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
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...