Let’s Dissect: The Idiocy of GoodReads Young Adult Bingo

If you want to see an author act like an idiot and shoot themselves and their career in the foot these days, all you have to do is go to Twitter where you can find little gems like this.  I thought that today, I’d dissect the logic of this Bingo card.  Because, you know, I like to waste time with nonsense like this.   If the Tweet somehow goes a disappearing in the next few days.  I took a screen shot for prosperity sake (though it’s not a good screen shot).  Also, there’s other blogs that will no doubt cover it as well and have better tech skills as well.

Screen shot 2015-02-04 at 11.01.49 AM

I will be going through the squares top to bottom horizontally.

Obviously, I don’t own this little bingo card.  I am merely using it’s contents to point out its fallacies.  The bolded text is directly taken from the Bingo card which belongs to Amy  Spalding and her wasted lunch.

Reviewer angry teen characters are acting like teens:

How do you define acting out like a teen?  One teen can act out  completely different from another.  Most teens I know don’t act like your stereotypical dumb YA heroine throwing a tantrum. I mean, I haven’t met anyone who would sit like a zombie for six months when they’re boyfriend left them.  Because remember Harry Potter, he threw a big temper tantrum and…wait, he reacted different from Bella.  I knew it, teens do act different when they get mad.

Reviewer likes something but still points out that “other readers might not like it”:

It’s called trigger warnings, my friend.  And I appreciate them in reviewers.  It keeps me and other reviewers who might be sensitive to an issue from reading the book and thus doing….this.

Reviewer thinks YA book is “pretty good for a kids’ book”

I’ve never said this.  But so what, if someone does?  They are still giving you a compliment they are just stating that the book is geared towards a younger audience.  Which it is.  Plus, a lot of YA today is geared for adults instead of teens-i.e. there are some books in the genre that are a lot more mature than others.

Reviewer thinks because they would never react a certain way, no one would:

Really?

I know in my reviews I’ve pointed out that the reactions of a character seem a bit unrealistic. This is one of the arguments, out of many on this stupid card, that is written in a bias like manner.  I can recall a few books that I’ve pointed out that the reaction seems off.  And you know what, totally my opinion.  I think there are some situations, like when a girl is almost killed and agrees to go with her would be  kidnappers to a different continent that it can pretty much be a universal come on.

Reviewer list star rating in precise fraction:

Well, isn’t it better your book is being rounded up than down?  Seriously, I have rated several one star worthy books a two because I rounded them up.  And seriously, what made the five star method a required standard.  You’d think for authors who are so concerned about the overall rating of their books, they’d like it when I rounded up their book babies.

Reviewer expresses opinions only in gif form:

This guy right here is why gifs are totally appropriate.

 

Reviewer downrates for presence of drugs, swearing, and/or sex:

Is the review site or the reviewer geared towards clean books?  There are quite a few of these sites that exist, and while Im not a huge fan they do serve a purpose to that segment of the population who wants to be aware of these issues.  And I get it.  I’ve been to several book signings, and sometimes there are kids there that are way too young to be reading about some of the adult situations that are presented in these books.  So, while I myself might not care if the characters have intercourse every other page, I totally get a parent caring about these sorts of things.

Reviewer confuses presence of issue/situation as author condoning advocating it:

Honey, it’s how you present the issue.  If it’s presented poorly, you’re going to be called out on it.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not condoning/advocating it, poor presentation is just as bad.

Reviewer might actually be referring to a different book, impossible to tell:

Reviewer liked book until character was revealed to be gay:

Once again, illy phrased to get a reaction.  While I’m sure there are some people who will put a book down if a character is gay, I think probably the majority of this frustration is that the revelation seems out of place.  Or the character ends up being gay just so that the book can have a designated token character.

Reviewer takes off stars for bad decisions made early in the book later amended:

Yeah, but did the bad decisions make sense at the time they happened?  If they did, it doesn’t matter how much amending is done the book’s been spoiled.  Why  should I continue if there’s stupidity to begin with?

Reviewer gives book 1 star.  Book isn’t fully drafted yet:

Bet you like those five star reviews that are given before the book is fully drafted.

Adult reviewer think it’s book’s fault they relate more to parent characters:

Notice the use of the word adult.  I think Stanton is trying to stigmatize adult readers of YA at this point.  Never mind, they supposedly saved the publishing industry last year.

Reviewer angry at author who blurbed book leading them astray:

Hmmm, too vague to make a comment on.  I think I’m being lead astray.

Reviewer has issues with book’s grammar makes grammatical errors in review:

The difference, I’m paying money for your work (and you should have an editor/beta reader).  I do not.

Reviewer dislikes something that didn’t happen in book:

Well, isn’t that the point of the review to talk about your likes and dislikes.

Reviewer admits not finishing book, makes assumptions instead, rates on said assumptions:

Shouldn’t you be glad they admitted to a DNF?   Some people don’t.  And besides that, they have a right to review the book however they want on what part of the book they want.  It should also be mentioned, that often literary criticisms focus on mere sections of the book and that English professors sometimes only assign sections of the book too.  If academia thinks it’s okay, then I really don’t see why this is a problem.

Reviewer wanted book to be one thing, book was other thing:

Once again, irrelevant.  The review is suppose to be about how the reviewer viewed the book.  I think they were.

Reviewer assumes any underlying themes were accidental:

Perhaps, you should read this article on what literary criticism is.  I get that it’s a difficult concept to grasp, so I think the Wiki version should suffice for you for now.

Reviewer thinks girl main character is whiny, unlikeable, unsympathetic:

Well, are they?

Reviewer said teen characters didn’t end book/series with marriage:

I don’t know where they got this one, but once again the reviewer is talking about the book.  So….you can’t fault them for that.

Reviewer thinks “Some” diversity is OK but not “too much”:

This one is just asking for a fight.  I love the way it’s phrased.  The use of quotations is clearly trying to get a reaction there as well.  For me, I love diversity in books, but I hate it when diversity is essentially watered down to create token characters.

Reviewer thinks rich main character should have zero complaints:

Studies do show that money can buy happiness to a certain point.  So, yeah, they shouldn’t have as many complaints than the lower 99%

Reviewer downrates for perception of factual error that is actually correct:

In your universe?  Maybe you did Google something and it seems correct to you, but if someone…say a lawyer is reading a book where a legal issue is grossly mishandled even though the initial Wiki research  than you’re wrong.  And I’ve seen this happen a lot.  I’m sure it happens in other areas as well.  I know it happened in a marching band book I’ve read.

 

The State of Publishing: More on Midlists, Marketing, Kickstarting

On Monday, I posted a post about how I believe midlist novels don’t get the attention they probably deserve and rambled about how I’m considering doing some sort of feature devoted to these books.  Since that post, things have exploded in the Twitter world.

Stacey Jay decided to take down her illy phrased kick starter and let’s just say all hell broke loose.  I really didn’t want to go into all the particulars about the campaign in my blog because I didn’t think there was anything done out of intentional malice from it.  But now that things have imploded, I think it might be a good idea to discuss Kickstart and sites like it and how they might have an impact on publishing in the future.  And that sort of means I have to talk about the elephant in the room…Jay’s book.

I’ve been looking forward to Princess of Thorns since it was announced in January 2014.  I loved Jay’s previous novel Of Beast and Beautyit was a wonderful adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, and mixed fairytale with futuristic dystopia quite well.  So, when I heard she had another fairytale retelling coming out, you can say I was very excited.

Not so much when I read the Kickstarter.  While I wouldn’t have mind chipping in for production and editing cost, I didn’t want to be paying for Jay’s living expenses.  Maybe this was in part because she was using Kickstarter rather than another crowd sourcing site that focuses more on the creator than the product.  While many have held the 7k as being like an advance, it’s not.  There’s not a contract between the donators and Jay like there would be with a publisher and Jay becuase there’s no freaking consideration (you know, getting a chunk out of the royalties from future sales like a publisher would).  Plus, most self pub authors I know don’t get an advance.

I heard arguments about how you can’t write a book while working a job.

Um, no.

Most writers start out and continue writing while working.  I know some writers who are working multiple jobs while writing and have a family life.  While it’s true that I don’t know Jay and her finances, I just find the whole thing a little annoying.

Especially since I come from a family of artists.  For example, my sister is a professional musician.  In order to make ends meet she has another full job as a private lesson teacher.  She used to sell her reeds commercially as well and still find time to practice.  And guess what, no one paid her to practice for her orchestra.  Oh, she gets paid for rehearsals and performances, but not for merely practicing.

And then there was the whole  I won’t write anymore books in the YA genre if the KS fails line.

That last line left a really bad taste in my mouth.

But again, that’s just my opinion and believe it or not I do see where Jay is coming from.  I just don’t think the crowd sourcing site was utilized properly.  I do think that crowd sourcing is going to become an important part of the publishing process (especially for midlist authors) in the future.

Publishing is completely different than it was even five years ago.  Like it or hate it, Amazon  has changed the landscape especially when it comes to authors who don’t get the sort of press like big names.

Marketing is also a different game than it was years ago.  Publishing companies often will do little to no marketing.  With Princess of Thorns, for example, I only found out about it because I was interested in what else Jay was working on.  There wasn’t any fancy cover reveal.  I didn’t even realize it was on Netgalley till it was next to  impossible to obtain a copy.

I think the lack of marketing is in part to the over hype of what social media is AND isn’t.  While social media is a great tool to utilize when on a shoe string budget, it’s not fool proof and to be fully effective traditional marketing has to be employed with it.

Add an author’s already busy schedule and…well, ineffective marketing here we come.

Blogs are often thought to be a source of free marketing.  Despite what publishers might think, I don’t (and I know others don’t) have time to market a book like it should be marketed.  In Jay’s case, I plugged the book on several features and I saw the book plugged on some of my friend’s blogs as well.  And the book still didn’t garner enough attention to be given the green light for a sequel by Jay’s traditional publisher. In part, this might be because blogging really is a niche community.

While there are tons and tons of book blogs,  most of the time people will find a few they like and keep to those few.  And most of the time…those people you follow read similar things to you.

So, exposing the audience that would not normally read the book…not that likely.

Sigh…

The marketing for midlist titles has to change.  Here are some solutions (some are way better than others):

  • Publishing Downsizes: As much as I hate to say it, maybe it would be better if larger houses downsized their amount of titles.  While this would be less books, more time and resources could be spent on refining the product and marketing it.  There would less likely be as many flops as there are in the current market.  The downside to this is downsizing would more than likely cost jobs in the short term.
  • More Houses: I’d like to see smaller houses or more imprints of larger companies, but more of them incorporating the same concept as solution number one and having more independence from their parent company.  I already am a fan of small presses  and I would love to see more successful start ups. The problem is that the Big Six have a lot more resources than smaller houses.  Publishing is expensive.  I think if smaller houses are going to succeed and make a bigger impact in the market, they need to think outside the box in how to manage their resources.
  • Third Party Publicists: Sure, some authors have access to a strong publicity team, but not every author can afford a publicist.  I think there needs to be a cheaper middle man.  Maybe not performing all the services that a publicist does, but performing some of them at a lower cost.  Maybe advising in social media usage or promoting the author through a blog tour company or running their crowd funder.  Some of the services already exist, but I think it needs to be refined.
  • Stop Being Dependent on a Broken System: This one is the biggest one.  I really wish there wasn’t such a dependence on using primarily social media from unpaid third parties (aka bloggers) to market books.  I like blogging, but it’s a hobby and my focus isn’t on marketing.  I feel safe to assume that this is the same for many bloggers.  While we might have our favorite books, write reviews for them, and go gaga over covers and ships it’s not the same as actual marketing attention towards a book.  Even though I have some favorite midlist titles that I pimp out all the stinking time, I don’t have the resources (time or money) to do an effective marketing campaign.  Let alone, know anything really about marketing.  While bloggers should be part of the equation, they shouldn’t make up a large part of the equation.  And neither should authors.
  • Use Crowd Sourcing, but in an Effective Way: It’s been used before.  But I think when authors use methods like crowd sourcing, they need to pay close attention to the medium they are using.  Honestly, I think they might should have a third party handle the CS site. Having a third party write up the proposal will allow for another perspective and allow discussion before posting a campaign that is less than likely to succeed.

I am sad about losing Jay to the genre.  I enjoyed her books and I really wish she would’ve been getting the sales she deserved.  I feel the situation has become out of control, and that some people are making it about things it’s not-cough, misogyny and piracy, cough.

The fact is, even though Jay’s Kickstarter ended up being canceled it highlights awareness to the ever changing world of publishing. Rather than deviating into us versus them talks like some authors have, I think the discussion should be focused on looking at solutions for the changing world that is publishing.

 

Book Blogging: Apparently, It Has Become a Dystopia

When I announced that I was doing a Blogger Blackout earlier this week, I said that I would be having some awareness posts (this is one of them).  I thought today I’d talk about how hostile reader and author relations have become and how perplexing it is-to me as a reader and what can we (as a reader/blogger) do about it.

Some background: I started my first blog in Spring 2011.  I didn’t post often really until the beginning of 2012 since A) I was in law school, B) I was studying abroad in law school, and C) I ended up getting severally ill that fall with whopping cough and a host of other nasty infections that kept me in the doctor’s office a good third of the year (to the point I got very used to getting my blood tested).  However, when I started feeling halfway human again I started blogging again and it was just as I was immersing myself in the blogging community that relations turned nasty.

I don’t know what was the turning point.  Before I even blogged I saw negative and snarky reviews.  It was nothing new.  But there wasn’t near the amount of author drama as there is now.  No Twitter tantrums.  No cries of “bullying”.  No hate site ran by someone who clearly has lost touch with reality.  And there wasn’ t an author intent on stalking someone just because they didn’t like their book and were vocal about it.

So, what changed?

My first thought was more interaction between reader and writer.  GoodReads had really taken off on this point, and most every author had a Twitter account.  But there was Twitter and GoodReads before 2012.  Same with self publishing which is what a lot of people blame the problem on.  Which I think is silly since a lot of these meltdowns (cough, Kathleen Hale, cough) were committed by traditionally published authors.

Culture could also play a role.  There were various events in our society (i.e. media awareness campaigns) that discussed bullying in maybe too broad of terms.  And I guess to the ill informed would make a bad review look like bullying, but such an accusation to one who was actually bullied is just aggravating.

Just to reiterate:

  • It’s a book review.
  • Your book is not alive.
  • Unlike a corporation it’s legally not viewed as a person.
  • And the fact you’re comparing bad character development/poor plotting/etc. to bullying is just flummoxing….

So what is it?

My conclusions: there’s not one factor that points towards the poor relations.  Sure, certain events like a certain site that is essentially a propaganda piece that bad reviews=bullying probably furthered the behavior, but it certainly didn’t start the downward spiral of what has become an almost hostile community. Not only between authors and reviewers, but between reviewers as well.

And I’m tired of it.  I really am. See this post if you want to read my entire rant about trolls in general in the community.

To backtrack, no one should have to hold their breath every time they write a review for a book that gets less than four stars just because it might hurt the author’s feelings. God knows, there have been times I’ve posted less than flattering reviews and I’m like is this the one that’s going to cause some loon to seek out my personal information?

I have actually had my fair share of trolls and dealt with a couple of author trolls in the past.  While most of the trolls have been rabid  unpublished fan poodles for certain books, the author ones are the ones that have me raising my eyebrows.  Grant it, the two authors I’m thinking about on top of my head I did not even read their book (one hasn’t even published his yet).  Rather, they were ragging on  reviews I wrote for two rather popular authors.

I tried rationalizing with them.  I tried the whole you’re an author you should know better mantra, but it didn’t work.

And that’s something that often happens in these situations logic ceases to exist.

Kathleen Hale’s case is a prime example of that.  Throughout her article, she keeps trying to justify her actions.  Regardless of whether Blythe was a troll or not, she shouldn’t have went to the woman’s house.  She shouldn’t have called her.  She should’ve left well enough alone.

But she didn’t.

And many others don’t either.

However, it’s not wrong in their heads becuase it’s justified since said reviewer hurt their paper baby and therefore them as well.

So, how do you deal with someone like this?

You don’t. Not really.

If you ever find yourself dealing with an author meltdown, it’s probably the best to do the following:

1) Take Screenshots:In case the author does decide to demonize you in the future, you can always have proof to back your side of the story up.  While the most fanatic of fan poodles probably won’t believe you, it will provide proof to those who actually have common sense.

2) Think Before you Engage: More than likely the response you get back is not going to be an apology. If you just don’t want to deal with it hit the block button.  If you do decide to engage try to be rational and think what you’re going to say.  Remember, your words are probably going to be twisted against you.  Again, once you say something take screenshots.

3) If It’s on GoodReads use the quote feature: That way if they do delete,well, not everything will be gone.

4) Make Sure Anything Concerning Your Personal Information Is Kept Personal: The last thing you want is another Kathleen Hale, so keep anything that’s personal and you don’t want being found personal.

I get that while these tips can help,  but in some cases they’re not going to be enough.  Author and reader relations are at an all time low, but at the same time there are some really great authors out there.

The new reality that book bloggers live in is scary.  While there are steps that we can take to limit some of the impact that occurs, it’s not going  to limit it all together.  And in some cases, it probably won’t do us much good.  So, why continue blogging then?

Because it shows them that they didn’t win.  Well, that’s my mantra anyway.  My voice is not going to be kept quiet, just because some author doesn’t like the fact I hated his or her  paper baby. That and I like reviewing (sans drama it actually relaxes me).

Yeah but what about authors like Kathleen Hale….

And that is the elephant in the room.

Yeah, something about that needs to be done.  But what can you do?  Authors like Hale have networks that bloggers do not have.  To be honest, I thought about writing a complaint letter to Harper Collins, The Guardian, and her packager (using my PO Box address of course).  I’ve have had some success in the past when writing letters to corporate and at the very least there would be official documentation of my grievance (I’ll send it via certified snail mail, it makes more of an impression than email and they can’t use the it got lost in the mail excuse).  However, I don’t think it’s going to be one letter that changes things.  I think the blogging community is going to have to come together.  And not just with the Hale situation.

There needs to be some sort of accountability for what’s been going on.  Other professionals-doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.-have to follow an ethics code.  Lots of companies have customer service policies in place.  And something akin to this needs to happen in the publishing world.  I don’t know if  the individual publishing company should enact their own codes, or if the various author/publishing groups need to enact one themselves, or even the selling outlets-such as Amazon-should have some sort of ethics policy for their sellers.  But something needs to happen.  Events like the  Hale situation are unacceptable.  While certain authors whine about how mean and evil bullying reviewers are, maybe they are the ones who should look in the mirror.

 

PSA: This is NOT Okay

Edit: I heard that Blythe edited her review after Hale posted her article.  So, it initially was longer than two words.  Still it incites me that someone could be so petty to go all Lifetime Movie over a book review.

It should be obvious, right?

Stalking is NOT okay.

I mean, how many Lifetime movies have we’ve seen where the crazed stalker is taken away at the end of the movie and we’re told over and over again that it’s NOT the victim’s fault.

Yeah, thought so.

However, imagine my surprise when I open my Twitter feed this morning and see a YA author gloating about having tracked down a fellow blogger’s address.

My jaw literally dropped as I kept reading this article.  And especially after I read the comments where some were actually applauding Hale for tracking down Blythe and demasking her.

To be honest, I don’t care about Blythe’s identity.  Bloggers use pseudo names all the time.  God knows, I don’t use my name.  I rarely if ever even post pictures of myself because the YA blogging world has gotten cray cray in recent years.  And only a few people from my private life know about this blog.

We all have a right to privacy.

And Hale violated Blythe’s right pure and simple.  And then gloated about it online. As if she was justifying some big wrong.

The review sent Hale on a couple Twitter rampages, months of stewing, getting Blythe’s address through deceptive means, and ultimately  a confrontation that would be on par to about something you see on a Lifetime movie of the week.

And as previously mentioned there are some people who aren’t dumbfounded over this.

Hale doesn’t deserve a pat on the back.  For a eview she tracked down a woman and invaded her personal and professional life.  Because of a book review.

Apparently, this isn’t the first time Hale has gloated about an eyebrow raising confrontation.

Back to this specific case: Oh, but finding someone’s home isn’t illegal?

Yeah, but how would you feel if a complete stranger walked up on your doorstep, called the place where you worked out of the blue because of a  review.

Well, she deserved it she lied about her identity on a book blog?

Really.

This sort of claim is just skirting the issue.  When I looked at the issue, I’m not even going to consider the claims that Hale made against Blythe.  Because, well, Blythe hasn’t had the opportunity to tell her side of the story and to be honest it’s not even relevant. What’s relevant is what Hale did.  She spent months scrutinizing Harris’s posts and having some sting that is even more immature than the most immature of YA books.

Yet, people are defending her.  Even authors.

Why?

Why?

If I was Harper Teen I’d be concerned about this.  While Harris is a grown woman, several bloggers are teens.  How about if Harris had been a thirteen year old that Hale tracked down?

Age really shouldn’t matter though.  Most professional companies and organizations have strict rules about how ones personal information is given and how their employees use that information.  While Hale alleges that Harris gave her address willingly for an interview, that was for an interview.  An interview that was made for her book which despite what many authors think is not a paper baby.  It’s a product.  A product for Hale, her packaging company, and Harper Teen.    So in essence, Hale got the address as a part of her work for Harper Teen.

Victim shaming has always been an unfortunate part of our society.  The justification for what Hale did is victim shaming.  I feel as if the commenters shouldn’t focus on what Harris may allegedly had done, but on Hale’s actions.  Frame it any way you like, but what Hale did was scary and unprofessional.

And I won’t be buying or reading any of her or her supporters work.

Editorial: Well, Call Me a Black Sheep

This is going to be more of a personal rant than anything else.

But I’m done.

Completely done with people telling me the following:

1) Your opinion is wrong.

2) Your review is too long and detailed orianted.

3) You’re just being mean to get attention.

4) But you didn’t read the book.

My face whenever I read these comments is just dumbfounded.

Remember the first amendment?

Freedom of expression.

Trust me, there are some very short overly eager reviews that I don’t like, but I don’t comment on them.  I don’t tell them that their fangirling annoys me especially when they skew with ratings (i.e. five star a book before it’s even released).

However, I’m “evil” for writing my opinion.

Well, it didn’t have to be so verbose and/or graphic, MJ.  Or you didn’t have to be so mean about it?

Really?

Do I yell at you for your five million gifs of excitement?

 

The rampant trolling though and accusations get annoying after awhile.  Sure, it’s like swatting gnats away, but some of the things that are said just hurt.

I know I’m not the only one that feels this one.  Megan from Bibliodaze wrote about her experiences with this phenomenon.  The thing is, I don’t consider myself a hater by any means.

Yes, I write a lot of books that I rate low, but I’m honest about it.  I can’t help that I have horrible luck with books and that I’m ultra picky.  I blog as a way to express my opinion. If I wanted to make everyone on the internet happy then, well, I wouldn’t be blogging.

It’s odd that book blogging has become so volatile.  The thing is, I’ve written negative reviews on Trip Advisor and Yelp before for restaurants  and hotels I’ve been to and never have gotten the reaction I’ve got for not liking a book.  In the industry I work in, criticism is  a crucial and vital part of the work I do.  Even stranger, as a creative writing major I was encouraged to criticize and to be creative with my criticism.

But with blogging…I’ve been told

A) I’m a bitch.

B) I’m an attention whore.

and/or

C) I’m ignorant. 

Interesting enough, two of these insults have misogynic roots.  That gets me on another rant, but we won’t go there today.

Oh, I’m probably over analyzing about that  (because, you know, I tend to that).

I guess I have the right to defend myself, though I doubt I’ll change anyone’s minds.

A) I’m a bitch:

If you think I’m mean in my reviews.  I’m not.  I’m really not.  I’m a lot more evil in real life-I am a lawyer and a confirmed Slytherin after all.  I think one of the problems that some people find with my reviews is that I tend to do deep analysis, but it’s just the way my mind works. Plus, I’m a sarcastic person by my very roots.  Changing my style to fit a norm is not going to happen.  Plus, it’s my voice when I write.  Even in my five star reviews I’m somewhat sarcastic to a degree.

I’ll admit it though, if there’s something begging to be mocked I’ll laugh at  it (cough, Cassandra Clare’s fifty million shadow hunter books, cough).

And I really do try try to find something positive to say.  I really do.  When I first started this blog, I had my reviews in a form where I made sure to list the books best feature. While the form that I originally used has disappeared for creativity purposes (because come on, writing reviews in  the same format gets boring after awhile) I still try to list something positive in the most dullest of dull books.  But to be honest, sometimes I think it’s meaner to say, well, the cover was pretty but the book sucked.

Plus, my momma always told me there was no bigger bitch than a fake.  So, since I’m honest I guess that would mean I’m not a bitch.

Funny.

And here I thought I was positively evil.

B) I’m an Attention Whore:

Um, have you seen the followers for this blog?  Not that many in comparison to the rest of the blogosphere.  And I really don’t care how many followers I have.  I’m not in it for that.  Or the ARCs.  The main reason I blog is its therapeutic for me.  My cardiologist told me I needed some form of relaxation and this is it.

If this blog entertains you and you like to comment on it or the other places I post reviews and are a nice person more power to you.  I love making bookish friends-especially since my IRL friends think Fifty Shades of Grey is highbrow literature-but if you’re going to be an ass.  Well…I probably won’t like you very much.

Also, for an attention whore don’t you find it funny how I don’t post numerous pictures of myself or  use my real name?

Yeah, no attention of getting famous. In fact, to be honest, it kind of weirds me out when an author will retweet a positive review I’ve wrote.

C) I’m Ignorant

This will turn into a rant about how I didn’t understand the book and/or I’m being mean and horrible and I should consider the authors feelings/career.

A bad review isn’t going to kill a book, guys.

You know what’s going to kill it?  Bad sales.

And with the amount of followers I have, I doubt I’m going to put a dent there.  Oh, I might get a couple of people turned off.  But you know what they say, curiosity kills the cat.

Plus, don’t you think it’s good that someone is actually talking about your favorite author?  Differing opinions make for an interesting conversation.  It brings something new to the table.  And it makes for an entire major.

The thing to me is by trying to dictate this dogma of niceness vanilla-ness you’re eliminating a very valid part of the conversation.  Trying to act like a product is good because the author is a really nice person or you don’t want to ruin their career is sort of silly.

It’s their job.

Honest feedback is critical for them to improve.

Let’s just put it this way: your doctor diagnoses you wrong and you almost lose your foot.  Would you not report him/sue him for malpractice because he’s a nice person?

No.

I get it, a bad book isn’t the same thing as a foot almost falling off.  But it still work product that the author produces.  It’s not a paper baby.  And quite frankly, a mature author knows that not everyone is going to like their book.

I personally don’t view myself as a hater (like many people have called me).  I view myself as a critical review.  Yes, I point out lots of errors, even what many people think are minute errors, because they annoy me.  And I’m expressing my opinion.

Something that seemed perfectly acceptable way back in the 1800s when Charlotte Bronte was ranting about Jane Austen but now…

I think the point I’m trying to make is that not everyone is going to like the way someone reviews, but they should at least have tolerance and not accuse the person writing the review of things and calling them names. It makes you look silly.   People have their own motivations for reading and reviewing and you really can’t judge them.

If you don’t like what they say, don’t comment and write your own review.  It’s that simple.

You’re not going to change how I review.  If you think my reviews are too long, you’ll probably always think they’re too wrong.  Think I’m a Negative Nancy-well, if you really read my reviews you’d know I have given my fair share of three, four, and five star reviews-but I’m still going to have one and two star reviews.  Think I’m overly sarcastic and mean-well, that’s not going to change either.

The thing is, you should learn to tolerate. And just agree to disagree.

For now on, anytime I deal with a troll I’ll be linking this post.  I’m done giving a detailed explanation for why I review the way I do, and I really don’t want to talk about it anymore. The sad fact of the matter, is I shouldn’t have to talk about it.

Gender and YA Tropes

Believe it or not, a lot of YA tropes are tied to gender.  Having recently read a YA book that I felt relied on gender stereotypes and thus disrupted what should’ve been a talk about worthy book, I thought I’d take the time today to discuss some of YA’s most common tropes and gender.

 

1) The Bad Boy:

Have you ever noticed it’s always the bad boy not the bad girl?

Okay, I take it back.  Occasionally, there are a few bad girls in YA but the depiction between the bad boy trope and bad girl trope are quite different.

I’ll start by defining the bad boy:

He can act like an asshole and it’s perfectly okay, he has issues (bad childhood, bad breakup, daddy issues, wearing pants that fit a little too tightly) there’s always a reason.

With the bad girl, well, she’s just a bitch.  Got to reform that hag a la Taming of the Shrew style but add some more misogyny to it.

A part of me wonders if this is mostly because the bad girl is more often than not the protagonist, but then I read Walking Disaster in which Travis “Fucking” Maddox learned not one lesson.

It’s not only the supreme ass-holeness that is treated differently, but promiscuity is also treated different as well.  Having a male character who has had multiple partners as a certain mystique about him.  Oh, conquering the big playboy.  Having a female character who had multiple partners deems her a slut.

Double standards much?

If you look at the amount of bad boy vs bad girl books out there.  Bad boy books far exceed bad girl books.  Honestly, it’s a surprise when I pick up a YA  book and see that the love interest isn’t an asshole.  However, finding a YA book without a Virgin Princess is more difficult.  Oh, sure, you can find it.  But the book is going to be all  about how that character is redeeming herself for being an awful person that has had sex.

 

2) The Mary Sue:

Mary Sues are highly prevelant in YA.  And they’re all stinking perfect.  And they all fit within stereotypical gender roles.  Since she’s the most infamous YA Mary Sue, let’s use Bella Swan from The Twilight Saga to discuss this trope in more detail.

Bella physical description is of a relatively feminine looking protagonist who’s thin, but curvy.  Who doesn’t have really any opinions of her own in the world, other than the flavor of the book and wanting to be a vampire.  And who’s useless.

Of course, Meyer tries to argue that despite her weak state, Bella is actually the most powerful character in the book.  This whole argument is climaxed by ultra Super Sue Bella! in Breaking Dawn.

Running around in evening wear has to make you extra special.

But what did the Sue do to get her powers…nothing.

Well, die after having a child birth that made me pretty sure that if I ever want to reproduce I’ll probably either get a surrogate or just  adopt.

The point is, the character didn’t struggle. She did nothing in her struggle and representation of a traditional female character.

Which isn’t a terrible thing.

It’s just kind of archaic.

And here’s where people will be like just becuase you’re a feminist doesn’t mean I have to be one too.

True, you don’t.  And I respect the decisions that Bella made (even though I wholeheartedly disagree with them), but for the love of  God you should at least address that the situation is not ideal.   Why can’t this character be flawed physically, have goals that don’t involve her boyfriend or being turned into a monster, and if she wanted to go the traditional route have it make sense.

Of course, not all Sues are as extreme as Bella (well, not all have a demon baby), but almost all of them end up leaning on the significant other.  And give an unhealthy look on codependence.

 

3) The Virginal Myth:

Oh, dear lord.

If you lose your V card, girls, it’s not the end of the world.  The myth just started because of concerns of legitimacy prior before Maury Povich started telling men whether they were or were not the daddy.

However, many YA books would tell you that you’re going to be ruined if you have sex.

Okay, in recent years this trope has thankfully faded a little.  I credit writers like Meg Cabot for this.  Several of her Princess Diaries novels address the ridiculousness of this crap.

However, there are still certain books that employ this stupid trope.  Most recently, I read a 2006 novel (Ten Things I Hate About Me) that used this stupid trope to the point where I had to DNF it.  Grant it, the book had religious undertones but I’d say that sexism not religion made the bulk of the erroneous arguments in this sad excuse of a novel.

This trope is not only limited to contemporaries, but to paranormals as well.  Remember The Immortals series, well, virginity played a huge role into that obnoxiously long series.

4) Dresses!  Dresses!  Dresses!:

I sort of went off on this one in my review of The Jewel, but dresses seem to be a big marketing device in YA.

To be honest, I don’t mind being manipulated.

At least superficially because I love pretty dresses.

However, when the dresses are actually included in the book that’s where I have the problem.

To sum up my review on The Jewel and I guess on my review of the Selection trilogy-now omnibus series-is that the dresses are used to try to hide issues with the book.  And with both of these books, it caused more problems in good.

Plus, as a woman, I’m sort of insulted that an author/publisher thinks that a pretty dress can totally distract me.

Cover yes.  But a description of a pretty dress…well, I’d rather just look at them.

5)Slut Slamming:

You ever notice how dudes are never slammed.  This one, sort of goes back to trope number one.  But instead of focusing on the lead characters, I’ll be talking more about the side characters.

For example, I recently read Josephine Angelini’s Trial by Fire in which the main character’s crush ( a relatively minor character) turns out to be cheating on her.  Later, when she meets his AU he’s still a playboy but instead of faulting him for it.  She’s perfectly okay with it.

Now, skip about three hundred pages and and the main character is calling a bit character a slut.

The same goes with Alexandra Adornetto’s recent release, Ghost House.  Adornetto’s work has also been filled with slut slamming, and Ghost House was no different.  But what makes this particular book worthy of mentioning is that the character that was constantly being slut slammed was having an affair with the love interest.  And that character wasn’t blamed for anything. While all the blame was put on the other party.


Concluding Thoughts: To be honest, I could’ve continued going on about this but I thought for now this would give you a general idea about just how polarizing tropes can be in their views towards gener.  It’s sort of a shame, considering that a lot of YA is female oriented.  Do I think it’s something the publishing industry cook fix?  Absolutely.  Do I think it will be fixed anytime soon?  Probably not. 

Top Ten Things You Didn’t Want to Know About Book Blogging and Probably About Me too

10) If you think you’re going to be getting ARCs galore you’d be wrong: Unless you’re very, very, popular in the blosphere and have some great connections.  You won’t be getting ARCs every other week.  There are some sources like Netgalley and Edelweiss out there that are a perfectly legal way to get these books, but publishers are a strange beast.  I’ve been blogging pretty steadily for almost three years  now ( save for a brief hiatus when I caught whopping cough and a host of other  life threatening diseases and pretty much had to focus on just school to pass) and I am still reject plenty of times by some of the big six (or five now since we have Random Penguin).  Which I’m perfectly okay with.  I get that there are other bigger blogs out there and publisher’s want to market their books.  What I don’t recommend is begging those bloggers or individuals who have an ARC for them to give you their copy.  It just makes you look tacky and for that matter makes you look like you might be a suspect for pirating which is not a good thing.

The only pirate that’s a good thing.

 

9) You Can’t Like Every Book: If you like everything publishers will love you, right?  Wrong.  Honestly, I don’t really think publishers care how the book is received as long as there are people hearing about it.  Do you really think your audience is going to take value to your recommendations if you give an auto five stars to everything?  I know I’ve rolled my eyes at a certain popular blog for this.

8) Reading Is a Chore: When I read a book for my blog, I actually take time to analyze it.  If you are a friend or follower on Goodreads you’ve probably read some of my rampant rant status updates.  While some (probably not a lot) of you find these to be amusing, I actually use them later on when I go back to write my review.  I also try to be as fair as I can when I review.  And believe it or not, try to find one good thing to say about a book.  Unfortunately, I’ve had cases where that has not happened.

Seriously, this image is not making me focus.

 

7) Make Sure You Are a Little Blog Savvy: Seriously.  Otherwise Blogger and/or WordPress will drive you insane.  I actually took a course on WordPress, I know pathetic.  But it did help me be able to navigate the change over from Blogger without making a complete idiot of myself.  Oh, and it’s probably best to do a  wordpress.com account first rather than buying the domain if you’re not tech savvy.  Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with some severe headaches.

6) Followers Do Not Happen Overnight: Seriously.  Also, you’re going to have to do multi-platforms meaning Twitter, Facebook, Booklikes, Goodreads, etc. if you want your blog to make an impact.  Yes, it’s annoying especially for the introvert at heart.  But it’s a sad truth. And now I feel like I’ve probably haven’t been using Twitter enough…I’m inducing guilt on myself.  There is something wrong with that.  That’s only supposed to be my mother and my Beagle’s job.

Dogs that induce guilt,.

5) Privacy is Key: With all the weirdos out in the world (and yes, there are weirdos in the book world) privacy is really important.  Especially if your a minor or are a person who wants to keep their professional and internet lives separate.  Plus, with the increasing rate of cyber crime it’s probably best that you keep your real name to yourself.

4) Expect a Burn Out: Yeah, sometimes I don’ t want to read.  Blasphemy, I know.  Depending on how social you are, this might make you want to invest in a coblogger.  Believe me, I thought about the concept some.  Especially since I’m working now.  However, I’m still a single blogger (for now at least).  If a coblogger isn’t  your cup of tea.  Make sure you schedule your blogging activities.  I generally do most of my reading on the weekends and if I don’t feel like reading but still blogging I might watch a Lifetime movie or make a stupid list.  The point is-variety.  You need it to stay sane in the book blog world.

Me after reading five House of Night books, one of the Tiger Curse novels, and a couple of Cassandra Clare books.

3) It Can be Expensive:  Reading adds up.  Especially if your buying all of  your books.  As I said previously you can try to reduce the cost by requesting ARCs from sites like Netgalley or Edelweiss, or better yet use the library.  As lame as it sounds, I probably go to the library at least two or three times a month.  If your library is on a branch system, you can find recent releases.  Or get an interlibrary loan.   Even if you can’t though, reviewing books that have been out for years is still perfectly fine as well.  Note though, don’t always trust the librarians picks.  For some reason, my local librarian seems to love The House of Night books along with other horrible tomes that have radical magic plastic surgery in them.  I kid you not, the main character zaps herself a new rear and it was on the librarian’s choice pick shelf.

2) Authors Can Be Scary:  No.  Really.  When I first started blogging, I asked a few authors to give an interview.  And some (well, most are great).  But since then there has been a bit of an evolution of BBA behavior where some authors think by starting a hissy fit they can sell a few books.  Which is utterly ridiculous.  The point is while I do like author interaction, I’m a bit weary of it now.  With both traditional and independently published books.  Because yes, both sides of the publishing industry can have BBAs and both can have sweethearts and darlings as well. My best advice with authors, treat them with professionalism.  If their unprofessional to you, you have every right to report their so called lack of customer service in your review.  Since you are the consumer.

 

1) You Meet Great People: This is probably the best thing about blogging.  I actually can talk to people who read the stuff I read and don’t look at me like I’m a freak of nature for reading YA.  Believe me, it has happened.  There has been talk that blogging has become inclusive as of late.  And to be honest, sometimes I do feel a little bit out of the loop, but overall I think the experience has been a great stress outlet for me.  I started this blog after my first year of law school when my pulse rate went to one hundred and forty.  The cardiologist told me I had to have some sort of stress relief.  While I like to write my own stuff (I was a creative writing major before I started the whole law thing), sometimes I have writers block.  With books though, I always have something to say about books.  And whether or not you share my opinions, I do enjoy talking about them.

Top Ten Things That Annoy Me in Book World Right Now

There’s a lot of things that have been annoying me lately in book/book blog world.  I’ve decided to list them here because I need to vent.  These are purely my opinion, if you don’t agree with them I’m sorry.  But this is how I feel:

10) Teams: Don’t try to push a half assed love triangle on me.  Some stories aren’t meant to have teams and that’s okay.  It’s when you try to force them on people it really doesn’t work.  Also, it’s not good to pout when people don’t catch on to a certain guy that you’re shoving down our throats.

9) The Pure Virginal Heroine: I could care less about her V-card status.  What really annoys me about these type of heroines that they care about everyone else’s V-card statuses.  Just stop.  It’s none of your business if someone wants to sleep with someone.  And so what if some girl has a crush on your crush?  If he’s really into you it shouldn’t matter.  Just because she likes him does not make her a ho.

8)Proper Grammar: Just because your self published, doesn’t excuse bad grammar.  Especially if I’m paying for your shit.  But editing takes time, you might say.  Yes, it does.  That’s why writing is work.  And if I point out a comma error that does not make me a bully.  It makes me an irate customer who’s upset they’ve been ripped off.

7) Fake Reviews: If you haven’t read the book why are you even writing a review?  And I’m not talking about DNF reviews.  Those are perfectly acceptable.  I’m talking about reviews where it’s quite obvious that the reviewer didn’t even open the book.  And gives it a five star review because well….they got it for free and want to get more things for free.

6) YA Heroines Who Reading Lists Are Denser than an English Major: Seriously, I was an English major and despite the fact that I liked Austen, read some Bronte, and took a class over the bard’s work and forced myself to read both King Lear and Othello in one semester, I don’t think the average sixteen-year-old’s favorite book is going to be Wuthering Heights. Well, unless your name is Bella and you have a thing for unhealthy relationships.

5) Embarrassing Book Covers: Do you really think I want my coworkers to look at me like I’m a freak and mock my reading choices?  It was bad enough in high school.  You know, basic book covers with no CW wannabes can be attractive.  Plus, most of those guys you get to pose for those YA covers…. Publishing companies, you could do better.

How do you explain this one to, well, anyone who doesn’t watch the CW?

 

4) Comparing Everything As the Next: As much as you want, you’re not going to be the next Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games.  Well, maybe Twilight since that poor series has been ripped off about a hundred times already.  But you’re going to have nowhere near the success as Stephenie Meyer unless you insert a nasty unhygienic scene with a tampon that people only read for its sheer grossness.

3) Shadowhunter spinoffs:  Seriously, how many of these do you have to have?  I can get one maybe two.  But the fact that Cassandra Clare has listed that she’s not only having another spinoff, but a spinoff,  spinoff, and a graphic novel spinoff.  Plus, all those essays that kiss her butt, an encyclopedia, and a crappy movie to boot. It’s just too much.  And it’s not like I have anything against franchises when done right and in a non-obvious way I’m perfectly fine with them.  This though, is way too much.

2) Authors Using the Bullying to Sell Books: Seriously.  No.  Just no.  If you really are bullied, I’m sorry.  Put on your big girl/boy panties and get over it. I know I did in school.  I know plenty of other people have gotten help without having a meltdown on the internet.  And using said sob story to sell books.  Honestly, doing that makes you disgusting, IMHO.  Seriously.  Have you wondered how people who are tormented every day for real feel.  There’s a difference between getting called out on shitty writing and being tormented as as a person.  If a BOOK review really hurts you that much, maybe you should use the Nanny Net to block Good Reads and Amazon.  Just saying.

1) P2P fanfiction that doesn’t even try to hide it’s fan fiction:  I am objecting to all claims that lawyers are the least ethical of all professionals.  We have to take the MPRE and take an ethics class and know that there’s actually something called copyright laws.  Some authors (or should I say bad fangirls and fanboys) on the other hand…well, it seems like P2P-ing has almost become it’s own despicable  genre. And no, I’m not talking about New Adult as a collective, though a lot of NA used to be Twilight fan fiction.  It’s really easy to see that a lot of these books are AU New Moon stories where Bella goes to college and acts like a mopey asshole and falls in love with an Edward or Jacob without a furry problem.  Seriously, if you’re advertising your fanfic as soon to be original fiction on fanfiction.net you seriously need to rethink some things (and yes, I’ve seen and have screenshots of this). Especially when you use RPatz and KStew fan art to advertise your little ripoff.  Way 2008, people.

 

PSA Time: How GoodReads Contradicts Everything I Learned in Literary Studies

A lot of you read this blog because you are friends with me on GoodReads.  Heck, I get more feedback about the blog from that website than I do on the actual blog.  But I’ll be distancing myself from the site.  That doesn’t mean I’ll be gone, but due to recent policy changes I will be posting full reviews only on the blog and on Booklikes.

What policy changes are these?

Well, to put it bluntly GoodReads is now deleting shelves and reviews that aren’t about the contents of book.  Well, sort of.  To put it more precisely they’re deleting anything that regards bad author behavior.  If you five star a book because OMG it’s the bestest most awesomest author ever and give it five stars, you’re probably okay.

Look, I get it, GoodReads you’re involved with Amazon now and want to sell books especially books that are published via Amazon.  Which sad to say a lot of the bad author behavior derives from self pubs who publish a lot of the time through only Amazon.  But at the same time, the site has been marketed since it’s introduction as a site for readers.  And to tell me I can’t review a book based on author behavior is making me question my English degree since about seventy-five percent of the term papers I wrote had to do with authors and their views on society.

Also, I guess it would make my senior thesis on female empowerment in literature invalid too since I cited Charlotte Bronte’s comments on Jane Austen.  OMG Charlotte Bronte’s talking about the actual author got to delete that review.

But author behavior isn’t related to books you claim….

Well, put it through this perspective would you hire a painter to paint your house who cussed out your friend, told them that they didn’t know what they were talking about when said friend claimed they didn’t like the job they did.

Heck no.

Said friend would probably call their superior or at least leave a scathing review on Angie’s List or whatever and that would be fine.  In fact, if there was a superior it probably would be appreciated for improvement purposes.

Case in point, in March I had a terrible experience at a local Starbucks.  The barista was downright rude to me.  She claimed they were out of a syrup when the syrup was right in front of her.  And proceeded to act like I was stupid when I asked her to add extra hazelnut syrup in my mocha.   I called the company about that.  And you know what, calling to complain about a bad employee was just as valid as complaining about a bad cup of coffee.  So much, I got three free beverages from the company.  And yeah, I continue to buy coffee from Starbucks today.

The point I’m trying to make here, is authors do play a role in how we view there books and that extends to their behavior outside of the book.  Look at literary theory.  The postmodern trend is towards new historicism which looks at outside interferences of the work.  Current events, the author’s life, figures in their life, etc. are all fair game when it comes to analyzing the book.   The fat that the author can’t take criticism is actually a valid point when analyzing work in the academic setting.  Not to mention in the consumer setting, you sort of want to know what your’e getting into especially if you’re a young  blogger who doesn’t want to get harassed.

And really how can you not review the author?  When I review I don’t judge the writer I’m reviewing but I do notice their quirks.  Case in point, Meg Cabot loves to use quirky protagonists from the midwest.  Jennifer L Armentrout (who has an awesome article on some other policies GR has decided to enact)  likes to have a tough girl main character.  Tera Lynn Childs is the queen of fluff.  PC and Kristin Cast like using tropes to the max degree and then some.  I feel like these are the sorts of things that should be mentioned in a review and how the author utilizes their quirks in their latest project.

And yes, I get marking a book on a list for author behavior and then writing something like: I’m not going to read this book  by Meanie Author because she harassed reviewers, has horrible grammar, it’s p2p fiction, and spams people isn’t the same thing as calling out author quirks, but as I stated before these reviews serve a purpose for the person shelving the book and as an advisory notice for someone who might not want to read a book.  And it’s also used as a cataloging tool too.

Furthermore, I hate the fact that there are some people claiming that think reviewing a book like this is slander or libel or any sort of defamation.  First of all, slander is spoken not written.  And then…..you know what, I’m not even going to get into a discussion of what libel is for dummies.  Internet lawyers just need to go to law school if they want to discuss the law.  I’m sure that their torts professor will terrorize them and then some and then they’ll shut up.

Anyway, I’ve said my peace and am getting off my soapbox now.  Harriet Klausner just needs to come over already and become GR’s number one reader because that, my friends, is where the site is headed.

Self Image and YA

I’m going to be frank about it, I’m sick of how heroine’s portray themselves in YA.  This past weekend I’ve read two books that dealt with poor body image.  One was a little bit better than the other, but it still aggravates me.  Mainly because YA is really filled with poor body image.  I thought I’d try to figure out what sort of justifications authors might make for them.  And, well….give a little of my own opinion and then make some conclusion that hopefully doesn’t sound too much like a PSA.

1) People can identify with an insecure heroine.



That is true.  But do realize that when some people read they look up to those characters.  Case in point, one of my role models as a teen was Suze Simon from Meg Cabot’s The Mediator.  Yeah, I know she’s a fictional character but she was essentially how I wanted to be as a teen: confident, sassy, and kick box, oh and she’s a mediator. I’m only one, okay maybe two or three of those things.  And one of them believe it or not is that I’m a mediator.  Well, I can’t see ghosts, but I’m certified to mediate disputes between people in the state of Texas.  I know it seems that having a book character is a little weird, but it happens.  And most of the YA characters out there these days aren’t good role models.  Or just in general, good people.  Having a heroine that’s insecure about her appearance (when we’re told that she’s more beautiful than she gives herself credit for) makes those of us who aren’t super models in disguise (because let’s face it that’s what about 80% of YA heroines really are) feel even more insecure about ourselves.  And it sends the wrong message, why not be happy with the way you are regardless of how you look.  It’s just a stupid plot point.  And God it makes for so many annoying heroines.  Case in point, in the book Fairest by Gail Carson Levine, the main heroine is beyond annoying because she keeps telling us how ugly she is when she has a prince falling all over her before she gets beautified.  That my friends, is annoying.

2) Well, we have to give the heroine some sort of problem.



Yes, I get insecurity is a typical teenage problem.  And it’s better having a complete Sue, but couldn’t the MC have other problems.  In Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead, Rose Hathaway has plenty of problems but her appearance isn’t one of them.  Mead makes Rose satisfied with her appearance despite the fact she goes to school that’s filled with supermodel types.  The MC doesn’t even necessarily have to be satisfied with her appearance.  Take Mia Thermopolis from Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries, in the early books she’s constantly insecure about her chest size, but the book isn’t about that.  Honestly, it’s more or less a running gag. And honestly her chest size is the least of her problems and she realizes that.  However, we have other books in the genre where the physical imperfections are the only problem the MC has.  Like in the Magnolia League by Katie Crouch, Alex constantly complains that she’s fat (she’s a freaking size 6).  In fact, a lot of the poor decisions she makes is basically because of her appearance.  The whole book really revolves around her appearance-character reactions to her, her love interest, the magic.  It’s ridiculous.  And really a size six is fat….fuck you.  Fuck, fuckity, fuck you.



3) Well, if I make my heroine pretty beyond words than she’s a self assured young woman and just plain awesome.



No, PC and Kristin Cast, no.

I like a confident heroine.  But when you have Zoey Redbird, House of Night, who’s about as vain as Gaston from Beauty and the Beast fame.  It doesn’t work.  It sort of has the same affect as the I’m Prettier than I Think I am Heroine.  In other words, it makes you want to rip her throat out.  And having a heroine described like this isn’t so much unhealthy as annoying.  Sure, I think it’s unhealthy in the sense that these heroines make physical beauty to be some sort of virtue, but what’s worse is that it shows a lack of character development.



4) Teens change their appearance all the same, so what if my MC zaps herself a new butt.  She has superpowers.  If you had superpowers you’d zap yourself a Kardashian rear too.



There’s dyeing your hair and then there’s giving yourself radical plastic surgery via magic which is what occurs in Brittany Geragotelis’s What the Spell?.  The book itself spends three pages depicting the change a pretty but quasi mousy girl to looking like Barbie.  It’s disgusting.  It’s disturbing.  And yet, Brooklyn is a character that we’re supposed to identify with.  After all, all of us want to zap are problem areas a way too, right?  Well, maybe…but do we (well, there is plastic surgery), but to be honest this isn’t merely fixing one problem this is overhauling ones entire appearance.  And in many books this happens to a degree.  Maybe not all at once, but characters do undergo physcial transformations.  Bella, for instance, becomes a beautiful vampire in Breaking Dawn (the fact that she just gave birth seems overshadowed, since she’s given a supermodel body when in reality she should spend eternity with a postpartum body).  Showing that you can change yourself with the snap of your fingers and that it’s perfectly okay to scrub any semblance identity away isn’t a healthy message.

 

5)Its fiction.  And so what if I my character has the perfect butt.



Two words: Mary Sue.  Seriously, there are so many annoying YA characters with perfect butts and perky breasts that fail the Sue litmus test, it’s not difficult to see why they have said perfect assets (wish fulfillment).  Oh, and that fiction excuse it’s really flimsy just like Stephenie Meyer’s logic in Breaking Dawn  and we all know how purdy Bella looked after her transformation.