Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Soup - June 29

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about..
Changing the focus of this a little - other book people out there do a much better job than I do of reporting the kerfuffles, so this will just be my little editorial corner. Links that caught my eye, and what I think about them, stuff like that... 

The Convoluted Calculus of Rating Books My initial reaction to this article was to go all kitty-butt-faced on this and think HOW VERY WRONG it would be to rate books in such ways. It then occurred to me that perhaps this was a tongue-in-cheek article and meant to be funny.  Or possibly both -- ie, the author perhaps does give a book 5 stars if:

“My friend loves this book and if she happens to see my rating, I want her to think I loved it, too, even though maybe under normal circumstances I would’ve given it three stars. Because she cares what I think, obviously, and it super matters that we have exactly the same feelings about everything all the time.”

... and thinks it's a really funny truth about book blogging.  I see comments that are laughing and agreeing. I don't know, maybe I'm having an Asperger moment, but I don't see the humor in it at all.  Of course, it's one of the reasons I don't rate books; I find myself unable to be that objective or consistent.  But I've been thinking about a system that would be something like this:

5- Strong recommend to any fan of the genre, auto-buy author
4- Loved it, will seek out this author again
3- OK, might read this author again but would not go out of my way.
2- Would actively avoid this author.
1- DNF, would recommend everyone avoid this author. (it would be pretty rare for me to say this about a book, but it seems like maybe a useful boundary.)

I feel like this is a scale I could use pretty consistently. I dunno.  I'm in the "musing" phase.

I absolutely loved this article about the social and evolutionary value of storytelling.  The neuroscience in there is fascinating, too:  "a story is the only way to activate parts in the brain so that a listener turns the story into their own idea and experience."

This came out a couple of weeks ago, but I'm behind, and it's the first time in a long time that an article about romance novels has given me an itch to read up on ancient Greek philosophy: Argue for Your Wonk -- so it needs to be included here.  Will I read Aristotle this summer? I just might!

A new to me blog with a nice rundown of some favorite UF series -- everything that's on here that I've tried, I've really liked, so I'm going to have to check out the rest of them, obviously.

What I'm reading
The Windflower, by Laura London. You may recall that I went to a certain effort to snag this paperback at RT. I'm three-quarters or more through it as of now, and enjoying it very much. There's nothing at all subtle about this writing; it's just drenched in sexual imagery and tension from page one.  There is a level of descriptive detail in this book that I haven't seen in ages, and I am really loving it. It does make for a slower read, but it adds to my ability to imagine myself inside the story.  Another thing that I love about "old skool" romance-- and this book in particular does it really well-- is the development of complex secondary characters.

Having Her, by Jackie Ashenden. I really enjoyed this quirky couple, particularly the heroine. While I'm not a fan of the "desperate to lose my V-card" trope, that was probably the only negative for me. There's a BDSM element in the story, and refreshingly, it doesn't overwhelm the characters or the relationship they build -- it's well-done but it's not the focus.  Kara is a comic book artist, with candy-colored hair, facial piercings, and combat boots, while Vin is overbearing and overburdened. In a tiny way that I didn't care to think about too hard, Kara reminded me a little of my teenaged daughter and her interests and choices of self-expression, and I thought it was nice to see that population represented in romance.

Elemental Pleasure, by Lila Dubois. I think this one came on the thumb drive from RT14. It is very hard to keep all of those straight! An interesting fusion of menage and Illuminati-style conspiracy theory, the premise is that a very powerful secret society dictates three-way marriages among its members, using its influence and power to convince really smart and high-potential young individuals to join up.  It's not totally convincing, but I liked the characters and I'd give another book in the series a whirl for the fun of it.

Own the Wind, by Kristen Ashley. With Jessica's recent review in the back of my mind, as well as some recs from my book-club ladies, I grabbed this up from my RT14 stack (mass market format). In spite of their current popularity, I think this is the first "MC" (motorcycle club) romance I've read, too.  I liked it OK, and I didn't mind the level of detail that Jessica mentions. The oddest thing that struck me was the structure of the story - brief vignettes from the hero's point of view over the course of several years, until their adult interactions really start, and then most of it from the heroine's point of view, still with jumps in time of weeks and months. Overall, I don't mind Ashley's style, but I don't think I'm up for any more of her MC books. I don't really like the way women are portrayed in this "lifestyle."

That seems to be about it for this week... (let's just assume there are a tidy conclusionary couple of sentences here.  I don't seem to be able to come up with anything right at the moment.)


samantha.1020 said...

I struggle with ratings myself. Finally I took them out of my "reviews" and changed my reviews to thoughts on books. It makes it feel less formal and more relaxed which works for me. But I will admit that sometimes I miss the ratings...especially when I have talked about the good and bad sides of a book :)

Nicola O. said...

I know what you mean. I don't think you have to have a numeric rating in order for an article to be a review. But I know for books I really liked, leaving a 4 or 5 star rating on Amazon is probably more helpful to the author than a post on my blog. And I like on other blogs where they index reviews by their ratings, so you can easily find the very best ones.

Hmmm. Maybe I should just tag a few as "outstanding" or something like that. I don't think most people go out of their way to find 3-star reviews...

Food for thought.


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