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[personal profile] renay
A few weeks ago I read On Reviews by [personal profile] forestofglory and began thinking more critically about how I use reviews online.

I don't read a lot of reviews from strangers unless the reviews are obviously critical, have low ratings that lead me into the review, or are Did Not Finish. I suspect some of this is because it's much easier for people to talk about and explain what they didn't like about a book. I know my narrative kinks and the sort of characters, story beats, and plots that I enjoy, so if they get cited during a critical review without hitting any of my DNWs I'm immediately adding that book to my to-read list. It's been the greatest tool in my book-finding arsenal.

On the flip side, it's really difficult to talk about what a book did right and how much we love it sometimes. This is especially true with me because I worry about devolving into keymashing love and failing to say anything of substance. People need a little to go on, and I'm not sure flailing around and screeching, "READ THIS NOW!" on Twitter is very effective (unless you are [personal profile] spindizzy, because for some reason she trusts my judgment). Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
Banner for Strange Horizons online SF Magazine

My second column is up in the latest issue of Strange Horizons! \o/ Communities: You Got Your Industry in my Fanwork discusses the changes to book blogging culture, creators interacting with fanwork and fan communities, and lots of things we were likely debating back in the 1970s, just with different names. Nothing new, except my perspective. :D

Other parts of the issue available now:

FICTION: Difference of Opinion, by Meda Kahn
FICTION: Podcast: Difference of Opinion, by Meda Kahn, read by Anaea Lay
POETRY: Triptych, by Jane Crowley
REVIEW: NOS4R2 by Joe Hill, reviewed by Katherine Farmar
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[personal profile] helloladies
Like last year’s study, Coverage of Women in SF/F blogs (2012) has generated a range of reactions. Much has been reasoned, and we’re grateful to everyone who took the time to look closely at the data. However, some responses have been, well…interesting. Oh internet, you all know what 'interesting' means in the context of discussions about gender, right?

Luckily, because we’re bloggers, we have our own space where we can deconstruct that kind of response. And that’s what we propose to do below: each of us will be taking apart particular reactions and trying to explain just why we found them suspect by examining the language used or the critical ideas expressed about our data. Since the 101 derailing nature of these reactions made us angry, we’re just going to let that anger roar in places, while simultaneously producing a clear outline of just why we are angry and how several respondents to our study hope to misrepresent our findings.
Read more... )
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[personal profile] renay
I haven't read Jay Kristoff's Stormdancer, although I marked it as to-read after I saw a blurbs a few months ago. Since the release, however, I've heard enough problematic details that I'm sure I won't bother. This review by You're Killing Me and an essay by The Book Smugglers about their experience with the book and author gave me serious pause. The first link provides additional information at the bottom of the post about why this book is problematic and had me slamming on the brakes and canceling my library hold. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
The Backstory )

The Inevitable Disclaimer )

Methodology )

The Results )

Credit and Further Reading )

eta - 3/9/12 3:15P.M.: Going forward, to leave anonymous comments on this post you must sign your comment with the name you use online or a name created specifically for commenting across this post. Any non-signed comments will be screened upon discovery. We will not engage with unsigned anonymous comments.
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[personal profile] renay
Hello, Internets! This entry comes to you in three parts:

Did you know I am about to (maybe) graduate in December after I pass my last three classes (dubious)? YES. The Bachelor of Arts in English I have been working on since 2005 will be complete (possibly). We will not talk about when I started university because then we have to talk about how long it took me to earn one degree and the time I've spent on this one I could have earned a B.A., masters, and perhaps started on a doctorate. So: no talking about it. Agreed? Agreed. I am both terrified and excited at the prospect of never having to enter a classroom again.

screenshot from That 70s show with text reading talking isn't going to help me. what's going to help me is, like, drinking

Part #2: Author Event!
Earlier this month [ profile] echthroi and I trekked to Memphis to see Cherie Priest at an author event. It was harrowing and I continue to believe that I am not cut out for large cities. Why are there so many cars! Why is everyone going so fast! Why do they not warn for road construction!? Memphis is not even that scary, driving wise — New Orleans was much worse. I will never survive outside a city larger than 80,000 people. Cue terrified country girl in big city.

This was my very first author event, because publishers don't believe people in the South read and they never send authors I like to Memphis, sob. The only novel by Priest I have read is Boneshaker. I liked it, but my feelings were mixed? It's been so long I don't remember the mixed feelings in detail, only the "hey, this was pretty great!" because I enjoy books that take history, shake it, and then suddenly zombies (or dragons, or vampires, or dinosaurs)! How do you go wrong?

The event itself was pretty laid back, very chatty. There is some super awesome news that can't be shared on the internet and it's exciting! I hope she gets to release it soon, because seriously, I would be throwing some dollars at it, and I do not throw dollars easily. (eta: The news, it is released!) I asked the question put to me by some people who knew I was going, about Priest's interaction with book bloggers. Predictably, it went immediately to the ARC place. God, I have so many feelings about ARCs and they're pretty much all negative and after this even talking about them makes me want to set every concrete ARC I've ever received on fire. I want all ARCs to be digital so this can stop being a thing I have to combat when I say "I am a book blogger". Note: I did not ask about ARCs, I asked about her experience with book bloggers, and yet we still went to Planet Book Bloggers Want Free Stuff and Here's How You Get It. I wasn't specific enough at the time with my question, because ugh, crowds. Looking at me. Judging me. sdlk'fk'a;lsdlsd

Maybe I am in the minority here, but when I was a book blogger (back when I read books? In....2010?) I actually preferred to buy the books, or ask my library to buy them, rather than hound an author or their publisher for them. This goes back to me not enjoying asking for or accepting free things and my general terror of talking to strangers. I am horrible at it. I managed two requests directly to an author in three years when I was active. The reaction to my question threw me, because the answer ended up in ARC territory (which I don't care about) and then also went sailing down by the "this is how many hits this other teen book blogger gets" river, and I had no paddle and felt really awkward and embarrassed that my question about interacting with book bloggers went to a money/fame place immediately when I a) don't blog about books for ARCs or anything but my love/hate of a specific title, b) get like five hits a month and therefore rank about -1000000000 on the importance scale. Sigh. I promise, all the other people in the crowd, I wasn't asking how to get books for free. I am just really interested in how authors think about book bloggers, how they interact, if authors have had good/bad interactions with them, if they're looking for stronger relationships in the community, etc.. Looking back, I am not sure how my question was phrased and it was probably terrible and confusing. I had other questions that I wanted to ask, but after that I was too embarrassed to bother speaking up again. The lesson I learned was that book bloggers who don't accept ARCs are rare these days, which makes me sad. I remember discussing this with Dewey, I believe, in 2007, when the ARC movement was picking up as a social tool in the YA community and expressing regret over it. Insert GET OFF MY LAWN macro here.

I hesitate to label my first author event a success. The discussion was awesome and I love listening to writers talk about their work because they get so excited. I also got things signed! Priest was super kind and accomodating and signed both of the things I brought and I got a button. But the whole question thing just looped me and cast this really gross sheen over the event, like, great, I am That Person wanting Book Handouts. All in all, I am glad I went, and now know to prepare questions better next time, ask with more precise language, and perhaps make the person with me ask the potentially humilating ones. :)

title page of Boneshaker signed by Cherie Priest

Bibliography for Cherie Priest: Read more... )

Part #3: This Sucks, or, Vampires!
I am planning something. But to plan this something I actually need to do some research, which means I needed to create a list of books about vampires. I asked on Twitter, which got me started and led me to additional titles:

This is a list of vampire books. )

The problem with vampire novels is that they're everywhere! It's impossible to get beyond skimming the surface on your own without having to dive into the vampiric equivalent of a ball pit and hope there's nothing horrible underneath the brightly colored friendly plastic. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm open!
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[personal profile] renay
The Way it Was
I used to be a book blogger.

I'm not anymore. In the Lady Business introduction post, I said I hadn't read a book since July 2010 and I wasn't kidding. Of course, in this case book = recreational reading of original material, school does not count, I REFUSE TO COUNT YOU, MACBETH. I have been reading, mostly fanfiction, generally of the porny variety, and so am hilariously unprepared for our foray into group book blogging. But this is why I asked Ana and Jodie along, after all. They accept me and my flaws. ♥

I'm the day of the week everyone is going to avoid. People will subscribe for Ana's thoughtful reviews and Jodie's interesting essays and they will quickly mark the Friday post as read because Jesus Christ does she have to talk about gay sex so much or is she still trying to read Peter Pan through a lens of feminism, STFU or RENAY SHUT UP NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR BURNING HATRED FOR LOVE TRIANGLES.

But, you see, I used to be a book blogger and that's the type of book blogger I was. A lot of people have asked me over the years why I stopped being a book blogger and I've given a lot of responses but the answer really was this review, which was negative and which garnered comments like this from the author:

I am the author of David Inside Out. Sadly, the homophobia which bubbles white hot just below the surface of this review must be flagged for the unwary reader.

Yes. Me, a queer lady who writes queer fanficion where dudes have sex wrote a review filled with white hot homophobia. It almost makes you think of a terribly-named mixed drink. The sad part is, I might have given the criticism some thought if he had just used the term heterosexist instead. OBJECT LESSON: be precise in your language, kids!

In Summer 2009, tired of the constant moderating I had to do with people calling me a bitch for disliking a book they loved, calling me a cunt for any scathing remark I made about rape culture in the YA Title of Which We Don't Speak, telling me I was stupid for finding an author's work problematic, to get this kind of response from an author and his rape apologist minions simply for being a critic was the nail in the coffin of being a book blogger. And maybe I was wrong, after all -- you'd have to read the review and the comments on the review and make up your own mind on whether I flounced for the right reasons. But I simply wasn't ready to engage with authors in that way, to fight with someone much more privileged than myself and it killed all the love I had for blogging about books, where a critical review meant to start a conversation became don't read this book (which I never said, which I actually invited people to do for additional perspectives).

This is what being a critic in this community gets you, I thought back then. I will never fit in here unless I censor myself, unless I play into the cult of nice, unless I play by their rules of engagement, unless I pretend to be the type of writer I'm not, unless I lie to myself, and the authors who ask me to review their books.

I wasn't interested then and I'm not interested now. So yes, I used to be a book blogger. The above is why I quit, the above is why I am a little ashamed of the lack of critical analysis in the YA community, the backlash to critical analysis in the YA community, the derision in the YA community over having an emotional reaction to a book that is not all sunshine and rainbows. Steady on, to those who claim the mantle of book blogger and still write negative reviews, your positive experiences, your negative experiences, your well-traveled road, bless your moderation woes, I can't imagine what they look like. You have my respect and my envy for making it, for weaving through the jungle of the "Be nice!" bullshit so many authors like to throw around (and god, it's so much bullshit, if I ever see an author say that I strike them from every reading list I've made, burn it and salt the ashes left behind). I simply wasn't interested in a community where authors could and did attempt to silence critics like me, to discredit and shame us, and they can, even now, do it and get away with it if you're not a BNR. That whole YA Mafia business didn't happen in a vacuum, let's say, it's just all coming to a head.

The Way It Will Be
I still wrote about books after I left YA Fabulous! I wrote a co-review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson with Ana, I read and reviewed Soulless, which went on to become my favorite book of the year (and one of the last books I would read). I read Havemercy and reviewed it fairly critically, although I liked it. I ripped apart the dead and the gone and this world we live in in aggravation as a great, ridiculous idea was driven into the ground. I got in touch with parts of myself I hadn't really thought about when I read Ash. I could still talk about books, but I could only do so on my terms, in space I felt safe, in my own way. I was never going to fit into the mold that was being set down by the establishment. It wasn't for me. I am still, even now, a very special snowflake.

So while I used to be a book blogger, I don't know if that's what I'm going to be here. Maybe I'll be able to reclaim the title and maybe I won't. Maybe I'll find my love for YA again, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll do nothing but flail about pretty covers and fanfiction, or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll write something that pisses someone off, and maybe I won't.

Oh, wait.

Never mind, I definitely will piss someone off.

I will probably make some people mad, I will probably make some people uncomfortable, I am definitely going to make the sexist jerks that permeate the book blogging community feel like complete fuckmuppets as often as possible (they know who they are). I am going to swear (a lot) and use macros (too many) and ramble (tl;dr) and capslock (no apologies) and go my own way because every time I have tried to follow the leader, whether it's review format or reading choices or how to properly rate my reviews or interacting with authors and publishers I have felt trapped and boxed in by expectations -- punished when I've gone outside of them.

I used to read books for free, sometimes I paid for the privilege, and I talked about them and definitely wrote about them and told my friends about them at the cost of my time, which is fucking precious the older I get. I'm ready to reclaim the books, the books and their stories and their millions of interesting people I've yet to meet, at least. That's a start. So no, I'm not a book blogger again yet, but I'm pretty awesome and I like to talk about books with glee and and capslock. I won't let another author make feel worthless ever again -- that's a promise to myself and that's enough for now.

Hello, world of literature. I'm back. ♥


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