Tag Archives: reviewing

Making lists, checking them twice.

27 Aug

This post has existed in draft form for…well, yikes, almost two full years. Something came to light yesterday, that made me come back to it. And you, lucky readers, get to read my thoughts.

As I’ve mentioned before here and elsewhere, I do have a list of authors who, in my opinion, behave badly.¹  And, since my time, emotional labor, energy, and money, are limited, I quite simply refuse to even try their work. It’s still, at least in this small area, a free country.

By the same token, I have a much, much, much longer list of incredible people who are authors who will always get my support.

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Vanguard, by Ann Aguirre

17 Aug

Please be advised: back in 2009, I was Ms Aguirre’s virtual assistant, for about ten months. I was also one of the first beta readers for Razorland, the manuscript that became Enclave, the first novel set in this world.

Despite how much I like Ms Aguirre’s work, I have not reviewed any of the novels in the series, or anything else by her written or published after 2008, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Given that said relationship, as well as my beta reading any of her work, ended about eight years ago, I decided I would review this novel, no matter what. Keep in mind that we are still friendly online.

I was lucky to get an ARC about three weeks ago; I really wanted to publish this review on release day, but…well, you know what happens to plans.

Caveat: there is some violence on the page, as well as violence in most of the characters’ past.

Vanguard, by Ann Aguirre

This story is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is recovering from, basically, a zombie plague. (Except these are not truly zombies.)

If you have not read the Razorland books, you will definitely have questions about what happened before, especially because there are repeated references to past events, by pretty much all characters. You will also have questions because the world is presented with very little background explanation. It’s not hard to extrapolate and come up with your own conclusions as to what brought the world to this point, but if you truly want all the whys and wherefores, you will end up reading the rest of the series.

Which is pretty damned good, so it’s a win-win.

If you are a fan of the Razorland series, you should know that this is not the beginning of a second trilogy; it is not even a direct continuation of the original trilogy. You should also know that Vanguard is told in third person, from three deep points of view. This is Tegan’s story–one I had very much hoped to read since meeting her in the ruins, during the events narrated in Enclave.

Oh, alright; it’s also about Szarok and Morrow, but the best parts are about Tegan.

Here, have a blurb:
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Writing diversity: sensitivity readers

23 May

Originally posted to the Literature forum at MyMedia. I have imported a few
of those posts here under the Publishing tag, if you are interested.

While it may seem, particularly when reading the “classics”¹ and the ‘great literary fiction masters’¹ that there is a default in characterization (heroes are straight able bodied white cis males, and most often, of Anglo Saxon descent), the reality is that people come in many more flavors than that.

In the past few years, readers who do not fit this ‘universal’ characterization, have started seeing themselves represented in the fiction they pay good money to read, in still small but increasing percentages.

All good, right?

Except, not all representation is good representation.

If the one homosexual/non-binary/non-gender conforming character in the work is written as a deviant.
If the one person of color is either a criminal or a victim.
If the one immigrant speaks broken or no English.
If the one female character with speaking lines is there exclusively to either be killed or rescued.
If the one neuro atypical person is either a savant or an idiot.

In short: if whatever diversity is there, consists of clichés, that representation is more harmful than the outright absence of anyone who doesn’t conform to the white, straight, male characters of yore.

Enter sensitivity readers.

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So, about that “writing reviews” thing…

19 Apr

As some of you may know, I am a moderator at MyMedia, which started as one of the biggest LOST discussion forums back in September 2004. I cross-post most of my reviews over there, and recently I was asked to write a quick and dirty primer for the movie review subforum.

After a bit of thought, I realized it addresses one of my main pet peeves about reviewing (i.e., what makes for a good review). The post is after the fold, minus the bits that pertain specifically to MyMedia; I also have added a few further thoughts after it.

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State of things chez aztec

3 Jul

Those of you who check this place regularly may have noticed that I have been…well, mostly absent, for the past few weeks.

Without going into detail, life is sucking out loud at the moment.

Among other things, I’m in the midst of the worst reading slump I remember–ever.

I have not read anything new since the last TBR Challenge book I reviewed, Boots & Bagdes, sometime mid-May. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I haven’t been able to read anything–at all–since mid-June.

For someone who usually reads four to five books a week, this has been hell.

In desperation, I looked up audiobooks.

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Well, then, that’s a hell of a note.

5 May

Yet another rant, yet another what the fuck moment chez aztec.

On Sunday, Wendy posted her feelings about the current state of the romance blogging community.

On Monday, Sunita posted her reaction to that post.

Below are my responses to both blog posts, in the order I posted them.

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Some ways in which reading romance novels improves your life

12 Mar

I wrote the post below the fold for this forum, and published it there originally on March 5th, 2015.

I have been a member there (in both its incarnations) since September 2004, most of that time as a moderator. It is hard to keep a place like that afloat, for it costs money and there’s never a lot of that around. The owner of record most often has to bail us out and pay for server space, etc out of his own pocket. To encourage people to stick around and perhaps use the affiliate links, I try to create content when I can. I also re-post my reviews there, eventually (I’m a couple of months behind at present).

There are over 250 of my reviews posted there. I would say that about 99% of them are for romances of one flavor or another. In all the years I’ve been posting all those reviews, I can count with the fingers of one hand the people who have come out and said, “Oh, I read romance” or “Oh, I’ve read that one.”

The number of people who have read those reviews, though, can number in the thousands, and I’m told there are some purchases from the links therein. The stigma of being a romance reader, at least in that community, is very marked. Hence, my occasionally tweaking the members a bit.

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