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Friday, February 13, 2009

TBIF: Thank blog it's Friday (the 13th)! This week in memes

Mailbox Monday, hosted at The Printed Page


I'm not sure whether I should really include these books in "Mailbox Monday," since I don't normally announce books that I buy in posts. Also, technically, these were left at my door by UPS and weren't in the mailbox. But they did come from Amazon.com, and were mostly paid for by gift certificate, so in a way someone else bought them (or at least two of them, anyway).

Enough with the rationalizing - here are the new arrivals:


American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld - I've been waiting for this one to come out in paperback for months, and I don't have to wait any longer.

Janeology, by Karen Harrington - I decided not to wait any longer, especially after I remembered that I had a gift-certificate balance on Amazon, and bought this one in hardcover. I love Karen's blog, and I have read so many good reviews of her novel; I'm looking forward to reading it for myself!

Fool, by Christopher Moore - Mr. Moore is on the very short list of authors whose books get purchased in hardcover every time, especially when I'm not lucky enough to score an ARC/review copy (like Sheri from Bookopolis did). Truthfully, my husband's going to read this one first anyway - Happy Valentine's Day, honey! (FYI - "the author guy" is in Santa Monica tonight and Northridge tomorrow for the book tour, and we can't make it to either appearance! If anyone goes, please tell me all about it!)

Have you gotten your hands on any new books this week?


Tuesday Thingers: Questions for LibraryThing users, hosted at Wendi's Book Corner

This week, our question surrounds the importance you place on starred (or other similar rating systems) reviews.

Today's question: Do you use a rating system on your blog? How do you feel about using the rating system provided on sites like Library Thing and Amazon? When looking up information on a book you are interested in, do you use the ratings provided by these sites (or similar sites) to help you make the decision on purchasing the book?

My Answer: When I first started blogging book reviews, I didn't have a rating scale, nor did I plan on using one. A member of my in-person book club (who seems to have retired from blogging, sadly) asked me about adding a rating to the reviews - she thought it would be helpful. It didn't mean much more work for me, so I started using ratings, and have stuck with it.

I use a five-point scale, but it's roughly analagous to a school grading system, with 3=C=Average, and I adjust up or down from there, with 5 being the highest. I'm not sure I've given any book that rating...yet, but it could happen. I also use quarter-points to fine-tune the rating; for example, 3.75 isn't an unusual score. But for me, the rating is an add-on - my goal in a review post is to convey my opinions in my discussion/comments, and I definitely emphasize that more.

I almost always use the star ratings on LibraryThing once I finish a book, since I can rate it before I get my review written up and linked there; I really appreciate that they allow for half-stars, since that more closely approximates my own scale. I do like to check out the average star ratings of the books I add to LT, but they don't really sway me much on Amazon - if I've gone there, I've probably already decided that I want the book. I use Amazon mostly for purchasing and not so much for book or product reviews and information, since there are so many other places to find that.

If you review, do you rate?

Teaser Tuesday, hosted at Should Be Reading

I received this book in ARC form a couple of weeks ago; it's being published this month, and it's next up in the TBR queue.

"And best of all, her neighbors had grown accustomed to taking her advice. She'd proven, over time, to be right about almost everything, and it was flattering to know that her calm, rational decision-making skills were recognized and admired." (page 242)

- True Colors, by Kristin Hannah



Booking Through Thursday: Authors Talking 

Suggested by Barbara H.:
A comment on someone else’s BTT question this week inspired this question:
Do you read any author’s blogs? If so, are you looking for information on their next project? On the author personally? Something else?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

The more I thought about this question, the more complicated it got. I read some blogs written by people who have published books, but I don't necessarily think of them as "author blogs." Pamela Ribon, author of Why Girls Are Weird and Why Moms Are Weird, is a veteran blogger at Pamie.com, and Linda Holmes, NPR's pop-culture blogger at Monkey See, co-wrote the uncoventional dating guide Why You’re Still Single. But I first encountered both of them when they were TV-show recappers at Television Without Pity, and I just keep following them around.

A couple of the bloggers I follow have written books but haven't found publishers (yet). With luck, someday I'll be able to call Karen Funk Blocher of Outpost Mâvarin and Susan Helene Gottfried at West of Mars: The Meet and Greet "authors I knew when" - assuming they're still blogging, of course. (And why wouldn't they be?)

But I'm pretty sure this question was meant to be a lot more straightforward, so in answer: yes, I do read several authors' blogs, although in a few cases, I haven't read any of their books. I found John Scalzi's blog Whatever via the aforementioned Pamie.com, and Beth Kephart came to my attention through other book bloggers. Lots of love for Neil Gaiman's Journal in this week's BTT responses made me jump on the bandwagon and add it to my Google Reader feeds, even though I haven't read any of his books either (although I saw Stardust and liked it a lot).

When I'm working on book reviews, I'll usually look for an author's website or blog so I can link to it, which is how I came across Michelle Richmond's blog, Sans Serif, Jancee Dunn's blog, and Susan Campbell's "Dating Jesus" blog (the book is in the review-copy TBR stack). All three of these authors share insights on the writing life, but they emphasize different things: Susan posts about religious topics with a skeptical twist; Jancee doesn't blog often, but she tends to make offbeat observations; and Michelle's blog includes topical commentary as well as the occasional book or movie review.

I don't read a lot of "chick lit," but I make an exception for Jennifer Weiner, whose blog A Moment of Jen isn't truly a "blog" in one important sense - no interactivity or space for comments, although you can e-mail her - but it's updated once a week with her chatty observations.

My favorite author blog is probably Karen Harrington's blog, Scobberlotch, which I mentioned in the "Mailbox Monday" section of this post. I love it partly for the content - some of which is writing-related, some of which is just funny and random - and partly because Karen is truly part of the blogging community. She even participates in memes like Wordless Wednesday and BTT (although I don't think she answered this particular question).

For the most part, I don't think what I look for in an author's blog is different from what I look for in anyone else's - I like good writing (not usually a problem) and varied content; a unique voice; and only as much self-promotion as is strictly necessary.

Do you have any favorite blogs that are authored by authors?


Friday Fill-ins #111

And...here we go!

1. It seems like February lasts a lot longer than 28 (and sometimes 29) days.

2. Clean up your dishes and put the leftovers away when you're done, please?

3. If I thought you would eat them I'd buy more vegetables!

4. The fun we have together is what I think of most when I think of you.

5. To me, Valentine's Day means restaurants will be crowded and roses will be overpriced.

6. A good breakfast and a cup of coffee gives me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to getting ready to go out of town for the three-day weekend, tomorrow my plans include a family dinner at Benihana with my husband, kids, and mother-in-law (yes, I know tomorrow's Valentine's Day, why do you ask?) and Sunday, I want to do something fun that keeps us out of the rain!

Be careful out there, y'all - it IS Friday the 13th, you know...

27 comments:

  1. Sure, we want to hear about books you buy, not just ones you got for free! I have Janeology on my wish list. I wonder when the paperback will be coming out?
    Hope you have a lovely weekend!

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  2. I really like the way you put all your thoughts in one post. So much to read and know so much about you. I like reading your blog..

    Authored, are we?!

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  3. I want to read Janeology too and can't find it in any bookstores. I guess I'm going to have to break down and order it too. Can't wait to see what you think of it.

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  4. Tanabata - If I post about the books that come back from the bookstore with me, it can't be part of "Mailbox Monday" :-). But maybe I'll start mentioning them anyway.

    The way these things usually go for me, Janeology will probably be out in paperback in just a few weeks or something.

    Yvonne - Same to you! Thanks for stopping by.

    Karen H. - For praising your blog, or for buying your book ;-)? In both cases, you are very welcome!

    Gautami - I like to draft my posts ahead of time and post only once a day, so this is how I deal with it. Since I do blog about other things besides reading and books, putting all the book memes in one post makes more room for other topics on other days. I'm afraid it makes for some really long posts on Fridays, but I'm glad to know you enjoy them!

    Kathy (Bermudaonion) - I kept forgetting to look for it when I was in bookstores, so I had already decided to buy it through Amazon - remembering I had a gift-certificate balance there sealed the deal :-).

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  5. I love the way you did this, Florinda! I don't always have time to do the individual memes, so this could work for me. I love seeing it all consolidated into one. So smart!!

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  6. I've been waiting to read Janeology too. Will likely order it soon.

    I see you got Empire Falls from the library. I loved that! But I like Russo. Haven't read that Sue Miller, but I've enjoyed other books of hers.

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  7. I agree with Tanabata! And I wish I'd thought to combine memes this week, since I haven't posted my BTT post yet (and now I feel a bit dumb posting Thursday's post after Friday's!).

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  8. LisaMM - I've been doing this for awhile, actually, for the reasons I mentioned in responding to Gautami's comment. Feel free to try it yourself - I love being a trendsetter :-).

    Billy Rhythm - And some days require an extra infusion of it.

    Beth F - That's actually the widget for my "library" on LibraryThing. Empire Falls has been living in TBR Purgatory for a while; maybe this will be the year it gets rescued.

    Avisannchild - If people are actually interested, I don't mind posting my new book acquisitions, no matter where they come from :-)!

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  9. Give it another week or so, then you'll be saying you knew me when.

    How's THAT for confidence?

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  10. I think you should list the ones you buy too.

    I really like the way you do all memes in one post, btw.

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  11. I read several author blogs. You've mentioned most if them (Scalzi, Pamie, Gaiman) but also Mary Robinette Kowal (who just her first two novels), Tobias Buckell and a few others. It's fun to read their thoughs about publishing, writing, etc.

    Have fun at Benihana. Make sure you catch the shrimp they fling at you! :)

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  12. I met Christopher Moore at a booksigning in Phoenix AZ once when I was visiting friends there; see here:

    http://www.geocities.com/tokyo/harbor/5896/phoenix99.html

    He was wicked nice!

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  13. Susan - I was thinking that it wouldn't be too long, but next week? Should we be looking for a big announcement from you?

    Lisa - I can do that. If people want to know about my new books, no matter how I get them, I'm happy to give the people what they want :-).

    Mike - I've checked out Mary Robinette Kowal's blog a few times based on your say-so :-).

    And I won't be catching shrimp unless I bring a mitt - those suckers are HOT :-D!

    Janet - I am officially envious that you've met Christopher Moore, and even more bummed that I'm missing the opportunity. Thanks :-). But I'm glad to know he was a nice guy, as well as being a funny one!

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  14. Thank you for stopping by the mailbox this week. Any book that made it into your house, except from the library, is fair game for 'Mailbox Monday'. I even list ones that are pdf files and arrive through email for my Kindle.

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  15. Marcia - Thanks for clarifying that. Since I'm not really a linrary-goer, I guess I'll be able to participate in Mailbox Monday more often than I thought, which is great!

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  16. I say go for it! For my purposes I look at Mailbox Mondays as simply my new book acquisitions, or all the books that came into my house in the past week, regardless of whether it was through the mail or not. (Guess I like twisting the rules, since I also don't make sure my teaser quote is between the 7th and 12th lines or whatever the "official" rules are.) Granted most of my books do come in the post either from ordering online or the occasional review copies and contest wins, but I do occasionally pick up a book or two at an English language bookstore. I usually mention where I got the books from in my post so I suppose the sticklers can ignore the ones that didn't have a stamp on them. ;)
    Now I've just noticed Marcia's comment above, so it's nice to know I haven't been breaking the rules all along!

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  17. Looking forward to True Colors by Kristin Hannah.
    Many have mentioned Jennifer and Karen's blogs, I am going to have to check them out. Enjoy your three day weekend.

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  18. Tanabata - I was glad that Marcia mentioned that too. That means I'll be able to join in more often. I make notes of where and when I get the books anyway - putting them into a post would be easy enough to do!

    Nise' - I'm hoping to start True Colors this weekend. I'd recommend checking out both of those blogs, definitely.
    Thanks for coming by!

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  19. I haven't resorted to quarter ratings yet, but it's probably coming. I do use halves an awful lot. :-)

    I took notes on your author blogs. Neil Gaiman's is definitely one I should be following.

    You are right about February. It always seems to be longer than it actually is.

    Hubby and I went out today for lunch and the restaurant wasn't too full. We only had to wait 5 minutes to be seated. It did seem though that a lot more people were out and about.

    I hope you are enjoying your weekend! Enjoy your new books!

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  20. Wendy (Literary Feline) - I think half-ratings are very handy, but sometimes I need to tweak it further, so I use the quarters.

    I've been reading good stuff about Neil Gaiman's blog for awhile, but hadn't subscribed since I haven't read any of his books. I decided not to let that hold me back any more.

    Since Paul is definitely going to read Fool before I do, I may try to coerce him into writing a review - wish me luck :-)!

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  21. Looks like you got some good books. Happy reading! Check out my blog this week. I'll be reviewing Susan Helene Gottfried's The Demo Tapes on Wed. and posting my interview with her on Thurs.

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  22. Anna - I'm planning to read that soon, and I'll look forward to your review and interview with Susan!

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  23. Regarding Tuesday Thingers: I like how you rate your books. I've always struggled at starting with a 3 for books I like. I always felt bad about receiving a C in school too - LOL! That is probably one of the reasons why I haven't started using ratings on my site yet, but I do continually think about it!

    Thanks for stopping by and participating in Thingers last week! I've got the post up for this week. ~ Wendi

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  24. Wendi - I know what you mean about not liking to get C's in school; I didn't either :-). But not everything rates at the top, so I decided to take the bell-curve approach.

    But I try to clarify why I gave a particular rating in my review comments, since I think that's more important.

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Now it's YOUR turn - speak your piece, please! Or just let me know you were here; I always like that. But you'll have to leave a name - I've disallowed anonymous comments due to some recent spam problems. Thanks!