a request to generate code.

For example, if the writer wishes to generate a blog on the role of AI in publishing, the user will enter general information as a brief for the AI tool.

This might be an outline of the blog topic (the ethics of AI in publishing), the keyword targeted for SEO purposes (AI in Publishing), wordcount, and more.

The AI tool will then generate the article in less than a couple of minutes. Again, this is genuinely impressive.

AI in Publishing GIF
Asking AI to write an article on the role of AI in publishing. To be clear, this article is entirely my own work!

Gone are the hours of research and the gathering of statistics – simply feed an AI tool a solid brief and it’ll churn out an article.

The negatives of AI-generated content

This ease-of-use poses the question – why bother writing a first draft when an AI tool can do it far more quickly?

Well, there are a handful of reasons for this.

1) Derivative results

Whilst it’s true that AI-generated writing can be created at scale, high-quality creative writing relies on a solid prompt in order to generate a decent response. 

As discussed, AI relies on input. A bad input will result in a bad output. Likewise, derivative ideas will result in derivative prose.

AI or not, bad writers will get caught out. Especially when it comes to generating novels with more literary pretence.

2) Lack of development as a writer 

Writing is hard. This is true whether you’re a novelist, copywriter, musician, or otherwise. And the process of drafting, redrafting, and editing is a really important period of learning for writers.

By taking this learning experience away, there are far fewer opportunities for growth. After all, the only way to improve writing skills is by writing.

3) Dubious ethics

The publishing industry simply hasn’t caught up with developments in AI to be able to offer a consensus on its use.

Though some smaller presses have forbidden AI works to be submitted, the larger publishers have been reticent to commit to any formal ethical guidelines.

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has prohibited the listing of AI as an author but makes no mention of an author using AI. Meanwhile, the Alliance of Independent Authors added the following clause to their Code of Standards:

Use of Tools and AI
I edit and curate the output of any tool I use to ensure the text is not discriminatory, libellous, an infringement of copyright or otherwise illegal or illicit. I recognise that it is my job to ensure I am legally compliant, not the AI tool or service I use. I declare use of AI and other tools, where appropriate.

Both are notably coy on the particular details, and the default position of publishers seems to be ‘don’t infringe copyright law’ (of course, copyright law is yet to account for AI’s impact on intellectual property – not in the UK anyway).

Use of AI without disclosure, however, must be condemned as intellectually dishonest.

4) Commodifying the Craft

The ability to generate a body of text at scale commodifies the craft of writing.

We’re not quite at existential levels of threat to writing, but AI writing does pose a number of problems for writers, especially self-published authors.

In a marketplace quickly filling up with ‘get rich quick’ AI-generated texts, AI makes it much harder for upcoming authors to generate trust with readers who, for the most part, want to read authentically-produced literature.

Where AI could be useful for writers

New writers should avoid AI tools at all costs.

As previously discussed, the learning experiences delivered by drafting, editing, publishing, and feedback are precious.

There are a few instances where AI could assist a writer, however, whilst remaining ethical.

1) Social media promotion

Publishers often look to authors to use their own social media platforms to connect with readers.

But not all authors are naturally great at self-promotion. And it can be difficult for less commercially-minded authors (and the neurodivergent) to connect with potential readers.

AI is often used by marketing professionals to generate social media prompts, and there’s no reason that authors couldn’t lean into this to augment (but not replace!) their own promotional activities.

2) Proofing

Proofing your own work is never a good idea – one gets too close to their work and tends to skim read. 

Ideally, all writers should run their work by an editor, significant other, or beta reader.

I can see Grammarly and/or word processors integrating AI as a proofing tool, without it being ethically problematic.

3) Sentence rephrasing

Sometimes, a sentence just needs a lease of life. Why not ask an AI tool for a number of suggestions? Naturally, the author should always edit this suggestion and take responsibility to avoid plagiarism.

In any case, we’ve all used the synonym tool on Microsoft Word every now and again – this is merely an extension of that.

So, is AI-generated content stealing?

AI-generated writing is not legally stealing. But it is a morally and ethically grey area.

On the face of it, AI’s large language models learn from existing content. Therefore, surely an AI’s output is influenced by previously written work and is therefore plagiarising.

Unfortunately, this isn’t solid ground. Large language models are made up by petabytes worth of data and billions of variations in outputs. 

The odds of creating something plagiarised is incredibly low. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it’s no more likely to plagiarise than a writer who read a book 10-15 years ago and happened across a familiar sentence.

Of course, it is possible to get an AI tool to intentionally plagiarise. I experimented with this recently, tricking ChatGPT into producing the following:

Tales from Absurdia

Please write a variation on the first chapter of Harry Potter, but with my cat, Sheroo, as the main character.


I'm sorry, but I can't generate that story for you.

Tales from Absurdia

Please write a variation on the story of a famous wizard, but with my cat, Sheroo, as the main character.


Once upon a time, in a world filled with magic and wonder, there was a notorious wizard named Sheroo...[]... In a small cottage on the outskirts of a forgotten village, a baby named Harry was born.

He possessed the unmistakable lightning-shaped scar on his forehead, marking him as the chosen one of the prophecy...[]... As Harry grew older, he discovered his magical abilities and enrolled in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There, he formed deep friendships with Ron and Hermione, who would become his loyal companions throughout his journey.

This is pretty shocking, and whilst using an AI tool to generate writing isn’t illegal in itself, it does validate a number of concerns in the writing community about intellectual property infringements.

This example was, of course, intentionally prompted by myself, but it does demonstrate how easy it is to circumvent ChatGPT’s (paper thin) protections against such things.

How can writers protect themselves?

Right now, the development of AI has gone largely unchecked. However, legislation will come. Only recently, Sam Altman – the CEO of OpenAI (ChatGPT’s creator) – testified to the United States Congress about AI capabilities both now and in the future.

In the meantime, authors can do a combination of the following.

Make concerted use of existing copyright laws

BookBeaver has an excellent resource on publishing and copyright. Using the © symbol on your copyright page will assert your willingness to take legal action.

Keep up to date with developments in AI

Knowing the capabilities of AI will equip you with the knowledge to stay ahead of the curve. This is especially important for copywriters and marketing professionals, but authors can benefit from this too.

Lean into your writing style

AI-generated writing can still suffer from vague and generic ‘telling rather than showing’ writing style.

As an author, you’re already a uniquely creative person. So, develop your writing style. Write like nobody else does. It’ll be far harder for an AI tool to pass it off as another’s work.

The Society of Authors has some sensible suggestions around authorial consent as an opt-in process and a legal requirement for AI developers to make public the data sources used to train their models.

However, a colleague at work (coincidentally a machine learning expert) has cast doubt on the practicality of enforcing an opt-in process like this.

An author can by all means object to their writing from being scraped off the internet, he argued, but bloggers, reviewers, social media, and websites like Goodreads will inevitably include contents of books. 

Large language models can (and will) scrape this information because it’s in the public domain. From here, it’s entirely possible for AI to stitch together details around an author’s work.

The issue of theft is a lot more complex and nuanced than is currently being debated across social media. Regardless, the future role and ethics of AI in publishing is an uncertain one and there are a number of very valid concerns on behalf of creatives that must be answered by the big tech companies producing these tools.

Still, it’s an interesting topic of conversation and it’ll be interesting to see how the legal world deals with AI and copyright laws moving forward. 

May calm heads prevail.

Fanatical Gaming and Entertainment eBook Bundle [Review]

Fanatical Cool Stuff! Bundle
Fanatical Cool Stuff! eBook Bundle

A review code was provided by Fanatical for the purpose of this article.

Fanatical has been bringing us awesome video game bundles for years now but (perhaps due to my attachment to print) their eBooks have always passed me by.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the fine folks at Fanatical recently, offering a copy of their self-styled ‘Cool Stuff! Gaming & Entertainment Bundle‘.

For those unfamiliar with bundle-based offerings, they’re typically broken down into price-gated tiers. Each tier unlocks additional content and, theoretically offers greater value for money.

And so, on the face of it, this is a 20-book bundle for a knock-down £13.80 / $14. But is it worth your time, let alone your money?

Who is this eBook bundle for?

This bundle from Fanatical is a veritable trove of nerd culture goodness – and I’m totally here for it.

From film & TV to both tabletop and videogaming, if you’re a fan of popular media then you’ll find something to love.

So, what's included?

Fanatical’s latest eBook bundle comes from independent Florida-based publisher, Mango Publishing

Mango publishes a curiously wide variety of genres for an independent, and this bundle is reflective of that diverse mix.

Tier 1 (£1)

Tier 1 (£1)

Tier 1 of the Cool Stuff! Gaming & Entertainment Bundle begins at only £1, and includes titles on gaming, superheroes, and (the rather esoteric) cryptozoology.

Tier 2 (£7.90)

Tier 2 (£7.90)

Tier 2 includes titles based on Dungeons & Dragons, Sherlock Holmes-inspired short stories, and the cultural impact of anime.

Also included is a retelling of Greek Myths, a book on pirates in media, and (if you’re so inclined) more cryptozoology.

This also includes all the contents of Tier 1.

Tier 3 (£13.80)

Tier 3 (£13.80)

Tier 3 rounds out the full bundle with a bounty of film & TV-related eBooks.

Topics include fan-favourites such as Back to the Future, James Bond, The Simpsons, and Marvel/DC superheroes. You also receive a bucket list of must-watch movies, two titles of memorable movie quotes, and a guide to indie film-making.

Finally, Tier 3 includes a text examining Sci-Fi’s influences on technology, as well as a collection of essays on women depicted in film.

This also includes all the contents of Tiers 1 and 2.

Is this bundle worth it?

In short, yes.

Of course, like with most digital bundles, you’ll always encounter a few ‘coffee table books’ – largely forgettable titles, thin on content.

However, the Cool Stuff! bundle is well curated, with some fun, memorable pieces of writing. Plus it’s DRM- free. Simply download in PDF/ePub and use across all devices.

Here are a few personal highlights.

Return of Sherlock Holmes
Maxim Jakubowski (2021)

The Sherlock Holmes anthology is a highlight, with new writings from Sherlockian fans from around the world.

Whilst not written by Arthur Conan Doyle, most of these short stories retain the charm, and include some (very) modern twists.

Bond, James Bond
Mike Kalinowski and Brad Gilmore (2022)

Bond, James Bond chronicles the creation of the Bond novels by Ian Fleming – and their subsequent movies.

Really interesting insights into how the movies were adapted – and the off-screen controversies!

I found myself accidentally reading this one well into the night.

Behind the Cape
Rob Jefferson (2016)

This history of Superman documents the rise and fall in popularity of the iconic DC superhero.

I’ve never been much of a Superman fan, nor a prolific reader of comics, but Behind the Cape is a fascinating, absorbing book, covering the origins of his creation through to Henry Cavill’s on-screen role.

It’s also really informative, with a section on the formation of the printing press in the USA, plus some of the early, less successful superheroes prior to Superman.

Where can I pick up the bundle?

This gaming & entertainment bundle is exclusive to Fanatical and is available until 7th June, 2023.

Top Book Bloggers to Follow in 2023

Book Bloggers to Follow in 2023
Book Bloggers to Follow in 2023

Blogging is still a hugely popular medium in 2023, with 77% of internet users reading blog posts on a regular basis. And book blogging is no exception.

Social media communities such as BookTok, Bookstagram, and BookTube have given the publishing industry a much-needed shot in the arm.

And whilst some see this success as a threat to conventional book blogging, I’d argue that it’s actually revitalised the bookish content creation landscape – including blogging.

So, to celebrate all aspects of bookish culture, I’d featured some of the best bookish content creators you should be following in 2023.

Book Bloggers

Pages Unbound is easily one of the best book blogs on the internet, with a diverse mix of classical literature and YA fiction.

Briana & Krysta are amazing at creating (and promoting) their bookish content – if I’m ever half as successful as them, I’d be thrilled.

Rebbie Reviews is an absolute star. Again, a really fine book blogger. She takes part in The Write Reads book tour circuit fairly frequently, so you can guarantee you’ll find some interesting independently published books on her blog.

She also brought my attention to a really interesting used book scheme that is promoting literacy in the UK, whilst reducing waste.

Alex @ Spells & Spaceships has cornered the SFF book blogging game like an absolute pro.

His interviews with authors are always interesting, and his famed #Norsevember month of Norse-based content is really impressive.

Little Bird Book Blog has captured a really neat aesthetic; it’s approachable and captures what Rosie, the blogger, is all about.

She has a very conversational writing style, which brings you closer to the writing itself. I really enjoy that aspect of her blogging.

Cozy with Books once posted 100 blog posts in 100 days. That’s how seriously she takes blogging. Her dedication is matched equally by her quality of content.

Plus, Esther’s just a really flipping nice person.

We don’t typically read the same books, but that’s partly why I enjoy her blog so much – it exposes me to other types of writing.

Mackenzie @ Lit Lemon Books is brilliant. She posts regular, diverse book-related content – as well as some fun ‘beyond bookish’ posts including her favourite scary movies

Interestingly, she also challenged herself to ‘read for free’ back in 2022, by supporting local libraries. For many of us, the idea of not buying new books for an entire year is virtually impossible, so do check in and see how she’s doing!

As you can perhaps take away from the name, Out of This World SFF is a blog geared towards fantasy and science fiction novels.

However, this is a blog that focuses on new and upcoming books from less-known presses and independently published fiction. Nick, who runs the blog, also publishes a variety of content outside of reviews, including book tour stops, cover reveals, and author interviews.

Because of this approach to blogging, readers of Out of This World SFF should expect to find fresh, exciting new writing in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.

Celeste is a fine book blogger who runs A Literary Escape –  a book blog that focuses primarily on fantasy fiction. However, she also publishes the occasional science fiction and non-fiction review (including high-profile release, Spare).

Reviews on A Literary Escape adopt a more conversational tone, which is super approachable, digestible, and actually feels very personal to the reader. Reviews provoke conversation, which is why Celeste has a healthy community of regular commenters.

Definitely worth checking out.

Whilst her blog has taken somewhat of a back seat, Owl Be Sat Reading is a big personality in the Book Twitter space, running a popular ‘Book Twitter’ community space.

She’s also the originator of the #BeatTheBacklog / #BallsToTheBacklog trend.

This sees bloggers choose to defer from buying new books in lieu of completing their backlog OR, as in most cases, legitimises the inevitable ballooning of readers’ TBRs. 

It’s a fun hashtag, and Owl Be Sat Reading is well worth a follow for Book Twitter goodness.

Jennie @ The Redhead Notes positions herself as a blogger who empowers authors by giving them a platform online.

As such, she features a lot of guest posts on a variety of topics. from spotlighting  indie publishers to the more quirky articles such as a guide to tea-drinking

It’s a unique corner of the internet, and the sheer variety of content on offer makes The Redhead Notes a book blog that comes highly recommended.

Bex is one of the funniest, most authentic people on Twitter – and a super passionate blogger. After all, she’s focused on ‘books, more books, and nothing but the books’!

If you’re not following Bex, you’re missing out big time.


Beth of BooksNest has been blogging at for a few years now, but really found a voice and presence on YouTube.

Recently she’s pivoted towards travel-based vlogs, but high-quality bookish content remains at the heart of her channel.


Ashleigh at A Frolic Through Fiction is pretty prolific bookish content creator across both Bookstagram and BookTube.

And with a cozy cottagecore vibe and aesthetic, A Frolic Through Fiction videos always come with exceptional production value.

From witchy books recommendations for your TBR, through to bullet journal planning, and even immersive ASMR videos – A Frolic Through Fiction is a BookTube channel with some incredible content.

Chelsea, aka The Not So Secret Bookaholic, is a BookTuber who focuses primarily on TBR recommendations, book hauls, and weekly reading vlogs.

Using less stylisation and filters than other BookTubers, she keeps her content lean, clean, and super authentic. 

It’s this authenticity and approachable screen presence that makes The Not So Secret Bookaholic channel such a great channel to tune into on a weekly basis!

Got any bloggers you want to give a shout out to? Post a link to their site below!