Books, Life

why i like one star reviews

DISCLAIMER BEFORE THE PITCHFORKS ARE FORKED, OR ER, PITCHED (?) IN MY DIRECTION: By ‘reviewer’ I do not mean ‘a malicious troll’. I mean a reviewer who is stating their opinion on the book in a fair, truthful, and often amusing way.

I am not a villain, cackling away behind the anonymity of a computer screen. However, I must admit that I like to read sparsely starred reviews. Yes, those ones. The ones that can often state – in clear, precise words – why the reviewer views the book as a tragic waste of tree, space, time, money, and so forth.

I drink that stuff down like a toddler who’s just discovered Coca-Cola.

Why? How could I? I write, I’ve self-published some novellas, surely I’d want EVERYBODY to have glorious and glowing reviews *throws confetti*

But … I have my reasons. Let me share them with you …

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come with me

i have an inherent distrust of good news

If the book is a fantasy and the reviews are mostly positive – I’ll listen. But if the book is a romance …. then I am wary and proceed with caution. If all the reviews are full to the brim of gushing words about the swooning romance, dreamy heroes, wonderful adventure, fantastic writing etc etc etc … I won’t take it at face value.

I’ve been burned and so I am painfully shy; I read the bad reviews. Because:

a) I am a practical optimistic pessimist (a state of being which I’ve just invented. join me) – if I know the worst, I can decide if it’s worth badgering my bank account for it

b) some folks’ idea of romance isn’t mine

and

b) … the reviews can be extremely entertaining.

eloquence, m’dear. it’s the eloquence

Sometimes, a reviewer can find a book – any book – to which they suffer an allergic reaction. This can provoke a beautiful response – full of sweeping prose, breathtaking analogies, and excellent use of gifs.

In short, it’s terribly interesting to observe this kind of reaction; reviewers are often very eloquent when they decide that this book is not for them and here is why etc.

I grab my popcorn and settle down to read, mesmerized.

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it can lead to beautiful things

I don’t always trust people who love every. little. thing that they read. Because I am a little cynical; how can I believe that this is the BEST BOOK EVAH!!! if you’ve said that every other book you’ve read is the BEST BOOK EVAH!!!?

(Maybe you do find every book you read to be wonderful. That’s fine. But again, my cynicism strikes like a pimple before a wedding. I can’t help it.)

If you are honest in your reviews, I can measure the bad against the good. You hated this book? You’ve stated the reasons why? Well maybe I agree with you – maybe I’ll search for your other reviews; for the books you really liked.

Maybe I’ll like them too.

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It’s a roundabout way to get a good book recommendation. It also works in the opposite way; if you hated this book, and I loved it … then maybe I won’t like the books you love, maybe I’ll like the books you hate – another way to a book recommendation. (Or if you loved this book and I loved it … we will both congratulate each other on our exceptional taste and stalk each other. Politely. In a friendly fashion.)

in summary, bad reviews can …

  • give a more rounded perspective of a book
  • save money
  • cost money
  • be entertaining

All right. You can … you can bring out your pitchforks now.Image result for galavant gif

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Books

tropes i would like to see more of

I read a lot. And when I find certain things (Tropes? Themes? i no do wurdz) in fiction … I perform an inner happy dance and gobble the book down whole. Here are a few reasons for such exuberance, expressed in words. And gifs. Gifs are gifts.

mawwied couples

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I … have a dream. A dream that a healthy marriage will be portrayed in fiction; where the lead character would be married and that this would simply be the backdrop to the actual story.

Sometimes it’s just nice to read of a stable relationship; to not get readerly stressed when oh, no! look! they’re not communicating again. Gee, I feel so shocked.

And sure – there can be some conflict in their relationship but not major conflict. There is a difference.

Books I’d Recommend:

188230The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters: think archaeology, romance, humour, lots and lots of dead bodies, and Egypt. And a cast of characters you will grow to love over a nineteen book series. Though, you know, it should come with a warning.

WARNING! READING ANY OF THE AMELIA PEABODY SERIES WILL INSTALL A STRONG DESIRE TO:

  1. brandish a parasol
  2. find your very own Radcliffe Emerson.
  3. war with a dastardly arch nemesis
  4. solve grisly crimes in Egypt
  5. be a terribly good archaeologist

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just do it!

I cannot respect characters that have good intentions, but are side-tracked by a pair of bootiful, bootiful [insert colour here] eyes.

If you’re going to take down an evil emperor, stand by a resolve, keep to your morals, or read every single book in the Great Library of Alexandria … then you should do it. You should just darn do it.

Kill the bloke. Don’t eat that ice cream. Kick temptation in its face. Invent time travel.

Do not, I beg you, think, it doesn’t matter that he killed my best friend and thousands of innocents, but I can’t kill this evil king because he might possibly have a Tragic Past and more depth than a puddle.

Feelings. Bah. So much selfishness is committed in their name.

15839976Books I’d Recommend:

The Red Rising Series by Pierce Brown: Darrow needs to bring down an entire class system. And by golly, he just goes for it. The series is bloody and brutal, but I like it. I like it a lot.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë: this is one of my favourite classics. Because Jane Eyre? She stands by her principles – even though it means she loses the man she loves.

a slow burning romance

If you tell me a character loves just for the sake of love and oh he said ‘I love you’ so they definitely ARE IN LOVE AND IT’S TWU WUV AND YOU WILL BELIEVE ME. JUST BECAUSE I SAID THEY ARE … I won’t always be able to see it.

I like watching a romance grow – slowly, steadily, quietly. The sort that creeps up on a character until they think: oh, that’s what it is.

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Sure, ‘love at first sight’ can happen; in fiction and real life. But I adore reading fiction where you can believe and see that maybe, just maybe this is love – not because the character declares it every. other. page (I could say that I am a dragon-slaying astronaut, for sure, but that don’t make it so) but because we – the reader – have watched it grow.

Books I’d Recommend:

Devil's Cub (Alastair, #2)Gosh. This is a hard one. Buuuut … I’ll pick these two. And one of them – in a shock twist that surprises absolutely no one – is a Heyer:

The Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer: I view this book as one of the most wildly romantic books I’ve read, purely because of one, rather ridiculous statement that Vidal passionately utters in a climactic scene.

The action begins with the lead kidnapping the heroine. The heroine isn’t impressed. She shoots him. And thus marks the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar: containing a cringeworthy scene full of second-hand embarrassment, this book has a marriage of convenience that changes into something more as the heroine grows and the lead realises that hey, maybe he kinda leapt to conclusions.

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happy reading!

Life, On Writing

highlights of text butchery

thepunone.JPGI’ve been quietly editing Insalted for some time now. However, only recently did I bite the bullet and print the whole thing out.

There’s a lot of it. I don’t know if it’s my dramatic usage of paragraphs, the halts for Bolded Lists (I haven’t a better name for them), or if I’ve completely got the spacing wrong, but I’ve ended up with 334 pages to edit.

!!!

Usually, I just employ a liberal use of a pen, butchering this and scribbling out that. HOWEVER, with this manuscript, I have a better plan. As per usual, I butcher … but I also use highlighters and sticky notes.

I have four colours and these stand for a sub-plot, a mega-plot, background info, and THE ROMANCE THREAD.

(And yes. That deserves capitals. I’m quietly proud that this story HAS A ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!!)

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like this cover. but with more clothing

Why Using Highlighters Is A Highlight of Editing:

  • You can look back on a butchered page and think: my gosh, this looks legit! Maybe I am a Proper Writer after all!
  • It teaches you to never underestimate the importance of the highlighter in validating your career choices.
  • You can actually keep track of each plot line – how much of this plot is in this chapter? Do I need more? Less? How much ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!! is in it?
  • If you are a visual person, you can sum up what happens per plot line at the beginning of the chapter, and strike it through with the appropriate highlighter. It looks very pretty! And is useful. That’s 100% my reason for using them.

workspaceistidyMy work space isn’t very tidy. I have several coloured labels that er, I thought were sticky notes when I bought them. (SPOLIER: they weren’t.)

Now, they hang about like I did around other earthlings, wanting to be cool and useful but never quite making it.

(HANG IN THERE, LABELS! YOU’LL FIND YOUR SPACE YET!!)

I have highlighters, sticky notes, pens, hair things, soap, books, tea, an empty purse, and a laptop for music just chilling on the desk with me.

It is clutter, but I am of the opinion that I work better with clutter than without. (I have no wish to test this theory.)

Recently, I butchered into the wee hours and  … I felt like a Proper Writer. I was haunted and hunched over with a blanket about my shoulders, eyes stinging, hand wielding pen and highlighter with fervor.

It was a wonderful feeling; I am doomed to plenty more of it.

SIDE NOTE: I’ve discovered that THE ROMANTICLE ELEMENT!!!!!! comes more easily when I’m tired. I haven’t re-read what I corrected last night, but I’m sure that it’s all coherent.

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Books, podcast, Uncategorized

podcast // wishes, crusaders, and gardens

If you marry a man for his bank account, you’re called a gold digger. So what do you call it if you’re marrying a man for a rose garden … a garden digger? … a gardener? No? Okay. [The Rose-Garden Husband by Margaret Widdemer]

And Phyllis Braithwaite, the little Liberry Teacher who had been living in a hall bedroom on much less money than she needed, found herself alone, sole mistress of the great Harrington house, a corps of servants, a husband passive enough to satisfy the most militant suffragette, a check-book, a wistful wolfhound, and five hundred dollars, cash, for current expenses

 ebook // podcast site // audiobook

Books, Recountings

Recountings: Eloping Sisters and Replacement Brides

A long time ago, I discovered something wonderous … free books! And so I dived into that marvelous place known as Project Gutenberg. Many adventures did I have, and here is one of them …

Marcia Schuyler

by Grace Livingston Hill

First, a confession: for an obscenely long time, I had no idea how to pronounce ‘Schuyler’. I ignored it, pretending it was a sort of ‘Marcia S-silentletters-ler’. I only knew that I enjoyed reading this book.

Now – let’s not dawdle, let’s plunge in and see if I can convince you that you will enjoy it too.

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Our story opens with fresh-faced and innocent Marcia leaving her home to pick berries. She will sell these and use the money to buy some fabric for a dress she wants to make. In a few days her sister is getting married to David. David is a Man. A Good Man. A Worthy Man.

Only … Kate, her sister, is a flighty thing. A selfish flighty thing. Marcia doesn’t see this – she loves her sister, after all. But the facts are there and Kate is a Piece of Work.

Things Happen. A small (not an enormous amount) of drama ensues: Kate is being a little too friendly with a Captain What’s-His-Face, David arrives home in darkness, mistakes Marcia for Kate and kisses her. Over the garden gate. ON THE LIPZ!!!

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In a gentle and pleasant way, David brushes this off like he does his teeth every morning*. Kate is still a Piece of Work and Marcia is gradually growing to wish that she had her own Good ManTM.

And then … and then the morning of the wedding dawns. But Kate isn’t there! Her bedroom is empty. Empty! Rather thoughtfully, she’s left a note. But a note doesn’t really replace a bride.

Poor David – the woman he loves has eloped with dashing Captain Thingybob. Poor Kate and Marcia’s father – he’s shamed, shamed!

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Something must be done. But what?!

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And it is here that Marcia’s life changes. Because her father speaks:

“It is terrible!” he murmured, “terrible! How could she bear to inflict such sorrow! She might have saved us the scorn of all of our friends. David, you must not go back alone. It must not be. You must not bear that. There are lovely girls in plenty elsewhere. Find another one and marry her. Take your bride home with you, and no one in your home need be the wiser. Don’t sorrow for that cruel girl of mine. Give her not the satisfaction of feeling that your life is broken. Take another. Any girl might be proud to go with you for the asking. Had I a dozen other daughters you should have your pick of them, and one should go with you, if you would condescend to choose another from the home where you have been so treacherously dealt with. But I have only this one little girl. She is but a child as yet and cannot compare with what you thought you had. I blame you not if you do not wish to wed another Schuyler, but if you will she is yours. And she is a good girl. David, though she is but a child. Speak up, child, and say if you will make amends for the wrong your sister has done!

Yup! You read that right – seventeen year old Marcia is offered to David. As a replacement bride. To stop the scorn, right a wrong and save the family name.

As you do.

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And Marcia, pitying David and feeling so very sorry for him says …

“If David wishes I will go.”

(This is just chapter five, by the way.)

So she marries him.

And the equation of:

heart-broken man + innocent young girl + marriage

goes just about as well as you could expect. And this is just the start, folks. There’s Miranda (who’s brilliant) and a Dangerous Man and Betrayal and Anguish and Moral Peril and Bonnet Buying and a satisfactory Villain Is Found Out scene and … it’s clean, dramatic perfection.

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// … and you can enjoy it too, right here //

Happy Reading!


*this metaphor may not make much sense, but I feel quite proud of it. Actually, this begs the question – would David brush his teeth every morning? Because … time period and history and hygiene. Hmmm …