Thoughtful Thursday: Five Free Books for Five years of FanLit

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsFantasy Literature reached its fifth year of existence this summer, and I thought it time to do a little celebrating. I love this site a great deal, and it excites me to no end to see it grow like it has. FanLit has played a huge part in my development as a writer, and as a reader. I really appreciate the hard work our team puts into making the site so great. Besides reading and writing reviews, each of us has our own site jobs — editing, columns we’re in charge of, interviews, and many behind-the-scenes tasks that keep us producing daily content. It’s all managed by Kat, whose dedication and hard work has enabled this site to continue for as long as it has.

I would like to thank our readers, too. Without you guys coming to the site every day we would have faded into obscurity some time ago. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the content over the last five years, and I hope you will be around for many years to come.

Which brings us to today’s questions: What brings you to FanLit now, and what would you like to see us do in the future? Post your response in the comments below for a chance to win a free book from our stacks. Since this a special fifth anniversary, we’ll be giving a book to five commenters.

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JUSTIN BLAZIER (on FanLit's staff since September 2009) is a Cyber-Security Analyst/Network Engineer located in Northern Kentucky. Like many fantasy enthusiasts, Justin cut his teeth on authors like Tolkien, Anthony, and Lewis. Due to lack of space, his small public library would often give him their donated SFF books. When he is not reading books he is likely playing board games or Tabletop RPGs. Justin lives in a quiet neighborhood with his wife, their daughter, and Norman the dog.

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  1. Elton Porter /

    I come for the reviews. Especially debut authors. A lot of my favorite I’ve read everything by them and I’m always looking for something new.

  2. I mostly come for the reviews. Even when I end up not agreeing with one, I find them well thought out and written.

  3. sandyg265 /

    I come for the reviews. I’ve found a number of books that I wouldn’t have read otherwise.

  4. What brings me here? Kat dragged me in, we’ll just blame her :P
    What I’d like to see more of. Coverage of science fiction.

  5. Sarah /

    I come for the reviews. What I’d like to see in the future? I wish the forthcoming books had some sort of description. And I’d love to have a way to know when author’s backlists are out in e-book format.

    Love you guys and all the hard work you put into this site. I check every day for reviews and have found way to many new authors.

  6. Joel /

    I like reading your reviews every day but I find the site a little hard to navigate… Maybe a redesign to simplify things, giving the book reviews individual pages instead of solely grouping them by authors, etc.

  7. chelcie shell /

    thank you-this website has shown me alot of new authors

  8. I like the reviews and the giveaways. I like to read in the comments when you ask what books people enjoyed the previous month (that’s probably my favorite).

    I wouldn’t mind it terribly if you covered mysteries…and I’d like to see you cover some of the best of the self-published works. I’ve read some that are quite good. Of course, full disclosure, I am one so I have a vested interest in seeing coverage of these types of books.

  9. SandyG265 /

    Forgot to check the notification box.

  10. You guys are always up to date with the latest while managing to keep us informed of some oldies, but goodies. It’s very impressive. Also, all the other stuff’s pretty good too, especially the WWW’s and Thoughtful Thursdays. Can’t say I have anything to improve…more Wurts’ dragons? :)

  11. Sarah /

    I forgot to mention I really like the FanLit Asks columns that get posted every week or so. And the Sunday lists of what the reviewers are reading.

  12. April V. /

    I like hearing what people’s favorite book of the previous month was. I’m always finding suggestions for new books. Hint: people, when you say what book you liked, describe it a bit other than “I loved Book A!” so we know whether it is something we should look into.

    I like the questions like Favorite Father Figure in SFF.

    I’d like to see more category suggestions: a reviewer has just reviewed Book A where Book A is a fantasy. BUT it is also: funny, has dragons, includes werewolves or whatever. This way, if someone likes a book, they can look up the review and see a list of books that also are funny or have dragons or have werewolves. I think this kind of database needs to exist. When I want to find a book that has a quirky sidekick, I can look up the review of a book I liked that had one and see what else is out there. Maybe category tags would work?

  13. Congrats on five years! I come to FanLit because I respect your opinions on Fantasy books. Any time I’m thinking of buying a fantasy book, I check Goodreads to see the ratings of my friends and your review is the first I look for. If you liked it, it’s a deciding factor (yes, authors, you need to thank FanLit)! I may not comment (guilty lurker here), but I do read and value your reviews. I was going to say there is nothing you need to change, but I read April V’s comment above and I liked her idea.

    Thanks for your great reviews! Keep them coming.

  14. Barbara Elness /

    I love the reviews and the great posts about books that are of interest to me. I’d just like to see you keep on doing what you’re doing, it’s all great fun.

  15. I’m pretty new to the site, but it is a great resource for finding new books to read (or old books I haven’t read yet). The giveaways certainly don’t hurt! (I came here for the first time because of one that a friend showed me. I was a little upset that they’d never shown me this page before that!)

  16. Me, I come for the reviews. Most are well thought out and give me a rough idea whether I will like a book or not. he variety is great. I also enjoy the what’s happening in the world of speculative fiction posts. Like Rob above, I would also like to see more sci-fi posts, but of course I realize this would not exactly be in line with the “fantasy” name… :)

  17. Lora /

    Brought in by the great reviews of some pretty awesome looking books! Would love to see more sci-fi/fantasy books.

  18. CTGT /

    Your site is one of three of four I visit daily. Not only are the reviews great, they keep coming on a regular basis. I really like the variety of reviewers you use on the site. I have found many new books that I probably wouldn’t have tried if not for your reviews, as well as older titles I somehow missed back in the day. Needless to say, you have added many titles to my growing to-read pile!

    Many thanks to all of you for the work and time I know it takes to produce a site!

  19. Carol A /

    Congrats on your anniversary – may there be many more. Please.

    I’m 50 years old and from Sweden – perhaps not the typical reader of urban fantasy/fantasy/scifi? So, I depend on you guys (and a few other sites) for reviews that are well written and sincere.
    Thanks to you I’ve discovered several of my favourite writers: J Carey, J Marillier, McMaster Bujold, Tanith Lee and of late: Stephanie Dray (thanks, Kelly!).

    So all I can say is: keep up the brilliant work!
    /Carol A

  20. Sean D /

    Congratulations on the birthday!

    I come here to see well-rounded reviews on the books that I’m interested in, written by folks who know what they are talking about. There’s a lot of variety in terms of what’s covered, and I’ve discovered many books through the site.

    For the future, I’ll be happy so long as the quality and variety keeps up!The stand-alone section has some fantastic stuff in it, and is something that I am always on the lookout for, so a continued emphasis on good stand-alone fantasy books would be nice.


  21. Doug Sturtevant /

    Congrats on five years!

  22. Victoria Sloboda /

    Happy 5th Blogbirthday!!!
    I come for reviews too.

  23. Stefan Yates /

    Happy Birthday!

    Love your book reviews and all that you do to help me keep up on the world of Fantasy Fiction!

    Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication.

  24. Elida /

    Hi, congrats!
    I do not check this site everyday because of my job (hate it!) but I come at least 3 times a week and I just loved it since the moment I found it.
    The thing I love the most are te reviews, most of the books I’ve read are recomended here. I love the general ideal of the organization in the site, however it would be good to redesign it, something a little more easy to navigate….
    This site helps me to decide to buy a book or not, every time a want to buy a book I first check here your reviews and then decide… anyway it’s like you say: “Life is too short to read bad books” =)

  25. Thanks so much for the comments, everyone!
    I like the idea of category tags (April’s idea) but the time that would take…. Maybe if we had some willing volunteers to suggest tags and books for each tag, at least as a start, that would encourage us to implement something like that. I can definitely see the use of it.

    About the navigation that Joel and Elida mentioned, please let us know what is difficult to navigate and we’ll see what we can do. The reason we group by author is so we can show all the books by that author on one page so that it’s easy to know what books come next in a series, etc. When we started the site 5 years ago, that was really important information, though now it’s a lot easier to find it elsewhere. For new authors we’ve stopped creating these pages (it was just taking too long to add new books — hours per week and getting worse as new authors come on the scene).

    I’ve added a “Quick Link” to the most recent reviews, but tell us what else can be done to make the navigation simpler and we’ll see if it can be done without a major site overhaul (something I don’t mind doing, but something that might require time that I don’t have).

  26. Joel /

    Thanks for the comment, Kat. I don’t want to be overly critical — this site has some great information and reviews! The layout is just very busy, with a lot going on, which is both good and bad. I think one of the easiest things would be to hyperlink the banner on every page so you can click on it to go to the home page. It is counter-intuitive for me to remember to look for the tiny “Home” link on the taskbar. (I don’t think “Home” should go away… but whenever I want to go to the homepage amywhere online my first instinct is always to click the banner.)

    Just a small thing that would be a fairly easy fix… Thanks for asking!

  27. Thanks, Joel! When the site was originally created, that link was not an option because of the way we made the custom theme. I don’t remember the specifics — just that it wasn’t possible… since then we’ve been through many WordPress updates and I’ll revisit and see if that is now a possibility. Let me know also what seems too busy. You can email me if you like.

  28. I come for the reviews. This is one of the easier to access and read sites, plus you actually keep it updated, unlike a lot of other places! Keep doing the things you do!

  29. Joel /

    Just curious, have the books been awarded? Just wondering if we still need to check back to see if we’ve won.


  30. All right, and here we go…apologies for being a bit late this week: unavoidable family matter.

    Amanda Lowe, Bryce, Jesse Hudson, Elida, and CTGT…

    If any or all of you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks. Hopefully not too many of you will choose the same book, but if so I may have to operate on a first come, first served basis. Anyway, as always please contact me (Tim) with your choice and a US address.

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