About this blog:
After writing brief reviews of hundreds of books (mostly m/m romance) on Goodreads, Amazon, and elsewhere, I wanted a place where I could occasionally post longer, potentially more personal reviews and other reflections on the genres I’m reading. To some extent, on this site I have concentrated a bit on male/male paranormal romance, as there are other sites that provide good coverage of the other genres I read. I still post all of my brief reviews on Goodreads, but for books that really move me or elicit rather personal reactions, or topics that spark a particular response, or I’m just in the mood to expand a bit more, I use this blog to host longer or more personal reviews.
I also have begun to focus on shorter stories and anthologies, as I have come to enjoy them as quick escapes, each with a nice payoff for me at the end of a long day. Also, I seem to have a compulsion to review and rate each one in a collection, as it just seems incomplete to leave any out.
About me: I’ve suffered from chronic pain for several years now, and I find reading escapist literature has been a great boon to my relaxation. Unfortunately, this means many of my reviews are one-finger typed on an iPad while knocked up on pain-killers, so please excuse the typos.
On the Goodreads book lovers website, I have brief reviews and ratings for most titles that I have read since late 2014.
My reading interests: I have spent years reading serious studies, literature, and especially classic works of history. For decades I have enjoyed popular fantasy, science fiction, LGBT literature and erotica – all appreciations shared by my wife. After she introduced me to romance novels, I realized all of these interests dovetailed nicely into my enjoyment of paranormal romance, m/m romance, and their “Romantica”/erotic/smutty counterparts. I find these to be a nice break from chronic pain as well as being immersed in serious studies and literature at work (as an academic librarian).
There is at least a bit of a method to how I classify the genres and some of ther terms I use, spelled out on the Genres and Terms section. Here is a quick summary:
- Romance – story where the romantic relationship is the focus of the work ( HEA/HFN)
- Adult Romance – romance with some explicit scenes that support the story
- Romantic Erotica – enough relationship and plot is present to preserve a veneer of a relationship story, but to me it seems essentially about the sex
- Smut/Erotica – the focus is clearly the release, not the romantic relationship
Meaning of Stars: Since I review a great deal of fluffy and pulpy literature, my stars represent a relative scale for how escapist/diverting/entertaining/sexy I find the work to be. In other words, if I have a great time reading a piece of fluff or smut, I’m might give it four stars even if it doesn’t have much literary merit. Plenty of my three star reviews are for works that are not particularly well-written, innovative, or compelling, but were an enjoyable-enough, escapist little side-trip. For more serious stories, three stars might represent a well-written story that just did not take it to an extra high level for me. Finally, all of these reviews are tinged with my personal interests and dislikes, so sometimes decently written stories get few stars if I find them offensive or their characters or actions “trigger” deeply negative personal reactions.
- Five stars – I absolutely loved it!
- Four stars – I really liked it.
- Three stars – I liked it.
- 2.5 stars – O.k.
- Two stars – Weak / didn’t particularly like.
- 1.5 stars – I really did not like it.
- One star – I hated it
- Zero stars – I really wish I had never read it.
More on differences between Amazon and Goodreads scale below.
- Five flames – Many explicit, raunchy, no-holds-barred sex scenes, lots of detail, often with some kink.
- Four flames – Many explicit scenes, decent amount of detail, and/or a little kink.
- Three flames – Explicit sex, perhaps several scenes, some detail and/or some kink.
- Two flames – One or two explicit scenes, and/or brief, often euphemistic encounters.
- One flame – No explicit scenes, but some fade to black or highly euphemistic moments.
- Zero flames – No sex, not even fade to black or simple euphemisms.
In romance, the author can often general nice, sizzling content through the passion and chemistry of the characters whether they use explicit, briefly euphemistic, or fade to black scenes. The Hearts measure how much steam I found from the character thoughts and feelings (more than how any sex scenes were described).
- Five hearts – passion and chemistry burned up the pages
- Four hearts – very strong chemistry and/or passion between the characters
- Three hearts – significant attraction that generated some palpable chemistry among the characters
- Two hearts – some attraction, but it wasn’t particularly strong or compelling
- One heart – there was a small bit of attraction, but the chemistry wasn’t particularly palpable
- Zero hearts – I didn’t feel any kind of strong physical attraction among the characters
Star differences between Amazon and Goodreads:
Also, I started reviewing on Amazon and I’m still reconciling the differences between the two scales. My take is Amazon is geared towards selling, so their guide indicates “ok” is three stars and “I liked it” is four stars. Combined with the fact that Amazon makes it difficult to simply give a star rating without writing a review of at least a couple of sentences, this means most people who finish a book and bother to review it are likely to at least like it. I think this pushes the average towards four stars for most items.
Goodreads indicates “o.k.” is two stars, which (to me) means a two star review shouldn’t really be that bad. Of course, I don’t think that’s the usual practice on the site (two stars are considered bad by most), but the literal “o.k.” label given by Goodreads means I don’t mind giving two stars to works that were just “eh” for me.
Apologies again for the typos:
Since most of my reviews are one-finger typed on an iPad while knocked up on pain-killers, please excuse the typos or dropped pronouns/linking verbs (whether due to my own fuzziness, single finger pecking, rearranging phrases/sentence fragments, or my often inappropriately auto-correcting iPad).