Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Did we REALLY read the same book????

I started thinking this after I wrote up and posted my review of The Last Goodbye. I don’t check Amazon reviews that often, but I do like to check other blog reviews and sites like AAR, TRR and The Romance Reader at Heart.


Sometimes it’s the review that kicks me into trying out a book – often it’s one of these reviews that kicks me into it *g*. But if it’s a book I’ve decided to read on my own, I either only briefly skim a review or ignore it until after I finish the book and do up a review so I’m not influenced or inadvertently plagiarize another reviewer. Goodness knows there’s been enough about plagiarizing in the past couple of years.


So it wasn’t until after I posted my most recent read that I went looking around for others thoughts on it. The first place I checked was AAR and I was quite surprised when I saw the low grade and when I read the review, I couldn’t help thinking did she really read the same book I did?


I often find it quite amazing that despite all loving romance in general, so many of us have such different loves and dislikes. There is a current discussion underway on one of the AAR boards about a book that received a DIK from the reviewer there but a number of posters have had a complete opposite reaction to the book; some to the point where they haven’t been able to finish it. Now this isn’t a book I’m interested in so I have weighed in with an opinion but it does exemplify why I think it’s a wonderful thing that there are so many romance blogs around now. I’ve been blogging officially six years now; I celebrated my sixth year in February. It was a quiet celebration; just between me and the blog. In fact I think I probably missed the exact date *g*. But back when I started, there weren’t that many around. It was mainly through review sites I garnered opinions on books. And the problem with that was if any particular reviewer and I had different tastes in books, then depending on that, I would either dislike a book they enjoyed or miss a book I would have loved. And that’s why I also think it’s important to get more than one take on a book. I’ve seen some people post at AAR that they only trust them and don’t trust blog reviews but I’m of the opposite opinion. I do read and totally appreciate the reviews on AAR and other review sites, but as with review blogs, it’s only one person’s opinion and I like gathering more than one opinion on a book if possible to read either before or after I read the book.


That’s one reason why the proliferation of blogs is so great. It’s interesting seeing different styles and critical-ness of others. I’m not so sure who much help I am to other readers, I tend to like an awful lot of what I read. And if I’m not enjoying a book, I have no problems putting it down and starting something new. I did get a message from someone from the Chapters site who had read my review of Queen of Shadows and got the book based on my review. I was thrilled to pieces when she contacted me and said how much she loved it. It makes me feel good when someone reads and enjoys a book I’ve recommended. I’m very slow getting to know the different styles and preferences. Me, I’m easy. I like just about everything. So it does kind of startle me when I read a review somewhere on a book I didn’t care for but someone else did. This happened with the latest Jill Shalvis book I read. I checked AAR and they had a much more favourable review than mine. And that made me happy since I feel bad when I’m not so positive in a review.


Some others though are much tougher than me. Nath, for example, my soon to be roomie, is much tougher than I am. It’s a rare thing that she gives a book the highest grade. Wendy, The Librarian of the Year is also a tough critic. If she gives high grades to a book, then I know I will like it. There are also a few tropes she’s not too fond of that I like so if she downgrades a book because of that, I know it won’t bother me. Some of the younger bloggers don’t care for older women/younger men stories and it’s one of my favourite – now that I could possibly fall into that category of older woman. So if it gets a lower mark or grade due to that particular reason, that won’t be a minus in my books. Leslie and I seem to have very similar tastes so that if she really likes a book, chances are I will too. I know we both agree that the Joss Ware books aren’t that big on the romance aspect but they work great despite that! Renee who hasn’t been blogging as much as she used to also has very similar likes and dislikes. We are of an age and both have been reading romance for years. Jill, a relatively new romance convert, as judged by her blog name *g*, and another former room mate, seems easily pleased like me. She reads more historical than I do though.


See, this is all stuff that you never get to really know from a romance reviewing site. I think getting to know the person behind the review. I did get a chance to meet a few reviewers from AAR so now when I read their reviews I have more of a sense of who they are.


All this is to say that getting to know who is doing a review say Wendy, o n a book helps ever so much when reading said book and I loved it and she hated it and it’s soul mates I don’t have to wonder, “Did we REALLY read the same book????”


And if I seem to be rambling more than usual – that’s cause I am. Both my case managers here at work are on extended leave of absences and until we get other case managers to fill in, my workload has taken a drastic drop – thus giving me time to ramble and be a bad little worker bee. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. It also gives me time to come up with rather bizarre answers to simple questions. Some came over this morning wondering where the in office case manager was. I told her the space aliens came by and beamed her up to the Mother ship. I think that Coast to Coast AM radio show I listen to first thing in the mornings is having a strange affect on me.


nath said...

First of all, Happy Blogiversary, Kristie!!! 6 years, it's really awesome :) and i hope there will be many and many and many more in the future!! :)

For me, reviewing has always been about helping others. Letting them know what I thought of a book or not... but based on my tastes. And you're absolutely right, we all love romance, but we all have different tastes. So really, it's all about finding someone who has similar tastes as you :) I'm glad to say I did.

But really, this is the beauty of blogland I feel. Getting to know the actual bloggers, getting a feel for her tastes, understanding her. I think all that helps a lot, so great post, Kristie :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Anniversary - whenever it was! I check in on your blog regularly, you're one of my go to people for recs on books.

Like you I think the proliferation of blogs, along with AAR, is a great way to find new books and get feedback on ones that look interesting. Also, I have no friends locally who read romance so I share my love of books with the online community.

Kristie (J) said...

Jane: years ago I used to read – or at least buy – a LOT of dud books. But ever since I’ve discovered the on line romance community, that has gone way down. Mind you, I still fall victim to them every so often, but not like I used to. And it’s because of reviews I read at all kinds of different places. Most of the time I can tell, not by the grade, but by the outline, if it’s a book I think I will enjoy or not. I’ve somewhat learned over the years to often ignore the grade. But if I see a book at AAR getting a C for example, I may not even read what it’s about. But if a blogger does a review and gives it a much higher grade, I will at least look into it. If I had read the review for the Sarah Mayberry book first, I might have passed on it. Instead it turned out to be my first 5 out of 5 for the year I think.
And because it’s another very slow day at work, giving me time to ramble, that was a long way of saying it’s good to get more than one opinion *g*. And the more blogs, the more opinions.
And I’m also glad if you’ve found any books you’ve enjoyed from what I’ve had to say about them

Nath: It is good to have so many different opinions. I still find it hard to believe that there are some readers who don’t like Dreaming of You or Lord of Scoundrels – but there are!! So if they find a review or blog where that reviewer isn’t a fan either, then they have found a place with similar tastes – thus hopefully avoiding ‘dud to them’ books that perhaps many, many others have raved about. And because I know you are much tougher than me, a C from you might mean a B+ for me

Wendy said...

I read this post in all it's rambling glory and thought: "Kristie's back." LOL

I hear a lot that I'm a "tough" grader, but honestly I got nothing on our lil' Nathie girl! I think she might be one of the toughest around :)

I did a similar post about reviews recently, and the older I get - the more I like to see the reviewer's personality come through. I wrote "better" reviews when I was with TRR, mostly because they were more "professional." But these days, I like having a bit of fun with it - so I do. I still try to always clearly state why a book worked, or didn't, for me personally. Not everyone loves the same thing, so that's why the "why" is so important.

Re: AAR - I've always had to wrestle a bit with finding someone on their staff that seems to "mesh" with me. That's not their fault, it's just that I'm a weirdo (but I acknowledge it, so it's OK). I will say looking at their "core" group - Lynn and Blythe have probably hit the closest.

Nicola O. said...

Oh, Kristie, I'm a lot like you are. I don't read other reviews if I know I'm going to review a book (also, I don't like spoilers). I like a lot more books than I don't like.

I started blogging kind of in a vacuum. I knew about AAR and SBTB but I didn't find the sites all that readable to me, and I don't read any category at all and there was a lot of that on both of them.

So I thought I was going to be doing this great service to Readers of Romance Everywhere... but now I think I just like to talk about the books I love with other folks who love romance books too. It works for me.

Leslie said...

Happy Belated Blogiversary!

I know what you mean about not reading or skimming reviews of books that you're going to review. I do that too.

Oh, that Joss Ware series surprised me with the last book. I didn't care so much for Theo before but by the end I really liked him. Odd how we both love romance and yet that series works for us. :)

I don't always agree with AAR reviews but I like scrolling through the reviews to look at the grades. I do have a pet peeve with their review format. The book cover shown with the review isn't the book being reviewed but an ad. It took me a couple of times to figure that out. At first I thought someone had just loaded the wrong picture. LOL

nath said...

LOL, seriously Wendy?!? I blame Kristie on the tough grader... she started that reputation for me!!

Lorraine said...

Word. I just read Honor's Splendour by Julie Garwood. It got A's and ***** from several reveiw sites. I'd give it maybe 3-1/2 stars at best.

FWIW, I read Sweet Release and Ride the Fire based on your recommendation, and absolutely loved them both. Thank you! I bought all of Pamela Clare's historicals, and they're waiting patiently in my TBR for the day I want a guaranteed A+ read.

Lorraine said...

Oops, I think I also heard of Sunset Embrace from you, which was another fabulous read!

Kristie (J) said...

Lorraine: I SO hear you on Garwood!! I read her years ago, early in my romance reading career and liked her. But I can't read her anymore, yet she gets all these raves.
And I'm SO glad you enjoyed the Clare books. Isn't Ride the Fire great??!!??!! All her books are great - and are her Romantic Suspense books too.
Sunset Embrace isn't ringing a bell - and I'm at work so can't look it up. I know the Sandra Brown book - but haven't read it since before I started blogging.

Nath: *laughing* You ARE tough! The toughest in blog land I think. Wendy is a pussycat next to you :-) But as long as we know you are tough with everything - we can judge accordingly.

Leslie: I didn't care for Theo either - but she got me to care for him.
And there are a number of reviewers at AAR these days that don't I don't see eye to eye with - which I'm adding quickly is fine - I do really enjoy their site. But it does point out how different we all are as readers and what we love and don't love.
And that's the point of this post. I've learned not to rely on just one review when deciding to read a book based on others opinions.

Nicola: Talking about book with fellow lovers. There is something fanatic about us romance readers that I don't think exisits with other types of readers. And when we find others of "our people" even if those people have total different tastes - still they are "one of us"

Wendy: Nath is tough - but until her, I think you were the toughest. And I don't think I really mesh with anyone at AAR these days - not as closely as I do with some fellow bloggers. That's why it's so good that there are so many of us these days.