I love romance novels. They're fun, easy to read, and almost always have a happy for now/ever after ending. And because I read for pleasure, a happy ending is often what I'm searching for. Especially if I'm reading books to get away from reading the news. Or academic papers that tend to require a great deal of brain power to absorb. Romance novels are a get-away for me. And they're also a relatively healthy and safe way to explore my own sexuality. Suffice it to say, I read a lot of romance novels, and while I have my favorite sub-genres I'm excited to read most of them regardless. So when I heard about The Bromance Book Club I was very intrigued. As with every genre, romance has tropes and cliches that can be hard to avoid. Dedicated readers of a genre are likely to overlook some of these since it is very difficult to avoid them, but that means that when a book comes along that seems to defy traditional happenings those readers snap to attention. And I was no different.
I hadn't even read a synopsis of the book before I knew that it had the potential to turn things on their heads. The title says it all. Bromance. Now, I've read both homosexual and heterosexual romances. They both have great and not-so-great authors and books. They've both been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. Probably thousands of thousands of years. That isn't the -- dare I say it -- revolutionary bit of this title. The revolutionary bit of this title is that it implies heterosexual males are in a book club that reads romance novels. Mind = blown. Not because men shouldn't be reading romances, but because they so rarely are depicted doing so.
Traditionally, romance novels are books written by women for women. This is the greatest strength, and to some extent greatest weakness, of the romance novel genre. Romance novels are considered the pornography of the literary universe by many people. They're "trashy." They aren't intellectual enough. They give women unrealistic expectations of sex, romance, and life in general. If anyone reading this blog post agrees with any of that, I suggest Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained by Maya Rodale. It's an important read that addresses all those things in greater detail and with more references than I will here. But moving on, romance novels also allow women to have expectations of the men in their lives. They let women dream of things that are better than the world we live in, and they do so without being written from the perspective of male authors. Admittedly, the romance genre has a lot of issues with diversity. It's incredibly white-washed and skinny-washed. That is something that hopefully will continue to change. But this book, The Bromance Book Club, normalizes the idea that anyone can, and perhaps should, read romance novels. That is where its power lies.
The Bromance Book Club is about a marriage on the rocks. She isn't happy. Hasn't been for a while. He took her for granted but doesn't want to lose her. He is also a man who has been mired in toxic masculinity his entire life. Whose ego is so damaged by the way she's been unhappy, that he can't see a way to fix it. So what are his friends to do? Initiate him into the bromance book club. Of course, he's reluctant. Romance novels aren't supposed to be read by men. It's just porn, right? Wrong, his friends say. It's a road map. Now follow our multi-step program and get your wife, and your happy life, back. So he does.
Lyssa Kay Adams tackles really important ideas in this book, and I have high hopes that she will continue to tackle them in the future. First, she acknowledges the reputation that romance novels have but while she does that she makes a case for them. And she does so without throwing it in your face. It's done through the story. She also acknowledges that romance novels can give people unrealistic expectations of the world...just like everything else. The question is whether you also believe that people are going to be smart enough to take fictional stories with the appropriate grains of salt. She normalizes the idea that any person can read any book, even if that isn't what society tells us. Romance isn't just for women. Science fiction space operas aren't just for boys. And finally? She shows us that relationships don't stop at the wedding. That's when the journey is just beginning. And while dreams can help us get through the years, communication and work is what makes a relationship strong. Often romance novels can feel contrived, but The Bromance Book Club feels very real.
Usually I don't suggest romance novels for everyone. I'm well aware that they aren't everyone's cup of tea and I'm not going to force my tea preferences on others. However, I do think everyone should read this book. Not for the sexy bits. Not for the happily for now/ever after. But for the statements it makes about keeping a relationship strong and how it is possible to be masculine while being vulnerable. They aren't mutually exclusive.
So you may have noticed that I haven't been the most consistent about posting these past few months. But really, it makes sense right? I'm starting a big new endeavor in a new place and as much as we used to think we were going to just be lazing around enjoying bonbons after sending the children off to bed early, adulthood in reality is much more busy than that. In my case, that meme talking about trying to juggle all my responsibilities, have a social life, and stay sane above the picture of Nuka (Kovu's older half-brother from The Lion King 2) right after he got blasted out of the grass fire is relatively accurate. Things are always busy around the holidays, and that's okay, but it's also much more work to try and juggle everything when there are dinners and get-togethers you want to enjoy with friends. Add in university and it's a perfect storm.
That being said, I may be busy but these last few weeks have been really fun as well. Introducing my flatmates to a Salzano Thanksgiving and attending two other Thanksgiving dinners throughout the week, it has been a good week in terms of food and friendship. It's amazing to me that it is already December, and I haven't gotten nearly as much writing (both for the PhD, my novels, and my blog) as I wanted, but overall things have been relatively productive. I'm making progress on my reading goal (which is higher right now than it has ever been and likely will ever be), I've submitted an abstract for my first conference of my PhD, the class I'm a TA for is close to finishing up, and I've purchased some yarn (AKA wool) for my Purim costume next year. So I'm busy, but with good things. I do think I'm going to need to do at least some work on my PhD over the winter break, but hopefully it won't be too strenuous.
I feel as though I should be writing more today, but I don't have much else to say on this topic, other than to apologize for the inconsistencies, and to say I hope I'll do better over the next few weeks and during next term. Otherwise, I should probably get back to those responsibilities I'm juggling. ;)
First, I apologize for the lateness of this post and for missing the last two weeks. Sometimes life happens and I'm getting really busy. But, I'm here today and I'm actually going to give you a glimpse at what happens behind the scenes in libraries: library theory. Actually, no. There's not as much theory in the field of library science as you may think considering how important information is to our profession, but the book I'm reviewing today is, in fact, a book about a theory of information, specifically, the theory of information worlds.
Now, I'll include the reference for the book on this post in APA style, but Information Worlds: Social Context, Technology, and Information Behavior in the Age of the Internet is not like others I've left reviews for. It is not a "fun" book; it's essentially a textbook. So if you're interested, definitely read it. If you just want to read a chapter or two that sounds super interesting, great. But I'm not necessarily writing this review in an effort to convince you to read, or not read, this book. This review is more of a "Wow, that was really interesting and it has x implications" style than a "this book is awesome and everyone should read it" style.
The premise of the Theory of Information Worlds is that an individual's information behavior (i.e., the way a person searches for, interacts with, and uses information) is influenced by the multiple "worlds" that make up their life. For example, an avid knitter/crocheter/weaver likely has people, both in person and virtually, that they knit/crochet/weave with and/or share patterns with. This collection of people and the contexts they interact in are one information world. The same person will also have other information worlds, some of which are larger and smaller than others. But within these worlds there are people who are trusted and information that has value or doesn't have value. And these worlds interact with other worlds and overall guide the individual's information behavior. Now, the book goes into much greater detail about this premise and the influence of media, the internet, and libraries on this concept. But while I find this theory very interesting and potentially very influential to my own research, that's not the part of the book that I actually want to call attention to.
I want to call attention to Chapter 8, otherwise known as the chapter that calls out politics in a BIG way. Chapter 8 focuses on an aspect of information worlds called information value. Information value is the amount of value an information world places on information in general, specific information, and where information comes from. Information value is different for each information world and is greatly influenced by cultural/societal values. And depending on how powerful certain people are, the information value of a very small world can be imposed on a very large number of people. An entire country, in fact, can have the information value of a single small world imposed on them. And the United States of America is a prime example. Now, this book was written in 2010, and chapter 8 is looking at the influences of President George W. Bush rather than more current administrations, but the premise remains the same. When a person in power is part of a small world whose information value is based on the curtailment of information for whatever reason, the democratic process of said country can be compromised. If accurate information, however damning, isn't shared with the public then the public cannot truly make decisions on who they want to lead their country or what they want those leaders to do. Access to information is important, and the information value held by small worlds in power has lot to do with what information is accessible to a democratic nation.
When I was reading this book, specifically Chapter 8, it was another piece of evidence about how many modern librarians/libraries are radical places. Places where access to information is more important than enforcing the information values of those in power. I think reading this book, or even just skimming it, is actually a pretty important thing. But don't just read it. Read it critically. No book or thought is infallible. There can be holes in everything, and maybe you'll see something that just doesn't sit right with you and that will make you go out and do some research and you'll further your own information value. But this book has some really important points about the access, use, and restriction of information. All things that are becoming increasingly important in the era we live in.
Jaeger, P., & Burnett, G. (2010). Information worlds: Social context, technology, and information behavior in the age of the Internet. New York: Routledge.
Regardless of a person's opinion about the contents of this novel, I think many of us can agree that the cover is phenomenal! Now, I don't always choose to pick up a book based on its cover, and I didn't entirely choose to read this one based on that either...But it was most definitely a major consideration. I love fairy stories, and I also really enjoy the ones that have fairies as they were before Disney got a hold of them. As in, what the stories used to be before PG ratings existed. I'm talking about the Fair Folk, the Fae, the Tuatha Dé Danann. Sarah J. Maas, Holly Black, Melissa Albert, Sarah Porter, and Megan Shepherd, are all wonderful authors who have written these types of books (there are many more, I just can't necessarily think of them off the top of my head) and I am so happy that this is a recent trend because I love reading books like that. So after I read Margaret Rogerson's book Sorcery of Thorns (another wonderful book I suggest you read) and saw that her debut novel was about the fae and had a phenomenal cover, well I was hooked.
The gist of the story is that in the land of Whimsy, the fair folk and mortal humans live in a sort of harmony. Humans are able to use "Craft" (creation of things really, so cooking, writing, drawing/painting, etc.) and the fair folk live for a very, very, very long time and have magic. To be mortal is to be vulnerable, but you can trade the results of your craft to the fair folk in exchange for enchantments (e.g., having the most gorgeous blue eyes, having sheep that only bear twins, etc.) but as with most stories about the fair folk, there's almost always some fine print. Isobel, our main heroine, is a master at her craft and creating bargains that have no loopholes that will hurt her or her family. But then she makes a mistake and paints what she sees in the eyes of Rook, the Autumn Prince: a human emotion. He takes her back to his court to face punishment, but they get waylaid by the wild hunt and end up illegally falling in love as they attempt to navigate a mysterious putrefaction of the Summer lands and the intrigues of the spring court. Will they be able to save themselves or will tragedy tear them apart? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out. ;) Now, on to the review which may contain minor spoilers, but I'll try to keep it mostly general.
I enjoyed the book. It portrayed an interesting relationship between human and fae, and it left a lot of room for continued novels in that world. But there was also definitely something that kept it from being phenomenal for me as a reader. It's hard to describe exactly what it was, but the romance seemed rushed without being rushed. There was, to some extent, plenty of time for actual love to grow between Isobel and Rook, but because of Isobel's constant musings about how that would be horrific the sudden fathomless depth of her feelings near the end of the book seemed very jarring to me. I think that the book also didn't quite follow through with all of the descriptions about it. Particularly the one on Goodreads which states, "Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel." The significance of this isn't really discussed in the book, at least not the danger it presents to fair folk, except as a glossed over detail that enables a particular battle to fall in Isobel's favor. I hope that if Margaret Rogerson writes further stories that take place in the world of Whimsy she goes into greater detail about it.
So overall, it wasn't my favorite book ever about the fair folk, but it was another good read to add into my reading list. And seriously everyone, that cover. I love how it looks so much! And definitely try this book out. It's a world I hope to see more of in the future.
L'Shanah Tova everyone! Happy New Year! May the coming year be sweet and prosperous. Also, may it be full of books. ;) I'm getting back in the reviewing game with this week's blog post, and it may involve a lot of fangirling on my part, because I was introduced to Penny Reid as an author this year and I LOVE her books. So, first off, she is a romance author, if you've read some of my other posts you know I read a lot of those, but as an author she also tackles some heavy things like mental illness, racism, corruption, etc., in her stories. She also writes hilarious books/characters, so even though she can write about intense subjects, there's enough lightness that a reader has a hard time turning away just because they don't want to deal with real questions. Which means that even if a reader doesn't want to deal with the implications of hard things in our world, they'll get some form of reflection on these topics done because they are important to the story. Anyway, on to the review.
Trigger Warning: Sexual assault, abuse,
The Laws of Physics is actually a serial of three books about the same characters. It could be considered a second-chance romance but it has a slightly different feel from many books in that category because you don't realize until the second installment that that is what's going to happen. But moving on, this particular series of Penny Reid's deals with complicated family dynamics, consent, and sexual assault, all while exploring the sweet love story of a genius physicist and a musician. And when I say genius physicist, I mean she was working on her undergraduate degree when she was fifteen and she was getting ready to start her doctorate at eighteen. The scene opens with Mona DaVinci taking a call from her twin sister Lisa DaVinci where she is convinced to pull a Parent Trap and take her sister's place at home for about a week. Now, Mona won't be replacing Lisa for her parents (who are famous musicians, by the way), but rather for a man she doesn't know but who is a friend of their older brother, Leo, and is meant to keep an eye on Lisa until their parents get home. Lisa need's Mona's help because, well, she's been arrested. So, long story short, Mona agrees, gets to Chicago, and spends an intense week with a man who is hot, intense, funny, and kind. A guy most women would have a hard time not falling for. A guy who also supposedly hates liars. And queue the entire love story.
Now, that's just the first book, and you really should read the book because it's way funnier and nuanced than my spur of the moment summary. Penny Reid does something that I need when I read a book, she creates characters I care about. Characters I want to know more about. While no one is a reader geared towards only one aspect of the book, characters often make or break a book for me. I have a really hard time engaging with and liking books where I cannot connect with or be intrigued by the characters. Books that are good books, that are written well, that have beautiful language, setting, and tone, but don't have characters I'm interested in? I'll usually finish them, but I'll also probably give them a 2-star rating on GoodReads (though I will, of course, explain such a rating and make sure others know they may still like the book). Anyway, Penny Reid does a wonderful job with her characters. I laugh, I cry, I often yell when they're being idiots...In short, she makes them feel real, and so I end up loving them.
If you're into contemporary romance novels, give Penny Reid a try. She doesn't disappoint. And if you like romance novels that break into deep topics, definitely give her a read. And if you really just want to read a funny, sexy, light, novel, you'll be okay with her too. So go forth and read Penny Reid! And if you do, let me know what you think. You might not become a fan, but even if you don't, I'd love to talk with you about your thoughts on her books.
Well, I made it. I'm here. My suitcases are unpacked, and I'm remembering how expensive (time and money-wise) it is to set yourself up somewhere new. But I'm mostly set up, though I'm still trying to find a foldable grocery trolley and an air drying rack for laundry. Those things I may just get from Amazon though... I'm going to be making knishes this week, a double batch so that one I can eat/freeze and one I can share with my flatmates. It is definitely a work in progress: getting set up, finding my way around, dealing with homesickness. And I'm quite sure that won't stop being the case. However, for now, I'm at a reasonable spot considering I've been here less than a week.
Of course, I'm a little out of it today because I've contracted a cold. The post-nasal drip started yesterday evening and has continued through today. As such, my honey and lemon-juice stores have taken a hit. My hope is that because I don't have things to do for my course/job until Thursday of this week, I can take today and tomorrow to rest and nip everything in the bud. Thankfully tea is plentiful here in the UK. ;)
But you all don't want to hear about my body's inability to maintain its immune system after a 9 hour flight followed by a 2 hour flight followed by 4 jetlagged days (and 4 nights of not so great sleep because of it). You probably want some pictures, right? Well, never fear! I haven't taken a whole lot yet, but below are the pictures of my adventure so far. I'll be adding a page for photos on the site as well, so you can see them all regardless of whether you can find this post again. Also of note, once I officially start my PhD, I'll also add a page that contains my posts specifically about my programme, so keep an eye out for that in early October.
Yes, I know, I missed the last two weeks. But it's been hectic and life sometimes gets in the way...Also, sometimes I'd just rather be reading. I'm going to try and keep this week's blog short, because you may also hear from me again before next Sunday/Monday. Although I make no promises ;).
The majority of you who read my blog regularly know that I'm going to be moving soon, and already completed a move in August. In August, I moved from the DC Metro area to Colorado to spend 6 weeks with my family before the next big move: Scotland. I'm going to Scotland to pursue a doctorate in library and information science (though the actual degree I earn will be called a PhD in Computing). This degree, this journey, is something I've been working towards for about 4 years now. And now that it's finally here, it's hard to deal with. I'm excited, and nervous, and sad. Terrified is pretty high up there too. And the hope is that I can come back and visit often if I get a part-time job while I'm there, but those little doubts are still niggling the back of my mind that I won't get a part-time job, or at least not a "good" one where I can take a week or more off outside of term time and come visit family.
So, yeah. It's amazing and scary all wrapped into one. And while I know sometimes people see religion/spirituality as a crutch, why does it matter if it's a crutch that keeps me alive? Because one of the things that's keeping me going is the thought that things happen for a reason and if G-d really didn't want me to go, then I wouldn't be going. I wouldn't have gotten in in the first place, or my Visa wouldn't have been approved, or my tickets wouldn't be bought, or I'd be sick or dying or something (yes, I exaggerate but I've come to the conclusion that in this type of situation it's a family trait).
The point is, in a few short hours (okay, 5 hours), I'll be boarding a plane to Paris, which will lead to me boarding a plan to Edinburgh, which will lead to me getting to accommodations and spending the first night of my next three years at a doctorate degree. Here I go!
I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm going to have new posts on my blog sometime early in the week (e.g., Sunday or Monday). And sometimes I'm going to be later than that. Overall, though, I've been much better about updating this blog than any other blogs in the past, so at least there's that...Now, on to the main event! A review of a book by one of my favorite contemporary YA authors: Rainbow Rowell.
I was first introduced to Rainbow Rowell when my bookclub read her YA book, Fangirl (yes, you should all read that one too) and I was so happy I read it. So of course I read Carry On, too. Carry On is the fanfiction that one of the characters in Fangirl was writing, and I'm so happy Rainbow Rowell actually wrote it (the sequel to Carry On, Wayward Son, is also coming out in September, just saying). Then I read Attachments, which is an adult contemporary novel by Rainbow Rowell, and I was not disappointed at all. That being said, up until yesterday, I hadn't read the book that many people think put Rainbow Rowell on the map: Eleanor & Park. But now I have, and I'm ecstatic that I did. Because it was awesome!!!
There are definitely times that I've avoided contemporary novels in the YA genre that deal with romance. I have found that many of them feel too dramatic for me, and I sometimes end up wanting to yell at the main characters. Part of this is probably because I was homeschooled, so the "normal" high school type relationships have always been slightly foreign to me. I'm also not going to lie, I get this way about many adult/new-adult contemporary romance novels. While there are things that I can shrug off when it's fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, or historical romance (because obviously I have no real experience with those so I can't complain too much if there's bits of it that annoy me because maybe that's just how it was/is in those settings) it is harder for me to do so when the setting and characters are real-time and my age or an age I've already lived through. I say all of that to set the scene that it takes a really good contemporary YA novel to keep me reading. And I finished this book in a single day.
Eleanor & Park hit that perfect spot between sweet and hot when it came to the romance, but this book was about more than just two slightly misfit teens finding each other and embarking on a relationship that may last past their formative years. It was about finding yourself even as you find another person. I get that that isn't necessarily encouraged when you think about things logically. You shouldn't be using another person as a crutch to tell you who you are. That tends to end badly even in books. What happens in this book, however, is more of two people meeting, interacting, and then being willing to explore more of their own wants/needs because they realize that not everyone has the same options and/or they now have a safe place to make those explorations. It is a story of friendship as well as love, and there is plenty of tension (romantic and otherwise) thrown into the mix.
Lovers of Sarah Dessen and Rainbow Rowell's other books are probably going to enjoy Eleanor & Park. The characters draw you in and the sweetness of the romance is well balanced by the realities of life (some of which are relatively universal teenage troubles and some of which are ones we thank a higher power that we never had to experience). I wish I had read this book earlier in some ways, but I'm very glad that I read it now. I think I can appreciate some parts of it more as an adult (though still a new one) that I may not have as a teenager. As with many books, this one may not be for everyone, but I suggest everyone give it a try anyway. And if you read any of Rainbow Rowell's books, let me know in the comments. I'm always happy to talk about them!
I know, I know, I'm super late this week...And not necessarily because I've been horrendously busy, though I have been busy. But the reason for my lateness is more than just not being able to find the time. I fully admit to being a procrastinator, and that is mostly what has been happening to the blog post this week. Not procrastinating by simply saying "Oh, I'll get to it later," but more of a "I'd rather do this/I need to do this more/first" and then suddenly I could be trying to write this post late at night when I'm mostly incoherent or I can try again the next day. The latter option has happened three times so far this week so hopefully this fourth attempt will be the charm. Or maybe I'll be like Cousin Vinny and the sixth attempt will be the charm (it's a movie, it's hilarious, you should all watch it and let me know what you think). Anyway, there has been quite a bit going on for me this week, mostly revolving around moving myself across an ocean. Depending on your point of view, it's either worse than it sounds or not entirely as bad as it sounds. But it isn't a walk in the park (unless you're talking hiking, then it may be).
Similar to how it was when I just moved across the country, there are a lot of little, "every day" things that need to be taken care of when you attempt to move across oceans and national borders. For example, credit/debit cards all need to be informed that you're traveling, even when just buying the plane tickets for international travel. It was literally a whole fiasco that took about an hour to try and purchase (not find, just purchase) the plane tickets because my bank was being very diligent in making sure there was no fraud. This is a wonderful thing. Except for when it isn't because it takes four or five phone calls to make sure I actually get the tickets and I'm worrying the whole time that either the plane will fill up and I'll have to find another flight or the prices will skyrocket because the website data is saying "there's a lot of people interested, you can probably jack up prices" even though it's just one person trying to figure out why the stupid flights "may no longer be available" when there were still at least 40 seats left five minutes ago when she finally got the bank on the phone to let them know it is her trying to purchase plane tickets from European companies.
Another thing to think about, the different luggage/carry-on restrictions that exist for airlines from other countries. They aren't always more restrictive than national airlines, but in my case, some of them are which means I'm actually going to have to purchase a new carry-on bag. Not a huge deal, but that's still something I have to do before I leave. Also, an update in electronics. This, for me, is more because I'm embarking on a PhD and a seven year old computer that has Windows 7 (which will be discontinued come next year) is not necessarily the best idea. But I have to make sure that new computer will be able to handle the electric system in the UK. Along with making sure my phone and e-reader can handle it as well. Plus, actually purchasing (or finding my parents' old version) electric-plug-adapters/converters. Apparently the UK and Ireland use different ones than the rest of Europe, and if I'm going to be travelling across Europe, and potentially other places too for conferences, I'm going to need a converter kit that is more than just the UK. Not to mention unlocking my phone and figuring out which company I want to go with for a UK mobile phone plan. I'm thinking at this moment that a pay-as-I-go plan is going to be what happens, but I've still got research to do.
Thankfully, I've already got my Visa hammered out. And where I'm going to be living. And I have a very limited part-time job as a Teaching Assistant, so I'll at least have some food money that isn't coming out of my savings until I can find a 15 hr/week job for the rest of my living expenses. But I still have a lot to do and it is daunting. That being said, I still have a little time left, so I can take it small chunks at a time and still have opportunities to hang out with family and crochet a baby blanket for a friend that I should have started last month (I told you all I was a procrastinator ;P ).
Anyway. If you have advice, encouragement, or even just words of commiseration, let me know in the comments. And if you have any reading suggestions, let me know. I always love adding to my TBR pile.
I'm not necessarily going to be discussing a single book in this book review post, but I am going to be addressing a topic that I think is interesting based on a book I recently read and reviewed on GoodReads. Since I'm in Colorado now, I have access to a series of books that weren't at the Arlington/DC libraries. Now, over the past five years I had read this series two times, and I'm starting my third time through. It's a paranormal-ish romance series, and like I said, I'm reading it for the third time. The concept is one that I enjoy despite how horribly it portrays human nature (or perhaps because it helps portray the racism, bigotry, and idiocy of current society in a way that is "safe" and might potentially get through to those of us who somehow can't quite connect the dots between things our current political landscape is allowing and things that happen in genocides), where humans have been kept as scientific subjects by a corporation working on "super soldiers"/medical improvements and been genetically enhanced in some way but the public found out, the people are rescued, and now the government is trying to figure out how to cover their butts since they were a major funder of the research. So now the former test-subjects have been given some/full autonomy while remaining US citizens and have their own places to live, but of course hate groups happen and say that these people don't have a right to exist. You can imagine what happens next, especially since these are romance. ;)
Stories/series like this have always been compelling to me. I started with Lora Leigh's Breeds series and then catapulted off into similar but slightly different series'. And many of them were well-written. Lora Leigh's writing is great (though it has grown a lot since the first book of the Breeds), and Cynthia Eden is no slough either. However, this series that I'm re-reading now, is a little different. Laurann Dohner's New Species series is one I used as a template for the explanation above. I enjoy the concept. And like I've mentioned a few times, this isn't my first rodeo through her books. But her writing technique...leaves something to be desired.
I think I noticed that in the first and second read-throughs, but it is more apparent now than I remember it being. Of course, writing and the response to writing is highly subjective (which is why many of the math people I know state they like math more), but there are still some objective ways to tell if a story is well written. For example, using passive voice isn't the greatest strategy for a novel. It sort of creates a disconnect between the character and what they are feeling/doing. Stating that "this occurrence made me feel terrified" is vastly different than stating "this occurrence terrified me." One is choppy and one is not. One "tells" the reader and one "shows" the reader. Do you remember which one your fifth grade composition teacher liked more? Because I do. Another example is dialogue and the use of contractions. Dialogue is super important for novels that have a lot of talking, and most romance novels have a lot of talking. But in modern times, contractions (i.e., isn't instead of is not, couldn't instead of could not, it's instead of it is, etc.,) are used frequently in speech. As such, dialogue in books that has sparse contractions doesn't read as smoothly. It doesn't mimic speech as we hear it in our every day lives and so it doesn't "sound" as good when we read it (even when we're not reading aloud). Contractions are so important that not including them can sometimes even change the intonation of characters for me, which can change the meaning of what they say. And if that changed meaning doesn't jive with what's happening in the story? Well, that means I have to stop, go back, re-read, and as a reader that's frustrating.
But somehow, despite the examples above being prevalent in the New Species series, I'm reading it for the third time in 5 years! And you know what? Even though I'm really noticing these writing issues, I'm not going to stop. I want to keep reading. I'm almost compelled to keep reading. Now, my personal opinion is that Laurann Dohner has crafted a world and characters well and because those are more important to me in terms of whether I like a book, I'll keep reading because of them. Which is great. But here's my conundrum. I like to leave reviews and ratings that are helpful to other people. I usually rate/write reviews on Goodreads. But how do I quantify books that aren't technically well-written but I keep coming back to? Many people don't read the actual reviews, so even if I go through and explain that a higher rating is because I've re-read the book so many times people may not know that's why I'm giving it four out of five stars. And if they trust my judgement and go only off my rating but see all the issues with the writing and stop, does that mean I've "failed" them with my review?
My personal opinion is that I'm going to give it a high rating because something about that book/series is good enough that I came back for more, but I'm not the only reviewer out there. What's your opinion on this? Would you give a high rating to a book you've re-read multiple times even if the writing technique is bad? Or do you base your ratings mostly on technique and don't care if you've read it multiple times if the writings bad? What do you wish other reviewers would do? Let me know in the comments!
The author is a librarian who reads "too much" (is there such a thing?) and talks just as much. As an aspiring author she gets bogged down by grammar rules when she just wants to forget them to make a sentence flow, but never seems to be able to. She appreciates thoughtful comments and constructive criticism, but internet trolls beware, she's read enough fantasy novels to know how to defeat the monsters.