Elmore Leonard said: I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances ''full of rape and adverbs.''

Sunday, 10 February 2008

TWENTY FOUR REVIEWS AND A POLL

Polls are good fun and I regret not taking part in last year's top 100.

So I thought the AAR Annual Readers Poll would be a great opportunity to atone for that piece of laziness. Just one problem: I haven't read a great many books published in 2007 and there are 32 categories in the poll. 32. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I didn't read much last year, and what I read was sometimes uninspiring. However, to rectify the matter, I have spent the past week and a half catching up on some of the notable reads of 2007. Namely, If His Kiss Is Wicked, Untouched, Never Deceive a Duke and Not Quite a Lady.

This brings my total reads in 2007 to an underwhelming 24, which I have put in a groovy table (there's no stopping me). Of those 24, I've highlighted the books that stood out for me in particular.

Behold! (Or, rather, squint... Clicking on it will make it bigger. Shut up.)

It's clear my ballot is severely compromised by my limited reading and I am left with some troubling questions.

9 books for 32 categories? Is 32 categories 22 too many? Can I really say Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night was the best paranormal of 2007 when I've only read two other Paranormals from the same year? Why haven't I read any Sci-Fi? Why is there a 'tortured hero' yet no 'tortured heroine' category? Can't heroines be tortured? They seem like increasingly tortured creatures to me.

How can I create proper tables on blogger?

ETA: Creating a proper table will take me a few more sleepless nights. Watch this space.

19 comments:

RfP said...

I don't even try to keep up with current releases, so I don't do this kind of poll. The 22 categories does seem a little like kindergarten--surely there's a category for "Books that might cry if they don't get a prize"?

I can't read your table, so let me try to help. There's an HTML code to start the table, a code to start each table-row (TR), and a code for each piece of table-data (TD). So a small table looks like this as you write your post:

<TABLE>
<TR>

<TD>Row 1, cell 1 <TD>Row 1, cell 2
<TR>
<TD>Row 2, cell 1 <TD>Row 2, cell 2
</TABLE>

(You did ask.)

In practice it's easier to use this site to create the code so you can just copy it into your post.

Laura Vivanco said...

I think AAR needs more categories. You know, for "romance with the most interesting political sub-text," "presents the biggest challenge to gender expectations within the genre," "most effective use of symbolism" etc.

To be serious, I love reading romances and writing about them, but I can't rank them. I'm almost incapable of giving a book a grade/mark because I start thinking about how subjective my opinion is, and then I think of something that was interesting in the novel and then I stare the entry form and give up.

I can't read your table, so let me try to help.

And RfP does it again! She was the person who taught me how to create footnotes in Blogger, and I shall always be grateful to her for that.

RfP said...

I think AAR needs more categories.

I like your categories better than AAR's. That's what I would do if I created my own "best" list. But I assume the types and number of categories are driven by the intended use of the list. The way both AAR polls are structured suggests they're meant partly as a resource for readers looking for niche plots ("best use of symbolism" wouldn't help there) and partly as a conversation starter.

I can't rank them... because I start thinking

I have to fill in those answers very fast or not at all. Engaging my critical faculties stops everything. So I suppose your categories would give me fits....

Laura Vivanco said...

The way both AAR polls are structured suggests they're meant partly [...] as a conversation starter.

You're not suggesting that "read any good symbolism lately?" would be a conversation stopper, are you? ;-)

RfP said...

Symbolism can be a conversation starter, but it's all in the framing. "Read any good symbolism lately?" might work better than "What's new in semiotics?" but not quite as well as "Phallic cover art ahoy!"

Tumperkin said...

This is why I've never even attempted the AAR poll. The current release thing isn't how I read. I cast about, looking looking, then I read something that gets me and I glom that author like crazy.

Meriam said...

Thanks RfP. I anticipate a thrilling Friday night in font of the my laptop. Speaking of thrilling, I just completed my first ever Sodoku puzzle! And it was a hard. So that's two hours of my life I'm never getting back.

I think AAR needs more categories. You know, for "romance with the most interesting political sub-text," "presents the biggest challenge to gender expectations within the genre," "most effective use of symbolism" etc.

TMT needs an annual poll like this! You could have the Julie Bindel Award for Best Subversion of Patriarchal Gender Relations. Or, indeed, the Bindel Award for Best Rape Fantasy.

To participate in the AAR poll I had to make my choices really quickly, like snap judgments, because thinking overly long leads to much vacillating and second-guessing of the ballot (much like RfP). And like Tumperkin, I don't really make a point to read 'current releases.' If I find an author I like (last year it was Lynn Viehl, Shana Abe and Kresley Cole for example) I'll read their backlog.

But I do love polls, even silly ones, so I'm going to set my reservations aside and have at it. Not to mention, I actually read four books in my overwhelming and guilt-inducing tbr pile because I wanted to broaden my selection of 2007 reads. For that, AAR have my gratitude.

Anyway. I've got a table to build.

RfP said...

I haven't done the poll because it takes a few steps. I rarely know the release date of anything I read, and lists of the year's romance titles don't tell me much (bah for bad titles) so it takes a little research.

I'd hoped to get home early tonight and do a little reading/writing. But now I'm thinking of doing the AAR poll....

Meriam said...

Go on! See how many books you can fit into 32 categories...

Laura Vivanco said...

TMT needs an annual poll like this! You could have the Julie Bindel Award for Best Subversion of Patriarchal Gender Relations. Or, indeed, the Bindel Award for Best Rape Fantasy.

Yes, that could be fun. But Laurie Likes Books has mentioned the statistics for the AAR poll so often that I'd be scared to try. Me and maths are not best friends.

Anyway. I've got a table to build.

Sounds like you've just got back from Ikea ;-)

RfP said...

I voted, but I suspect my ballot will get tossed because I disliked much of my 2007 romance reading--which left only a couple of authors I was willing to call "best". I left a number of categories blank because I did read in those categories but didn't care for them.

This is why I don't make an effort to read new releases. I have better luck browsing by my own preferences, not by the limited current selection the publishers present.

I must say, AAR's idea of an unbiased poll is not mine. Pointing readers to their review search engine for ideas? I couldn't find several of my favorites from last year through their search. And the idea that someone like me who leaves categories blank is trying to stuff the ballot... that's really unfortunate, as it eliminates the "protest votes" and the unhappy readers.

RfP said...

Aha, you've biggened your table. I can read it.

Yes, the recent Howard and Leigh books are rather impressively terrible. Leigh at least keeps her story moving; Howard's last book was so repetitious it sounded written by committee.

Meriam said...

I'm already re-thinking some of my choices. Like, most-hanky read. I put Broken down, but it didn't make me cry. It didn't even make me want to cry. I just chose it because it was the most obviously 'sad' novel... but it isn't really. And then there's 'best villain'... I didn't read any great villains, but I chose If His Kiss is Wicked because it had the last memorable villain I read... ugh. Most guiltiest read. Why is Stuart my guiltiest read? I love her. I have no guilty reads. Unless, you count Shannon McKenna, which I guess I could.

Back to the drawing board.

Yeah, Tanner's Scheme was the first Lora Leigh I read and it was pretty unbelievable. Biology is destiny!

RfP said...

You're putting far more thought into this than I did :)

Leigh actually can write, but the Breeds books have gone downhill horribly. I criticized Harmony's Way (Breeds book 11, yikes), and I wrote a pretty negative short rating of Tanner's Scheme on Library Thing.

If you're up to reading about a family ménage à quatre (or à six), strange and squicky as they are, I think Leigh's Men of August books are better written. The psychodrama can be just as bad as the biological imperative to mate, but I think the August books are more truly erotic romance, whereas the later Breed books have wandered off into paranormal erotica.

Jill D. said...

Meriam, I tagged you for a meme... I hope you participate :)

By the way, I think you can vote Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night as the best paranormal even if it was the only paranormal you read. (It was the best, imo).

Sherry Thomas said...

And I thought the Ritas had too many categories.

Seriously--and I've said this every time the topic of the quantity of categories in romance awards has come up--if the movie crowd is ruthless enough to crown one best movie a year, and surely there are as many genres of motion picture as there are subgenres in romance, why can't we do the same?

Okay, yes, flawed analogy, I know. There's a best documentary, best animated feature, best animated short and whatnot whatnot.

Still, if all genres of live-action motion picture can compete for the honor of becoming the One Film to Rule Them All, why can't we just effing have a One Romance to Rule them all, period?

Btw, crackin' table.

Meriam said...

Well, I voted, with a few alterations, and I was fairly satisfied with my choices. To be honest, I didn't LOVE or HATE anything all that much, which is probably why this was harder than it ought to have been. Plus, there were like a zillion categories... oh, have I mentioned that already?

Jill - By the way, I think you can vote Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night as the best paranormal even if it was the only paranormal you read. (It was the best, imo).
You're probably right. I enjoyed it very much. Out of all of them, though, I enjoyed No Rest for the Wicked the best. I just loved Kaderin the Cold Hearted. How cool was she?

(Will check out the meme)

Sherry:
Btw, crackin' table.
You jest, surely? I feel so lame for having given up on the html table RfP told me about. It just didn't look right (large gaps and white spaces), but I'm determined to conquer it... one day.

Btw, I like your new website.

why can't we just effing have a One Romance to Rule them all, period?
Indeed, and well said!

RfP said...

I feel so lame

Hey, once you made your pink-n-white table clickable... problem solved.

RfP said...

Oopsy, cut this off:

why can't we just effing have a One Romance to Rule them all

It sounds like AAR thinks they get a fair amount of "ballot stuffing" as it is (though as I said above, I think they sometimes mis-identify it). If there were just One Ultimate Romance per year, the stakes would be higher and they would be inundated with stuffed ballots. (Especially since AAR posts interim results--my feeling is that the only reason to post those is to spur fans to vote for "their" author.)

For that matter, how many email addresses do I have? HMMMM. Thoughts for next year. Watch for a mysterious 12,000 votes for Steve Almond under "Biggest glom".