Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What a difference a year makes!

This is what I wrote in my June monthly report last year:

Disturbing discovery

The Romance Writers of America hands out the RITA awards every year at their convention. This is the “official” award of the romance industry, although there are several others given by different groups. While I was searching Horizon to see if we had all the nominees, I found that there were a few categories we had few, sometimes none, of the books that were nominated. The titles were from 2007, and they were all “category” romances. Category romances are defined as the ones that come out monthly in a category (like Harlequin Blaze for instance). I didn’t start buying those until mid year 2007 because it had always been that we didn’t buy those. Now that I think about it, I find it kind of appalling that we would single out a category of book we didn’t buy just because we didn’t think it had any merit. We’re a library for crying out loud. I think we’re the absolute last people who should be judging what books have merit and which do not. I understand that we can’t, and don’t, buy everything but we really shouldn’t be making the decision on what to buy based on something as general as “it’s a category romance.” And I really hope that we don’t ever go back to that way of thinking. It is embarrassing, as an institution, to be so closed minded about a collection that aims to serve the WHOLE city, not just the ones with high literary taste.

So, today the RITA nominations were announced and I can report SIGNIFICANT improvement in what is in our collection. I wish I could say that it was 100% but, I can't. Sadly. BUT, there were only 3 categories where we didn't have them all: Best First Book, Contemporary Series Romance and Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure. Out of all the books nominated, there were six we didn't have. I'm encouraged by that, although I'm also curious as to WHY we didn't have those six. How did I miss them? Why didn't I pick them? Was it bad reviews or what? I'll have to check into that.

In the meantime, here is the list

Review: Kill Zone

Kill Zone: A Sniper Novel Kill Zone: A Sniper Novel by Jack Coughlin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This gets four stars because even though I thought there were problems with it, I couldn't stop reading it. And, by the end, I realized I'd liked it a lot.

Part of the problem, I think, was reader interference. Whenever you have a book that deals with politics, even tangentially like this one does, I can't help but try and decipher the unwritten (and probably unintentioned) messages. Does this author have a political bias? Do they lean in one direction or the other? What does it mean if they DO have a bias? The fact that I had to ask meant that it was pretty well hidden.

The other criticism I have is that there were some missing descriptions in the book. What did these people look like? Some of them were described pretty well. Others, I'm still not sure. I actually went back to where one character was first introduced because I thought I had missed the description. Turns out, it wasn't there (other than he was bald.) WTF does he look like, though? Maybe the authors don't feel it is important, but, trust me, it is.

Some of the conversation seemed stilted in a few places, but that can happen to even the best writers. It certainly wasn't an issue throughout the book. It just seemed like the authors weren't together and the gap showed in the conversation between two characters at that point. It always got back on track.

The action sequences were EXTREMELY good in this book. If I were writing a book and I needed to know how to handle things of an action nature (using contemporary weapons and techniques) I would use this book as a reference. Not a call to plagiarize, of course, but to see how things are done. Obviously, authors involved know what they're talking about and it shows. But, it is done in a way that is less "education" and more entertainment. Main characters are likeable, secondary characters are decent. Villains are.....villainous? And there are even some characters that are in between. It almost reads like an action movie, which can be good or bad. Your choice.

View all my reviews.