A Change in Blog Policy

Readers of this blog know that one of my goals is to link more reviews together than is usually done. I think it’s unfortunate, in a way, that the online romance community has flourished as series of separate fiefdoms (blogs) rather than a big town hall (fora).  Thanks to Google reader and conscientious blog hopping, we do all manage to get around, but when it comes to posting reviews, they are often islands unto themselves.

The result is that, even on the big blogs where everybody can be found on one thread, conversations about books tend to be conducted the way some professors run their classes: one main speaker holding court and several students talking one at a time to her, but not to each other.

(more…)

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 10:02 am  Comments (3)  
Tags: ,

Is a Book Review Just One Person’s Opinion?

“Readers are the best source for why a story works”

–Joey Hill

Are book reviews just opinions, like a preference for pastels, or bondage, or spicy food? Many authors seem to think so:

In an article for AAR written in 2000, Adele Ashworth writes:

“I think it’s safe to say that all authors care immensely about their readers, and write every single book in the hope of pleasing every single one of them. That isn’t possible, of course, when we’re talking about something subjective. … [E]verybody’s taste is different, including mine.”

And this from an Anon author in response to Ms. Ashworth:

“Here’s how I look at it: I get a review from Reviewer A, who reviews at a tough site that prides itself on telling it like it is, who I don’t know from Adam and, as far as I know, has no reason to suck up to me. She enjoys the book and says lovely things about it. I get a review from Reviewer B, who reviews at a tough site that prides itself on telling it like it is, who I don’t know from Adam and, as far as I know, has no nefarious plans to wreck my career. She hates the book and says unlovely things about it.

What transports Reviewer A into ecstasy absolutely incenses Reviewer B. What bugs the crap out of Reviewer B doesn’t even cause Reviewer A to bat an eyelash. Both are normal, intelligent people who believe they’re right and stand by their claim.

(Repeat this with Reader A and Reader B)

What does this ‘teach’ me, the author?

It teaches me that Reviewer A likes my book and Reviewer B doesn’t like my book.”

(more…)

Published in: on October 8, 2008 at 1:02 am  Comments (24)  
Tags: ,

The REAL Problem with the Phrase “Desert Isle Keeper”

I had never thought before about what to call those books I love so much I want to give them a special status, but after this week, there’s one phrase I am so not going to use.

But not for the reason you’re thinking — that it belongs (ethically, legally, or in some other way) to someone else. No. The real problem with “Desert Isle Keeper” is that it’s so …. twentieth century.

Think about it. With overpopulation and suburban sprawl, is any isle these days really deserted? Or is the movie star who owns it just not there at the moment? And who goes anywhere without a smart phone anyway?  I mean, even Kate and Sawyer got (will get?) rescued.

“Keeper” is outmoded, too. I’m about to buy my first ereader, so I’m going to be keeping everything. “Keeper” is going to refer to every book I purchase.

So here’s my proposal. Remember on Seinfeld when Elaine heard that her favorite form of birth control, the sponge, was going off the market? She had to ration, so she evaluated potential partners on the basis of their “sponge-worthiness.”

Along those lines, since a megabyte holds about 1 book, and an average ereader holds about 200 (about the size of my keeper shelf), in all my future reviews I am going to start referring to the very best books I read as “meg-worthy.”

Meg-worthy.

You heard it here first! 😉

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 7:31 am  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , ,

A Rape by Any Other Name

Warning: This Post May Be Triggering for Some Readers

Reading Patricia Gaffney’s To Have and To Hold led me to consider the question of rape in romance. This is more a set of observations than a coherent essay, hence the numbers. Actually, this is a rant, and it’s probably a day late and a dollar short, but if a blogger can’t indulge in bully pulpit blogging from time to time, what’s the point?

0. This post isn’t about any and all rape in fiction. It’s about rape by the hero of the heroine in a romance novel, presented positively, or in such a way that the real harm of rape is minimized or ignored.

1. I spent some time reading online threads about Claiming the Courtesan, and about the Gaffney, and I noticed it’s hard to really have a good discussion about this because of all the red herrings.  So I want to say, in this first bit, that this is NOT about the following: censorship, labeling romance covers, or kicking people out of the genre.

(more…)

Published in: on September 24, 2008 at 12:43 am  Comments (45)  
Tags: , ,

The Eeeeevil Mother in Romance

You know who I’m talking about. She refers to her daughters or daughters-in-law routinely as “whores”, she refers to their children as “bastards”, she threatens continually to “ruin them all”. She has no sense of humor (unless an evil cackle counts), no personal history, and no apparent interest in anything other than showing up when the plot requires it and insulting our heroine or hero. She’s unbelievable on paper, and we would laugh in her face in real life, yet she makes our favorite characters quake in their boots, controlling their lives with but a sharp word or the crook of a finger.

(more…)

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 9:08 pm  Comments (5)  
Tags:

“Kick Ass” Romance Heroines

I stumbled across this comment, with which I totally disagree, from author Lisa Marie Rice in her posting “Five Things You Won’t Find in a Lisa Marie Rice Novel”:

1. Kick-ass heroines.

It sounds good in theory: A heroine who’s rough, tough, buff, gruff, and takes no guff—from anybody, least of all the hero. She is the antithesis of the simpering ‘80s heroine who bore the brunt of all the hero’s neuroses. She’s not taking it anymore. She can outfight him, outrun him, and outgun him, and she makes sure he knows it.

She knows her own mind and makes sure you know it, too. She never backs down, not even when she’s in the wrong.

In Real Life, I avoid her whenever possible. The male version, as well.

I worked for many many years in a very difficult, mostly female profession which was chockablock with alpha females who could wrestle you to the ground while quoting Hegel, in German. They knew everything, were amazingly opinionated and boy, did I grow tired of the vibe.

I don’t want them in my life, why should I want them in my books?

(more…)

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 9:42 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,