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Today on twitter I noticed that yet another author has made something of a fool of themselves online. I’m not going to link it because it feels like this has become pretty common. To sum up:

  1. A negative review was posted on Goodreads.
  2. The author and/or her agent chose to make negative comments on the review.
  3. The agent and author exchanged words on twitter and certain rude names were slung about in regards to the reviewer and Goodreads users in general.
  4. Followers of said reviewer and other reviewers did not take this kindly.
  5. Sh**storm!

There is clearly a lot more to this but I decided to forgo the Schadenfreude of reading through all the gory details. We’ve seen this before.

We’ve also seen some excellent responses to one star revues like those from Mike Mullin author of Ashfall. See here and here. I far prefer Mr. Mullins brand of response. Good show sir!

This has led me to several thoughts on the matter.

Know how a tool works before you use it.

I refer to the internet. It can be as terrible as it is powerful. When I post on  this blog, when I write a tweet, when I comment on a blog, when I put anything out for the public to read I try to be mindful of what I am contributing because someday I intend to publish. What goes on the internet is immortalized forever. Or might as well be because of archive sites. I want my google-able persona to represent me, not me on my bad days. If an author, or any user of the internet, doesn’t understand that then the results can be unfortunate. (link not writing related but darned satisfying)

I will get bad ratings.

A long time ago I thought I would not be able to handle it when I got a bad review and was fully prepared to just ignore that they existed. Ithink differently now. Everyone gets some bad reviews. All of my favorite authors, the ones I think are perfect and awesome and how-could-anyone-else-not-think-they’re-awesome!!!  *breathe* Yeah, them? They get bad reviews. Authors I think are brilliant get called stupid. Authors I think have lovely prose get called pedantic. The point is even the best get bad reviews. I have no illusions about matching my heroes. So yeah, I’m going to get bad reviews it’s just not as big a deal as I used to think. I hope the positive ones outnumber the bad but there will be some. It’s not the end of the world. Especially because…

I’m more likely to read a one or two star review.

Yup. When I’m on Goodreads I check out the top rated reviews and then I check the ratio of good reviews (4-5 stars) to poor reviews (1 and 2 stars). I’ve found good reviews tell me it’s all awesome but doesn’t always tell me what I want to know. A bad review will go into more of the types of detail I want. How was the prose? Was the subject well handled? Etc. My experience is that a good reviewer doing a one star review is more motivated to give a clear account of why. Two star reviews often want to be nice so they’ll poke around what they didn’t like but it’s usually still pretty clear.

More often than not a bad review does not put me off of reading a book. Sometimes it confirms that the plot is not going to be for me or that the book is riddled with bad writing in which case I’m better off not reading (and adding another poor star rating). More often it lets me know that this book is actually way more to my taste than that of the reviewer.

In the end I think there’s a quote that says it best.

A writer should respond rapturously to bad reviews or not at all.

Most of the time I’d say that last bit won’t fail you.

Note: I tried to find an attribution to the quote but alas my google-fu has completely failed me. If anyone can point me to a source that would be awesome!

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Dark Eden
by Patrick Carman
Publication Date: Nov 1st, 2011

From Goodreads:

Fifteen-year-old Will Besting is sent by his doctor to Fort Eden, an institution meant to help patients suffering from crippling phobias. Once there, Will and six other teenagers take turns in mysterious fear chambers and confront their worst nightmares—with the help of the group facilitator, Rainsford, an enigmatic guide. When the patients emerge from the chamber, they feel emboldened by the previous night’s experiences. But each person soon discovers strange, unexplained aches and pains. . . . What is really happening to the seven teens trapped in this dark Eden?

Patrick Carman’s Dark Eden is a provocative exploration of fear, betrayal, memory, and— ultimately—immortality.

What’s got me excited?

This book just sounds sooo creepy! As someone who has a couple of phobias that can occasionally be paralyzing a good scary book that gets it right can be both cathartic and a lot of fun. When I do get my hands on this book I plan to read it alone in the dead of night because with a release date the day after Halloween this book is primed for maximum scare.

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Rules Recap

  • to read one book beginning with each letter of the alphabet (A-Z), ignoring articles like and, an and the at the beginning of the title, during the year 2011
  • To avoid re-reading books during the challenge
  • To choose books  I already own, as possible
  • To choose novels over non-fiction
  • optional: The letter X may appear anywhere in the title, not just at the beginning

Recently Read

  1. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Still To Be Read for Challenge

  1. Catalyst by Anne McAffrey
  2. Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet*
  3. The Incomparable Atuk by Mordecai Richler
  4. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach*
  5. Kaimira: The Sky Village by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Leguin
  7. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  8. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  9. Vitals by Greg Bear
  10. XVI by Julia Karr

Finished Books in Challenge

  1. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux
  2. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. For The Win by Cory Doctorov
  5. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Heist Society by Ally Carter
  7. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
  8. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
  9. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  10. Remedy by Heidi C. Vlach
  11. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
  12. This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky
  13. Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks
  14. The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
  15. Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

*re-reads or non-fiction, to be changed to previously unread novels as possible

I’ve bolded the option for the letter N because I’ve changed books. Neuromancer by William Gibson is an amazing read but one I’ve experienced before. I highly recommend it for dystopian fans as cyberpunk definitely has a dystopian feel and this is the original cyberpunk book. I think it even coined the term cyberspace. Wow right?

Still looking for alternative options to E and J. Fortunately I’ve been offered some time with Pisces Muse’s bookshelf to find alternatives. She is officially my book pimp. She’s also loaned me Incarceron by Catherine Fisher so rather than choose one to review I might end up doing two I books.

I might also replace the non-fiction W in my Finished books to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami.

Coming up…

On Friday I will post a short review blurb for Uglies. I’m currently reading The Night Circus so if I finish I’ll include a blurb about that as well. Maybe. It’s a beautiful lush book and I don’t want to rush it. I might also need a little time to process before I gush about it. I might even give it a full on review if it finishes as well as it starts.

Do you sometimes take your time reading books that are really good or do you rush your way through to get to that sweet sweet ending? How do you decide what to read?

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

The Apocalypse Gene
by Suki Michelle & Carlyle Clark
Publication Date: October 17th, 2011

From Goodreads:

With Pandemic ravaging the globe, Olivya’s psychic Sight compels her to see auras riddled with the colors of despair, and now her mother is infected.

Olivya’s only hope is the mysterious Mikah, a powerful Empath who claims the Pandemic is linked to his clan, the Kindred, and their brooding, monstrous, Immortal Lord. But can she trust this boy who can manipulate her very emotions?

With Mikah’s aid, Olivya races to unearth Kindred secrets, desperate to find a cure, only to discover the Pandemic is far, far more than a mere disease . .

 


What’s got me excited?

Ever since I first got my hands of a copy of Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson at age 15 I’ve been a cyberpunk junkie. The reviews paint this book as a little bit urban fantasy and a little bit cyberpunk. Most importantly it seems to have that almost claustrophobic frenzy that a good cyberpunk, steeped in the relentlessly on-rushing future, will embody. Love it!

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Published: 1925

Time it took to read: About a week as I paused between chapters to consider the material.

Synopsis (excepted from Goodreads): A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. … Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

Reaction: I love learning about the 20’s and Gatsby is a great source for getting a feel for the era. I enjoyed this book thoroughly. I found the story engaging and an easier read than I expected. Having read some of Fitzgerald’s earlier writings I attribute this to his easy style and massive talent.

I can see why this is an american classic and would recommend to everyone. I would also recommend spending a little time reading some analysis as well. This book is thick with symbolism and I felt as though I only caught a sliver of it.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Published: 2010

Time it took to read: about 5 hours

Synopsis: Katarina Bishop is trying to escape the lifestyle her family has enjoyed for generations, they’re thieves. But soon, Kat’s friend and former co-conspirator, Hale, appears out of nowhere to bring Kat back into the world she tried so hard to escape. It seems Kat’s father has been accused by a dangerous criminal of a theft he actually didn’t commit. Caught between Interpol and a far more deadly enemy, Kat’s dad needs her help.

For Kat, there is only one solution: track down the paintings and steal them back. So what if it’s a spectacularly impossible job? She’s got two weeks, a teenage crew, and hopefully just enough talent to pull off the biggest heist in her family’s history–and, with any luck, steal her life back along the way.

Reaction: This was a quick, tightly written and incredibly fun read! The author manages to bring alive locations all over the world without weighing her narrative down with clunky descriptions and expositions.

One of my favorite aspects is the main character Kat’s family. They have been a family of cons and thieves going back generations and they have their own history and legends that give an added dimension to an already full book. I recommend it for fans of contemporary young adult books looking for some sexy globe-hopping adventure.

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Ashfall
by Mike Mullin
Publication Date: October 11th, 2011

From Goodreads:

Under the bubbling hot springs and geysers of Yellowstone National Park is a supervolcano. Most people don’t know it’s there. The caldera is so large that it can only be seen from a plane or satellite. It just could be overdue for an eruption, which would change the landscape and climate of our planet.

Ashfall is the story of Alex, a teenage boy left alone for the weekend while his parents visit relatives. When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts unexpectedly, Alex is determined to reach his parents. He must travel over a hundred miles in a landscape transformed by a foot of ash and the destruction of every modern convenience that he has ever known, and through a new world in which disaster has brought out both the best and worst in people desperate for food, water, and warmth. With a combination of nonstop action, a little romance, and very real science, this is a story that is difficult to stop reading and even more difficult to forget.

What’s got me excited?

The buzz is that Mike Mullin has created a chillingly realistic apocalypse and brilliant portrayal of the good and evil in people facing a harsh new reality. While that would be enough to make me want this book several review’s have mentioned Darla, the love interest, but boy does she sound like so much more! The story of Alex’s survival sounds so exciting! Add to that a strong realistically portrayed female character and you’ve got a book I can’t wait to read.

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Rules Recap

  • to read one book beginning with each letter of the alphabet (A-Z), ignoring articles like and, an and the at the beginning of the title, during the year 2011
  • To avoid re-reading books during the challenge
  • To choose books  I already own, as possible
  • To choose novels over non-fiction
  • optional: The letter X may appear anywhere in the title, not just at the beginning

Recently Read

  1. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  2. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

Still To Be Read for Challenge

  1. Catalyst by Anne McAffrey
  2. Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet*
  3. The Incomparable Atuk by Mordecai Richler
  4. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach*
  5. Kaimira: The Sky Village by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Leguin
  7. Neuromancer by William Gibson*
  8. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  9. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  10. Vitals by Greg Bear
  11. XVI by Julia Karr

Finished Books in Challenge

  1. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeleine Roux
  2. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
  3. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  4. For The Win by Cory Doctorov
  5. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
  6. The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
  7. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  8. Remedy by Heidi C. Vlach
  9. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
  10. This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky
  11. Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks
  12. The Year of Living Biblically by A. J. Jacobs
  13. Zodiac by Neal Stephenson

*re-reads or non-fiction, to be changed to previously unread novels as possible

I’ve bolded the option for the letter L because I’ve changed books. Ursula K. Leguin is a legend in science fiction and The Left Hand of Darkness is an iconic novel which I can’t believe I’ve not yet read.

While I will read Letters to a Young Poet eventually it’s the kind of book I want to go through slowly, underlining passages in pencil and fully absorbing the content. That’s why I prefer the challenge to feature novels, you can rush through a novel without guilt. In fact good novels will go quickly on their own merit because you can’t put them down. This challenge is meant to inspire me to read books I’ve neglected not cause me to rush through books like ticking off chores on a to-do list.

Coming up…

After I do an update on the A – Z challenge I’m going to attempt to do a short to mid-length response to each book I read. So next Friday I will post blurbs for The Great Gatsby and Heist Society plus one for a book I will read in the meantime. I’d tell you which one but I’m currently enjoying that delicious interval after finishing a book when I have a pile of books to choose from and they all look good.

Do you challenge yourself to read books outside of your normal reading choices? How do you decide what to read?

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