Why set up a romance book review blog?
I read a lot. In a week’s time I easily read 7-10 books. The majority are re-reads, but lately I have been hitting Amazon and iBooks pretty hard. I read so many authors and series that I began to confuse books and connections between them. And then I considered making a database to track the information (Yes, my statistics history is showing). That easily led me to create a blog that reviewed the books I love so much.
What criteria did I use in creating the rating scale?
No matter what genre I read, I require a book to be grammatically correct and readable. It irritates me to read a book and be distracted by grammatical errors or typos. Although to be fair, no one is perfect and I’m sure this blog will have my share of errors! I will hope that the books that I had issues were only those who were self-published and no one else but the author proofread it.
I remember I started reading a book from Amazon (boy those reviews can lead you astray!) and the free review portion was borderline passably written and it was interesting enough. The reviews were mixed, but I took the chance. And was I disillusioned. Right after I purchased it, the writing style turned to that of a 6th grader; I could not get past the next few pages. I imagine that it was a case of someone (if it even had a publisher) just polishing up the chapters that were free before the purchase. I learned a lesson the hard way. Always read the 1-Star reviews and if they make mention of bad quality of writing, move along to another book. My reviews are based on quality of writing and not subject matter.
That brings me to the topic of what type of books do I like to read?
I have read all manner of fiction and non-fiction. In college on my undergraduate degree in history, I spent years and years reading dry accounts of the Battle of Bull Run or Hitler’s ill fated march into Russia (clearly he had never read any history of Napoleon or played Risk). When I got my Master’s degree in psychology, again plenty of textbooks on program evaluation, statistics, you know, all of those exciting books!
I love a range of romance types, with the exception of historical romance. I think that I just burned myself out during my four years of college and I have never recovered. And quite frankly, after so many Highland warriors and pirates have plundered you, it all just delivers the same message. So I moved on to paranormal and that’s really where I stay, although I do venture out to contemporary on occasion.
Let’s talk a moment about the differences between what might be considered “main-stream” and “erotica”. I am going to be graphic here to explain the differences; my reviews generally will not talk about sex specifically. I think that for most modern romance books we can consider sex scenes a standard requirement. But I think it is worth the time here to clarify the difference between the genres.
It’s pretty representative for most romances today to have sex scenes and most authors I have read use words like “penis, cock, or clitoris” in describing the body parts, you might get a “manhood” or something like that if they are trying to get a PG-13 rating. It’s a bit hard to describe the scene thoroughly without talking about people’s bits and pieces! The difference between a “mainstream” romance and “erotica” seems to be related to one or some of the following:
Percentage of sex to the length of the book, if anal sex is involved, gay/lesbian sex, BDSM, or polyandrous activity.
There might be other factors, but those seem to be the ones that I noticed. Also too in erotica they often “fall in love” when they meet and then spend the first ten pages having sex. So, erotica you might not bring up to your local bible study group, but romance you might talk about (baring the sex scenes of course).
As a reader, I generally don’t have a problem reading about any of the above topics, with a caveat: The individuals involved should have a committed, loving relationship by the end of the book. I don’t really care to read about random sex with folks they don’t love, in that way I am old fashion. For example, I have read some BDSM erotica where they go to the dungeon and have a scene where a “stranger” has sex with them. I suppose because I identify with the heroine in the books that I read, that I just can’t buy into the “having sex with total stranger”. If I were falling in love with someone(s), then I would not just jump into bed with anyone else. I comprehend for many out there this is not an issue, and I make no judgment other than saying I probably won’t review or read those type of books very often.
Another example, you’ve seen some of those books on Amazon where there are 10 men on the cover. This woman has a committed relationship with 10 people, really? At some point I just have to go, “I don’t think so.” Not to mention, if the book length is at best 200 pages, how much time must we go through just to have sex with the 10 guys? I need plot people! So, I don’t tend to read those types of erotica and I am not interested in a lesbian love story. Again, that is a personal choice, no reflection of anyone’s sexual orientation.
I would like to mention one last thing on the erotica subject. Often, these authors start at places like Ellora’s Cove where (based on their writing style) perhaps they have not done a lot of writing professionally before. I also wonder if in some cases, the publishers are very prescriptive in how the book is written, in that case, the author might want to have more character development, but the publisher says no.
A good example of this is Lora Leigh’s Breed Series. At some point about halfway through the series she must have changed publishers and the quality of the story improved dramatically. The first few books just seemed like rampant, rough sex for no real decent reason (a very thin plot device). Around book 7, Megan’s Mark, she went to Berkley Sensation from Ellora’s Cave and I noticed a significant transformation in quality. What caused this change to be so noticeably different? Did she get a better copy-editor? Was she allowed/encouraged to write more character development? I mean no disrespect to any publisher or author; this is simply my observation.
So, what’s the conclusion? Just because an author starts in erotica or a certain genre of erotica does not mean they are a bad writer or that they will never write a good book. Sometimes you just have to take a chance, or like I did with Ms. Leigh, stick with her and really enjoy the later books.
Will I take requests for reviews?
Yes, I imagine so. Right now I am working on going through some of my favorite authors and series up and running, but I imagine I will be ready to read and review new authors soon. As I have said before, I am looking for the HEA end with committed “in love” partners. I generally am not interested in lesbian love stories or someone who has sex with lots of random people. Note that this is a romance book review blog, while I do read more than just romances, I generally only will review novels that have a HEA.
So, who are you Bea?
Well, just a bit about me. I have been married for 13 years to a wonderful man who has greatly benefited by my love of reading romances. I have a BA in history and a Masters in Psychology with a boring full-time job. I have aspirations of being an author someday, and my goal is to write a paranormal series that has a principal series plot, within individual books an additional novel plot related to each couple. I have written one book already (poorly and hidden somewhere on a disk) and I am trying my hand at writing again for real.
Thanks for hanging out with me!