REVIEW: Sureblood by Susan Grant
Dear Ms. Grant,
I admit, with a certain amount of chagrin, that there was a time when I would gobble up any romance or story with romantic elements that was set in space. I think I once told someone “A hero farts in space? I’m there and A+!” and I meant every word.
But that was a long, long time ago…
And from then to now, there has been an explosion in space-themed romance (thank you authors, and hallelujah) so I no longer feel the desparate need to read every outer space/other space/other planet romance that hits the shelves. I did read both The Star King and The Star Prince and remember liking them. However, with TSP, I also recall being frustrated by a scene where the H/H had 30 seconds to live and managed to have the boink of a lifetime in an escape pod during that time. Not that I think a quickie is a bad thing…but for some reason, I think that was their first actual boot knockin’ session. Which brings me to Sureblood: the key term here is frustration.
As the daughter of the head of one of the strongest pirate clans in the Channels, Val Blue is determined to prove her worth when she takes a command position during a raid on a mining vessel. But the pirates aren’t only looting for cargo; they’re trying to keep other pirate clans from getting the goods first, which means that the Blues must beat the Surebloods to the punch when they raid the ship. The raid goes wrong and the Blue raiding party is forced to work with the Surebloods to make sure they all get out alive and escape with the booty. Val is drawn to Dake Sureblood, the leader of the Sureblood clan, like a robot to a black hole.
The Surebloods travel to the Blue’s planet to try to make peace and Val and Dake get it on during the festivities, even after numerous obstacles are thrown in their path. However, there is so much mistrust and resentment going on between all of the clans that you know this party isn’t going to have a happy ending. Before the last orgasmic shudder fades, all hell breaks loose and Dake is accused of killing Val’s father and Val is forced to assume a precarious leadership position. Dake leaves the planet to investigate a suspicious accident involving Val’s brother and Dake (this is not a spoiler; it’s on the back cover) is abducted by the Drakken, an imperialistic group of slave drivers conscripting soldiers for their cause.
While all this sounds very exciting, the pacing of the book is unbelievably slow, the villains (along with their motives and their next moves) are totally transparent, the heroine has a massive lack of growth and the hero spends at least 1/3 of the book in miserable captivity. I was ready to toss in the towel. At the point where Dake is abducted, I almost fainted when I realized that I had more than 200 pages left to read.
As a hero, Dake is actually great. He puts his clan before everything else and truly believes he can not just initiate change, but begin a new and prosperous era for the pirate clans by uniting them. He realizes that everyone isn’t just going to capitulate to his charisma, and I think one of the issues I have with him as a “leader” is that he doesn’t seem to realize that the odds of any of this working ar really against him due to the ingrained distrust between the clans, and doesn’t seek to find a way to prove himself or his clan. On the positive side, his feelings for Val never waver (sure, you say, she wasn’t the one that was kidnapped…but we’ll get there in a moment) even after having his life shredded by the Drakken.
Val made me want to throw up. Like Dake, she has blinders on too, but her tunnel vision is so limited to raiding that her mother could have killed her father and she wouldn’t notice that things might be slightly awry. She blindly trusts people, allows questionable clan members into positions of power and never investigates things. When Dake disappears, she automatically assumes that he left her high and dry…but NONE of the Surebloods show up after that, and Val and the Blues take rumor as fact that they’re still fighting for the same turf. For someone who is supposed to be a clan pirate captain, Val’s massive self doubts and total lack of leadership outside of a combat capacity should have crippled her and quickly forced her out of the position. I’m actually shocked that she didn’t turn into the warrior I expected, but rather a wimpy shadow of what she was. Perhaps that was the one surprise in the book. D
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Why is it always pirates? There’s been some interesting sf series over the years based on merchant guilds, their ships, crews and adventures. Admittedly mostly based on a recreation of the Hanseatic League in space, but interesting to read about something that doesn’t require a light sabre or phaser to resolve.
Good review. I nearly bought this one but couldn’t take another pirate story. You confirmed I made a good choice.
I find with Susan Grant that its a hit and miss – although lately its been more misses. I do like her older books though. I was tempted to pick this up too but I am glad I did not – I hope the next book picks up!
Thanks for reviewing a science fiction romance.
I liked this book, although I'll admit to a raging love of heroine space pirates. I thought Val *did* have character growth in that she went from a sorority girl â€œrah rah let's raidâ€ type to a hardened, bitter pirate who's more wise as a result. Dake was a great guy, but he didn't change all that much during the course of the story. Which made me think this is Val's tale more than anything.
I was glad to see the story explore a few dark concepts, but I thought the execution was tempered by language and stylistic choices. Characters flirt with graphic violence rather than enact it. For example, at one point, Dake observes Valeeya disciplining a few male members of her clan:
â€œVal pulled the weapon away from a startled Ragmarrk, and for a moment Dake thought she might strike him with it.â€
I blogged that I wouldn't have batted an eyelash if Valeeya had struck him-‘indeed, that would have made things very exciting for me. Interestingly enough, Ms. Grant left a comment that in an earlier draft, Val *did* hit the guy. But the passage was â€œedited out.â€ So there is a fine line to walk between appealing to readers like me, who want a heavier dose of realism, and readers who prefer light action adventure tales. Given that this is from HQN, I adjusted my expectations to anticipate only the latter.
I'll admit a bias in that I'm happy there's a story like this available so that readers unfamiliar with space pirates might find out they like them. And I'm hopeful there will be more space pirate books of all types of intensity and conflict levels.
Fwiw, Karin Shah's STARJACKED and Sarah A. Hoyt's DARKSHIP THIEVES are already out. Also, Lisa Paitz Spindler just sold a space pirate story to Carina, which comes out next year.
(apologies if this is a double post–my first one disappeared)
woo-hoo for SF romance!
Thank you so much for reviewing another Science Fiction Romance. Also, thank you to Heather for mentioning my debut spring release from Carina Press. There’s quite a spectrum to dig into when it comes to space pirates — everything from those who outright break the law to guilds to monarchy-funded privateers and private contractors. I’m eager to read all of it and had a great time writing about them.
The Romance and Science Fiction genres each have such depth that combining them also produces a range of stories that can appeal to many types of readers at either end of the spectrum. As a blend, I think the Romance element has a built-in mechanism to humanize the grand concepts of Science Fiction and really bring home the nitty gritty of how these galactic ideas might affect individuals and their relationships.
I’ve always enjoyed Susan Grant’s books and expect to enjoy this one too. So far, my favorite of hers is CONTACT, a book I think particularly showcases Grant’s writing talent.
“Val made me want to throw up.”
Shuzie, Shuzie, now that’s a memorable quote. I’ll see if it can be added to the inside copy of my next (and last) SFR coming out in Feb 11. It opens up many cross-promotional possibilities as well, like mail-in coupons on the back of Pepto-Bismol, or rebates on a Kindle download of SUREBLOOD when you buy a can of Canada Dry Ginger-ale. And maybe a warning in the back of the book from the Surgeon General that Susan Grant SFRs have been known to cause acid reflux and in a few rare cases dramatic weight loss. May I send you an early review copy? I’d love to see you puke your guts out.
I, for one, would love the book plus gift purchase and fortunately, we can seek out future galley copies from NetGalley so there is no need for the authors to send puke inducing books directly.
Oh good review Shuz! In addition, thanks to the comment, I will not read this author. That was tasteless. (However, I will read a few in the subgenre–any recs, Shuz and/or Jane?)
That’s fair, Jane. Besides, I think the DA blog readers can come up with something way more creative than “Val made me want to throw up” anyway! In fact, I’ll issue this challenge, fire away. Hit me with something even better in the next 24 hours and I’ll give a free copy of Sureblood to the comment, good or bad, that I think is the most outrageous.
@Jackie H I enjoyed (and I think Shuzluva did as well) the Jess Granger books. They were slower paced than I would have liked but overall, the world building was excellent as were the characters. Unfortunately those books are in trade paperback.
@susan grant So you are saying that it wasn’t a memorable quote? Because I hate to say it but your comment pointing it out made it memorable and it obviously stuck out for you. Perhaps you meant it as a joke, but the diminutive of the reviewer’s name sounded pretty patronizing and ending the comment with the desire for her to puke her guts out in front of you seemed to be underscored with a bit of, ah, mal intent? Again, on the internet, there is no tone and so sometimes we can only take the words of commenters at face value.
Jane, it was definitely memorable and made me laugh out loud! And as for joking, you betcha! The reviewer wrote to me directly “Dear Ms Grant”– so I’m answering her directly. If you can dish it out, you gotta be able to take it, too!! :) But, I am serious about giving away a copy of the book to anyone else who makes me laugh and can lighten my grueling day.
@susan grant I know you’ve read the blog before because you have commented here before but the reviews, while addressed to the author, are a tool for readers. And if you want to go with the “you can dish it out, you gotta be able to take it” really suggests an unfortunate animus toward the reviewer. What is it that you think is being dished out here and what do you think the reviewer should take in return?
@Jane: If you want to read into things, save it for the stuff you get from netgalley. I found the review funny, would like to make lemonade out of lemons, and that is that.
“Susan Grant’s book makes me want to take a flying leap off the roof!”
(Hey, I meant for joy, Susan, girlfriend ;). Also, wanted to make you laugh)
@susan grant So I guess you aren’t going to clarify what you think the reviewer should be taking? Particularly given that you only meant to give joking love in your comments? Or I should I still reserve my reading and interpretation (however suspect) for stuff I get from Netgalley?
Isn’t the “saving it for the stuff we get from Netgalley” what started us down this path anyway?
If not for Netgalley, I wouldn’t have read the books I have such as Kristen Higgins and some Carine Press titles.
I’ve enjoyed Susan’s books in the past and this one is on my TBR, under the 150 other books I have waiting. Never ending monster pile.
As she says on her Facebook, this was all done with humor.
“I’m glad I did it, and with humor–I actually left a whole paragraph– because sometimes the anonymous internet is a little too anonymous and “safe” for these idiots.”
No malice. Humor!
@DianaW And who, exactly, are “these idiots”?
@DianaW 0_o I confess that I am one of those “idiots” because I really could not discern whether the first comment left by Grant was a joke. Maybe she wanted it to come off as a joke but I think many of us were left scratching our heads.
Oh man. Oh man, no. No no no. *flails* *cries* Why why why. *sigh*
This is how disappointment is born. *picks up dust pan, sweeps up disappointment….puts it in the trash*
After reading this comment thread, this idiot is going to take the Susan Grant books on her TBR shelf to the local used bookshop and turn those lemons into a Starbucks coffee!
Stay classy, Susan.
Yeah. Susan Grant isn’t “joking” or doing this all out of love. This is what she said on her Facebook page:
Then, later, what DianaW reports.
And after that:
Susan, you have 1600 friends on Facebook. Even you are not so foolish that you think your Facebook account is somehow private, and completely separate from your commercial entity. I know you’re tired, on deadline, and I know the review stinks, but honestly… just apologize and move on.
*cringes over the cockroach of a reviewer* comment left on Facebook also.
So every time a reviewer has a less than rah-rah opinion about a book they are a cockroach?
How sad :(
Ms. Grant, you can blame it on many things, but you are still responsible for your words and actions.
OK, as someone is not in the Romance reading loop, let me just say Grant’s first Comment here did not come off as humorous to me. Also, I don’t know why she bothered. The sentence that seemed to trigger her was about a *character*. Are readers not allowed to dislike characters now?
Actually the review doesn’t stink. Maybe to Grant it feels that way (and hell, even I winced a little at the throw up comment in the review), but it didn’t start stinking here till Grant’s first comment. There’s nothing wrong with the review, and “negative” reviews can encourage folks to actually pick up the book and read as much as any sterling positive review. This review was an honest opinion. Take what it offers, use it, don’t. Move on.
Oh man. **Author Implosion Alert**
Also, Dear Author is the “meanest review site”?? Really? Wow.
I didn’t know y’all were the “mean girls.”
*sigh* I thought it was a good review, too. And yeah, sucks that the reviewer mentioned wanting to puke, but at least the character provoked that much of a reaction.
Or maybe I’m just silly for thinking any passion you feel for a character, whether it be positive or negative–as opposed to apathy–is a good reaction?
Oh no. I thought Grant’s comment was humorous until she indicated an interest in seeing Shuzluva puke her guts out. Not cool. Maybe a joke, but it got personal. The words in the review were about a character in a book.
Oy – I did not read that was humourous, put me in the idiot camp too and this has made me disappointed because I like Susan Grant and she’s one of the best Scifi romance authors even though I have not enjoyed her last few books. I think her reactions have put off more readers/potential ones than the vomit inducing one will ever will :P
I’m not on Facebook. A friend from Goodreads e-mailed me, I read this site and am a fan of Grant. She wasn’t sure if I was the idiot, but was prepared to be offended on my behalf.
I didn’t think Facebook posts were private? I wouldn’t have quoted if I knew they were, but neither my Goodreads friend or I thought so (I asked friend for permission before I posted it).
@DianaW I don’t think you did anything to be sorry about. A person with 1600 “friends” on her facebook page can’t really have any expectation of privacy.
DianaW, don’t worry about it. Plenty of folks can see what Grant wrote over there, anyone might have talked about it since it started over here. Even Facebook isn’t completely private. Things that angrily written should probably only be shared in emails with very trusted friends.
Whoa! I did not read humor in S Grant’s first comment at all! I have no interest in reading an author who reacts in such a way, and then acts on it, and then keeps acting on it.
“I'd love to see you puke your guts out.”??
That is just pure and simple nastyness.
Thanks for the review, Shuzluva. Like you, I like romances set in space, and due to the massive number of books in this subgenre, I’m becoming more judicious in what I choose to read.
Ms Grant’s books have been hit and miss for me, though I always take note when a new one is published. Since “Sureblood” hit my local bookstore’s shelves, I’ve picked it and up and put it down a few times, not quite convinced to read it–the outerspace setting keeps bringing me back. Your comments about the character, Val, lead me to believe I probably would be frustrated by her, too. That, combined with my own indecision about whether to read the book in the first place has pretty much decided it for me.
What I gotta say about my girl Shuzluva is that she knows what she likes and doesn’t like. Homegirl don’t bullshit, so you can always expect a fair and honest review from her.
Keep it up, sister.
Oh, no! I hate it when it’s one of the authors I like behaving badly. It’s never happened to me before. :(
I guess that’s the price I have to pay if I want honest opinions from Mean Grlz.
I guess I’m firmly in the idiot camp. It was not humorous and trying to brush it aside with a giveaway is just sad, disappointing and depressing
@SpazP yes I agree with you. I think she should have read it over before she posted that comment.
@Tori you’re right–better to feel disgust/hate/like/etc for a character than apathy.
I'm very sorry that the statements I honestly meant as a joke were misconstrued and now that I'm re-reading them I can certainly see why that may have happened. I'm always in favor of honest critiques of my work, but I do realize that not every book will please every reader! To those who still have Sureblood in their TBR pile, I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!!
Oh,boy. Count me as one of those who read Susan’s comment several times, truly tried to see it was funny, and didn’t get there. Maybe for the beginning but when she ended with her loving her to see her puke her guts out? Nope, that wasn’t a joke. Neither is the idiot comments or the reference to dearauthor being mean girls. I’ve cut back a lot of my blogs but not this one – I truly love you ladies for the truth I get. I think you are all way more hones than the reviews with Romantic Times.
DianeW, don’t fret. People have yet to realize two things about posting – what you say can be taken wrong and nothing is private! Thanks Shuzluva, for a honest review.
I don’t think there is any argument that this absolutely is the meanest bunch of reviewers on the internet and you win the contest hands down. Susan Grant writes great books and if you don’t like that is fine but try reviewing them critically instead of always being such hateful and mean people.
@Yeldir: Um, reviewing critically involves criticising and pointing out faults. And reviewers get called hateful and mean when they do that.
is it bad that i actually want to read this book despite the drama? i loved susan grant’s books in the your planet or mine series and always look out for more sci fi from her.
I don’t mind cranky authors. I do mind petty and nasty ones. Poorly done Ms. Grant-you have harmed yourself more than any review. Also sending your minions to defend you-tacky.
This isn’t the meanest bunch of reviewers by far. They are bone-cutting honest at times, but I’ll take that any day over a review that prances around the issues a book has and tells me nothing in the long run. I may not always agree with them, but I appreciate the honesty and feelings that show through in the reviews.
Grant, you’ve always been one of my favorite authors. I was disappointed today, but it was good of you to apologize and try to make amends later. Thumbs up.
I think book reviewers have the right to say exactly what they think of a book – I often disagree and will read a book I want to read regardless of reviews.
But like everything in life – do unto others – the word is CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM. I am not sure ‘pucking my guts out’ is very CONSTRUCTIVE – entertaining perhaps – but definitely not constructive. Perhaps this is what this blog wants – to entertain rather than inform.
The reviewer comment re: “made me want to puke” is not something I would use. But, I’m a battle axe who would probably say I hated the character. Since this is in reference to a fictitious character/person, I really can’t understand the anger this kind of thing generates.
I have been reading the discussions for a couple of years now and I fail to see the “meanness” referred to by Ms. Grant. Rather, I have read thought provoking discussions, have seen a huge amount of work in listing monthly releases, advice and instruction for the ereaders. I have also seen Jane herself having taken a lot of written abuse from some authors.
I think authors would be wise to avoid the site if they find the site offensive. The abusive behavior is unprofessional and a real slap to the reading public.
We Are Not Idiots. That particular comment makes me want to egest the contents of my stomach.
This blog will not make or break any author’s career. A handful of posters just will not. The review, was frankly, poorly written and she could have chosen better words to express her dislike of the character. Grant shot back at the blog and at the reviewer, but I highly doubt it will hurt her sales. Let’s be real here.
You know what that sounds like? “Yes, you read my book, yes you have an opinion, but it’s not like your opinion matters. I’m still laughing all the way to the bank. mwahaha. Dumb reviewer! DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”
That’s what it sounds like to me.
I thought Susan’s response was humorous and appropriate to the reviewer’s statement, “Val made me want to throw up.”
Indeed, the reviewer must have a weak stomach if reading a book makes her ill.
What makes me ill is using free speech to hurt others, whether it is irreverent comments in book reviews, double standards in the pursuit of romance “scholarship”, fundamentalists protesting soldiers’ funeral, a hypocritical minister threatening to burn the Quran, or the news media creating a frenzy over something that should have been ignored (no fuel, no fire).
I read books for escape, not bickering.
Just to be clear, those are my words, not her words (Grant). So what is your point? My point is that a handful of posters on a book blog isn’t going to hurt her sales, not matter what I think of her comments.
i know those were your words, Katie. My point is a review is a review, an opinion is an opinion, and just because it wont “hurt her sales,” it doesn’t invalidate Shuzluva’s opinion of the book. She didn’t like it, period. It doesn’t mean, “whatevz, it’s not like anything you say matters. nyeh-nyeh-nyeh.” It’s ugly.
and for those who think Dear Author is a “mean gurlz” blog, you haven’t seen the worst of it… believe me.
Lurker, it’s not at all unusual for books to evoke strong reactions and emotions in readers. It is definitely possible for a book to make a person feel physically ill – and some would say that’s a powerful thing for a book to do, and maybe even a good thing because it’s better to feel something than nothing at all.
And I really don’t want to assume, but are you saying that this review is on the same level as burning a Quran?
Free speech has nothing to do with this review unless someone’s threatening to arrest the reviewer. Free speech is a right we have to communicate as we like without getting legally punished for it. Full stop.
Are there nicer ways to express dislike of a character than saying they made them want to throw up? Sure. But I’m cool with being up-front and honest. If the character made her so disgusted that she had to express herself in what is obviously hyperbole, that indicates something just might be wrong with the way the character was crafted, re: inconsistencies, development etc.
Don’t be immature and then whine that you were joking.
When someone gives a negative review, don’t take it personally. It’s not meant as a personal indictment against the author. It’s a critique of something the author put out into the world.
Just use the information given to your advantage. Ask yourself what you could do to address the concerns given to make better stories. She didn’t leave it at ‘made me want to throw up’ but instead detailed exactly why she didn’t like the character. Use the valuable information in a negative review to craft better characters, whether you agree with them or not.
I say things, and people, make me want to puke all the time — it’s an expression. How is that any worse than saying a character is “too stupid to live”? Or that a scene “made my skin crawl”? We use visceral language to communicate strong emotions, particularly in written communication where we don’t have facial expression, tone of voice and other ways of adding emotional meaning and nuance to what we’re saying.
Sorry, communication professor, shutting up now. Just had to say that I’m shaking my head that anyone thinks this is a harsh or mean review because of the vomit comment.
In response to Susan’s contest to make her laugh, I offer you the Dear Author Fight Song (ala Wild Blue Yonder):
Off we go into Dear Author website,
Climbing high into space and beyond,
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At ’em girls, Give ’em a stud
(give 'em a stud)
Down we dive, looking for Pepto Bismol,
Off with one hellava roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame, Hey!
Nothing will stop the J Girls!
If I win, kindly donate the book to your nearest USO!
Lurker, just wanted to say that I responded to your private email to me, but I got a delivery failure notice saying your email address did not exist. I tried. Take care.
I always know I’ll love a book when I find out that Dear Author hated it.
I have to admit, I took the original comment as a joke. Not in the best humour, but a joke nevertheless. Jane’s first comment sounded like an attempt to take the joke in good humour herself, so I was confused by the more defensive comments that followed, and I can see why in Grant’s latter comments here and elsewhere the humour’s getting a bit strained (though it’s still in the same vein as the original comment).
The First Rule of Book Review Fight Club: if the review is good, the writer can Comment “thank you.”
The Second Rule of Book Review Fight Club: if the review is bad, the writer should just STFU and write the next book.
Do you think this dress makes my butt look big?
Answer: GIRL — that dress makes your butt look so big it could stop up the grand Canyon.
Answer: It’s not the best choice.
–Both honest. One hurtful. Okay when your talking about our butt most things are hurtful that are negative. But one is easier to take.
This book had plot holes and the heroine had inconsistent behavior that impacted my ability to enjoy the story.
The heroine made me want to puke. (not exact quote I know)
There is no way to take away the cringe that an author feels when they hear a bad review. But bad reviews are part of anything we do in life. Our school work, our driving, our ability to be a good friend, the dinner we cooked, and so on. People have opinions they deserve to have opinions. But writers are still people and they pour their souls into their books just like they do their butts into their dresses.
Susan– well — probably she shouldn’t have said anything. I do think she was joking though I don’t know. I don’t know her or her intent. But I imagine what felt like a joke(if it was) ended up laced with a little hurt that slipped inside the joke. She shouldn’t have commented. Some things are better suffered in silence. I bet she regrets it now. In truth, every person who takes time with an author is a valued reader and should be thanked for taking time to read that book. Time is a valuable thing even outside the money spent on the book. But the human side of a person with feelings and emotions — can sometimes get the best of even the BEST of us.
Really the review crossed the line when it mentioned puke. Either this blog aims to be more than just a book report in which case language should be more objective and technical or the reviewer accepts that authors are going to get personal back.
Regarding your rules for Book Review Fight School, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
You suggest authors engage in polite and professional responses. I believe the same applies to the blogger/reviewer. He/she is publishing their writing in a public forum and seeking comments from the general public.
Hopefully the author, reviewer, and readers learned something from this exercise. Free speech is a right that comes with a responsibility.
As we remember 9/11 this weekend, let us consider free speech that is guaranteed by the Constitution. Its preamble states,
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Key words – more perfect union, insure domestic tranquility, and promote general welfare.
Perhaps the Anti-Federalists (who advocated for the Bill of Rights) sought free speech as a means for Americans to voice concerns and find solutions. I doubt they intended free speech to be used as a means to tear each other apart.
I am, in no way, a Constitution expert. I just believe that we can express strong opinions without having to resort to insults.
@S where is it stated that a review should be technical or objective? As long as a reviewer is not making comments about the author personally, they have the right to say whatever they like about the writing.
So if a book makes me want to puke or throw it in the garbage, I’m not allow to say that because it may hurt the author’s feelings?
Once and author sends their work out in the world, it is open to anyone to comment on it.
Exactly, I wish some authors would understand the difference between criticizing the book and criticizing them. If the reviewer attacks you personally, I as a reader would have every sympathy for you and I may buy the book for that reason only. But as far as I am concerned this review did no such thing. When I want to express my opinion about the book, whether it is positive or negative, it is NEVER about the author, never ever. It is about me sharing what I liked or disliked with other readers. If I disliked the book I am going to say so and yes I think that I can criticize the characters or plot in whatever language I want.
If you cannot handle negative reviews of your work,ignore them. If I paid money for your book, I can give my honest opinion about it. I feel that I am entitled to. In my job when my clients do not feel that I am doing adequate job, you bet they will be saying what they are unhappy with. Do I think they are always right? Of course not! Would I say something ever? Of course not. They are the ones thanks to whom I have my paycheck, why would I be insulting them?
@Reader Too I am disturbed by the invocation of the 9/11 imagery and the idea that free speech is being impugned here. The idea behind free speech is so that those who have minority opinions can express those without fear of governmental retaliation. It is why the ACLU will defend the right of the Ku Klux Klan to speak, assemble, and organize. Insults (which actually did not occur until Ms. Grant and her supporters came to this thread) are clearly protected by the First Amendment so long as they do not butt up against certain constraints (and complaining that a character in a book caused a stomach churning event).
I think it is far more harmful to try to chill someone’s right to express her clearly Constitutionally protected right to comment on a consumer product than it is to express that Constitutionally protected right. I would hope that Ms. Grant, as an officer of the military and sworn to uphold the Constitution, isn’t encouraging her fans to spread this misinformation.
If you aren’t a Constitutional scholar, then why would you assert that those who disagree in this thread or the reviewer have somehow violated some “responsibility” attendant with our free speech rights?
You are absolutely right. The authors can “get personal right back at the reviewer” as much as they please. I only hope that when they do so, they will keep in mind the possibility that reader who never heard of them before may read the review in order to decide whether to try the book or not. The fact that the character in the book made the reviewer want to puke really would not influence this hypothetical reader (me), because this hypothetical reader (me) enjoyed several books which this site reviewed and gave very bad reviews. But author getting personal right back? Yep, that may influence me very much.
Wise writer expressed the suggestion elsewhere that the best response to a negative review, no matter how bad review is will be “thank you for taking time to read and review my book”. I wish more authors would take this suggestion to heart. Trust me, responding like this, author would looki much classier than the reviewer in some readers’ eyes even if review is skirting the line in the personal attack.
OMG, seriously? You and commenter #52 are both trying to shut down free speech with guilt tactics. Bringing in 9/11? What does 9/11 have to do with someone expressing their experience of a book? It’s insulting to the families and victims of 9/11.
I’m surprised you didn’t bring up how Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us our sins and this is how we all act?
Seriously, would all you actual free speech inhibitors be trying to make people feel guilty or bad for expressing an opinion if it were a negative review of a hairdryer? Or a washing machine?
Do people worry about the feelings of those who created the washing machine or hairdryer if they say it’s crap? What about all the hours and time that went into creating what the inventors or creators thought was the perfect hairdryer or washing machine? It’s the same thing.
I’ll bet you $100 you and and commenter #52 wouldn’t think twice about making a negative comment about an object that is a piece o crap that is not a book.
A book is an object. Period. It’s a product produced and put up for sale just like a hairdryer or washing machine. And if someone buys it, they have a right to say it’s a piece of crap if that’s what they feel.
As long as a reviewer doesn’t personally attack the author, then a book is fair game.
I’ve read so much crap that I paid good money for. Should I keep my mouth shut for fear of worrying about an author’s feelings? What about my feelings of having wasted good money and time on dreck?
I totally agree with Mike Cain. Utterly. Completely. There is no win for an author in publicly responding to a negative review. Unless she just wants to say, simply and literally, “Thank for taking a look and I hope you’ll give my books another try in future.” At least that’s been my experience. Those of you who responded after comment 41, you do realize that Susan Grant has already apologized, right?
She apologized for calling readers idiots? Oookkkkay.
When you say you should be able to say you wanted to throw the book in the trash — you’re right you can. But good grief, why would you want to make that public statement when you know this is a place where the editor and author might read it? Why would you want to twist a knife like that with a comment like — I want to puke? I promise you that if the author hears they got ‘D’ — the minute they see it THEY want to puke. Not out of anger but out of the distress of failing to satisfy a reader. They are feeling it in their gut. They sat down to write a great book and they know now to at least one reader, they didn’t make that goal.
And the readers already know you didn’t like the book too at this point. Your review that analyzes the book — which I might add I often QUITE ENJOY — backs that up. I am not someone who doesn’t enjoy the blog. Just not this review or any that hit this same note.
So yes, you have the right to say whatever you want to. But why would you make that choice at the expense of someone else if you have already expressed your dislike and already seized your right to expression?
But if you want to entertain – if you want to get laughs–it’s your right.
I just want to make it clear that I posted two times only and this post now. I posted ONLY the ‘READER’ posts. I have no shared opinions with any of these other unnamed posters. Not me!
Michelle, I guess I missed where she called readers idiots.
@Reader: When you say you should be able to say you wanted to throw the book in the trash -‘ you're right you can. But good grief, why would you want to make that public statement when you know this is a place where the editor and author might read it?
I think the correct question is not why would you want to, but why would you not want to? As an author, I am actually insulted by the notion that reviewers should be required to pull their punches so as not to hurt my feelings. This implies that I am a weak, pitiful “artiste” who needs to be protected from criticism lest I wither on the vine. On the contrary, I want criticism. It is one of the ways I can learn and, I hope, improve my craft.
Why would you want to twist a knife like that with a comment like -‘ I want to puke? I promise you that if the author hears they got ‘D' -‘ the minute they see it THEY want to puke. Not out of anger but out of the distress of failing to satisfy a reader. They are feeling it in their gut. They sat down to write a great book and they know now to at least one reader, they didn't make that goal.
Any author who doesn’t understand and accept the fact that his/her books will fail to satisfy some reader is destined to perpetual failure. Because, frankly, I cannot think of a SINGLE book in existence that EVERYONE who has read it likes. Not ONE.
Of course, negative reviews are unpleasant for authors. No author LIKES to get a bad review. But any author who can’t get over those feelings in a hurry–and do so *privately*–should consider a different line of work.
Jackie– just guilty of always worrying about people’s feelings. I use to manage people and it was always my weakness. Big soft mushy heart that breaks for people. And I think I said in other posts the author has to accept they get criticized and even that its better to thank the reviewer. I don’t disagree with anything you said for the most part. I think we just disagree on where the line is. I think honest, even tough reviews, make the good ones all the sweeter. If they are all fluff what would be the joy in the good ones really.
Michelle,I guess I missed where Susan Grant called readers idiots. Could you show me that comment, please? Thank you so much!
If you look at this comment thread, numbers 18 and 24, you can see where that line of commentary started here. The idiot comments themselves started over at Grant’s Facebook page, but she’s since removed that thread from her Facebook profile, maybe around the time she felt like apologizing here?? Hope that helps!
KMont, thanks much. I hadn’t noticed comment #18.
My point is that you can only call out the author for being unprofessional if the reviewer or commenter is doing so. OTherwise you are a raging hypocrite.
I’ve never based my reading preferences on whether I think the author is a worthwhile person. Just on whether they have interesting stories to read.
And my point is that I have not seen this reviewer being unprofessional anywhere in this review. She expressed her dislike of the book clearly and explained why. Nowhere in this review she attacked the author, only her book,which is her right as a consumer of that product. It is also her right to use whatever language she wants, in my opinion as long as she does not attack the author with such language it does not make her unprofessional.
It is your prerrogative how to choose your reading preferences of course. I prefer not to support authors who criticize my right to express how I feel about their books. Believe me there are many authors to choose from and all other things being the same, if they both write equally well, I would rather give my hard earned money to a nice person.
@Reader Too and @Lurker: Given the conditions under which the colonies struggled for independence, I’d suggest that the framers of the Constitution made the First Amendment first, as well as unconditionally broad, for a reason (maybe two).
Still, as others have pointed out, this isn’t a First Amendment situation (no State action, etc.). But even if it were, it wouldn’t be cruising anywhere close to the standards for exclusion set out in the fundamental speech cases, from Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire and Terminello v. Chicago, to Cohen v. California, RAV v. City of St. Paul, Texas v. Johnson, and Virginia v. Black.
From Terminello, Justice Douglas’s famous insistence that
And Cohen, the famous “F– the draft” jacket case, specifically addresses the question of insults, which much meet a VERY high and narrow standard to be considered outside the protection of the First Amendment. One of my favorite sections of Justice Harlan’s majority opinion is as follows:
“one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric” seems exactly fitting for both books and reviews, don’t you think?
LOL So now you Grlz are Mean and Unpatriotic. Shame on you! :D
And then again, why hound an author for something she put up on her facebook page–and then took down? And no, since I am not an FB friend of Susan Grant, I don’t know what she might have said on her FB page–and then taken down.But still, what is with the going on FB to see what the woman said there to her 1600 friends. If you did that, you must be one of her “friends.”
@Christine Rimmer: Oooorrrrr, as Diana W. says in comment #33, someone sent her the Facebook page posting, which someone else in turn quoted in comment #24.
As an author, your understanding may lie more with Grant than with readers, but do you really see nothing ironic about an author blasting a reviewer for blasting your book? Even if she does so on Facebook, in a locked comment, with 1600 “friends,” I cannot imagine why anyone would have an expectation of complete privacy there, *especially* when that person is writing as an author trying to sell her books to the public. Further, the whole “spies among us” language just seems, well, strange, to say the least.
FWIW, I thought Grant was making an effort to be funny, but even her initial comment has a sharp edge, IMO. And while I can imagine it’s very tempting for authors to respond to reviews they believe are unfair or insulting, it’s an inevitable reality that the author is the only one who has anything to lose by that. The reviewer isn’t selling anything, but the author is, and IMO responding to a review in anger, even if you try to disguise it in humor, is a substantial risk I’m always surprised an author is willing to take, especially when I hear so much from authors about how they’re competing for every inch of shelf space, every reader’s attention, and every royalty dollar.
I haven’t done a scientific study, but I’d bet that negative reviews sell more books than negative author comments.
Robin, your points are well taken. And yes, I agree. In terms of sales, it matters more that people are talking about a book than what is actually being said. Should have taken my own advice and left it at that. Yes, I do feel sympathy for the author in a situation like this. Some of us just never learn. ;)
Oh. And for the sake of clarity, “Some of us just never learn.” was intended to be a humorous comment referring only to yours truly.
@Christine Rimmer: I’ll admit that it’s tough for me to have sympathy after the “idiots” comment, but I do wish authors were not pressed to do so much of their own marketing and publicity (and on a side note, IMO y’all are surrendering far too much of your earnings to market your own books). Besides having the IMO unfortunate tendency to place the author between the book and the reader, I think it can create another level of author attachment to the publishing process that makes it feel even more personal.
In general (i.e. not directed at anyone in particular):
I don’t know any reviewer who wants to hurt the author’s feelings. But thinking about the author during the review process, rather than the book, can lead to a compromised, less than honest review. And in compromising the review that way, for the anticipated feelings of one person, means a review readers cannot trust to be frank and thorough. And my “job,” as I see it, in writing a review, is to give as honest and informed response to a book as possible, with other readers as my intended audience. The author may hate, disrespect, or be hurt/offended by that, but if it’s between my integrity and sense of responsibility to other readers, and the impossible to predict feelings of an author, I’m gonna side with the only one of those things I can control.
Robin, well, it looks to me like authors marketing their own stuff is not going to go away. Many of us waste a lot of money doing it. But those who learn effective self-marketing are able to give themselves a distinct advantage in a brutal market. Authors really have brought themselves up from midlist to lead positions–and stayed there–at least partly through well-planned and executed self marketing strategies. In the end, one still has to be able to write the books a lot of people want to read, however.
I get that readers want honesty in the reviews they read. They don’t want to spend money on books that aren’t going to deliver and they see hard-hitting reviews as a way to winnow out the bad reading bets. Authors, in the main, accept this. Sometimes, though, we do get triggered by a particularly rough phrase or even whole review and then we speak up without stopping to remember that speaking up is only going to make us look bad.
I don’t think ‘the heroine made me puke’ is very nice, perhaps you’ll stop reading reviews here on that basis.
Or is niceness a one way street?
No, but we appear to have the different definitions of what being nice means. You seem to operate under what I consider to be rather bizarre assumption that reviewer of the book has to be nice to “fictional characters”. Their feelings cannot be hurt, you know? They do not exist. I know I am stating a rather obvious fact, but I find it mindboggling that reviewer saying that heroine makes her puke is not “nice” in your opinion. Reviewer did not say that she wants to see the author puking her guts out.
As somebody else mentioned in the thread would you also ask somebody whose, I don’t know TV set for example exploded in her room, would you also ask the person to be nice to TV set, because God forbid the creator of TV set may have had her feelings hurt otherwise?! To me it is the same thing.
@sirius11214: Your comment totally reminded me of Mark Twain’s essay on James Fenimore Cooper, “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses,” in which Twain in anything but “nice” to Cooper or his characters: http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/projects/rissetto/offense.html. Next to Twain’s essay, “the heroine made me puke” is downright mild, lol. A sample:
I think a “literary delirium tremens” snarkily trumps a heroine who made the reviewer figuratively puke, but maybe that’s just me.
I bought this book. I keep trying Susan Grant because most people adore her work; but I always have some trouble with her books. I’ve read just past chapter 1 and put it down. There are already some plot holes (When Dake contacts Val’s ship and says his clan have the contract to retrieve the stuff [stuff being ore or whatever was stolen], why didn’t Val’s ship just ask him who gave his clan the contract? That would have cleared things right up). When I’m already asking why characters are being dumb after the first chapter, chances are not good that I’ll be picking the book back up.
As for Susan’s comment, well, that was unfortunate.
First, Susan Grant has been around long enough now to know a review is just a review. It is one person’s opinion and it needs no comment from her other than a ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry you didn’t like it’. This is surely not the first bad review she has gotten.
Second, if DA is ‘mean girls’ damn I would hate to see what everyone would call some of the other blogs.
Last, I come here because I want an HONEST review. I want to know what the characters are like and how the story flows etc. I spend to much money on books to get a ‘nice’ review that really should have been a ‘not so good’ review. The reviewer didn’t do anything wrong.
I dont know what the hell 9/11 has to do with any of this but please take that crap somewhere it belongs.
I am sick to death of some authors feeling like they are entitled to a good review, or are entitled to make a reviewer feel like crap because of a bad review.
To the person who said that none of this will affect Grant’s sales…Eventually it will. If she did this here, she has done it elsewhere and will do it again, and people will begin to notice.
Trying to snap back at reviewers didn’t work for Byron, for God’s sake (“English Bards and Scotch Reviewers” was not, to say the least, a success).
The rest of us mere mortals shouldn’t even attempt it, except in the privacy of our own home. It never looks like anything but pettiness, even in the “Letters” column of a newspaper or magazine—in the comments of a blog, it looks a million times more ridiculous.
Let it go. Every great book ever written got bad reviews (of course, so did every craptacular book ever written, but still).
@Robin: I love that review. I’ve read it several times because Twain is very funny and supports his opinions by reference. That’s the best you can expect from a good snarky review.
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