It’s time for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off!
It’s that time of year again!
This year, I’m taking over for the Weatherwax Report. Team Weatherwax had a great run in the 4th annual SPFBO, but different commitments elsewhere for team members this year have left the reins in my hands. Esme will still be helping me sort through and read the initial 30 books, but will be…. decidedly busy having a baby right around semi-finals time. ^_^ So, it’ll probably just be me after the first round. I’m very happy to have Esme helping me for however long she can or wants to, as she and I seem to have very similar thoughts about a lot of books. We like different things, has happens of course, but we seem to mesh well together on things we do like!
So, thanks Esme! ❤️
As for me, well, you might know me already. If not, well…. hi. ^_^
Who Am I?
I’m Kristen. 👋 I am originally from Toronto, Canada but currently live in Houston, Texas with my husband and too-many-and-yet-not-enough dogs.
I’ve been reading books since I was old enough to read. Pretty voraciously at times. I’ve always loved fantasy and science fiction for as long as I can remember, but I’ll read pretty much anything if it sounds at all interesting to me. I read a good deal of romance here and there, and horror from time to time, or sometimes classic stuff if I’m in a mood for it, thrillers if my mom can successfully convince me on them, but nothing has ousted fantasy as the preferred genre to shove into my brain.
I like most types of fantasy, but I am especially partial to Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, and Fantasy Romance.
How I Review:
I review entirely on how much I enjoyed a book. That’s… uh, that’s really it.
I can very much tell just based on enjoyment level – how late I stayed up to read, how much I loved this or that character, or loved to hate this or that character, how many times I laughed, or had tears well up, or got angry – how much, in 1-5 stars, I liked a book. Some reviewers rate categories of books and then score from there, but I find I am not as good at that sort of thing. That’s not to say that I find that style of reviewing wrong, but just that I am not very good at it. My reviewing process is me frantically leaving notes about things I loved or hated as I read, and then later trying to make sense of what I wrote at 3 in the morning in the dark.
Scores in the SPFBO are out of 10, and so for SPFBO books I mark out of 10, and it’s not just by doubling up on the 1-5 stars system either. The criteria that make up my 1-5 are more or less the same, but more spread out. I’m not going to be holding the books to a higher standard than any other book I read, but I will be thinking a little more critically about them than I would normally. I think 10 stars is going to be a really high bar to touch, when I not only have to say a book is -this- good, but it is -this much better or worse- than the others, but so too is it going to be more difficult for a book to be a 1. I’ve been known to give books anywhere from a 2 to a 9 in last year’s contest, and I don’t suspect that this year’s contest will be much different.
My Rating Scale:
DNF means I just couldn’t get through it. If I read a book for 3 hours/30% (whichever comes first) and still don’t like it, I don’t usually read any more of it (but I have been known to challenge myself). It may be that I didn’t like the prose or dialog, it might be that I didn’t like the characters… but it basically means that the book didn’t grab me or keep me interested. (Note: Books that are in the finals might still be DNFed, but I will still need to score them. I will read books in the finals to at least 50% before deciding not to finish and assign a score based on what I’ve read.)
1 star (0-2/10) means I disliked it a lot, but made it to the end nonetheless. These have different characteristics from book to book, but generally books that handle sexual assault or rape in ways I find inappropriate, or books wherein every female character is objectified, or present only to pander to or sleep with the male characters will usually find their way to this rating.
2 stars (2.5-4/10) means I didn’t really like it, but I didn’t hate it. It was boring, or had characters I couldn’t care less about, or it toed the line of things I dislike, but didn’t come close enough that I would consider the book 1-star material.
3 stars (4.5-6/10) means I liked it, but just sort of… generally. I didn’t dislike it, but it didn’t really speak to me. I liked it… but I had a hard time picking out why. Or sometimes it’ll be a book that I objectively know is technically very good, but I subjectively didn’t love. Very well written books that I didn’t love the characters or setting of can fall in here pretty easily.
4 stars (6.5-8/10) means that I really, really liked a book, but it didn’t blow my mind. It didn’t keep me reading like a madwoman. It had characters that I liked but didn’t… really stick around after the book was over. It was great. It was well written. It was goddamned entertaining and I enjoyed the hell out of it… but it wasn’t a book that I’m going to run around screaming about for years. Not that I uh… not that I do that. >.>
5 stars (8.5-10/10) means I loved the book. It means I laughed and cried and latched onto characters and legitimately had emotions about or towards them. It means that I’ll read it again someday just to see if I can re-live the feeling of reading it for the first time. It means that my husband is going to roll his eyes and sigh after I tell him to read it for the 500th time. It happens a lot. I do give a lot of 5 star ratings out, because I find great deals of enjoyment in many, many books! 🙂
So there you have it! This is all me in a nutshell, and I’m really excited for this year’s SPFBO! We’ve got a great line up of judges, and I feel like we’re going to get some great books!
Bring them onnnnn!