Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Andrea Sisco GuestBlog: 2 Many Books/2 Little Time

Please welcome my very hip friend, Andrea Sisco, co-creator of ArmchairInterviews.com, a very cool place to read book reviews and hear audio interviews with your favorite authors in lots of genres. Andrea's spending her birthday with us today, so Buon Compleanno, bella Andrea!

It's quite an honor to be a guest blogger at Romance: By The Blog. It's one of about five blogs that I regularly read and that's a huge problem at times.

I have to run Armchair Interviews and that means I don't always get to read what I want. I read what's sent, what's left over, or what must be read to fill out the genres. That means that when I read Romance: By the Blog and hear about a book I'd like to curl up with in the evening, I often can't because, there's no time or someone else is reviewing it. I've had to discipline myself. There are far too many good books and not enough time.

At Armchair Interviews we review most genres, including Romance. One of the things we've found interesting is that we never have enough reviewers for Romance. I don't understand that phenomenon because of the popularity.

So if anyone out there loves Romance and would like to get free books, please contact me at Andrea@armchairinterviews.com. I'll be happy to send you our FAQ for reviewers. It's soooo easy. The only cost is your reading time and writing a review. Hey, the books are delivered right to your door. How cool is that?

What would you like best about reviewing romance novels?

When I do read Romance, I enjoy Kathleen Eagle, Judy Baer and Connie Brockway. Unfortunately that's all I have time for and they are read almost exclusively on planes.

We're starting our own blog soon. There will be notification on our home page when it's up and running in about three weeks. Check it and us out at http://www.armchairinterviews.com/

We'd love to hear what authors you want to see reviewed or interviewed. And we hope Michelle will visit and fill us in on what's new, what's hot and give us a little more info on some of the cover models.

A grandmother can dream!


Stacy~ said...

The best part of reviewing for me is talking about books I love. I like letting people know about a book I think they should be reading, something that gets me all excited about reading, a story with imagination or one that really tugs at the heart strings. I am a total amateur, posting at B&N, Amazon, and my blog, but I enjoy it. I'm debating about doing it on a regular basis because I am bad at "assignments". I almost feel like it's forced reading. But we'll see. It does sound fun.

This is my blog address if you'd like to see my work LOL


Julie in Ohio said...

I would be a horrible reviewer because I couldn't do it without spoilers. However, the free books deal definitely has my ears perked up. *g*
I enjoy reading reviews on new-to-me authors and I'm nicer to the reviewers. If I am familiar with the author then I already know what to expect, to an extent.
Not to mention if a reviewer is bashing one of my fav authors, I get very irritable. :o)

I can vouch for Stacy. She does some very good reviews and has an interesting outlook on them. :o)

MsTypo said...

I find that reviewwing a book for someone else gives me the chance to look at it from a diffrence perspective. Take the new book by JQ: based soley on the fact that she wrote it and is one of my favourite authors, i would recommend it to a friend in a split second because i know that i can always count on her as a great talent.

But if i were to review the book for someone who may not know me or JQ i would need to look at it objectively. Is the writing consistent or rushed? Does the fact that this is the final book in a series detract from its readability for first time JQ-ers. Do the characters seem likeable and plausable or am i reading this simply because Gregory is Colin's baby brother? Things like that.

MsTypo said...

Stacy, i checked out your site, its great! I also took the time to peruse your links. (The best way to find a new great site!) You need to fix your link to Access Romance. You have http on there twice. :D

I can't wait to get back to reading more of your reviews. :)

Kati said...

Hi Andrea, Happy Birthday and thanks for joining us at RBtB!

I would love to be a reviewer, mainly because I average about 5 books a week (I ride the Metro in Washington DC -- that's LOTS of reading time), and would love to cut down on book expenses, but I'm not a good enough writer. I write quite a bit in my professional life, but it's just an awful process for me. I about have to go through labor pains to get things the way I want them. It's really difficult.

I adore reading reviews, although I almost always only read reviews of books I've read so that I can compare notes with the reviewer to see if I agree. I frequent a couple of review sites regularly (ARR, TRR) and enjoy immensely reading what reviewers have to say, even if I disagree vehmently. (I still haven't completely gotten over ARR giving LOVER ETERNAL by JR Ward a C-. Horrible.)

But I'm sure the thing I'd love most about reviewing would be getting my hands on ARCs of books. But I'd also hate having to slog through a book that I really disliked. I like the luxury of walking away from books that I don't like, although I don't do it often, I like knowing I can.

Andrea Sisco said...

Good morning everyone! It's so much fun to be here as a guest blogger on my birthday. I woke up to find an email from Nairobytyp0 requesting information about reviewing. Yeah!!! That's a gift. The information is on it's way to you.

Stacy: Word of mouth is a great way to sell books and promote the authors you enjoy. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is one that comes to mind. I think that book was made by word of mouth and booksellers hand selling. I've checked out your blog. Marvelous! I've bookmarked it and would have you email me with your URL and a blurb about the site. We'd love to link to you from our blogger link pages. And you're a wonderful writer. If you want to review--let's talk. It's really quite fun and I'm thrilled when one of our reviwers gets a thank you note from a favorite author, or better yet, a BOOK QUOTE!

Julie: Reviews are a balancing act. Our rule is we will talk about the good, and not so good but we don't bash, EVER. And we don't make a review personal.

I'll be checking in from time to time today. If you have any questions about reviewing for print or television (my old gig) or anything else books. Let me know. Love you have you check in at our site and let me know what you'd like to see that isn't there.

I'm Northern European, Michelle, I don't understand that Chiao bella thing, so, see you all later. Ya, sure, you betcha! Maybe I should learn the Chiao thing. Sounds much better than mine. Off to eat some lefsa...

Julie in Ohio said...

Sorry, I'm slipping up.

Welcome, Andrea. Happy Birthday!
You don't look old enough to be a grandmother. :o)

Andrea Sisco said...


I had a good make-up job in that pic (and it's a few years old). When Michelle wanted a pic, I realized I didn't have a current one without grandchildren. And I certainly didn't want folks to have a difficult time picking out who was the grandmother.

My hubby and I have a blended family of twelve children. Our oldest is 17 and in December we will welcome grandchildren number 12 and 13. They keep me young, wear me out and turn my heart upside down.

I need a 40 hour day between the children, grandchildren, traveling with my husband (professional speaker and author of 21 books and we have a training company)quilting, running Armchair Interviews and finishing the final edits on my humorous mystery. It's a little mystery, little chick lit and has been a lot of hard work and fun.

MaryKate: I'd love to talk with you about reviewing. It's not as difficult as you might think. And there is nothing like receiving free books at your door!

Rach said...

Good Morning, Andrea! Happy Birthday and welcome to RBtB!!

I'm with Julie in that as much as I would LOVE to get the romances, there is no WAY I would be able to write a review *grin*.

In addition to that, I have two monsters, er, kids (four years and six months) that cut severely into reading time. Boo hoo hoo. But, it is summer break (I'm a teacher) so I find I have a little more time for reading right now.

As for writing reviews, I imagine it is much like writing report card comments. Start with something good, hit the parts that need work and finish with something good. =)

MK, I'm SO jealous you get to read so many books!!!!

Manda Collins said...

Welcome, Andrea! Great to have another reviewer with manners:) The world is harsh enough without getting personal in book reviews--sheesh!

I think what I'd like best about reviewing is turing people on to good authors who are overlooked. There are quiet a few out there who are brilliant, but for whatever reason haven't caught on with the rest of the world. And it would be nice to cut down on the book buying budget. Guess I'm getting practical in my old age;)

So, I might be interested in reviewing for you.

Cheers and welcome and happy birthday!

Kati said...

Manda - Where do you review? I wanna read some. I've spent this morning "working" and by working, I mean reading Stacy's review site, which is now bookmarked.

Julie in Ohio said...

I'm sorry, Andrea. My vision went blurry for a moment. Did you say 12 children? YIKES. I thought my three were bad. *g* I hear from my mother, though, that being a grandma makes up for having the children. :o)
They sound like they keep you hopping. Free time is so overrated.

Rach, remember MK has all the time in the world. :o)

Just joking, Mary Kate. Now put down that Krispy Kreme and walk slowly away from it. :o)

Manda, I can see you being a good reviewer. You have an open mind and a way with words.

Rach said...

And, Manda, what authors would you reccommend? You seem to have a list, and as someone looking to expand her reading list, I'm curious.

Manda Collins said...

No, no, MK, that was hypothetical what I'd like about reviewing:)

I suppose I could do some reviews on my blog, which is mostly dead because I am a terrible blogger--don't have enough to say--Stop laughing, yall!.

If you want to read something I've written, check out the Eloisa James BB where I've been participating in the weekly Drabble Writing contest. Drabble Writing is fanfic under 500 words or less. Mostly we write about potential match between Josie and Mayne in the Essex Sisters series.

Total waste of time, but so fun. If writing my WIP were this fun I'd be finished by now:)

Wierdest Ver EVER: dhhhhl

Manda Collins said...

Rach, I really don't have anything as organized as a list. I've just been reading romance since--god, I guess I started in about the eighth grade? So 1988...and at about three books a week, 52 weeks a year for almost twenty years that's a total of about three thousand romances I've read. Jeez. I've never counted it out like that.

Sort of staggered by that.

But if you guys are really interested I could compile a list of my best of. Of course it would be totally subjective. Well not totally. But you know what I mean...

Thanks for vote of confidence. Mostly I'm just talking out of my...well, you know:)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buon giorno, Bellas! Oh, for great to see you, Andrea! My girlfriend is Norwegian/Swede and can use the phrase: Oh, for [fill in the blank] on any occasion.

It's so nice of you to visit us today, and I think you'll be really glad you met these chicks.

Interesting comments all about reviewing, and I happen to think you regulars would make for great reviewers. Armchair Interviews is a full review site, all genres, many books. They are always positive, but give graded reviews for books the reviewers liked "not so much" as they also say here in the Midwest.

I think the trick about being a good reviewer is the toughest part: leaving aside personal bias, which is impossible. It can be tamed, however, especially when one learns to read clinically, and studies the sub-genre one is reviewing.

I know lots of reviewers feel powerful because of thier positions and really get off on it.

I totally respect the "power" I'm given; I hate the idea of people buying books on my recommendation, then hating them. I try to make clear it's only my opinion. So in some sense, I feel "powerless" on that front, and it keeps me humble and in touch as a reader.

The other thing is, it's a flippin small industry. I luxuriate in the fact that I only review books I like. Saves me a lot of agita. (which my fil tells me is the wrong Italian spelling, but I think it's one people understand).

Finally, I've heard reviewers talk about how they dislike a certain sub-genre, or are offended by it, and sort of brag that they were not afraid to give the rating the stuff "deserved." That was discouraging. I'd suggest they simply do their readers a service by not reviewing that sub-genre.

Manda Collins said...

Michelle said: I totally respect the "power" I'm given; I hate the idea of people buying books on my recommendation, then hating them. I try to make clear it's only my opinion. So in some sense, I feel "powerless" on that front, and it keeps me humble and in touch as a reader.

Michelle, I think this is why people are so enthused about you. It is obvious that you aren't self-motivated in your reviews. Your reviews are informed but fun and you aren't trying to make yourself look better at the author's expense.

Andrea, I've got a question. How did Armchair Reviews get started? I'm always curious about how people decide to take the plunge and make their dreams happen. For that matter, this same question could go to Michelle...

Julie in Ohio said...

Michelle, you have yet to lead me in the wrong direction. I have read many of your reviewed books and have enjoyed each one. The thing I like best about your reviews are how positive they are. I'm sure it has to do with you liking the book you are reviewing but I, too, have read reviews that are not very kind.
I get so mad when I read those that I tend to get the book just to thwart that reviewer. My little rebellion.
It's funny but I do the same thing with movies. I see which one the critics didn't like and go see it. I usually like it enjoy those best. Go figure.

Kati said...

Michelle said: I luxuriate in the fact that I only review books I like.

How do you know? Do you read them first and then decide to review them? I'm just wondering because AAR recently had a whole ATBF about finishing books you hate, and alot of it was about reviewers who had to finish books they really hated.

Julie in Ohio said...

I can't *not* finish a book. If I start it, even if I don't like it, I have to read to the end.

Is that another sign of OCD?

MsTypo said...

I'm goint to play Devil's Advocate for a minute here...

How can we say that reviews that say a book isn't good or woth reading is bad. The book might be just that: bad. I read a book recently that i thought was beyond dreadful and when i checked out Amazon all i could see were glowing reviews. Was i wrong? Or were the people in my court simply unwilling to post their objections due to Hater Haters out there. A bad review isn't always mean: sometimes it's just honest.

As for finishing books you don't like... I find myself doing that more often since living abroad. It is much more difficult to find romances out here so when i get one i either slog through it or devour it. But it gets read. The same goes for memoirs and "regular" fiction. When you don't have a Barnes and Noble of choices and Amazon shipping abroad is stupid expensive, you read what you can get. :p

Kati said...

Me too Julie. I've probably only not finished 3 books in the last five years. One of them was because I was SO disappointed in the author, who was someone whom I adore.

On another note, I finally finished COVER OF NIGHT by Linda Howard last night. It was interesting. I definitely wouldn't categorize it as a ROMANCE. I'm not even sure I'd call it romantic suspense. It's more just straight suspense with a little sex thrown in. It's definitely not like her earlier stuff. I can't decide how I feel about it. It was a well written, tightly paced story, but it didn't have the sexual tension I count on LH to provide. So am I disappointed? I can't decide. Part of me is because I really savor her books and think she's among the best at the craft of writing romance, but at the same time, it was an engrossing enough read that my light was still on at midnight trying to finish before I went to bed. I will say this though, I've gladly forked over hard cover prices for her books since she went hard cover. If this is going to be her new style of writing, I'm afraid I'm not going to be as willing to do that. SIGH. It's not a ringing endorsement, I know. But it's two books in a row by her that have disappointed me. I'm bummed. Thank goodness DROP DEAD GORGEOUS is coming out in November. There haven't been many characters that I've enjoyed more than Blair Mallory!

Manda Collins said...

Nairobi, I don't think we're advocating glowing reviews just to keep the peace, but sometimes negative reviews are nastier than necessary and mean spirited.

Saying that a book "did not meet this author's usual high quality" is not the same as saying "this badly written garbage is the worst thing I've ever read" or "I hope this author kept her day job."

There was a bit of scandal a few years ago when Amazon had a computer glitch and revealed the real names of reviewers and it turned out that some authors' family and friends had deliberately trashed competitors books in the hopes of driving down sales. This is a problem inherent in anonymous reviewing, and why I don't usually trust the number of stars a book garners from Amazon.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Thank you for making my point for me, Nairobi. You can't tell from the review. It's always just the reviewers OPINION, no matter whether it's my Pollyanna national sites, or Publisher's weekly, or AAR, or RT. Reviewers aren't Gods, they're just people who (should) know something about writing and literature, and who get paid to write opinions.

Even though I've studied Lit Crit, etc., I think more about "psychographics" when I review and choose a book. What types of readers do I want to recommend a book for this week? Hoity-toity Lit geeks? Folks who haven't finished HS and love to read and aren't "unschooled wonders" who've taught themselves about Lit with a cap L? Folks who want to escape? Folks who want reality in their romance?

Yes, it's stressful and probably not even necessary. But it's how I want to do it. I want to recommend books for as many folks as possible, not just books I would pick up in my free time. If I don't know the sub, I study it and find out what it's about and why readers like it.

I read a book through before I choose to review it. I never want to be surprised by reading partway, choosing it, finishing it a month later and finding the ending didn't work. I don't finish books I don't like any more cause I simply don't have the time. But believe you me, when I paid for evey book I read, I finished them no matter what, no matter how p*ssed I was that they stunk, cause I paid my hard-earned money for them. I never forget that when I'm recommending a book.

I write opinion columns, which means I get to write about anything I want and tie it into my feature/review. I created the RBtheBook "package" of review/interview/features because I wanted to treat Romance in a literary way that "defined" it and didn't "defend" it. A safe place for romance readers to read about new romances and talk about them, too. Serious stuff, but with a bit of "tongue in cheek" attitude.

Julie in Ohio said...

Ok, Nairobi, I'll give you that. But on the other side, is it right to say that the book was horrible and has no redeeming value. (Yes, I read that somewhere.)

If you are reviewing a book that you didn't like maybe by saying what you particularly took offense to would be a good way of handling it instead of bashing it. That way it leaves it open for the reader. What you don't like, I might. Also, find something good about it even if it is just the character's names. A little positive goes a long way.

(When I say *you* I am not referring to anyone in particular. It was the only way I could think to write it.)

MsTypo said...

Mandacol Wrote:
There was a bit of scandal a few years ago when Amazon had a computer glitch and revealed the real names of reviewers and it turned out that some authors' family and friends had deliberately trashed competitors books in the hopes of driving down sales. This is a problem inherent in anonymous reviewing, and why I don't usually trust the number of stars a book garners from Amazon.

Ok i know this is so wrong but... That's brilliant and it quite simply cracks me up. LOL My husband's uncle wrote one of these easy press books for B&N and was also selling on Amazon. We cracked up when we went to his book to see the reviews. His sons and wife had forgotten to change/hide their names when they gave glowing 5-star reviews. hehehe

I'll grant that there is always something good to say about a book. "It ended." "The author's punctuation was good." "The heroine always seemed to be wearing awesome clothes." (Yes those were tongue in cheek! :p)

I tend to look for low star'ed reviews when i go to Amazon. What was it that they didn't like? Often it's something i like so ignore it but i find they balance the rest. Maybe i'm just weird. Ok i am weird, but that's not really the point now is it? :D

Monica Burns said...

Welcome Andrea, glad to have you with us, and HAPPY Birthday!! As for 12 kids and grandkids..Oy! I thought TWO were bad, I'm already a little crazy, I'd have to be committed to a psych ward with more than what I have already! LOL

I love the topic of reviewing, and I'm curious as to whether you think other authors or writers should be reviewing books. There are a number of unpublished writers I know of who are reviewing books, and I wondered what your thoughts were on that.

Personally, I stay away from reviewing. I occasionally make recommendations on my blog for books I've read that I've really enjoyed. If it's a book that was okay, but didn't really move me, I don't post it. It doesn't mean the book was bad, it just didn't move me like others do.

The really interesting thing to note about reviews (strictly MHO of course) is that they're subjective. Most glowing reviews that people write for certain books are based on the individuals personal prejudices. As Michelle stated, it's impossible to seperate one's personal tastes from liking or disliking a book, HOWEVER if one works hard at it, it is possible to present a balanced view of the book, even if it wasn't a book they particularly fell in love with, although they might have found it a pleasurable read.

What I think many reviewers forget is that their opinions are just that--opinion. When I look at reviews, I do a search by the reviewer and see what other books they've reviewed, whether I've read the same books and whether I agree or disagree with the reviewer. If I see we have similar tastes, then I can generally count on that reviewer to tell me if I'll love a book, just like a book or that I need to stay away from a particular book.

If I have any pet peeves about reviewers, it would be the following...

A) giving away spoilers unless stating that it's coming in the review. It's unnecessary and ruins the reader's pleasure in a book.

B)taking a book to task for some minor fault. Generally this occurs when the reviewer is a writer doing reviews on the side. I've seen reviews where the reviewer takes a writer to task for doing head-hopping or other type of craft issue that primarily only writers will actually recognize. I think readers want a brief overview of the plot, and what the reviewer found good about it. Were the characters ones the reviewer fell in love with. Was there something specific that set the book apart from others? Chicas, if I'm wrong here...PLEASE, PLEASE tell me differently.

C)I'm really tired of hearing the phrase, "it was a wallbanger." For me, this implies the "reviewer" put themselves in the driver's seat and thinks they could have written the book better. Perhaps they could, and I encourage them to do so. To paraphrase a great line, dying is easy, writing is brutal.

Reviewing and reading is subjective. Let's face it, there are a lot of people who hear the names, JR Ward, Julia Quinn, Stephanie Laurens, Nora Roberts, Amanda Quick, Angela Knight or Susan Elizabeth Philips and go, ummm, I don't get it, why do you like that writer? Then there are others who rave about each new release by these authors. They're all excellent writers, they're just not going to appeal to everyone, which is what makes romance so great! There's enough diversity for everyone. *grin*

Ok, I'm gonna get off my soapbox. *sigh* I need to curb my opinions.

Julie in Ohio said...

I have mentioned that I couldn't be a reviewer, didn't I? Objectivity is not my strong suit. I say my kids are the most beautiful in the world but I know that Rach thinks hers are. And my cat is laziest thing ever created but I know that Manda and Mary Kate would disagree.

For the good and the bad, I have to tip my hat to you reviewers. You are either the most popular people or the most hated.

You can't please everyone, everytime.
How many times a day does that saying play in your head? :o)

Guy said...

Happy Birthday MOM!

Hello Everyone,

I'm on-line checking out what my mother is doing on her birthday - She's talking about books! She loves to read and she loves to share her passion for reading with others. That she's doing this on her birthday isn't surprising. I think of it as her "birthday present to herself." :)

Mom, thanks for giving me the joy of reading and writing. I love you and only wish I could be with you on this special day.

I love you!

Your son,


Andrea Sisco said...

Oh, my! This will be a long response.

Julie: Yes, we have 12 children. Bob has six and I have six. Four of my children are adopted from Asia. Everyone is grown and out of the house and on their own. And all are gainfully employed and no one is in jail. Yeah!!!!

Mandacoll: The only time I or a reviewer has been harsh about a book is in the genre of Young Adult. The other reviewer is 17 and our youngest... My reasons, I admit were personal preference. Many of the YA books I receive are filled with sexual content. And it feels as if the writer is promoting/condoning the behaviors. I don't like it, don't want to read it and if I have, will talk about it. Mostly because I don't always think parents know what their kids are reading. Recently, having enough, I just refuse to review them or post them.

Rachd: You'd be surprised... Reviews are pretty easy to write. Check out our site and look at the different styles. Some are cozy, friendly, literary in style, etc. Each reviewer has a style. A little about the plot (no plot giveaways)what you liked, or didn't like and sum it up. It's done.

Michelle: I'm Norwegian/Danish. I had to say that as my mother is lurking here...

Mandacoll: Armchair Interviews was started by two best friends who met while adopting children. Connie Anderson and I have been friends for almost 30 years. We each did a television program where we did book reviews and author interviews. I actually was cast in a film as a result of the program. I left the show when hubby and I decided to escape the cold MN winters and moved to AZ for 6 months of the year. Connie and I wanted to keep ourselves active in writing/books and she had the idea to do what we did on television--but on the web. Thus AI was born.

Everyone: We're starting a new blog for AI in a few days. AI: Rants and Raves. Check it out. Oh, there will probably be glitches at first. And since I rarely have an unexpressed thought, I may have to rein myself in (or Connie will).

MonicaBurns: We don't allow spoilers. Connie edits for those. Actually our reviewers are really great about that. And, we do have published authors that review for us. They don't generally review in the genre they write in or review books for the houses they write for. And they use their names, so folks will know and not be surprised.

Andrea Sisco said...

Ok bellas: See, I'm catching on. I must take the position of a mother with bragging rights. My son Guy just logged in with a sweet birthday message. See above. He is a NY working actor of stage/tv/film. He's also a wonderful writer. And, he's currently working with a production company (name you would know) and is in the budget stage of film production of his own screenplay. It's a delightful romantic comedy and the script is being looked at by names you would know (I've been sworn to secrecy). What's special is that I'm in the screenplay. The part of the mother was written as me and is referred to by the 'movie' people as "who will play your mother's part?" I love it! Actually we talked today (HE CALLED ME ON MY BIRTHDAY!)about me flying to NY to audition for me. How cool is that?

Thank you Guy for the wonderful birthday call. And to all of you for your birthday wishes. I'm having so much fun, I can't stand it. Thank you Michelle for honoring me with this opportunity to meet all the Blog folks.

Manda Collins said...

Monica, I get annoyed by reviewers who pick on books for minor details too. And it is often other writers who do this.

I am thinking particularly of certain Regency writers who slam other writers for historical inaccuracies. My stance on this, and it may not be everyone's, is that historical fiction is still fiction. And if the book is well written a minor bit of historical anachronism is acceptible. So long as the world created by the author is consistent I could care less whether that was exactly "how they lived."

But I don't think that because I'm an aspiring writer that I won't be able to review from my reader persona. Before I am a writer, I am a reader. And I don't have to be able to put myself in the driver's seat so to speak to judge a book on it's own merits.

There are certain subgenres that I am not fond of but that doesn't mean that I would give all books in that subgenre a bad review because I don't like it. I don't like medievals but I love Mary Jo Putney's UNCOMMON VOWS. And I certainly would not make a book lose points because it contained some element I disliked (like a certain review site where historicals with spies in them lose a letter grade just because they have spies in them.)

Reviewing, good reviewing, is something that the reviewer undertakes with an eye toward fairness and an sense of responsibilty--as Michelle does. The growth of the internet and Amazon, while it's given tremendous opportunities for expression has also created a space for ill-will and irresponsible cattiness to flourish. But all author-reviewers shouldn't be tarred with the same brush as those who can't judge a book fairly because of their own prejudices.

Of course I say all this as an unpublished author--I know there is a world of difference between being reviewed in the abstract and actually spending time on the hot seat;)

Thank's for letting me borrown your soapbox, Mon!

Julie in Ohio said...

Oh, Andrea, how great is that. I going to cry (in a good way). You know you have succeeded as a mother when your son calls you on your birthday and then shows up on a blog on the same day. No mother could ask for more. BIG HUGS TO YOU!

OK, some flowers or a bottle of wine would be nice but that's just me. :o)

Manda Collins said...

I second Julie. It takes a special son to venture into scary blogland to support mom on her b-day. You've obviously raised him right, Andrea!

Still laughing at idea of auditioning for part of yourself:)
How many people get that opportunity in their lives? Though personally, I'd like to be played by Catherine Zeta-Jones!

Julie in Ohio said...

As for bragging rights, you have come to the right blog, and it sounds like it is well deserved. :o)

Julie in Ohio said...

LOL, Manda, I think you started something interesting. Who would you have play yourself in a movie?

I would choose Kate Winslett or Rachel Weisz. No I'm not british but I love their accents.

Andrea Sisco said...

A big welcome to Mandacoll. She has officially become an Armchair Interviews reviewer! Welcome and we're so excited! You will hear soon about possible books you may be interested in reviewing.

Son Guy just emailed me. He's on his way to a meeting in Manhattan. And he informed me that I didn't have to have a resume or head shot to audition as I know the writer. Seems he may have some directorial duties (he's only directed stage in the past) but it's a contract negotiation.

Andrea Sisco said...


When you read a romance, do you cast the parts in your head? Who will play the hero and heroine?

Julie in Ohio said...

"When you read a romance, do you cast the parts in your head? Who will play the hero and heroine? "

No, I don't. Someone else asked this question once, "who would you have play so and so in a movie". I always have a picture in my head but they are always their own person. I don't see Gerald Butler or Hugh Jackman or any one like that. I first try to picture the cover guy in the role but often even that doesn't work out. They are their own and amazingly enough no two heroes look the same. Even though most are tall, dark and handsome. There is always a subtle difference that makes them themselves.

Connie Anderson said...

Hello from the "more silent" partner of Armchair Interviews--Connie Anderson.

Andrea and I "get to" read a lot of different kinds of books and new authors, which is sometimes fun, and sometimes torture.

One of our biggest bugaboos right now is our desire to promote emerging authors, which unfortunately has brought on a diluge of POD authors (print on demand) who have good stories, but didn't spend the time or money to have it edited.

As an editor for business and manuscripts, I also edit every one of the Armchair Interview submitted reviews. Boy, do we have some good writers working with us. People find that writing a review can be very, very intimidating, especialy if they didn't love the book. If they hated it, well, then they write us and ask, "What do I do?"

When we started, we said "only positive reviews," but as the quality of the books we received varies, that mantra wasn't possible. We help our reviewers state what they liked and what they didn't like about a book.

Now ROMANCERS, I have a questions. Since I don't normally read romance (and don't read anything into that), I just read Linda Howard's newest, referenced above by Marykate. I had no preconceived ideas of what to expect as I didn't KNOW she was a romance writer.

My question: What do you feel about the mixing of genres? In Howard's well-written romance novel, it is also a suspense/mystery/adventure genre as well. I enjoyed it because I read it as fiction, not romance.

In another ARC I reviewed (to remain nameless), the mixture was adventure/romance and violence/horror against women. One chapter horror; the next bed hopping.

So, readers, how do you feel about this?

Connie Anderson, Armchair Interviews Co-host

Julie in Ohio said...

You guys are full of fun questions today, aren't you? :o)

I don't mind mixing genres. I like a little action/adventure/mystery with my romance. But romance is the biggest for me. That is one reason I like Nora Roberts. She always adds a little a/a/m to her books.
Now, the rule of thumb here at RBtB is "anything goes as long as it is written well". That is the key to any genre/sub-genre is that it must be written well and be right for the book. You wouldn't want to add a sex scene where it doesn't belong, same goes for any action, IMO.

Manda Collins said...

Thanks, Andrea! Am really excited!

Julie, I am with you on the accent thing. I also wouldn't mind being played by Emma Thompson, though her hair is the wrong color. Rachel Weisz I like but is way too short to play me:(

Connie, welcome! You raise a point that I wish more publishers would glom onto. The thing about romance reading is that it's tied up in expectation. When a romance reader picks up a romance, they expect it to follow certain generic conventions. And if a book fails to follow these conventions reader expectation is thwarted and they leave the book feeling disappointed.

Very similar to what I tell people when they are thinking of trying a veggie burger. If you go into the experience expecting it to taste like a hamburger you'll be disappointed. But if you go in with an open mind and no expectations you might actually like it.

Problem is that often publishers have difficulty deciding which genre category or subcategory a novel should go into and they make the wrong choice, which leads to thwarted reader expecation, which leads to word of mouth, which leads to perfectly good novels with poor sales.

I know publishers think about these things, but sometimes it feels like they don't know anything at all about readers.

What do you guys think? Am I wrong?

Rach said...

Holy Cow!! You leave the laptop for a coupla hours and "BAM!" the comments section is overflowing and you're left in the dust!!

Andrea, you must be the proudest Mama! I view my job as a parent as being able to raise my kids to be well-balanced, contributing members of society. You have managed to do it with 12! And, isn't Guy just wonderful!! Braggin' rights definitely allowed =). So, who would you have play you?

Manda, congrats on the new role you've taken on! And, if you would like to compile that list of novels/novelists, I'd LOVE to see it =).

Julie, my kids are most definitely the cutest in the world--who do you think you are to say otherwise?? ;oP

As for reviews, I'm with MK in that I'll read reviews for books I've liked to see how my idea of the book meshes with theirs. I get very agravated by reviewers who feel they have a god given right to trash books, movies, etc. because *they* are a reviewer. Grrrrrr.

Andrea, sometimes I will cast the h/h, but more often then not I can't really think of an actor who matches my mental image. In fact, I HATE it when the cover models don't look anything like what I believe the h/h look like. Gregory on OTWTTW anyone? Evie on DIW?

Connie, I guess I pretty much like my romances to be straight up romance. If I want a suspenseful romance, I'll pick up one. Same goes for horror/violence against women, etc. In fact, I wouldn't *do* the violence against women thing! I think it's jarring to read a book that fluctuates like that. When I read I get in a groove, if you will, and anything that doesn't exactly jive with what I'm reading really stands out and distracts me.

Sorry the post is so long, Bellas!

Oh, yeah, someone to play *me* in a movie? Drew Barrymore =)

Rach said...

Manda, our posts overlapped, and I'm with you completely on the expectations thing. Nice burger analogy =).

You are right, when I read a romance, I *know* it will follow a set of conventions that lead up to the HEA. I don't want to read subgenres if I'm in straight up romance mode. Does that make sense?

Manda Collins said...

Totally, Rach! And I was L-ing OL because you apologized for the length of your post! If we have to do that then I'm in big trouble:0)

MsTypo said...

Mandacoll Wrote:

Problem is that often publishers have difficulty deciding which genre category or subcategory a novel should go into and they make the wrong choice, which leads to thwarted reader expecation, which leads to word of mouth, which leads to perfectly good novels with poor sales.

This comment reminded me of the initial debate that i'm sure went on when Diana Gabaldon's first book was published. It was categorized as a romance novel even though the Author didn't think it belonged there. And having devoured the series earlier this year, i'd agree. Her books aren't typical romances yet they can still often be found in that section of your local bookstore.

I don't mind a mixing of generes for the most part as long as they are balanced and well thought out. Don't sell me a romance novel that is actually a mystery except for two plot points both of which are resolved by the end of chapter two.

Monica Burns said...

Welcome Connie. Glad to see you've popped in to chat too! We love guest bloggers here because they always have interesting topics. Today's is a great one!

Congrats Mandacoll on being a new reviewer for AI. I'm counting on you to keep your reader hat on first when reviewing. *grin*

Andrea, I hope you didn't take my comments about authors or unpubbed authors reviewing as a slap at AI. I've not been to AI's site *blushing*, so I'm not familiar with your setup. My comments were not meant to offend. Here on the blog, I'm simply Mon and I'm a reader here like everyone else. As a regular in Michelle's place I work hard to only wear my reader hat here. *grin* Please tell me I do that well Michelle. NO! LIE TO ME!! LIE TO ME!! LOL

Connie, to answer your question. I happen to like mixing subgenres in a romance, but then I like mixing lots of different things when I'm reading a good book. For instance, I recently read Destiny (Rogue Angel) by Alex Archer. I found it hugely entertaining and just loved it! It's got the basis for some romance that I would have liked explored more, but the adventure and a hint of mystery were fab. I love reading that type of book, and love writing it. It won't always work for some people, but as I said earlier not everything works for everyone.

As for "positive reviews," I admit there's nothing more painful for an author than getting a lousy review. However, I think reviewers can give reviews that show they were disappointed in a book, without being mean about it.

I had a review almost a year ago from a reviewer who said my novella was extremely well written, reviewer liked the characters and their interaction, but despite that the reviewer couldn't give the book the "top grade review status" because she was offended by the word usage in my story. I respect that. I would have respected the reviewer even more if they'd not presented the review in a snide tone of voice.

There was a clear tone of condescension in the review. Particularly the suggestion that readers would like reading the novella if they like that "sort of thing." I don't believe that kind of snide commentary belongs in a review. It IS possible to critize a work and point out that it didn't work for the reviewer, but it might for another reader without being obnoxious.

Sounds like AI strives for that type of review.

Books are about entertaining, and reviews should be about hooking up readers with books they might enjoy. So again, I go back to the premise that finding reviewers with tastes similiar to one's own preference is a good way to ensure you connect with books you're mostly likely to enjoy.

Now with that said, I think it's important to branch out and read a certain columnist's review column and blog because she's always introducing us Bellas to something new and different. Expanding our horizons is something Michelle does well. Who loves ya chica! *grin*

Interestingly the review I mentioned is the ONLY "bad" review I've received for all my work. So I've got to ask myself, am I really great (umm, I don't think so! LOL) or are reviewers generally afraid to point out something negative about a book because they're worried about hurting the authors feelings or because they just don't know how to critize in a manner that's positive. THAT is a difficult thing to do. I was fortunate enough to have a boss who taught me how to do that. The man could make me think I was being complimented when he was pointing out the errors of my ways! WHEW!

As painful as the truth can be, I'd rather have a reviewer or reader politely tell me what didn't work in one of my own works, so that I can improve.

I've not submitted to AI, specifically because my books are considered POD by most review sites. I know review sites are slammed, and I prefer to wait until Deidre sells me to the big NY house and then I'll sub that book. It will be better than what I've got out now. Every book gets better, which is what writers try to focus on.

I'm glad you and Connie are here today, Andrea. We love to talk books here and this is a great topic. *smile*

Rach said...

Nairobi, I'm with you on the OUTLANDER series. My father-in-law picked up the first one without realizing it had been catagorized "romance". He has devoured the rest within the past 3 months.

So, here's my question, why don't publishers allow writer's to determine what genre/sub-genre their works belong in?

Monica Burns said...

Manda, Rach,

You two know me well enough to know I'm THE QUEEN of verbose blogging!! ROFL

Monica Burns said...


You bring up a good point about books being "labeled" one thing simply for marketing purposes. The deal is publisher's need a way to reach the most readers possible, which is why books are sometimes "mislabeled" and placed in certain sections. I know of another author, can't remember her name, whose book was put in the romance section even though she pointed out that it was more suspense/mystery.

Publishers go nuts when they can't figure out how to market a book. They need an angle to drive the sales because that's what they need to survive.

Monica Burns said...


writers write, marketers market. Not all writers are savvy about all the ins and outs of the inner goings on at a bookseller's place. With shelf life being so short, promoting a book is critical to the book's success, and how the promotion is done and to what target audience the publisher "pushes" the book too makes a difference in how well the book does sales wise.

A lot of decisions are driven by sales reports (I've not heard of authors getting those figures, they're cherished artifacts in a publishing house), etc.

Does that make sense?

Rach said...

Mon, you really are good at keeping it "reader only" here. Well, unless one of us fawns all over your work and then...=).

Speaking of which, FORBIDDEN PLEASURES arrived this afternoon--can't wait to dig in. Hubby can't wait either *smirk* ;o).

I totally agree with you on people being able to write reviews of works they didn't particuarly enjoy, or think were well written. In high school art class we had to verbally critique each other's assignments, which taught us how to be fair and non-judgemental, but at the same time be honest and not hurtful. We also had to learn to accept the criticism as well. Does that make sense?

I think reviewers sometimes act like snarky, derisive jerks because they can. Come on, who wants to read a review with "if you like that sort of thing" in it?? How is that review fair to either the author or the reader?

I know I appreciate constructive criticism so that I can improve whatever it is I'm working on. It's not always easy to listen to, but ultimately it is helpful in the end.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Andrea!
- 29....what a fun age! :-)
Question: With all of the books that you read/review, "How do you force yourself to finish a book that you don't like, or isn't written well?" (I would think that it would be difficult and painful!?)

Rach said...

Mon, thanks for clearing that up for me. It's kinda like the state school board (made up of members who have NEVER been in education) detemining what will be state wide standards instead of consulting with us on what would be developmenatlly appropriate for each grade. Gotcha.

Andrea Sisco said...

The bloggers are really vocal today and bring up a lot of great points.

I want my romance to be romance. And definitely no violence against women and then after a scene (as Connie described) to hop into bed leaves me disappointed and distracted.

Rachd: Who would I have play me? Well, me, of course. And it looks like I may get to audition for that. However, there is a local actor (MN), Cathy Fuller who would be wonderful. I've given her name and she's sending her resume and head shot. Cathy is a wonderful actor, long time friend and I had the opportunity to be in a film with her about seven years ago. The film was written by Holliday Reinhorn (wife of Rainn Wilson from The Office). Holly writes short fiction and her review of Big Cats is on our site under Short Stories. I'm grateful to her for the opportunity to work in the film and to Rainn for his encouragement. The mother (an actor) of a well known actress is also being considered. She'd be good also. The thing is, they have to have attitude, like, say, take no hostages, kick a little bu..

Monica Burns said...

Rach, don't get me started on the SOLs and the State School Board. I used to be sec'y to the board when the SOAs were being designed. Virginia is one of the most AR states around! Grrrrr LOL

Rach said...

LOL Sounds good to me, Andrea! =)

Connie Anderson said...

RachD said: I think reviewers sometimes act like snarky, derisive jerks because they can. Come on, who wants to read a review with "if you like that sort of thing" in it?? How is that review fair to either the author or the reader?

At Armchair Interviews it's my JOB not to let reviewers BE personal, but they can express a personal point of view. We've had times when we simply took the reviewer's comments and forwarded them to the author--rather than doing a poor review--to help that emerging author.

As an editor, it burns my buns when people don't have a professional look at their work. IF my name was going on a manuscript (or worse yet, a printed book), I'd want it to be the best book possible.

I've enjoyed your range of comments about mixed genres. I think it is okay if the reader knows ahead and is open. Once I picked up a book at the airport and learned it was about domestic violence, not my thing on a long plane ride.

As book buyers, we should be able to determine the kind of book from the cover. However as a book review situation, books need reviewers, and sometimes we get a bonus gift with a wonderful book we would never have bought in a million years. So goes "forced" variety.

Rach said...

Holy Moly, Mon!! You mean we could get together over a cup of coffee, talk romance and b!tch about the SOLs???? I had NO idea anyone outside of educators felt the way I do! LOL

Monica Burns said...

Absolutely Rach! Your hair will be standing on end by the time we part though girlfriend. It was an UNREAL experience!

Rach said...

Still LingOL, Mon! I've heard some interesting things, such as Disney's and other big business' influence on the SOLs. Um, how exactly are they related to the field of education??

Monica Burns said...

Connie, I'm with you on wanting books to be edited well. With my publisher, I do have an editor, but like me they miss things too. When I turn in a book, I've already read it out loud at least two times, often three, just to catch typos, grammar, etc. Then it goes to my editor, who returns it and then I'm reading out loud again. It then goes back for a once over by the editor for my changes, and that's the last I see of it until it's in print.

I'm lucky that I've a strong technical background, but even I make the occasion errors. *sigh* Having a copy editor in the mix DEFINITELY is a worthwhile addition to the editorial team!

Rach said...

So sorry I was off-topic, guys! Couldn't help myself. My passion and all that jazz.

Connie, I really wasn't trying to suggest all reviewers fit that bill. I swear! =) I'm also glad you are able to pass on comments to writers. How is one expected to improve in what they do if they are not told what needs improvement?

Kati said...

Hi Connie - Welcome to RBB! To answer your question, I'm OK with the mixing of genres. It's not that LH's book wasn't well written, it's that I'm a loooong time fan and I have extremely high expectations when it comes to her work. The fact that the book didn't deliver the romantic relationship that I've come to expect from her was where my disappointment stems from. IMHO, she's is in the top three romance authors out there when it comes to developing sexual tension between characters before the "payoff." She excels at it within the scope of romantic suspense. This book just didn't deliver that to me. Her books Mr. Perfect or Dream Man deliver it in absolute spades. I think it comes down to the fact that she's changed her approach from being a romance with suspense to a suspense with romance. As a long time rabid fan who generally buys her books the minute they hit the shelves, I'm disappointed at that. Does that make sense?

Another peeve of mine is when authors "throw in" a suspense plot 3/4 of the way through the book for no apparant reason. Why aren't romance authors content with it being about the romance? I need obstacle, difficulties. I need my couples to "earn" their HEA. But, I don't need a random EEEEEEEVIL cousin to show up in chapter 24 to extort money and be thwarted by our industrious hero. If the author has done their job, we already know the hero is industrious and would go to any lengths to protect our heroine.

But I'm probably digressing here.

The point is, I don't have a problem with authors who mix genres. I DO have a problem with a book being shelved and marketed as a romance when it's clearly not. LH's marketing company/publishing company knows that romance fans pay her bills (and theirs) and they marketed that book to me as a romance fan, knowing I'd plunk down $18 for it. It didn't deliver a big enough romantic punch for me.

It still was really well written. Just not a romance, per se.

SIGH. Stepping down from the three soapboxes I've been hopping to and fro upon.

MsTypo said...

When we still lived in Delhi, I edited several club and Org newsletters and was always amazed at much copy editing needed to be done. People always think that the non-english speakers will need the most editing. Heck no! They usually remembered to proof their submissions before handing them over. But those ladies (and the ocassional trailing hubby) who bragged about their Former Life careers and came from countries where English is the predominant language? Heck, I'd spend more time on their work than anybody else's.

That said, i am a horrible self-editor. I know i what i thought as a typed so when i read it back it always sounds right. LOL TGI Hubby who loves taking the evil red pen to everything I do. :D

Monica, I think i'll try your suggestion of reading it aloud next time before i hand over my work do Dr. Red Pen. :D

Andrea Sisco said...

MonicaBurns: No, I am rarely offended by much. It's so much more fun when everyone has/expresses their opinions...

Check out the site. We do a lot of POD and self. Some are spectacular and others are really disappointing. If something is really awful, we pass on it. And I explain to the author why, in detail if they express an interest in knowing.

AI is struggling with the Self published question right now. There have been an unusally high number of poorly written books lately. Ones that saying "it ended" would be kind. More and more of our reviewers are refusing to review them. It's sad but we also value the time and dedication of our reviewers. On the other hand, we want to promote new and emerging authors...

I prefer wrting positive reviews. Doesn't everyone? Writing is difficult and I don't want to have someone feel badly. I always say "A review is the opinion of one person."

Rach said...

Ah, MK, you feel taken in and duped out of your money. I understand that. An unjust/unfair situation.

MsTypo said...

Totally off topic but...

I have a question for the ladies at large here. One of the biggest issues i often see arise in Amazon romance reviews is: Too much sex. Not enough sex. It always amuses me that someone has based their entire review of what i thought may have been a good book on what the h/h did between, over and near the sheets.

What is your stance on open door vs closed door? And how open do you want that door nudged?

Personally, i've come to enjoy a mostly closed door scenario.

Monica Burns said...

MaryKate, I think a authors tend to put things in their books that are selling well. For instance, have you noticed that a number of the more popular authors who didn't have a lot of sex in their books are now adding it? Sometimes it's because the publisher is pushing for it, sometimes it's the author wanting to stretch a little. Sometimes it's about sales. Although authors entertain us and love to write, it's also their livelihood, and staying ahead of the game helps them keep their income level. There's a large mix that goes into it. I don't think it's as simple as just deciding to write a specific book. I know I was so disappointed when Amanda Quick started shifting her focus onto more romantic suspense. They were still good books, but I was also unhappy when one book ended without a happy ending. I remember being VERY disappointed at that.

Monica Burns said...

Well Nairobi, I'm an erotic romance writer, which is different from an erotica writer. Personally, I like the open door scenario, BUT I don't need it to enjoy a good book. As I stated earlier, Alex Archer's Destiny (Rogue Angel) was WONDERFUL, and I'm looking forward to the rest of his series. Would I like to see more romance, absolutely, but it's not necessary. A Good Book is a Good Book.

Besides, writing/reading sex isn't for everyone. I knew from the time I was in high school that I wanted something more. I wanted that completion between a h/h. I wanted that ultimate connection that makes sex so beautiful between two people. What always burned my buns (sorry Connie...LOVED it enough to borrow it! LOL) was when there would be all of this WONDERFUL, intense sexual tension and then it would vanish behind a closed door.

But in the end what it comes down too that a good book that keeps you enthralled can have or not have whatever you can think of. It does one thing and one thing only. It transports you into a world that entertains you.

Rach said...

Nairobi, it depends on the characters, the book and the author. For instance, there are times when I want a good steamy sex scene and I'll pick up a book where I know the author will provide one. Other times when I'm really groovin' on the story between the h/h and it's more of a love story without as much sexual tension I find a ong, drawn out sex scene can be a little jarring.

I wouldn't review a romance as being "bad" because there was too much/not enough nookie going on. A good novel is more than what the h/h do between the sheets. Even those scorchers I so enjoy have to have a decent plot and relationship between the h/h in order for me to really enjoy them. It's not all about the sex all the time.

Manda Collins said...

Nairobi, again I think the sex thing has to do with expectations. Back in the day Romance lines were so clearly delineated that you could look at a cover and tell exactly what level of explicitness there would be.

Now there is so much difference from author to author, even within the same publisher and line, that readers who go in expecting a "closed door" as you call it are shocked and upset when they get an open door and explicit language to boot.

If I go into a book knowing it's going to be explicit, my chances of being offended are much lower than if I go into it expecting a sweet romance and end up getting an extra spicy;)

This is somewhere that I think reviews come in handy though even then sensuality is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. I think Michelle does a good job of letting readers know how explicit a book will be.

MK, I'm with you on the Linda Howard. I think they are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They give her suspense covers so that men might buy them in the drugstore, but they put her in romance so the old fans will keep buying her.

MsTypo said...

My husband just checked in from his businses trip and i mentioned my question here to him. He is making me confess that although i may prefer the door more or less closed (think Lynn Kurland), one of my favourite authors is Jean Auel of Clan of the Cave Bear fame. Her preshistoric doors are so wide open as to be non-existant.

Those scenes, of course, are naturally all that Hubby recalls from her series of books and he rarely lets me forget it. :p Silly boys. :D

Monica Burns said...

Manda! You just hit on something I'd not considered! smacking head here - why didn't I think of this!

Covers for guys!! I know that men do go ga ga for certain types of covers, which can prompt them to buy! What better way to get a man to buy a romance that is futuristic, sci-fi or suspense subgenre.

Certain covers also make some people uncomfortable to tote about. I've never worried too much what people thought about me when I've carried a romance book onto a plane or doctor's office. However, I'm not everyone.

I can imagine a romance cover that's really frilly would not be something a lot of men would like to be seen with. I know my brother and BILs would never carry around JQ's latest book because it's got that "romance" look to it, but a CTAdams and Cathy Clamp book like Hunter's Moon most guys would carry because it's dark and paranormal looking.

Excellent point to bring up. Wish I'd thought of it. *grin*

Boy are we burning up the keyboards here today? The boss is out of town this week, thus I've got carte blanche to post! LOL

Kati said...

Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm shocking liberal when it comes to reading sex. There's very little that offends me. I prefer my books to be on the steamy side. I generally don't read books that are rated "kisses" or "mild." Because I like the sexual aspect of romances and erotic romance. I'm open to most sub-genres within romance. There are certain things that don't get my engines going, but generally it takes quite abit for me to give an "ick" reaction.

But I do think it's about expectations. I know when I open a Lisa Kleypas book that the sex is going to be steamy and inventive without having multiple partners. I know when I open an Emma Holly or Kate Douglas that pretty much anything goes...and I'm good with that! ;oP

Monica Burns said...

Nairobi! LOL My DH is the same way. He opened up a book I got from one of the members of my chapter who writes hot and steamy erotic romance. He simply flipped to a page and read a couple of lines. Raised his head and said, "you need to read this book!"

And I know WHY! he said that too! LOL They're incorrigible sometimes!

Debjo said...

Happy Birthday, Andrea!

Hi, Everyone. I am enjoying reading everyone's comments. I am worried...I am enjoying this a little too much and I don't know if I have time for a blog like this.

I just wrote a comment and I think I lost it so if I double post...my appoligies.

I wanted to log in and wish my dear sister a Happy Birthday. Andrea, you have been much more than a sister to me. You are one of my best friends, my sounding board, my fairy godmother, my guardian angel and yes a bit motherly at times. Thanks for always being there for me and for being a part of my life.

Happy Birthday, Andrea! I love you.


MsTypo said...

Monica, why is that men can just open any book and immediately find a steamy scene?! It's the weirdeset mutant gift ever. Even authors i don't think are too nookie-licious he can off handedly pick up the book and open directly to the one or two pages where the characters are finally getting it on. *shakes head*

You're all quite right about the expectation factor. I recently read a book where the eventual sex scene was literally the last two chapters. It felt tacked on. In other books it has helped develop the characters (i'm thinking of a few of Sherilyn Kenyon's books here). I just don't want to feel like it was put there because, as someone previously commented, the editor/publisher sent it back and said it would sell more with one more thrust. As it were...

Monica Burns said...

Welcome Debjo! I love reading posts like yours. Andrea is one lucky lady. *smile*

And you're right! This blog or blogging in general is addictive. I'm fortunate I get to do it at work. Not usually as much as I am today though. *grin* But when the cat is away the mice will play. LOL

Nairobi, you said it all about guys and steamy scenes! LOL

Rach said...

Debjo, we're a wild and crazy buncha Bellas ;oP. I'm able to indulge now that I'm on summer break. I have no idea how I'm going to deal with this addiction when I have to go back to work.

Mon, my hubby asked me if I would be getting any more of your books and was quite happy when I said I had one on its way ;o). Men!!

Nairobi, my sister is a closed door girl as well. She will actually skip scenes in books. Too funny!

Monica Burns said...

Rach, they are funny aren't they. Tell your DH I said thank you. ;)

Say, we've digressed off reviewing. Does anyone have a particular reviewer you swear has the same tastes as you??

Andrea, Connie...had a minute to pop over to your site. IMPRESSIVE! I also like the fact that you review all kinds of books, not just romance. I love reading period, although I obviously have a fondness for romance. *grin* I'm gonna bookmark your site so I can read about books from outside romance.

Manda Collins said...

Mon, do you think publishers would go for it? I remember that the British editions of Harry Potter come out in Adult Editions and Child Editions so that the grown-ups wouldn't feel embarassed about reading a kids book...I've learned to live with the steamy covers, but I know quite a few people who would scarf up more unisex covers.

Andrea, you've got some very sweet family members!

Monica Burns said...

Manda, I think publishers have been trying it, or at least Kensington has with some of their quirky covers that are sort of non-descript. I think that if a publisher can figure out a way to get someone to pick up the book because the cover doesn't really reveal the content, I think they'd do it.

Wonder what would happen if they put out a book with TWO covers??! One for people who are comfortable being seen with the book they're currently reading and one for people who aren't comfortable with the book's cover. Maybe they have considered it, but are finding it a little difficult to actually produce because of costs involved. Covers are expensive, and then you're going to be running a numbers game for how many do we print with Cover 1 and how many with cover 2?

I'd be interested to know if it's ever been considered though. I think I'll ask one of the editors at the TKA party in a couple of weeks. Speaking of which, if there are questions that ya'll are curious to know, I'm open to taking some with me so that if the opportunity arises, I can ask away. No promises of course. That might give Michelle some fodder too.

Manda Collins said...

Yeah, Monica, I figured it was the expense that kept them from doing it. I'll bet with really big authors though they'd sell more copies because collectors would want to have both. Let us know what the editors say! I'd be interested to know.

Andrea Sisco said...

I've been gone this afternoon. Went to see Pirates... Wonderful! Johnny Depp is brilliant and Orlando Bloom is a modern day Errol Flynn (I'm dating myself).

Yes, I do have a great family.

Today has been so enlightening and so much fun. I want to thank you all. I'll continue to check in. Connie posted about 20 reviews today and I'm notifying publishers and posting to Amazon.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hoooraaah! I couldn't get on and now I can! And I posted earlier -- a lovely, erudite, and horribly interesting offering about reviewing and my philosophy -- but it just never took, I guess.

OK, here are some things that are kinda sticking here.

First -- the posts on amazon are reviews, but they are not reviews by REVIEWERS. They are written by people who read the books. Reading a book does not a reviewers make. So, like all reviews -- mine included -- remember: they are one person's OPINION.

Reviewers should know something about writing, publishing, what makes a good book. Most of all, they should know something about READERS.

Second, a reviewer never ever, under no circumstance conceivable, should allow personal bias on the page. Sure, it's in the heart and head. But here's the THING: we can edit it out of the copy before it makes the page. It's not only the right thing to do, it's the ethical thing to do.

I may not enjoy having sex with women, but if I've signed on to give my readers an opinion of a book that contains such a scene, I'd better do my job and read/write clinically. Or get out of this business.

I keep that in mind whether I'm reviewing Christian romance for the Romance: B(u)y the Book, or choosing bisexual, gay, or slash romances to promote on Romance: By the Blog.

Third, good reviewing isn't about the reviewer showing you how well she can write snarky dialogue. A straight review should have a minimal amount of the reviewer "visible." I write an opinion column. I get to try to underwhelm you with my writing skill. But I constantly ask: Is this too much about me? Does the reader of this feel like I'm speaking to her as a romance reader?

The Internet is the best and worst thing to happen to romance. Any yahoo can set up a blog and claim to "review" romances just cause she likes to read them. Unfortunately, irresponsible language travels fast on the Inet, and careers can be damaged for no good reason other than a "reviewer" was too much in love with her own writing to look at a novel objectively.

Do I like every book I read? Heck no. Could I write a snarky, mean-spirited-but-black-and-humorous review of the books I don't like? As Andrea says, "youbetcha."

More important, and pay attention cause I'm proud of this, I could write a balanced, fair appraisal of my OPINION of why a novel doesn't work on certain pre-determined levels.

This is what I CHOSE to do when I created RBtheBook. I write a brief column for Jane, who's at her desk, surfing and blogging before work or at lunch. How in God's name do I serve Jane by telling her what NOT to buy?

Instead, I recommend to her some all-around good book, introduce her to the author, and hopefully make her feel good about reading romance, and speaks to her in a way that recognizes her intellect and sophistication.

Sheesh. It's all so simple dimple. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Ooops. I should clarify that the majority of reviews on Amazon aren't by reviewers. I didn't, of course, mean our good friend Andrea's. :)

Rach said...

Mon, Manda, I'm all over the two covers theory. There was a time when clinch covers embarrassed the heck out of me. Now, whatever. And, Monica, hubby says, "You're welcome". ;o)

Andrea, I saw POtC last night. I just ADORE Johnny Depp, and Orlando Bloom, while rather metro, does scruffy well =).

It's been so great having you with us today! Thanks to you and Connie for playing with us =)!

Rach said...

Well said, Michelle. I never lumped you into the snarky ones, you know =).

Andrea Sisco said...

Michelle: I agree with all you said. And truthfully, we post on Amazon because it gives us exposure and draws people to our site.

I read a lot that I don't agree with or like, but if I've agreed to review it, I MUST be balanced and objective. If I can't I won't review it.

That said, I owe our readers many different things besides honesty, integrity, balanced and objective reading.

One thing I personally do in romance is indicate the level of sexual explicitness in a book so folks can be aware. If they don't like that level, they can try anyway or take a pass.

And yes, a review is one person's opinion. With over 75 reviewers I have a little freedom in turning down books/genres I may not like or enjoy. However, sometimes books arrive, as if by magic, and I either review it myself, get a local reviewer or take a pass. And I don't like to take a pass. But, we list our FAQ for reviews on our site and if people decide to ignore them or don't check out the site, it's at their own peril. I could make myself crazy if I read everything that arrives (as many as 41 unassigned books one week). I cried. I'm so conscious about the author's feelings, the cost of the book and postage.

Monica Burns said...

We luv ya Michelle for all the reasons you mentioned!! {{{Michelle}}}

And I know what you mean about your posts getting eaten, although I'm betting you're going, what in the world is Mon doing posting so much. I'm not sure...probably having a manic episode. *grin* I'm really wired today. Wait, I know, I actually had about 10 hrs sleep last night! *gasp*

I'm waiting on the crowds to die down before going to see JD in POTC. I want to watch the man in all his glory without too much sniffling, whispering, etc.

For anyone else who's not seen it. JD's Libertine is coming out in DVD next month. Mine's on order and the price went down recently to something like $15 WHOO HOO! It's good they don't realize I would have taken it without the price drop. No wait, they do! LOL

Also Once Upon a Time In Mexico with JD is FANTASTIC IMHO. I loved it, the characterizations were something else. I'd not seen Mickey Rourke in anything for years, and there he was. Pick up that DVD at Best Buy for $5

JD, he's the...umm, no how could I betray my Gerard. I can not! JD will have to be satisfied with seconds...oops second. LOL

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Yeah, I lamented over a lot of the same stuff, Andrea. As you know, I rate sensuality out-of-context of the plot, etc. Just bare=bones mechanics, etc, so readers always know what they're getting. RT is going through some conflict, trying to decide how best to serve their readers in terms of sensuality ratings; they feel they're subjective to the reviewers. I see the point. I literally have a chart and rate by body parts touched, exposed, and on down the line, to situations, etc. I figure readers can get a sense of it as they read more and more of my columns and the rest,as you put it so well, is at their peril. I know for sure you've had a ton of agita over caring so much for authors and readers. It's the toughest part of the job, no? And there are lots of em. :)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Mon, you're killing me! Johnny (and I always think his name with a French accent cause of the whole living in France thing) must take a back seat to Gerard. Johnny can't sing. See my reasoning? Need anything else clarified?

Monica Burns said...

So would death by Johnny or Gerard be all that bad? I don't think so. Actually, I couldn't think of many better ways to go. Ok, maybe seeing my name in light on broadway or something! LOL

You know, I'm wondering how Johnny would perform as the Phantom in a non-musical movie?? I'm betting he'd have us eating out of his hand like he does with everything else! *evil grin* But the man truly is gifted when it comes to acting. He always becomes the character, and THAT is brilliance in the arts IMHO of course. *grin*

Rach said...

IMHO, Johnny is the best actor out there today. Monica, you are absolutely right, he *becomes* whomever he is portraying. Whether a creepy version of Willy Wonka, a mentally challenged man in BENNY AND JOON, or a drunken Keith Richardsesque pirate. The man is beautiful and gifted and death by Johnny would be *divine*. *sigh*

Now, there may be better looking actors out there, but JD is one versatile man!

Monica Burns said...

Ok, do NOT get me started on versatile. LOL I can see I'm gonna have to use JD for inspiration in a romance scene!

Wow! That's something I just realized. Has he ever been in an actual sex scene??? I can't remember if he has. He's played romantic scenes, but an actual sex scene?? Is that why we love him? He's elusive? Just like Mr. Spock? Hey, I think I'm on to something here!!

Stacy~ said...

Geez, I missed a lot of great posts, and the only thing that stuck in my head are the Johnny Depp comments LOL. Saw Pirates and loved Johnny. He can make fun of himself, and that's sexy. He can be wild, and that's sexy. Heck, he can just stand there, shirtless, eyes closed as he lets the sun beat down on his body, and he's sexy. Okay, that's all I had to say. Now I need to go back and re-read all those posts!

Anonymous said...

Oh, hi ya’ll!

I just saw Pirates, too. Yeah, Johnny Dep was amazing. And darn I wanted more resolve at the end. But it was still worth the ride.

I'm new to this blogging stuff, but I wanted to say that Andrea reviewed two of my books for Armchair Interviews and did a VERY professional and fair job of it.
Reviews and interviews are always scary for the author, but she made it a delight.
Someone mentioned reviews on Amazon--was that you Michelle? Granted personal tastes vary, but there are some reviewers on Amazon who get morbid pleasure from chopping wonderful books to shreds without regard for fact or even common courtesy.
Does anyone else wonder why some of those Amazon reviewers take the time to write so many negative reviews? I totally understand when a person loves a book and wants to let other people know, but those few sour souls who repeatedly write mean-spirited reviews--WHY?

I’m so glad there are reviewers like Andrea and Connie who are both knowledgeable and professional in how they handle the task. They do such a good job.

Stacy~ said...

Hi Kat, you won't find any nastiness here - it's all about the love LOL. Seriously, this is one of the best blogs to visit - you'll find the nicest people, and it's a lot of fun. Sadly I work during the day and miss out on most of the fun, but I do try and stop by in the evenings or early mornings.

I can't explain the nasty reviews because I don't believe in writing reviews like that. Even if I don't like a book, I can't rip it to shreds. I think negative reviews should be helpful to the author, not hurtful. But that doesn't get a lot of attention, now does it?

I don't want to end on a negative note, so how 'bout someone posting the 100th post? Michelle, have you ever had that many responses to a post?

LaurettaAli said...

Happy Birthday Andrea! You know what's great about being a part of armchairinterviews.com? No, it isn't receiving free books (even though that is great). It's being able to reach out to you in a time of need. Thank you for being there! I do have to admit, I have had so much fun reading and reviewing. An avid mystery novel reader, reviewing romance novels has been a surprising and wonderful thing! I now look forward to all books that are sent to me. I can't thank you enough!

Rach said...

Monica, have you seen DON JUAN DE MARCO? JD sex scenes galore since he claims to be Don Juan. Yum! And, I agree JD would make an excellent romance hero ;o).

Kat, welcome =).

Andrea, you have got the best friends and family =)!

Julie in Ohio said...

OMG, This has been quite a day. I'm sorry I missed most of it. Can you believe the boss actually expected me to WORK? I tried to explain to her but she didn't care. *g*
It has been interesting reading everybody's posts.
Sheesh, who'd have thunk we could be so opinionated?

Monica, JD was in a movie called "The Libertine". It was just recently released on DVD and if Johnny in a compromising position is what you are looking for...this is the movie for you.
I actually didn't care for the movie itself but JD was very good in it. It is not a romantic movie like "Don Juan Demarco".

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Thank you, Andrea, for our most successful day here at RBtheBlog! The Bellas have loved talking reviewing with you, and I think we all look forward to more of yours and Connie's great work at Armchair Interviews www.ArmchairInterviews.com ! You've been more than kind and generous to spend so much of your birthday with us, and for bringing along your friends, too. We'll look forward to hearing from you again. :)

Monica Burns said...

It's on order at Amazon, JulieO I'm looking forward to it because I know about Rochester and his unconventional, lewd lifestyle. Interesting how he screwed up his life by sending the wrong ode to the King. :-) Sort of makes me appreciate that I'm not the only brick who opens their mouth and says something that comes out wrong.

Andrea, I never try to speak for the bellas, but I'm very glad you came to chat with us. AI is obviously is a class act, based on the posts of folks who review or have been reviewed by AI. As I said earlier, you're site will be a great resource for me for books outside (and inside) the romance genre.

Julie in Ohio said...

Monica, I did not know that the movie was based on a real person. That puts it in an entirely different light for me. *shudder* The incorrect ode was the least of his problems and "unconventional" is an understatement. Enjoy! :o)