Saturday, March 22, 2008

Here's why...

I do the things I do...

You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven't been around much lately. Starting with the stomach flu that ravaged the family a few weeks back, ending with the pipe that broke and flooded the entire rental property just two days before our renters were set to move in, and working some crazy hours in between all that other drama, it's been a heck of a few weeks.

I was so totally counting on having that wonderful weekend in South Carolina, where I got to actually share a meal and some really cool chat time with the amazingly FABulous Joshilyn Jackson, be a time for me to re-charge, re-group, and re-LAX! And it was lovely. Really, totally lovely. But alas, as with all weekends-away, I had to come home, back to the reality that is my at-times-insanely-crazy-but-always-wonderful life. Straight back to the stomach flu. And my General Manager moving to Florida. And the rental flooding. So much fun being home, right?

So yeah, when things in the real life get crazy, time on the computer is the first thing that has to go. What? You didn't think I'd sacrifice time with my kids, did you?

Now, I've actually got the weekend off, and I wanted the chance to share a few things with you, before I go forward and start a few new things in April. We'll just chalk the month of March up to one long hiatus. I mean, those other writers in tv land got to take some time off, didn't they?

Here's the deal. I love books. I love reading them. I love writing them. I love walking in to the bookstore and seeing them. I love the smell of them. Pretty much anything that has to do with books is something that I enjoy being involved in.

I read all the time. I have books stashed everywhere you can imagine - next to the bed, in the office, in every bag I carry, in the car for reading at stoplights, piles of them next to the bathtub. You get the picture? I know what I like, and I know what I don't really like all that much. I also know how hard it is to write, since I'm plugging along at my own book.

I like to share my feelings about the books that I read, and that's why I started this blog. It wasn't supposed to be a big thing, with lots of people. It started off as a place to put my thoughts on books, instead of my personal blog. A few friends knew about it and read it, and that was cool. Then I had a partner in crime, as it were, and that was really nice too. Then we started doing contests, and more people started showing up, and that was pretty interesting. I found it all a bit strange that people really listened to what I had to say about books, and more than a bit flattering, if you want to know the truth. Then the partner in crime left, and I was back to doing things on my own. Except, now I had regular readers. Hmmm. Interesting place to be, yes?

But seriously, I'm not a very good reviewer. You knew that already, didn't you? I mean, I'm not snarky, I'm not rude, I can't really be mean. And I have this stupid thing where if I can't say at least three nice things about a book, then I won't even talk about it. Why? Well, because I think that authors work hard, really REALLY hard, to write those stories. And it's wrong, and mean, and just crappy, of me to come in and rip their work to shreds. I just don't see the humor, or the fun, or anything in that. I can't read review sites that seem to enjoy trashing not just a book, but an author as well. They make me kind of queasy. I don't find it entertaining, I find it cruel.

I also don't think that reviews should tell you anything major about the book. I don't think that any plot points should be revealed, and secrets told. I don't think they should be like mini- book reports. Nor do I think that you should get any more information from a review about the book than you get from the Back (or Inside) Cover Copy of a book. Reviews that tell you everything that happens in the book basically take away your reason to buy the book. I enjoy telling the general things that I liked about the book, a small bit about the main characters, any MAJOR thing that might have bothered me, and whether or not it will make my Keeper shelf, be passed on to a friend, be given away, or be sent out into the wild.

Also, because of the fact that I have a full time job outside the home, we homeschool all six of our amazing children, I'm very involved in my church, and I read like a fiend, I don't have the time to 'review' every single book that I read. And frankly, I doubt you'd like it if I did that anyhow. I want you to know that the books that I choose to 'feature' here are books that have somehow touched me. They have shifted the way I think about something, or look at something, or feel about something. They have made me pause and reconsider my views and opinions. They have made me cry or laugh. Basically, I'm only going to tell you about the ones that move me. Because really? Who the heck has time to read books that don't move you?

So if you're looking for mean-spirited reviews that tell you every last thing about a book, you're in the wrong place. If you want someone that's willing to trash an author, or the book that they wrote, you've got the wrong girl.

But if what you want is honest, positive thoughts about really special books, then maybe you're in the right place.

Going forward, here's the deal.
- I'll be putting a list of the books that I'm planning on reading every week/month up in the sidebar. It'll be like a TBR pile. When I finish with a book, if it's made any kind of an impact on me at all, I'll tell you about it. If you don't hear about it, then that means that I either really didn't like it, or it didn't make a really big splash in my pond.

- I will still feature a Fabulous Author/Book every month. And there will be a free book given away in a contest. Sometimes those books will even be signed. Sometimes they won't be. I'll try to have the FAB be a week-long event. And I'll try to include an interview. But I'm not making any promises.

- If you want me to tell you my thoughts on a book, ANY book, drop me a line, or leave me a comment. I'm always looking for new books or authors to check out. Keep in mind, I'll read almost anything, but I especially enjoy Southern fiction, mystery/suspense, 'chick lit', and straight romance. That's not to say that I won't read anything else, because hey, if it's in a book I'm willing to try reading it. I've read just about everything. I say "just about" because I'm sure there are things that I haven't seen yet. But if it falls in any category between cookbooks (my favorite is this one) and computer manuals (like this one), or anywhere else on any shelf of the bookstore, I'm more than willing to read it. And I honestly can't remember the last time I didn't finish a book. I just can't NOT finish, if you know what I mean.

- I'm going to encourage discussion about books. Actually, I'm going to beg for it. So, if you want to discuss a particular book, let me know. I'd like to start BookTalk in April, with a discussion of March's FAB The Girl Who Stopped Swimming. If you were one of the people that got signed copies of the book, or if you bought and read your own copy, please join me in a discussion IN THE COMMENTS SECTION, about the book. You will be able to identify BookTalk posts because the title will start with BT, and it will have a BookTalk label. If you don't want to read spoilers, please don't click on the comments for these posts.

- To go along with and encourage BookTalk discussions, I'll be sending out a few copies of a book each month. How do you get on my list? Send me an e-mail ( deesbookdish AT gmail DOT com) and let me know that you want to participate in BookTalk (just put BOOKTALK in the subject line, and your address somewhere in the e-mail body). I can't promise that you'll get a book every single month. But the more often you are here and you comment, the more often that you participate in the contests, well, the more inclined I will probably be to send you free books. You are, of course, under no obligation to participate in BookTalk discussions if I send you a free book. But it would be really great if you did drop in and at least give me your honest (but not cruel) opinion of the book that you got.

So, does that make sense? Things will keep going around here, but they'll be just a tad bit different. I'll tell you the books I'm reading, and I'll tell you about those books if they make any sort of an impact on me at all. If I don't tell you about them, then they were either wallbangers, or they were just not that interesting TO ME. That's not to say that you won't find them amazing, but if I don't tell you about them, that that just means that I personally didn't find them all that great. I'll also have regular BookTalk discussions, almost like an online book club, and you might get free books

Now, I'm going to adjourn for the next few days, and actually write up some 'reviews' of books I've read in the past few weeks, and store those to post in the very near future. And I also have a Double Dish from TC that I've had in storage for a few weeks (THANKS, tc!!).

Stay tuned for more fun stuff, more contests, more giveaways, and more of the reasons that I started the site in the first place. Be in touch in the comments if you have any suggestions. Can't wait to hear from you!

Keep Turning Those Pages!


Brandy said...

Your views toward your reviews are a lot like mine. I will not review a book I didn't like and will not trash a book. I appreciate and am in awe of the talent the authors have to write the stories they do, I will not be a part of tearing them apart.
As for your being busy, well, again, like you I get busy so totally understand! *G* (I, too, homeschool my children.)
Please continue on in any fashion you see fit and I will continue to enjoy your reviews and participate when I can. *G*
That said, I hope the flu has left y'all and that you're feeling good!

Anonymous said...

I love your reviews for the exact reason you write them - to share a good book. I don't want the details of a book, just the gist so I can jump in with a little knowledge. That said... here is a book I think you'll like and I'd like your take on it, The Flawless Skin of Ugly People. It is written by a somewhat local author, and it is set in the south. It is sorta quirky, sad, funny, painful, anyway I thought it was good. Oh, just add it to your TBR pile.

and thanks for the audio TGWSS, I am having a harder time staying focused than with the book, but I"m still enjoying it! And my kids keep comparing it to an autographed baseball card, so I've earned some major cool points!


tammy said...

I just finished TGWSS last night so am looking forward to April's Book Talk!

Michelle said...

We;come back!!! Here's to April being a better month for us all.

Thanks for the link to the cookbook.

Oh, and I can't wait to read Lani's new one, hopefully I can read it this month too!

McB said...

Good to see you, chica. So sorry to hear that things have been so rough lately.

I don't want to read bad reviews. I can find bad books all on my own; there's a million of them out there. But then again, what I think is bad might end up being someone else's favorite. It's a subjective thing. So, yeah, I'd rather someone shared a book they love that I might have missed otherwise.

McB said...

Oh, and on the subject of books to share, I just read Jan Karon's "Home To Holly Springs." It's one of her books in the Father Tim series and I highly recommend it, or any of the others, if you just want a sweet, sentimental cozy read. Her books are well flavored with wonderful, eccentric characters and are suitable for nearly any age group or sensibility.

rssasrb said...

So good to see you back. I agree with you totally on reviews and loved, loved, loved The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

Sorry you have had such a yucky month but man I'm glad I missed the stomach bug.

Wendy said...

Hiii, Dee! I'm so glad you're back! I missed reading your awesome reviews and all.

All the new changes sound really great, especially BookTalk, can't wait for that! :)