Monday Morning Stepback: Defining Sluttiness, Buying Followers, and the TBR App

1. Links of Interest from the week that was

Avidbookreader is talking about Digital Backlists You Probably Don’t Know About.

How Kindle Handles Typos from GalleyCat (reporting on a Wired column)

Long, but worth it. A report on a speech by Coetzee on censorship at UT’s LBJ Library (from Maud Newton)

Victoria Janssen on The Bashful Hero.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the romance novel hero who’s physically large and good at everything and gorgeous to boot. Except, I don’t mind that combination of traits if the hero is bashful about being good at everything, or embarrassed because he’s so tall, or just interesting in some way.

At Novel Matters, Ariel Longhorn on Reading and Discernment. Her post focuses on her identity as a Christian and whether she should read or reject books that represent views that challenge her faith.

At Abe Books, Beth Carswell on Reading and Seething: Books That Make Us Angry (via Books, Inq). Check out their very diverse list, which happens to include a sparkly, angsty vampire.

The UK Observer had a neat piece on covers.

What possible discussions took place in Germany, for instance, when publishers first received the manuscript for Martin Amis’s House of Meetings – a novel that describes the misery of life in a Russian gulag – and set to work on a cover that featured six figures body-popping in the windows of a modern apartment block? What prompted Italian book designers to give junior wizard Harry Potter a hat shaped like a mouse, and why did the French opt against the monochrome design that jacketed Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated in the UK and the US, concocting instead a watercolour of somebody fondling a woman’s breasts?

Ever wondered how to get a direct link to a tweet? The Book Vixen explains how.

At The Millions, an enthusiastic attitude to the TBR pile: The Joy of Unread Books:

I have about 800 unread books on my shelves. Some would find this excessive, and they would probably be right. But I take comfort in knowing that I will have appropriate reading material whatever my mood, that I will be spoiled for choice whenever I want a book, and that I will never, ever run out of new stories.[2] From the cover design, the back blurb, and general absorption of cultural knowledge, I have a strong idea of what each one of my unread books is like.

Take a look at the new Vanity Fair cover, featuring World cup athletes. Some are saying it objectifies men, and/or is “gay pornish”. Both seem to be objections to it. What do you think?

What do you think about The Pregnant Heroine? Sandy Heather at AAR says:

However, as I’ve grown older (or maybe because I’ve since had two of my own babies) I can’t seem to make myself turn off reality and find the pregnant heroine sexy. When the heroine discovers she’s pregnant, my mind automatically goes to prenatal vitamins, folic acid, or even birth defects. I can’t help it; I’m a worrier. I think about nausea, vomiting, and the even more unpleasant things that go along with late pregnancy. Yes, pregnancy is a beautiful and a life-changing experience for which little else can compare, but it’s also physically draining at times and at others downright unpleasant. For me, nowadays, it’s just not romantic in a sexy, steamy way.

Having just read Jo Goodman’s All I Ever Needed, I admit to being completely thrown out of the story by how often and how far into the heroine’s pregnancy she gets it on with the hero. I wondered, “is Sophia’s nonchalance typical or even believable for Regency era pregnant women?”.

The funniest thing I read last week was a debate about Miley Cyrus’s new song and video in The Sexist. I am pretty sure it is one of the worst 5 songs I have ever heard in my entire life. As Amanda puts her view:

It’s just important to make the distinction between OH MY DISNEY GIRL SEXY AVIAN COSTUME WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO OUR CHILDREN! and saying, Hey, it must be hard to be a Girl, Not Yet A Woman in the spotlight and be criticized no matter how you want to grow into adulthood. I will say that the song kind of sucks, in a not-criticizing-her-burgeoning-sexuality kind of way.

Feministe on Defining Sluttiness. Here quoting Sady Doyle, who participated on a panel at Harvard’s Rethinking Virginity conference:

The fact that anyone can be labeled a slut, at any time, with any level of sexual activity under their belt, and the fact that sluttiness is a moving target, makes it clear that slut-shaming isn’t just about controlling how much sex women have*. If you can be called a slut without so much as kissing another person, then it stands to reason that your slut status must be based on something besides your level of sexual experience or activity. And often, it is. It’s based on what people assume about you just by looking at you – at your body, your clothes and the way you move through the world. Once you realize that, it becomes obvious that the slut label isn’t just about controlling how much sex women have: It’s about controlling how we dress, how we walk, how we talk, how we dance, how much we drink, who we talk to, how we feel about our own desires and so on and so on.

Angela of Save Black Romance on Dorothy Koomson, Race and Culture:

However, I admit to feeling funny while reading both books. More than once I stopped to ask “Where are the black people?” or “Doesn’t Kendra/Kamryn ever date any black guys?” and I was often weirded out by how, well, “white” Kendra and Kamryn sounded.

BookEnds LLC on the question of whether there is or should be a Morality Clause in YA fiction.

2. Romanceland items: goodbyes, the TBR App, and growing your blog the new fashioned way

Good bye to Romance Buy The Book and Royal Reviews, although the former will be back after summer and the latter will continue to blog as individuals.

I had just discovered Royal Reviews, and was really surprised to see how young it was and how many readers it had. It’s funny how some sites take off and some don’t (by which I mean, specifically, “DAMN THEM ALL TO HELL!!!”). I have no idea how the folks at Royal Reviews grew that review site, so this is not about them, but I will take this as an opportunity to rant a little about using prizes to get more followers. I am really sick of all the tweets coming in to my stream with “Follow Susie! She needs to get to XX followers. Bigger prizes the more followers she gets!”.

People have a right to grow their blogs or their Twitter followers count however they want, and I have a right to say what I think about the practice. IMO, there is a difference between having contests and deliberately growing your blog by giving away bigger prizes the more followers you get. And the difference is this: one of them is pathetic and the other isn’t. I’ll leave you to decide which I think is is which.

Finally, the TBR App was released last week by Smart Bitches/Dear Author. The app is free for your iTouch or iPhone. Here is the description:

To Be Read is an iPhone app for the romance reader. It includes content and reviews from Dear Author and Smart Bitches Trashy Books to help you build your romance To Be Read pile. It also includes free reads from some of the best names in romance fiction.

And about the site,, which appears to be a host for the different projects like Save the Contemporary and DABWAHA:

To Be Read is a collaborative site designed to bring you up to date romance news, reviews, and recommendations. Conceived by Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches Trashy Books and Jane Litte from Dear Author, To Be Read is designed to help you build your To Be Read pile, one romance novel at a time.

I downloaded the TBR app, which is free. I confess I do not understand why they called it a TBR app instead of “Smart Bitches Dear Author App”. You can’t bookmark reviews, or search them, or create a list of books to buy. As Christina commented at the SBTB site:

Hmm, maybe I’m missing something here, but I don’t see a way to actually make a TBR LIST in the app. Having all the reviews in one place is great and all, but if you can’t actually use it to make a list of the books you want to get…. Well, what’s the point?

The app is basically a dedicated app for those two blogs. Except it is not even as useful as just bookmarking them and reading their mobile versions on your iPhone, because the TBR app does not include comments, which are often really great at both sites.

One cool feature of the TBR app is the free content, including work by Sherry Thomas and Jill Shalvis. The free content is not that attractive to me, personally, because (a) I hate reading on my iTouch, and (b) there is a glut of free content out there already, and (c) I already have too much to read, but I am sure this will be a big hit for others. If you mainly use those two blogs to get book recs, or if you don’t care about comments and like the easy access the app provides to DA and SBTB, it is worth looking into in its current version.

Those folks deserve a ton of credit for creating the very first romance app. I know they are soliciting feedback, and continuing to make changes, and I may well be thrilled with a later version, just as many are thrilled with the current one. But this one, for me personally, not so much.

It did make me long for a LibraryThing app, though. There is a Goodreads app, but I would have to switch over to Goodreads. Has anyone tried it?

This whole app thing related to blogs raises a question for me, and I’ll end this section by asking it. Right now, I have separate apps for a few different news sites: HuffPo, NYT, Guardian, etc. I don’t expect HuffPo to carry NYT news or vice versa. Is this where we are headed with romance? Will there be an AAR app? A TGTBTU app? A Mrs. Giggles app? And will that be a great thing? A mixed thing? A thing only for the relatively few who actually own a iphone or itouch? Or something else?

3. Personal

My inlaws have just left, and we have the house to ourselves. Mr. RRR is where he can be found all summer long: in the garden. I finished my annual report and completed all of my grade rosters. It is fucking freezing here in Maine today, but I don’t care because after I finish this post I am going to grab my Kindle and curl up on the couch with my Slanket and have a readathon!

I am going to attend RomCon in July. I had decided this prior to the change of venue of RWA for several reasons too boring to contemplate (will attend RWA in 2011 in NYC), but now I am very glad I made that decision because there is no way in hell I would spend a minute inside a convention center while at WDW, one of my favorite places on earth. I have an extra RomCon ticket for the $125 admission which I will give away shortly on this blog. I noticed that for the Book Bloggers Convention in NYC later this month in conjunction with BEA, they are keeping a list of attendees. I thought it would be fun to do the same. So, if you are attending RomCon, comment here.


PS. Have you ever noticed that women fiction bloggers always have their own signatures? I decided to get me one for fun:

Literature and Medicine

Reading Literature for Life

Prof's Progress

... on making sense, one word at a time

Bkwurm: /book*worm/ n. a person devoted to reading and study

Nyssa Harkness

Media and Cultural Studies with a focus on Genre Fiction, Gaming and Creative Society

Shelf Love

live mines and duds: the reading life

Love is the Best Medicine

Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical Romance Authors

Blue Moon

Audiobook reviews and book reviews. Occasional opining.


reviews by a speculative fiction romantic

Centre for Medical Humanities

News, updates and insights from the Centre for Medical Humanities, Durham University

Miss Bates Reads Romance

Miss Bates is the loquacious spinster from Austen's Emma. No doubt she read romances ... here's what she would have thought of them.

Badass Romance

heroes, heroines, and books that demand to be taken seriously

bad necklace: not quite pearls of wisdom

mala, media, maladies, and malapropisms

Thinking in Fragments

but making connections too

Tales from the Reading Room

A Literary Salon Where All Are Welcome


thinking about teaching, learning, home and family

Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Fit and Feminist

Because it takes strong women to smash the patriarchy.

Fit Is a Feminist Issue

Feminist reflections on fitness, sport, and health

Heloise Merlin's Weblog

Virtual people read books, too!

Victoria Janssen

Just another site

Bblog Central

Your source for book blogging.

Insta-Love Book Reviews

Deflowering romance - one book at a time

A Striped Armchair

Bookish thoughts from a woman of endless curiousity

Sonomalass's Blog

Another day in paradise

RR@H Novel Thoughts & Book Talk

Featuring Author Interviews and Commentaries

Something More

my extensive reading

Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog

Enjoying crime fiction one book at a time

The Romantic Goldfish

"Cheapest mother fucking goldfish on the planet"


...spruiking storytelling

Joanna Chambers, author

Historical romance




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