Links and Questions: RITA Finalists and More

RITA water ice - I don't have permission yet to use the RITA imageThe RWA announced the finalists for the 2014 RITA® and Golden Heart® awards this week – congratulations to all the finalists! There's a new judging system in place wherein any book that receives 90% of the total score automatically makes the finals. This created a very interesting finalist selection, as there are more than 15 books in the paranormal, contemporary, and historical category, but only 3 erotic romances, 2 inspirationals, and 4 romantic suspense. I'm bummed that there are only two inspirationals, as that was a category that often yielded the most interesting discoveries and reviews, and still sad that Strong Romantic Elements is no longer a category either. But in happy news, a number of self-published titles were among the finalists. 

All changes aside, I have a question: Do you want to do the RITA® Reader Challenge this year?

In past years, we've created a spreadsheet of all the nominees, and invited all of y'all to sign up to review one of the nominated books. By the time the RITA® awards are announced in late July, every book has received at least one review, and we have a bit of knowledge about each book that was nominated. However, it creates a ton of reviews, and my analysis of the 2013 traffic indicated that the RITA® reviews were among the least popular of last year's content. 

So I wanted to ask y'all: do you want to do it this year? Are the reviews of interest to you? What do you think? If you're game, I'm in, and if not, no worries. You can leave a comment or just use the poll below. What's your preference? 



Fill out my online form.





I'm over at Kirkus this week talking about books that take you on a trip while you're reading. I love books like that: 

While actual travel is always an option, it takes time, preparation and a bit of lucre to move a person from once place to the other. But taking a journey within a book is a hassle-free and instant method of travel. No checked baggage fees and no security lines? Sign me up. And given that there's one last storm coming to the East Coast this week (WHAT NO REALLY STOP WITH THE SNOW) a brief trip via a healthy reading imagination might help keep us all sane through this last batch of cold temperatures little while.

What books have taken you on a trip? 

For those of you who love book art, I have a picture set from Gry, who found this magical artistry: the Hobbit in Danish, turned into Smaug. And also a small Bilbo.

I can't reproduce the photographs here, but please go have a look. They're amazing. So is the sculpture of the life inside books


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Jamarleo says:

    Just throwing this out here from the women -with-kids contingent- Could the dip in readership for the reviews be a combination of the fact that:

    1) Most of the reviews come out around the time that schools are let out.  Leaving aside that whether as a parent you (I’m using a fancy royal ‘you’ here)work in or outside of your house, young kids will be around you and all of your handhelds/laptops/tablets/what-have-you.  Screen time (or rather super happy fun screen time) goes down until night/naptime which is kind of a wash anyways because you’re exhausted.  Particular blogs with shiny pecs and names you aren’t supposed to call your sister or your teacher or that mean kid down the street- are sometimes sadly neglected.

    2)Because there are so many repeat reviews of some books, you (still royal) start to skip over them to get to any other posts because you have only five minutes to read it before someone hits someone with a peanut butter smeared bottle of sunblock and chaos will reign.  Readers become more selective if they think they’ve read the content before in one form or another. 

    3) So…would it be possible to only allow two reviews maximum of each book?  I loved reading them, but after the third repeat review, I get a little less interested.  The only other option in this scenario would be that you change the blog name to Healthy Spinach and fling green leaves over all the shiny pecs between the months of May to September, but who wants that?

  2. 2
    Vasha says:

    Seconded on the “only two reviews” suggestion. With a page giving a running tally of reviews received so that people see which ones are “done” before they write their own review.

  3. 3
    LML says:

    I only read RITA reviews in the categories of books which I enjoy—although I read all the regular reviews here at SBTB—and I happily read multiple reviews of the same book.  Multiple reviews bring to mind the saying (attributed to Edmund Wilson) that no two persons ever read the same book.

  4. 4
    Liz H. says:

    Best-of lists, awards, etc. are a difficult undertaking. I get it. But I have found the RITA nominees less and less interesting as a source of potential reads over the last several years, and with this year’s list, my interest is pretty much dead.
    Instead, the DABWAHA nominees list has become my go to best-of for the year. I would be far more interested in reading reviews of those books than the RITA nominees.

  5. 5
    Liz H. says:

    *And I love the Rita’s photo. It’s a weird combination of spring and freezing out, but mango ices and custard sounds so good right now.

  6. 6
    DonnaMarie says:

    I say bring on the reviews, but limit the number per book. First come first serve or something of that nature. Plus, it’s my only chance to get it off my chest when one of the worst books ever makes the finals.

  7. 7
    Dread Pirate Rachel says:

    Because I have the mind of a thirteen-year-old, I’m going to admit that I expected Five Days in Skye to be nominated in the erotic romance category, NOT the inspirational romance. I’ll just be over here in the gutter if you need me.

  8. 8
    Jen says:

    Yep, limit the number of reviews! Or else maybe publish them all together, like “Reviews for X book will be published on Y date” and then anything that’s turned in by that date gets put up at the same time. I find that if I read one review and then another one doesn’t come up for another 3 weeks, I’ve forgotten most of the first review and often just skip over subsequent reviews.

    Oh, and I love Liz H’s suggestion about DABWAHA reviews. Maybe something to think about for next year instead of RITA? I’d love, love, love to hear what other people thought of those books.

  9. 9
    Ova says:

    Ditto everyone who is citing the repeaters for the reason I skim Rita reviews. Now, if you set it up as an “I loved it” versus “I hated it” or even just “I loved it” versus “It was okay” I would be a lot more interested.

  10. 10

    I agree about the grouping of reviews. Reviews of the same book, and (perhaps?) reviews in the same category. For comparison.

    But I’m one of those who doesn’t really have an interest in the Rita reviews.

  11. 11
    peggy h says:

    I don’t particularly look forward to the Rita reviews, though I skim through and sometimes, something catches my eye.  Last year, I ended up buying The Haunting of Maddy Clare after reading the reviews.  This is not a book I would ever have even thought to buy if I hadn’t seen it here, and actually quite enjoyed it.  But I admit I don’t think I would particularly miss it if you didn’t run the Challenge.

  12. 12
    Katherine says:

    I agree with Liz H. that reviews of DABWAHA books hold more interest than Rita nominees.

  13. 13
    DonnaMarie says:

    I get your point about the DABWAHA books, but since there’s rarely a clinker in there, I still vote RITA reviews because there are inevitably books that no one in their right mind would put on a best list which leads to some great snark. Who doesn’t love a snarky review? More to the point, I can only write snarky reviews. And again, I gots to gets my rant on at least once a year. I hear Her Secret His Baby calling my name.

  14. 14
    Carol says:

    I’m with many of you all above. I like the RITA reviews but agree that some organizational changes could improve things. In particular, grouping the reviews by book and by category, and perhaps, limiting the number of reviews (although, for sure “no two people…”).

  15. 15
    Turophile says:

    I really like the RITA reviews, but would encourage you to more strictly limit the length.  I read reviews to decide whether to read the book myself.  Life’s busy, I’m busy – shorter reviews are my preference.

  16. 16
    Tam says:

    Honestly, I don’t read the reviews.  There are just too many of them.  I wind up skimming the site for the SB entries.

  17. 17
    Heather S says:

    @Donna Marie: Hey, just click the first ad up there on the right. “The Pirate’s Secret Baby” – where Harlequin Presents contemporaries and patch-eyed pirates collide! Even pirates have secret babies now – can’t let the billionaire tycoons and Italian princes corner the market on secret babies, after all! (I’m not poking fun at the author of this book, but the title…. eh, it’s not so lucky. I digress, but I think billionaire tycoons should be intelligent enough to learn to use contraception so they don’t have all these secret babies floating around. They’re all tropes that should die a thousand deaths.)

  18. 18
    SB Sarah says:

    These are all awesome suggestions. Amanda, RHG, Elyse, Carrie and I have also been discussing ways to better organize the RITA® reviews, so there are a lot of good ideas I can implement to make the collection better. Though it’s interesting that the yes/no votes are a nearly 2/3 – 1/3 split. This is all good to know—thank you!!

    And DABWAHA reviews? Now that would be interesting! I could do an entry linking to all of them, whether here or at DA or elsewhere. Would that be of interest?

  19. 19
    Shannon says:

    Limits, but perhaps three, so there isn’t just one pro, one con.  Organized by topic—perhaps two categories per day spread over time.  And limits on length.  I want opinion, not a synopsis of the story and literary dissertation on character development of the secondary character.  I’d hate to see deadlines too close.  Some of us like to spread out our reading; windows?

  20. 20
    SAO says:

    What books took me on a trip?

    Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng is the first one that comes to mind. Brought me right back to Sri Lanka (where I’d been, the book was set in Malaysia) in the middle of a cold and dreary winter.

  21. 21
    Phyllis says:

    I like the idea of clumping them by all the reviews for one book and/or a set of reviews for books in the same category. That would make it even more complicated for you, though!

    Maybe tell us that July 12th is Inspie Romance day and all reviews for them have to be in by that day. Maybe breaking up the insanely huge categories, though.

    Who came up with those finalist rules? An outside consultant, I think they said. An outside consultant of one sort or another has come up with an awful lot of weird RWA rules lately. Speaking as an author who likes her local RWA chapter and volunteers for it, and yet looks at some of these rules and says…. WHAT?

  22. 22
    Bona says:

    About RITA nominees.
    I like reading reviews on the RITA nominees. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know what those books are about!
    I agree with other readers: I don’t need no more than two reviews per book. As a matter of fact, one would be enough. But if that review is a D or a DNF, I recognize I’d ask myself what other people has seen in that book that the reviewer hasn’t found in it.
    But in any other case, I don’t need three reviews A, A + and B, for instance.

    What books have taken you on a trip?
    I think any good novel is good because of that. In the romantic genre, for instance, Laura Kinsale has that magical touch that takes me wherever she wants to.

  23. 23
    Jennifer O. says:

    Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts – shouldn’t it be romantic suspense?  Wasn’t there a murder?

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