Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #51

Happy Sunday! Happy almost Christmas! Chances are you're busy, busy, busy. But are you busy making plans for next year's reading?! I definitely am busy planning what I want to read in January. (I'm a little eager to get started, I admit!) I keep reminding myself (it's not working, by the way) that I still have two weeks of December to go. I need to be planning what to read this month.

I have begun reflecting on this year's blogging. I was noticing that while the number of posts here at Becky's Book Reviews has gone down, the number of posts at Operation Actually Read Bible and Young Readers has gone up. One reason why that number may have gone down is that I've been posting about reading challenges at a different blog. (I've decided not to do that anymore, the last thing I need is a fourth blog to keep up with!) I've also done fewer memes this year. Though I'm still LOVING Library Loot!!!

I am also considering making a few changes to how I do "reviews." I'm debating (again) about whether I should try to give ratings to books. (And if so, should I do it with numbers out of five or ten or a hundred, or a letter grade.) What do you think?

I might also make a few changes to how I approach "reviews." I've been using the whatever-is-easiest-for-me-at-the-moment method. (Sometimes my reviews are very short--in retrospect a little too short; and sometimes my reviews are very long. And I'd be the first to admit that some are "better" than others. There are definitely weaknesses in my "whatever-is-easiest" approach. Sometimes there are reasons--stress, not having enough time, or too much time having gone by since I read the book, etc.) It's just hard balancing between two extremes. The potentially-generic summary/teaser where you're trying to get people interested in reading the book. And the analytical detail-driven (sometimes spoilerish) approach where you examine the book closely listing all its strengths and weaknesses. The second approach may be more useful after you've read the book. It can invite more "real" discussion. And it might be more valuable over time. But I don't think everyone needs to use this approach. I don't think there is one right way to blog.

In a perfect world, I would always have the right words to convey why a story worked for me. I would find a way to express what I loved most, appreciated most about a book. Or not. Perhaps, I should remember what my literature professor used to call the "so what?" approach to writing.

Quick question, how do YOU feel about quotes? Do you value quotes in a book review? Do you like getting a glimpse of the author's writing style? Does it ever help you make up your mind about a book? Whether you'd like to read it? I share quotes a bit unevenly--aside from the first sentences/first paragraphs. Sometimes I mark passages but never end up sharing them. Sometimes they're just too spoilerish. And other times I just have too many to share and can't decide which ones are 'best'. Sometimes I read a book without marking anything--for better or worse. (Sometimes a writing style just doesn't stand out as all that special.) If I knew one way or another how you felt about seeing quotes in my reviews, it would help me.

What I've Reviewed:

 The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag. (Flavia de Luce #2). Alan Bradley. 2010. Random House. 364 pages.
Pride and Prescience: Or A Truth Universally Acknowledged. A Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery. 2004. Tor. 288 pages.
North by Northanger: Or, The Shades of Pemberley. A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery. Carrie Bebris. 2006. Tor. 320 pages.
The Boy From Ilysies. Pearl North. 2010. Tom Doherty Associates. 320 pages.  
Jane. April Lindner. 2010. Little Brown. 373 pages.
All The Things I Love About You. LeUyen Pham. 2010. November 2010. HarperCollins. 40 pages.
To Whom the Angel Spoke: A Story of the Christmas. Terry Kay. 2009. Peachtree. 32 pages.
The Gingerbread Pirates. Kristin Kladstrup. Illustrated by Matt Tavares. 2009. Candlewick. 32 pages.
Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale. Karen Henry Clark. Illustrated by Patrice Barton. 2010. November 2010. Random House. 32 pages.
Brand New Readers: Winter Fun! Various. 2010. Candlewick Press. 80 pages.
Miracle of Christmas: God With Us. John MacArthur. 1993. Zondervan. 144 pages

Coming Soon:

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. 2007. HarperCollins. 352 pages.

Your Baby Is Speaking To You: A Visual Guide to the Amazing Behaviors of Your Newborn and Growing Baby. Dr. Kevin Nugent. Photographs by Abelardo Morell. 2011. January 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 106 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz 5:15 PM  

Becky, I like quotes in reviews. They give me the flavor of the book.

I'm considering adding ratings, too. I saw someone today with ratings of Must Buy, Might Buy, Borrow from Library....I like that.

My Sunday Salon is at

Yvonne 7:24 PM  

I've been busy planning my 2011 reading, too, and I'm kind of excited to get started.

Amy 9:29 PM  

My reviews are also uneven, sometimes with quotes sometimes shorter other times longer. I'll be interested to see who things work out for you. :)

Anonymous,  7:21 AM  

I think quotes are good - I agree that they give the flavour of the book. And for those who aren't interested in them - the quotes are eaily skipped after all.

I don't think it is a bad thing that some reviews of a book are short and some long - I think in some measure the book dictates the length. There would be no point in elongating a review when you have said what you wished to say - or cutting one short that gives you more to discuss - only so that they end up being a certain length. I think you are doing well.:) L.

Becky 9:59 AM  

Readerbuzz and Amy, thanks for the feedback! I like reading quotes in other reviews too.

Yvonne, I understand :)

Anonymous, I agree completely. I mean with a *long* book like Bleak House or Lady Anna or He Knew He Was Right, I couldn't imagine keeping it short! You can't begin to convey anything about a *really* good OR a *really* long book in just a few paragraphs. It's just that with some books I struggle to even write one paragraph :) But you're right even then...there's no reason to drag out a review where you're completely indifferent to a book!

Christina 4:00 PM  

I try to write at least three paragraphs for a review, but sometimes I have more to say about a book and I too wind up with "uneven" reviews.

As for quotes, I like them as they provide a good insight into the writing style of a book. A blogger can gush about a particular book, but the quote helps me decide at time whether the book is meant for me.

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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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