Ranty Runt’s Rants

Hated the book, love the author.

Ranty Runt's Rants

Something devastating has just happened. I’d been waiting for a new book by one of my favourite authors, a long awaited follow up to a favourite novel. Once I had it in my hot little hands I cracked it open and started reading with glee.

Only to find I didn’t like it. The story was boring and then things got even worse. This author started to offend me. Casual racism and sexism. Rape culture being endorsed. I was positively seething. This wasn’t what I expected from one of my favourite authors. I started to hope that this was written by a ghost writer, and I couldn’t believe that I hoped that one of my favourite authors hadn’t written his book. I’d spent my hard earned on this, and it wasn’t worth it.

On top of the fact that I was offended to my very core, the characters were flat and one dimensional, the plot was badly constructed and boring. The novel read like a first draft. I knew that the author wrote a series of independently books that dealt with harder (as in violent) subject matter, but this book was a follow-up to one of his traditionally published novels. It was a follow up to a thriller that wasn’t overly sadistic. Violence is one thing, but torture and sadism for the sake of a thrill is a whole different ballgame.

I want to review this book. Usually I would have no problem giving a negative book review, I’ve done a few. But I’ve never ripped a book to shreds that was penned by one of my favourite authors. I’ve raved and recommended this author to lots of people on the internet and in real life, and I don’t feel right giving an honest review of this book when I’m such an advocate for this author. He re-blogs my reviews, comments on them and such. It just seems awkward. I’m not going to share the author’s name, but I’m sure if you’re interested you can wait for my review that corresponds with this discussion post.

I’m going to review the book. I’ve written some of my ideas, but it’s brutally honest. I was wondering how other bloggers deal with this conundrum when reviewing a favourite author. Do you still post detailed reviews of books that you’ve hated, even by a favourite author? Do you keep things short and sweet? Or do you just skip reviewing that title? Is there etiquette here? Has posting a negative review ever backfired on you? I want advice, my book blogging friends. Help me please.

Other installments in Ranty Runt’s Rants:

The worst time to love a reader
My personal war on romance
Breaking a blogging slump
Hated the book, love the author

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Breaking a Blogging Slump: 5 tips

Ranty Runt's Rants

I gave myself permission to take a break from blogging in July of this year – I had crazy work and study commitments and I was working in a country area, 4 hours away from my home. So it was okay, in my mind, to not blog until mid – late August. The break was not meant to include the months of September, October and November. That was a bona-fide blogging slump, accompanied by a reading slump. I made no blog posts and read a book a month, instead of a book a week.

I forgot I was a book blogger – and I knew it was bad when I deleted the WordPress app from my phone. I was still using twitter, and luckily I started reading again, which lead me back to the blog.

Here are 5 ways that can help you break a blogging slump, if you find your blogging a little lackluster.

  1. Read blogs – give yourself half an hour to scroll through your ‘reader’ feed, or check in at bloglovin’, if you have one. If you spend 30 minutes reading what is happening in other people’s lives, and checkout their book enthusiasm; you will probably see something that inspires you, or something that gives you some ideas of what to do next.
  2. Join a challenge or set a goal – I joined the #12forXmas challenge, in which I attempt to read 12 books in December. Joining a challenge, especially a reading challenge, is a great way to break a slump because it gives you two types of content – posts about the challenge itself (eg. sign ups, progress posts) and books to review on your blog!
  3. Read a book you won’t resist blogging about – Be it a new release from your favourite author, a book that the book blogging community is currently raving about or a classic that you think you will hate. Choose a book to read and review that you know you will have opinions about – and then blog about it!
  4. Commit to blogging for 15 minutes – I’m a big fan in telling myself that I can do anything for 15 minutes, so make it your goal to write a draft of a blog post in 15 minutes. Tell yourself that after 15 minutes you have permission to walk away. I find that once I start typing and thinking, I’m happy to continue until I have something publishable.
  5. Talk to someone in real life about your blog – Take a few minutes to bring up your blogging with a friend or family member, or even a complete stranger. The best way of ensuring new content is to then give the URL of your blog to that person, it will inspire you to put something new on the blog so that your friend (family, stranger) doesn’t look up your blog and think you are a weirdo for talking up a blog you haven’t updated for months.

Whatever you do – once you have your mojo back, take advantage and get back into the swing of things again, get writing, get interacting and enjoy the process! Blogging is fun, but just like reading, you can go through productive and quiet times, it’s just important to have a few ideas on how to get back into the swing of things again.

Do you have any sure-fire ways of breaking a slump? Do you find that you have blogging/reading slumps at certain times of the year? Is it a cycle? Do you just burn out? Run out of ideas?

Other installments in Ranty Runt’s Rants:

The worst time to love a reader
My personal war on romance
Breaking a blogging slump

My Personal War on Romance…

Ranty Runt's Rants

There have been some excellent posts recently about “romance shaming” and the battle that female authors have to be recognised and appreciated. Karin Kallmaker posted a series of great responses to an article published in the National Post, written by Jowita Bydlowska, that dismissed works in the romance genre as being lesser and lamenting that her novel wasn’t appreciated, as it should have been, by fans of these ‘lesser works.’

I’ve been sitting on a post for the past week about romance novels and cliché, but a series of very interesting articles about the romance genre made me reconsider my own viewpoint. The following is some of the thoughts that I have had about my reading habits in the past week.

I posted a comment to a very interesting blog about clichés that discussed which clichés readers enjoyed and  abhorred, and I noticed that my response was solely about clichés I disliked in the romance genre – a genre I hardly read.

Honestly, I don’t read any romance, and the few I have read over the years have been ones set by my English professors. I value the genre as much as any other, I acknowledge that many of the greatest works of literature fall under the umbrella of romance, but I just haven’t enjoyed reading them. I read action novels, thrillers and books about men saving the world from nuclear disaster. It is possible that I will come to love the romance genre as I currently love thrillers, I have no idea where my interests are headed, and I like the mystery of the journey. I considered all of this evidence of not dismissing romance, and thought to myself –  I’m obviously okay because I don’t hold romance in lesser esteem than other genres.

I WAS WRONG.

I’ve taken a critical look over my reading lists, and have been disappointed in myself. I may not read romance (which is fine!) but there was a more important group missing from my goodreads read list – female authors.

  1. Of the 24 books I’ve read this year so far, only 1 was written by a woman. (I disliked it because I chose to read from a genre I don’t usually enjoy.)
  2. Last year I read 4 books by female authors. FOUR. Two of the four were prescribed in my university reading list.
  3. I generally give lower ratings to female authors.

The above three points make me ill. They make me want to take action, however, I’m not about to read a bunch of classics written by women to fix this skew in my reading. I’ll rate them lower (I tend to rate classics on a more critical scale, genre fiction on level of enjoyment) and lead to more of point 3 occurring. Also, I want to help female authors in the now – the women who have written excellent books but can’t get a foot in the door because they are writing for male dominated genres.

I’ve never been asked to review my reading habits, and my excuse in my head for the imbalance in male vs. female authors, is that the genres I read are male dominated domains. Which is definitely true, you don’t see much military fiction or military non-fiction being written by women. But just because I don’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I need to hunt out female authors who write in the genres I enjoy reading, and add them to my reading list. Not only will I get to explore more authors, but they will also gain a reader (and sometime reviewer), and although I personally won’t change anything for that author, maybe if enough people make the same decision, it would.

I’d also like to think more critically about the characters in the books I read. In ‘Death Force,’ a book I finished a week ago, the main character had a female love interest (it’s always hetero-normative too) and she made breakfast for a group of soldiers. All throughout the book the men had been making breakfast for one another, so this didn’t seem odd or offensive – it was the following line (and I’ve returned the book to the library so this isn’t a direct quote) that jumped out and slapped me in the face – ‘that it was good for the men to have a woman cook them breakfasts, because it was like a piece of normalcy.’ Like seriously, WTF. The mental picture of every man having a woman in the kitchen cooking him breakfast, as is her job? I hate it.

I’d like more female characters in the books I read to be complex, involved and strong. I don’t think of women in terms of men’s love interests, and that is how we are always portrayed in action novels. I’m not saying I only want to read female characters saving the world single handed-ly, but on occasion maybe we sould be given that honour. Only if it doesn’t inconvenience the worldview of the author, of course.

 

Other installments in Ranty Runt’s Rants:

The worst time to love a reader
My personal war on romance
Breaking a blogging slump

Waiting for the next book in a series – the worst time to love a reader

Ranty Runt's Rants

 

 

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I am sure some of you may have realised I am a fangirl. I try not to be, I try to hold back, but for a couple of days before the new Spider Shepherd book comes out (or the next book in a series I love), I just can’t help myself. I’m full of discussing Spider, I keep telling my boyfriend that it will be delivered to my kindle before the week is out (THE 14TH, just in case you were wondering), and I even let a spider live yesterday – just because I couldn’t kill anything called Spider (I think I am becoming superstitious, but I thought if I killed that huntsman spider, maybe White Lies would feature a chapter with the death of my hero, and I couldn’t have that).

I’ve also formed a ritual around the release of the latest instalment – and it is a little bit embarrassing. The day before the book is released I ensure my kindle is fully charged and I start checking it (who knows, maybe they will release it early? By accident? Because I LOVE SPIDER SHEPHERD?) every couple of hours.

On the day the book is released the obsessive checking becomes hourly, or even bihourly. When I have work, I take my Wi-Fi device with me so I can sync my kindle at work. A couple of hours into the release day, I start wondering that maybe my device is broken (OR MAYBE THEY FORGOT TO RELEASE IT! MAYBE AMAZON HAS GONE OUT OF BUISNESS! MAYBE THE REST OF THE WORLD IS DEAD AND ONLY AUSTRALIA IS LEFT, SO WHY DO I CARE ABOUT A BOOK?). Obviously at this stage I have gone insane, and having a conversation with me would be painful.

Once I see the new book is being downloaded, I notify my friends and family that I have a terrible sore throat and therefore they should not call me, visit me or expect anything from me. I also inform them that I expect to feel better in a day or two. My boyfriend who shares space with me is informed that if he ever wants to touch me again, he needs to give me some peace, and no I will not watch (insert awesome TV show here) with him. SPIDER SHEPHERD IS IN MY KINDLE! PRIORITIES!

I then sit on the couch (or maybe don’t bother getting out of bed) and read. I do nothing else. No housework, no uni work, no cooking. I eat whatever is in the cupboard. As soon as the TV is turned on, I go to another room. I also start to check to see if other people have goodreads rated it, and what their ratings are. I am still obsessed, but I can start to see that this isn’t going to last forever (only 100 pages left! OMG, what will I do when it is over?)

When I finish it, I have a short depressed period of a couple of minutes, thinking about the wait for the next in the series. I also tend to read lots of other books straight afterwards, as if reading my favourite series excites the reader in me – I’ll knock over five or six books in a week. And I then call my dad and sister and fake a sore throat, but say I am feeling much better.

The problem is, this year, I am on holidays and am not going to be able to have an internet connection while I am gone. I have to wait until the 18th to read White Lies, so I can’t participate in the above crazy ritual.

I was wondering, does anyone else have crazy rituals or superstitions like mine around books? How do you deal with the release of a favourite author’s novel? Do you get over excited? Will you share with me? Or am I just batshit insane?

Other installments in Ranty Runt’s Rants:

The worst time to love a reader
My personal war on romance
Breaking a blogging slump