What More Could You Want in a Book Review Than Bacon and Ranting?

BACON!

One thing you may not know about me is my love of bacon.  In my early morning drowsy, I actually googled “the history of bacon,” just to see how far back I could live in the past and still eat bacon.  It seems there were many words for bacon like “backa” in Old Teutonic, which obviously refers to the back if we’re studying roots.

Lately, I’ve been really conscious of how far back I can go in time and still have my favorite things.

Let’s make a list, shall we?

  1. Indoor Lighting | I’m going to be safe and go late 1880’s here.
  2. Jeans | 1873 if you’re a man, it’s hard to say if you’re a woman.  And the 1873 stat means that you’re definitely wearing really starched overalls.
  3. Cupcakes | 1796 when the first mention of a cupcake was in American Cookery by Amelia Simmons.  She wrote, “a cake to be baked in small cups.”  It says nothing of whether icing was a factor.
  4. Books | 4,500 years before Gutenburg invented the printing press, books were written by hand.
  5. Libraries | Estimated at 2600 B.C., so I could really time jump for this one, but it would involve reading clay tablets in my free time.  And who’s to say I would even be allowed into the fortress where they were kept.  I’d have to wish queenliness on myself before traveling, and pack all my 20th century jewelry to look wealthy.
  6. Headbands | Possibly 475 B.C., formally known as head wreaths.
  7. Cats as Pets | We’re going with 12,000 years ago according to The Smithsonian.

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgeway

I’ve been thinking heavily about this after reading Bee Ridgeway’s The River of No Return this past week.  In this story people jump forward and backward in time, but are unable to change anything drastically for the future.  For instance, a lot of us would say “Let’s kill Hitler,” if we went back in time, but that wasn’t allowed according to time travel rules.  So, the benefits of time travel for women would be significantly less than the benefits for men.  I definitely wouldn’t want to go back to a time when women were lower class citizens who were never even able to own their own property.  I do not intend to be a “little wife” in any of my lifetimes.  (I suppose you don’t get to choose though).

@ The Penguin Blog: My Fantasy Britain

Bee Ridgeway uses the main character’s sister’s Claire and Bella to show us the inconsistencies of women during this time.  Claire is finally able to have control over her manor when her brother is found dead in Spain after the war.  It isn’t until his return through Guild operations that she loses all the control that she had.  Her brother, Nicholas Falcott, travels through time with a group known as the Guild.  You’ll have to read the book in order to see all the Guild’s tragedies and cheering throughout.  They are enemies with a group known as the Ofan.  The Ofan includes a pretty young thing who’s duties are to be seduced by a certain lover and share all her Ofan secrets for the good of the Guild.  It’s a complicated story of hate through generations.

Time Travel

The pretty young thing is a courtesan, but is shown living in her own house, doing as she pleases and wearing what she pleases.  It’s as if through sex, she has gained freedom.   Ridgeway obviously doesn’t delve into the mighty of this idea, but I found it interesting the places women took for wee bits of control.  Claire, Nicholas Falcott’s eldest sister, works with displaced soldiers in order to earn her own governance and Bella is freedom-obsessed, but definitely going to be married off.  Finally, we reach Julia Percy, the most fabulous character in the whole book.  It’s as if she’s a modern girl trapped in the body of an Earl’s daughter.  She is thought-provoking, occasionally chilly, monstrously witty and uses her feminine wiles to prove that women do, in fact, rule the world.  Thank you, thank you.  You can stop applauding now.

I liked this story because it conquered hard subjects without making them hard.  We’re all jaded by something by the time we’ve reached teenagehood, maybe sooner if we’re unlucky, but this story really put the story into history.  While she touched on the unfairness throughout history, Ridgeway wrote a powerful storyline that was sometimes slow, but almost always kept you reading.  The book was long, I think I could go through and chop away at some of the bits a reader wouldn’t need, but in the end I wasn’t upset that there were parts where I wanted to put the book down and make tea.  It’s the story of time travel, what it takes to be in two places at once, once you know what the future holds for the world and you as an individual.  Nick Falcott is the typical favorite male character who is changed by romance, even though all of us girls know that men cannot be changed and this is their epic downfall.

Courtesan @ Royal Splendour (Blogspot)

I loved the love in the story, the historical timeline, and the general plot.  I think this is a great summer read for people who liked The Time Traveler’s Wife, but want a little more plot and a little less romance.  The romance in The River of No Return is tainted by the times.  You can’t be too romantic when you’re expected to meet your future husband at a ball and always wear gloves until you’re married.  Plus, what is romance when you’re a spinster by the age of 25.  I’d be living alone in someone’s attic during the main century of this book, but at least I’d have bacon.

One last bone I have to pick.  I like to read other reviews before and after I write my own just to see what other readers are saying about the books I’ve finished.  I like to see what we thought in common and what I may have missed while reading.  When doing so, I came across this lovely little diddy. To be fair before I begin, I really enjoyed reading this review.  I have to give the reviewer credit because she said “I can’t really judge this book on character development or plot, since I only read the kindle sample which, though much longer than typical, admittedly can’t showcase an author’s strength in these areas.”  However, then she went into a diatribe against the language of the book “simplistic sentences larded with descriptions of flashing eyes, flaring nostrils, and dastardly cousins.”  I agree that the book has simplistic sentences, however, it’s also meant to be a “fun read” one of those books that’s not marketed as chick-lit, but we all know is dying to be turned into something pink by its next distribution date.

Goodreads

This all aside, YOU CANNOT REVIEW A BOOK BY READING THE KINDLE SAMPLE.  You absolutely cannot do that.  That is unfair to every author ever published.  As reviewers, I know we are criticized for all the ways in which blogs (and probably Goodreads) have ruined the job for “real critics.”  There have definitely been times when through writing a blog, I’ve convinced readers not to read a certain book.  Other bloggers have also convinced me not to read a book.  In fact, in bookstores, I will sometimes sign into Goodreads on my phone and read member reviews in order to choose one book or another.  This is not the problem.  The problem is that someone read a sample of a book and felt like they could write a review that inevitably turned people off from reading the book.

Must Finish Book!

Comments below the review state things like, “Taking this off my list! Thanks!”  I feel, as a reader, that I can absolutely not condone someone reading a sample of a book and writing a review which turns other possible readers off.  I’m also the type to ALWAYS finish a book even if it takes me months.  Seriously, I’ve been reading Swamplandia since November.  I will write a review after I finish Swamplandia, but I will also have read, if not the whole book, a vast majority of it.  You can not write a review of a sample of a book.  That’s like eating a bite of multilayered cheesecake and only getting the strawberry part and saying it’s a disgusting thing to put in your mouth, how dare someone eat this.  OR, walking into a movie in the middle of the movie, watching ten minutes, and walking out, and then writing a review of the movie.  It can’t be done.  You haven’t invested the quality of time in the book that it deserves (whether you liked it or not) for you to “review” it.

That’s my mini-rant for the day.  Does anyone else have things they detest seeing on Goodreads.  I know Amanda said on twitter that she hates when people use too many exclamation points.  I would have to agree with her.  Unless you’re sending me an email that sounds mean, you should be reserved with the exclamation points.  In fact, we should have an exclamation point law, only one per writing sample.  Where’s the grammar girl when you need her?

22 thoughts on “What More Could You Want in a Book Review Than Bacon and Ranting?

    • Cassie says:

      I always thought I would go back to the 20s. It seems like a great age to be rich, haha. Plus, what girl doesn’t want to wear a beaded shift dress? I think that or some period of time when they were building pyramids. I may go back anywhere but the plagues and Europe 1940s, if I could be wealthy. :)

  1. nukapai says:

    There is a worrying amount of utter trash out there now as far as consumer reviews are concerned – some companies pay for fake reviews and at the other end, lazy bloggers “review” products based on one use (or as in your example, a book based on its sample text). Don’t know what can be done about the detrimental effect this will inevitably have on the weight and value of actual reviews but that’s where we are now. The increases reliance on free-for-all user generated content might prove to help the marketers but not the consumers.

    • Cassie says:

      Completely well-stated. I read an article a few months ago about a man that was making $40,000 a year to generate fake reviews based on others he found on the Internet. I was really disappointed with it. There are so many people who will actually use the product in the way intended and review it earnestly and here this man was making enough to live on faking it.

      • nukapai says:

        That’s so sad, but predictable. Some companies employ fake reviewers in India to generate hundreds of fake email accounts just to do this. Whenever there is an opportunity to exploit and corrupt something in exchange for financial rewards, somebody will.

  2. Let's CUT the Crap! says:

    Let me start by saying I absolutely LOVED the Time Traveler’s Wife. Your review has me interested in The River of No Return despite mentioning there are chunks of the book you could chop.

    About the sample-reviewer: where is your head? Also, I have read about those who write fake reviews; breaks my heart as in not FAIR! (My one exclamation because I MUST.)

    I recently heard about a review given by someone who started reading a book–the key word is started–and gave the book ONE star on Amazon. She didn’t like the subject, she explained. I say forty lasses and remove that review, which is not a review at all.

    There. I’ve had my rant for the day and you’ve given us another fabulous review, Cassie. Thank you.

    • Cassie says:

      I wish you would rant more, it’s wonderful. I can’t believe the one star due to subject matter. If you don’t like the subject, why did you pick up the book in the first place? That’s silly. I loved your honorary exclamation point. You’re right it was a must-need to what you were saying. If more people used exclamation points as accessories and not decorations we would be better off. :)

  3. Bea says:

    I enjoyed your review. Having recently visited the Biltmore House, I was surprised to learn one of the main duties of the Woman, or Hostess of the house. It was changing her clothes. It seems, for the very rich, and in that time period, there was an outfit for every occasion. Breakfast clothes, riding clothes, walking the property clothes, luncheon outfit, formal dinner outfit, and of course, bed clothes. Thank God she had servants to help her get in and out of all these clothes, and please don’t take me back to any time where I can’t wear a pair of jeans all day long for every activity.
    Could I have used an exclamation point there? Maybe.

  4. Claire 'Word by Word' says:

    Reviewing a sample is very sad, unless the purpose of the blog is very clearly to ONLY review samples so that for the however many other people out there, who only ever read samples, they can know which samples they might want to read. Maybe there is a community of sample-readers out there? Maybe people could just write samples and not books for this new community of readers?

    It sounds ridiculous, it may even be an obsession. But a book review it is not.

    Conversation with a Book Sampler:

    Page Reviewer: So what did you think of page 27 then?
    Sample Reviewer: What do mean page 27, I read the whole sample.
    Page Reviewer: Get real, I am a page reviewer, I only read one page, that’s enough to get the flavour of a book.
    Sample Reviewer: How can you have any idea what a book is like if you only read one page?
    Book Reviewer Cassie: And how can you have any idea of what a book is like if you only read a sample! You two deserve each other.
    Screen Reviewer: I only read a screen page extract on my iphone to decide whether I am going to read an e-book or not. You lot are all old-fashioned in my book.

    • Cassie says:

      Claire,

      You’re hilarious. That conversation was wildly funny especially the bit at the end with the technologically savvy iphone5 reviewer. LOVE IT. I hope everyone reads it.

  5. pymette says:

    On the subject of sample-reviewers, I’ve also been surprised to see on GoodReads, 5-star ratings for samples of books. “I only read the 10-page Kindle sample, but I can tell this book is 5-star worthy!!!!!” …. hmm, really? What if after those 10 pages it turns to crap? And also- are you ever going to read and rate the full book? Or just the sample? (Why not save the rating ’til after reading the book, if it was so great?)

    haha, ah GoodReads.

    I don’t rate books I haven’t finished. I don’t have your ability to always finish a book, but if I shelve it as “did not finish”, I usually write a note about why the book & I didn’t mesh, and don’t submit a rating.

    Why can’t everyone be as smart as the commenters on this post? haha :)

    xo leanna

    • Cassie says:

      I just don’t understand it. Why would you do that? You know it’s a sample book, why even go on about it? If you put it on your “to finish sometime” shelf, then just finish it some time. Don’t write a review of a book that you haven’t read?!

  6. di @ life of di. says:

    I love the idea of this post! I never thought about how far back I could go and still enjoy my favorite things – let me think…. coffee, books, libraries, guitars, music, oatmeal, hiking, my camera. Looks like a lot of them would go back pretty far :)

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