Reader’s Rant #6: Pesky Ratings

(And yes, I’ll get back to addressing my hiatus, but I have an urge to write about this other thing and I’m running with it). 

Here’s the deal. I rate books based on my enjoyment of them. Or at least I do theoretically. There are times when I realize the book I’m reading is not for me, but I can recognize the value and quality of said book (geez, am I talking about entertainment or buying a new car?), and adjust accordingly. But then…is that fair? If I hated the reading experience, but still thought it was an excellent book (meaning the writing was stellar, and who am I to judge?) should I rate higher or lower? Does my experience count for fewer or greater stars? 

Over the last few months my husband and I have been watching a lot more movies, he more than I. He discovered a movie ratings social media site, and there is one aspect of the site that I like more than any of the book ratings I use: you can rate the movie like anything else (5-star scale), and you can also choose whether or not you liked it. I really like that and wish it could be incorporated into book ratings. I’m sure I’ve mentioned in posts that I rated something 4 stars for quality, and 3 stars for enjoyment, but to actually just say that this book was 4 stars, but I didn’t like it…yes! Exactly what I need. Because unless the book is simply a travesty (and I won’t review it in that case) I really don’t want to destroy an author’s hopes and dreams (very unlikely as I have a grand total of 50 followers. But STILL) because I didn’t enjoy their book. 

That was pretty much the extent of my light bulb moment.  I will come back to my hiatus in a different post. I’m gearing up to start posting again, but I have some things I want to do differently, and particular points I want to make. Until next time, my friends! Thank you for sticking with me.

Words aren’t enough

I’m going to take a deliberate pause from posting on here for a while (my pauses in the past were mostly due to apathy, tbh). My words about books seem worse than pointless right now, and until I develop the vocabulary  to know how to be the best ally I can be I think one less white voice on the internet is for the best.

My heart bleeds for the Black community. But my words and my pain aren’t enough. Black lives matter. Always and forever.

Girl, Woman, Other Book Review

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Date Read:  March 15, 2020
Title:  Girl, Woman, Other
Author:  Bernandine Evaristo
Genre:  Literary Fiction
Audience:  Fiction
Rating:  4 stars

Things I liked: Oh, what prose! This is such a beautifully written book. It felt like reading poetry. Which was the point, of course. Now I’m tempted to re-read it and this time read it out loud. I guess that is another reason why I don’t gravitate towards poetry – I like my words to form a story. Granted, I know some poetry tells a story. I just…feel kinda dumb trying to figure it out sometimes. 

I find it difficult to explain books like this, because not a lot actually happens. The story revolves around several women of color of different generations, all living in the UK. The women’s stories are all tangentially related to each other, and they loop in and out of each other’s lives/stories. I loved everything about this book. I read it so fast and couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended. 

Things I disliked:  As with any book that has a rotating POV (point of view), I did tend to get the characters confused at times. But again (and I feel like I say this often) I think this says more about me as a reader than anything about the book or the writer. 

Homie Book Review

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Date Read:  March 9, 2020

Title:  Homie

Author:  Danez Smith

Genre:  Poetry

Audience:  Adult

Rating:  5 stars

Things I liked:  Everything.  

Things I disliked:  Nothing 🙂 To be honest, I’m not a big reader of poetry. Some of this is because I lack the patience to read literature that uses language that is sometimes too opaque for my taste. But this book…I had all the feels for this collection, and can’t think of a single negative thing to say about it. If you’re looking for a wonderful collection of contemporary poetry you can’t go wrong by this book.

The Proposal review

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Date Read:  March 4, 2020
Title:  The Proposal
Author:  Jasmine Guillory
Genre:  Romance
Audience:  Adult
Rating:  4 stars

Things I liked:  Oh, the premise! Imagine having your not-so-serious boyfriend propose to you via jumbotron at a professional baseball game and then turn him down because duh. The whole idea is enough to make me…well, I don’t know, cry. But it makes for a great beginning to a romance novel! The part where the guy misspelled her name was classic. A handsome young doctor and his sister come to the woman’s rescue, and thus begins the tale. 

I was expecting some serious violence against  women, so I was particularly pleased to find that that didn’t come to fruition. 

Things I disliked:  I honestly don’t remember disliking anything about this one. I mean, I struggled with the same thing I mentioned in my post about The Wedding Party (see previous post), but overall this was a satisfying, fun read. 

The Wedding Party review

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Date Read:  March 4, 2020
Title:  The Wedding Party
Author:  Jasmine Guillory
Genre:  Romance
Audience:  Adult
Rating:  4 stars

Things I liked:  I very much enjoy the enemies to lovers trope. Guillory has resurrected my interest in contemporary romance, so there’s that, too. She tells a good story, and keeps me truly interested in the characters’ lives (until the point where I know bad stuff is going to happen; see below). This particular story is about a man and woman who share a mutual friend, but despise each other on sight. Or at least that’s what they think. Neither of them makes a good first impression, and they continue to believe their own prejudices for quite some time. Yeah, I’m fully aware of what I was referencing there, and it’s a good analogy. This is very much Pride & Prejudice, with more sex. The sex was fairly spicy, but I don’t remember it being over the top.

Oh, this is apparently the third book in the series, so you may want to start with the first (The Wedding Date). I read these completely out of order, but I didn’t mind the mild spoilers. 

Things I disliked:  This goes back to one of my Reader’s Rants. The best part of romance novels is the HEA (happily ever after). I KNOW this. And yet, every time I pick up a romance I binge read it right up to the part where I know the tension/climax (ha, pun not intended) is going to happen and then I set it down and ignore it for…sometimes weeks. I don’t know, I have a hard time reading about other peoples’ drama, sometimes. Even when I know it will turn out okay in the end. This is not an issue with Guillory or her book, this is a me issue and one I haven’t been able to overcome yet. 

Such a fun read, and perfect for a sick read. I got this book signed at the library conference I was at in February, which makes it even more special! Highly recommended.

Toil & Trouble

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Date Read:  February 13, 2020
Title:  Toil & Trouble
Author:  Augusten Burroughs
Genre:  Memoir
Audience:  Adult
Rating:  3.5 stars

Things I liked:  I’ve always enjoyed Burroughs’ voice. Literally and metaphorically, in this case, as I listened to this on audio. He’s both arrogant and self-deprecating. And though sometimes his complaints about himself can come across as humble bragging (and I have no doubt it is sometimes), it works for me.  I loved all the parts in which he describes his life with his husband, and their lives in their new home. All of the parts that had nothing to do with his witchcraft were my favorites. 

Things I disliked:  I read this for a book group and one of the book group members mentioned that this book felt like a scam and Burroughs was just making stuff up to sell books. And while I’ve gotten comfortable taking personal memoirs with a grain of salt I understand the concern. Burroughs believes he’s a witch. Okay. That is pretty hard to swallow. So yeah, my biggest complaint about this book is the sheer unbelievability of it. Truth be told, though…I want to believe.

Take it however you will, this is a highly entertaining memoir. 

January 2020 Wrap-Up

January 2020 Wrap-Up

Number of books read:  13
Popsugar Reading Challenge books read:  4
#1. A book that’s published in 2020: Shakespeare for squirrels by Christopher Moore
#35. A book with a 3-word title: Men at arms by Terry Pratchett
#38. A book by or about a journalist: The death and life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
#44. A book set in the 1920s: Island of the mad by Laurie R. King
Book of the Month books read: 0
OwlCrate Books read:  0
The Unread Shelf Project 2020 books read:  5 (wow, look at me go!)
Book group books read:  3
Average rating:  3.77

Favorite book:  Probably Shakespeare for Squirrels, even though I loved Wayward and The Body, too.

January was the last good reading month for me this year so far, so I’m glad I was able to enjoy myself while it lasted. No, I lie. March was a good month, too, but odd circumstances have driven that out of my head. In any case, January was definitely good. Here’s to more valuable reading time!

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Review: Island of the Mad

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Date Read:  January 29, 2020
Title:  Island of the Mad
Author:  Laurie R. King
Genre:  Mystery; Mary Russell series
Audience:  Adult
Rating:  3 stars

Things I liked:  Russell and Holmes, of course. I mean, I’m still a little disturbed at the age difference, and I never REALLY feel like I understand how or why their relationship works. But overall I love these two odd characters. The historical descriptions of Venice were also amazing, and I only wish there had been more. In general the book felt too short for the story she wanted to tell. 

Things I disliked:  I wanted to like this more than I did. The story and characters fell completely flat. Well, not completely, as I still gave it 3 stars. I will fully admit to some of this being my own fault, as I have not caught up with the series. So there are several books between this one and the last one I read that I have not read. 

This isn’t a series you can just jump around in, so my biggest takeaway is that I should have read the other books in between first. And I am definitely planning on it, as I do enjoy this series. 

I received a free copy of this from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. Thank you to LT and to Bantam, the publisher.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

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Date Read:  January 26, 2020
Title:  We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Author:  Shirley Jackson
Genre:  Horror
Audience:  Adult (perhaps teen)
Rating:  4 stars; 5 stars for the brilliance of the writing

Things I liked:  Wow. Just wow. This book made me so uncomfortable. In all the best ways, right? The writing is brilliant. The characters…brilliant. The setting…perfect. If you like a seriously unreliable narrator, and distinctly unlikeable side characters, with a dash of intrigue and psychological thriller/horror tossed in, this is the book for you. 

Things I disliked:  Um. This book is creepy AF. Not in the over-the-top blood and gore, violent and type of way, but in the psychological, WTF is going on in this person’s mind kind of way. There are limits to how much of this I can handle, and I did have to set it down for a while to read other books. Of course, a reader’s preference for horror is incredibly personal, so I’m sure this wouldn’t bother everyone as much as it did me. 

So, so good.