Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #18

Happy Sunday! Have you heard about the Huffington Post article, "Faking Nice in the Blogosphere: Women and Book Reviews"? I enjoyed Liz B's take on it. I have a few issues with it (the original article), of course. Mainly because by choosing to talk about two unrelated topics as if they *have* to be related, everything becomes a sloppy mess. This is just one more article that addresses everyone and no one. It makes blanket statements about bloggers as if we're all the same. (There should so be a Bloggers Against Blanket Statements club). What issues are being addressed this time? That bloggers are too nice. That bloggers lack the integrity to be critical in their reviews. That bloggers are so concerned about their reviews being read by authors that they forget that they have a responsibility to readers as well. I think that is a subject that could be addressed on its own. But. The author just couldn't leave it at that. No, the fault it is that *most* bloggers are women. And these women "reviewers" are too "nice" to properly review anything. (As if there is just one way to do this reviewing, this blogging thing.) So if you are interested in learning more, read Liz B's response.

What I've Reviewed This Week:

Countdown by Deborah Wiles. 2010. May 2010. Scholastic. 400 pages.
Any Which Wall. Laurel Snyder. 2009. May 2009. Random House. 256 pages.
Paisley Hanover Acts Out by Cameron Tuttle. 2009. Penguin. 432 pages.
Airhead. Meg Cabot. 2008. Scholastic. 340 pages.
Being Nikki. Meg Cabot. 2009. Scholastic. 352 pages.
Warriors in the Crossfire. Nancy Bo Flood. 2010. March 2010. Boyds Mill Press. 142 pages.
Enclave by Kit Reed. 2009. Tor. 368 pages.
Within the Hollow Crown. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1948/2010. SourceBooks. 368 pages.
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. D.A. Carson. 2010. February 2010. Crossway Publishers. 173 pages.
Lily Brown's Paintings. By Angela Johnson. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 2007. Scholastic. 32 pages.
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink. By Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple. Illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin. 2010. June 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
Princesses Are Not Perfect. Kate Lum. Illustrated by Sue Hellard. 2010. March 2010. Bloomsbury. 32 pages.
Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian. 2009. March 2009. Simon & Schuster. 56 pages.
Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story From Africa. Jeanette Winter. 2008. Harcourt. 32 pages.

Currently Reading:

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. 2010. March 2010. HarperCollins. 316 pages.

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. 2010. April 2010. Tyndale. 384 pages.

Paisley Hanover Kisses and Tells by Cameron Tuttle. 2010. July 2010. 352 pages.

Fever Crumb. Philip Reeve. 2010. April 2010. Scholastic. 336 pages.

Swoon at Your Own Risk. Sydney Salter. 2010. April 2010. 356 pages.

Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne. 1850. 237 pages.

What I Hope To Begin/Finish Soon:

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 432 pages.

The Everafter War by Michael Buckley. 2009. Harry N. Abrams. 320 pages.

Crispin: The End of Time. Avi. 2010. June 2010. HarperCollins. 240 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 7:33 PM  

I read a lot, but I cannot come close to your book stats. Tell me, what is your secret?!

Whitney 8:24 PM  

That was a very interesting article on bloggers "faking it". I guess everything is subjective.
I have an award for you!

Annette Laing 2:55 AM  

The HuffPost piece set out to be provocative, and it succeeded in being so. As an author, I disagree that bloggers are insufficiently critical, and it worries me that some bloggers may take this nonsense to heart, and start trashing books to prove their "toughness." The bigger question is whether a review is thoughtful and analytical. Does the reviewer do her best to give each book a fair shake, or does (s)he either (a) Merely summarize the book, concluding with a bland laudatory or negative statement or (b) Dismiss the book because it hasn't been introduced to him/her via a slick PR campaign from a major publishing house? As a reviewer myself, primarily in academic journals, I have always been wary of the trap of assuming that a book is lousy because the author is untested, of assuming a book is good because the author is famous, or (perhaps most egregious of all), succumbing to jealousy, and assuming that a book sucks because I wish I'd written it myself. :-)
Becky, let me be clear here that I thought you did a great job with your review of Don't Know Where, and that most bloggers' reviews of my work have been thoughtful. But occasionally I've had both good and less good reviews by bloggers that have left me thinking, "Well, that's useless..." As I used to say to my college students, blanket statements like "I really liked this," or "This was boring" really don't cut the mustard. :-)

writer girl 3:30 PM  

Becky, thanks so much for including an answer to that post about 'nice reviews', you are always straight to the point. I have included a link on my discussion of the same topic, I hope it's ok. btw, what a lot of books!! you always amaze me. God bless.

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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