Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I just read a vampire novel, m/m which I had mixed feelings about. "The Vampire Fred" by Vaughn Demont. Now, that's a title to cheer; it sets up expectations and tells you there's going to be something...offbeat about it. Kewl.

I LOVED the first half of the story, all how did Fred (FRED! HAHAHAHAHA) become a vampire and WTF is going on here anyway? In a good way. Sexycutefunny and offbeat. I still don't know why Daniel was comatose for 85 years, but okay...

And then... eveyone is inhabiting everyone's head and jumpjumpjump POVs and WTF is going on here in a not so good way. Darn. It probably made sense to the author but if I have to read the same scene three times to figure out WTF is going on and decide that I don't care enough to do it a fourth time and really understand it, then...

No wonder the last 12 pages had to wait a week to get read.

It's not a review like a review site. I'm a reader and don't claim to be anything else. But this wasn't as much fun at the end as the beginning promised.

More here, including buy link. If I'm gonna review, I ought do it like the big kids, huh. Well, next time, maybe.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Witterings on reviews again

Just swung back by that site I mentioned in the last post, and realized something else. This is on LJ, where you can pick the avatar for each post, to suit your mood. Her avatar today had a stabbed voodoo doll today, though she has others, and I just realized that's a big fat signal, too. I almost didn't check the text, knowing that she was gonna skewer the book and the only real question was 'why.' Turns out that she had a valid reason, but ow, ow, ow, for the writer.

Some books aren't all that great, and that raises another question. How to say so without turning it into a bash-fest. No one likes everything they read equally well, and honesty as a reviewer doesn't require expounding on it. I was going to say it did, and then recalled that Elisa Rolle doesn't bash on books, and I trust her judgment. There is opinion by silence, although that's hard to tell from just not having read something. Do you have to review everything you read? Some of the review sites get books from the publisher or the author, some review things they've purchased, some are a mix. If it's a gift, should you review it, even if you didn't care for it?

This came up a few weeks ago on one of the review sites, and I kind of thought there had to be a middle ground between yes and no. If there is a promise made explicitly, like 'yes, publisher X, I will review this book', do it. Even if it's not favorable. That's how publishers learn about handling acquisitions.

If an author has requested a review and sent the book, there might be the option of contacting the author and saying, "I read it, but I can't be enthusiastic about it and still be honest, do you want me to post anyway?" Some authors figure that any publicity is good publicity, others might be grateful to keep certain opinions under wraps.

It wouldn't work for Kirkus Reviews or the New York Review of Books, but most m/m reviewers are independent and have some leeway.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More reviews ponderings

There's another site for m/m romance reviews that I see from time to time. No ratings, but she does identify the people that she thinks will like this. Sometimes it's 'fans of the author' which is a kiss of death, or 'readers who appreciate *some genre*' which is a lot more inclusive. Or something in between. Sometimes she gets wildly enthusiastic, and that is so rare as to merit staring. She ships a lot more dislike.

There's a tag line to link to the read-more, and that tag line pretty much sums up her reaction, and quite a lot of the time, it's rather cutting. I've seen her review books dispassionately, and it seems to be objective, and other times, she has an awful lot of fun at the author's expense. Possibly it's legitimate criticism, but it sure looks like she's having a good time snarking.

Not sure that's a good way to review.

Friday, March 19, 2010

More ramblings about reviews

Some reviewers don't use any ratings. When I read one of Elisa Rolle's reviews, for example, I have to read between the lines, because I don't think she's ever come right out and said, "I don't like this." On the other hand, with close to a thousand books in her TBR pile, at least according to her
Goodreads list, if she hated it, the next one, possibly a better one, is to hand.

With a non rating reviewer, there is information about what is in there, more than 'what worked for her.' Content, rather than reaction to content, is the takeaway message, though Elisa, at least, is remarkably good about not doing spoil-y spoilers. She ponders the motivations of the characters, the author, and how that plays out, without actually discussing actions that would disturb the reading experience.

That's an art form right there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thinking about book reviews

I guess this blog really lost its focus once I finished Were Here. That story was a lot of fun, and the sequel is sort of in progress, although I’m not inspired to work on it all that much. I’d rather read.

My buddy, ‘ol PD Singer, (don’t tell her I called her that, or she’ll remind me that age and treachery defeat youth and enthusiasm) has gotten me reading m/m romances, a habit she picked up from Eden Winters. Fanfiction has a lot of slash, so these m/m stories are not a big surprise. Some of them are really good! And some are not so good. Even the not so good ones are better than the fan fiction, usually, and the sex doesn’t read like it’s been written by virgins who drank too much cough syrup.

Sometimes it would be nice to get more opinions about what the book will be like before I buy it, and there are some review sites out there that seem to know what they’re talking about. Others just confuse me, when they give a low rating and then get all glowy about it in the text. Goodreads is helpful sometimes, and sometimes I’m not sure we read the same book. I know, it’s readers’ opinions, I’ve left a few, but still…

I’ve been trying to think of things that would be helpful to include in a review. Books are subjective experiences, but there ought to be some kind of objective things that would help. Desert Island Keepers ratings tell you that someone fell in love with the story, sometimes in spite of flaws, that’s kind of nice to know, but I disagree with them sometimes. If someone can come up with a system for rating wine, you know, 91, nice nose, good finish with a hint of black currant, that sort of thing, maybe someone actually has an informative system for rating books.

And if they suggest the book would go well with a Pinot Noir but not a Chardonnay, so much the better.