Sunday, December 23, 2012

Reading Is Not Necessary to Harriet's Reviews

There has been a lot of conjecture about Harriet not reading the books that she reviews.  We can talk about a human’s ability to read an average of 7 books per day and write corresponding reviews, every day for eleven years; we can talk about the science and mechanics of the eyes; and we can talk about a variety of different ways to prove whether or not it’s possible to accomplish this amazing feat.

The way I want to look at it, though, is a backward look over my shoulder.  I’ve learned to read Harriet’s reviews after I’ve read a book.  I expected to see some mistakes, but what surprised me was the number and severity of mistakes.  Even more eye-opening was how much was missing from Klausner’s reviews and her failure to capture the essence of a book.

So, I decided to keep track.  I haven’t included the text of Harriet’s reviews because they are easy enough to find on Amazon where there are more comprehensive comments associated with them.

Alien in the Family by Gini Koch
1.   Kitty and Martini are not planning their wedding; they’re in Vegas getting married.
2.   Time is not relative.
3.   Kitty could never become queen.
4.   The tests were of Kitty's worthiness as wife to the king and as mother of future heirs.

1.   Kitty's best friend has taken charge and become the wedding planner and he plays a huge role.
2.   Kitty's other best friend, Chuckie, also plays a huge role.
3.   The poofs? Adorable and frightening at same time and critical to the story.

Alien Tango by Gini Koch
1.   Katherine (Kitty) doesn't muse a whole bunch about tilting perceptions.
2.   Kitty learned about the aliens five months ago; not six as Harriet states.
3.   A-C is short for Alpha Centauri.  They're Alpha Centaurions, not Alpha Centauri "A-C" aliens.
4.   Purebred earthling? No. The word is human.
5.   Kennedy Space Center brass. No, again. The A-C are ordered to the space center by their underground counterparts at the Space Center.
6.   The Olympus Mons review filler and not mentioned in the book.

What’s missing:
1.   Kitty's biggest threat is from an alligator she nicknames Alliflash and the alligator tales.
2.   Wildly entertaining alligator tales.
3.   The group is beaten, kidnapped; do their own beating and kidnapping; deal with the riddle of the astronauts and a very powerful alien; discover a former boyfriend of Kitty's, and uncover an unwelcome surprise sprung from back on Alpha Centauri.
4.   The anti-alien conspiracy at the highest levels of government
5.   The wonderful secondary characters
6.   The initial attack at the Space Center that almost left everyone dead.

Biting Cold:  Chicagoland Vampires, by Chloe Neill
1.   Ethan Sullivan didn't simply "return"; he came back from the dead.
2.   Tate doesn't stalk Merit--nobody does.
3.   The trip to the Great Plains doesn't take long; most of the story occurs in Chicago.
4.   There is no such thing as others preferring the alternative.

1.   Mallory’s success in binding Ethan to her and her emotions taking a serious toll on Ethan.
2.   Mallory success in finding the Malificium and its impact on the rest of the book.
3.   Merit and Mallory's crumbling relationship.
4.   Catcher and Mallory's crumbling relationship.
5.   Mallory’s forced forced detention under the watchful eyes of the werewolves.
6.   Mallory’s crucial role in the final showdown.
7.   A surprising development in the first half of the book that is carried throughout the remainder of the book which results in open and public murders in Chicago--not in the Great Plains.
8.   Merit’s kidnapping and near death.
9.   Two more surprising developments leading to unusual alliances necessary to defeat the enemy.

By a Thread, Elemental Assassins  by Jennifer Estep
1.   Callie Reyes is Bria's (Gin's sister) best friend.
2.   It's Callie, not Bria, whom Pete and Trent are harassing and intimidating.
3.   Pete gloats over hurting Callie, not Bria.
4.   Gin's former love interest, Donovan Caine, is engaged to Callie, not Bria.

Harriet, . . . missed the really big stuff:
1.   Gin's ever widening schism with her sister.
2.   Bria was the sole focus of the trip.
3.   The widening chasm between Gin and Bria.
4.   Callie owns the Sea Breeze and it's the Sea Breeze that Randall Dekes intends to have.
5.   Then there's Gin's kidnapping, the tension with Donovan Caine, and the first hint of things going wrong with Gin and Owen's relationship.
6.   The food, the food, the glorious food.

Cry Wolf:  Alpha and Omega Series, by Patricia Briggs
1.   There were no "out of control murderous beasts" (werewolves). 
2.   The story plays out on multiple levels--not just two.
3.   Charles does not reject Anna.
4.   His father, Bran, sends Anna to Boston to work with the FBI and Charles accompanies her.
5.   Anna is to serve as a good will ambassador to the authorities.
6.   Anna's mission is to forge a good relationship will be forged between authorities and werewolves.
7.   Brand hopes that Charles will decompress from the awful strain he has been under.
8.   Everyone hopes that Charles and Anna will heal what is wrong with their relationship

What's missing:
1.  Briggs once again makes her mark on a significant fae legend and makes it her own.
2.  The murders have some fantastic twists and turns.
3.  The local alpha, witches, and the fae.

Death’s Rival:  A Jane Yellowrock Novel, by Faith Hunter
1.   Leo doesn't order Jane to return.
2.   They are all aware of the vampire takeovers because it's happening around the country.
3.   They are all aware of the plague.
4.   Leo sends Jane to take blood samples from the dying vampires so they can find out what it is and develop and treatment.
5.   Jane uncovers the plot, the methodology, and develops the fighting strategy.
6.   Jane is on the side of the New Orleans vamp community; she's only mad at Leo but she works for Leo.
7.   Jane knows there are traitors and she watches her back the entire book.

What's missing:
1.   Beast, who's given great play in the book.
2.   The new partners.
3.   Jane's self-discovery.
4.   Bruiser.
5.   Rick.
6.   Sabina.
7.   The showdown.
8.   The battles that set the stage for the final showdown.
9.   The implications of Jane's having declared herself as Leo's "Enforcer".

First Grave on the Right, by Darynda Jones
1.   Charley Davidson has three jobs--not one. Grim reaper; consultant for the Police Department and owner/operator of a private investigative agency.
2.   Her clients aren't dead; they're quite alive.
3.   The spirits aren't vengeful and only want to move on, but can't.
4.  There is no live sex in the book.
5.   There is no comparison to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Ghost Whisperer.

What’s missing:
1.   Most of the story
2.   The “entity” holds two natures.

Flesh Circle, Jill Kismet, Hunter, by Lilith Saintcrow
1.   The Cirque is run by hellbreed (not "hellspawn") and Traders. The circus performers and staff are neither "refuges" nor refugees.
2.   Jill places a spiked ring on the neck of the hostage. She doesn't "ring" anyone or anything.
3.   When I think of Jill's colleagues, I think of her partner Saul, her fellow hunters and the police she works with. She does not suspect any of them, nor should she.
4.   There are zombies, but there are no "hordes" (maybe 15 in all) and they appear to be natives (that is, not "flocking to the city"). I have no idea what a "zombie needed death toll" is.
5.   I don't recall Jill "donkey kicking" anybody.
6.   The trouble in the present does stem from an event in the past, but memories are not the problem.

Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet, by Darynda Jones
1.   Charley has spent almost two months hiding in her apartment; not several months.
2.   Charley believes Harper Williams from the getgo.
3.   It's not very far into this book that Reyes is back in her life, whether that be for bad or good, permanently or not.
4.   Harriet says that Charley wallows in her feelings "like a burned out loser." PTSD and agoraphobia are grounds to call the heroine a "burned out loser"?
5.   "her last case ended in the cesspool." She solved all of her cases in the last book, but one of them involved Charley's being tortured and resulting psychological disfigurement. And that's a "cesspool"?
6.   "Though the circumstantial evidence supports the assertion that Harper is insane".  The circumstantial evidence clearly supports Harper's claim that someone wants her dead.
7.   "arson fiasco." There is no fiasco.
8.   "the overarching theme barely moves forward." There are two main plot points of the series and they both move forward nicely.
9.   "Reyes "Son of Satan" Farrow, whom she kicked out of her life". The truth is that their relationship is anything but stagnant.

What’s missing:
1.   Charley begins to come into her power.
2.   The demons plan and execute a far more sophisticated and active strategy to get to Charley.
3.   The relationship between Charley and Reyes moves both overarching themes forward.
4    We learn more about what is needed for either side to win the final battle between good and evil.
5.   We learn more about Charley's back story and her purpose.
6.   Reyes is morphing into things that are important to the overarching theme.

Fury’s Kiss (A Midnight’s Daughter Novel), by Karen Chance
1.   "Fallen angels with malice" There were no fallen angels with malice.
2.   "Dory has controlled her urges by going after rogue vampires and evil demons."  She has other ways of controlling her urges.

What’s missing:
1.   At the heart of this book is the relationship between father and daughter and what went wrong.
2.   At the heart of this book is the lengths a father will go to save his child.
3.   At the heart of the book is Dorina's personal growth.
4.   Dory is possessed by not one, but two, entities at the same time.
5.   The book is laugh out loud funny.
6.   We learn about Louis-Cesare and what makes him tick.
7.   Dory gains a sidekick and another ally
8.   It's a love story on several levels.
9.   The setup is a plot to take over the world from the vampire senates.

Grave Memory (Alex Craft), by Kalayna Price
1.   James Kingsly never claims he was murdered.
2.   Alex is never concerned that she will be the next suicide victim.
3.   Alex is not concerned for her life.

What’s missing:
1.   Worldbuilding
2.   Self-discovery
3.   Fae intrigue
4.   Family revelations
5.   Body switching
6.   Possession and its side-effects
7.   Alex’s friends who are in trouble.
8.   Betrayal.

Gunmetal Magic, by Ilona Andrews
1.   The first paragraph happened in the previous book.
2.   Rebecca is not Raphael's fiancée.
3.   Rebecca does NOT work the case.
4.   Gunmetal Magic is not a serial killer case.
5.   The placement of “Magic” is in the title because it's Kate Daniels' world in the Magic series.
6.   This book focuses on a lot more than Raphael and Andrea fighting.

What’s missing:
1.   Andrea forces herself to come to grips with where she's been and where she wants to go.
2.   She almost dies.
3.   Ascanio is the third main player and almost steals the show.
4.   Old, heretofore unexplored myths and history combine to create an entirely new threat.
5.    New monsters of all kinds appear.
6.   We learn much about Andrea as a person.

Hitlist (Anita Blake), by Laurell K. Hamilton
1.   If you can call Seattle "near Tacoma", then it works. But the story occurs in Seattle.
2.   This is the first murder in Seattle, not the fourth.
3.   Anita is sent by the U.S. Marshal's service--not by high level officials.
4.   Not all of the Harlequin work for the Mother of Darkness.
5.   Chief Marshall Raborn does not prefer Anita to die.
6.   There is no one on Raborn's staff willing to make Anita's death happen or even think it.
7.   Some of the murders were violent and precise--not all of them as Harriet says.
8.   The sex is nothing at all like many of the previous books--quite aside from Harriet's take.
9.   "Blake takes SeaTac" never happens.

Magic Without Mercy (Allie Beckstrom), by Devon Monk
OK, the pun on Shame's name intentional, or did you just skim and think that "the Shame" is an actual entity in the book that represents her guilt? Shame is a person; his full name is Shamus, and he's been in the series for ages.

Night Shift (Jill Kismet, Hunter), by Lilith Saintcrow
1.   Hunters protect humans against all manner of "other" nightlife, not just against hellbreed.
2.   The Church tells Jill that she is beyond redemption because she's a hunter--not because she consorts with the damned.
3.   Life was depressing for Jill when the book opens. She is alone. Her beloved master is dead--murdered by something other than a hellbreed.
4.   Shapeshifters are not Jill's enemies. Rogue murderers of any genus are.
5.   Jill protects all humans, not especially the children.
6.   Jill did not willingly choose to link with Perry. She was coerced by her master, Mikhail, to do it.
7.   Jill is called in when the police can't solve supernatural murders. The detectives hate, fear, and somewhat respect her.

What’s missing:
1.   Jill trains incessantly when she's not on the job.
2.   She teams up with a shapeshifting threesome who stay in her apartment to work the case.
3.   Perry, the hellbreed, is working his own angle.
4.   In spite of accepting her own damnation according to Church dogma, Jill prays with heartrending poeticism.
5.   Jill gets in horrific fights.
6.   She gets horrifically injured.
7.   She sees and experiences horrific things.
8.   A gentle and caring werecougar enters the picture who begins to put her personal space in order.
9.   Jill goes without sleep for days on end in order to solve cases.
10. She doesn't like to sleep because sleep brings nightmares.

Pale Rider by Kim Harrison
1.   Rachel has her aura; it was already restored before this book takes place.
2.   Pale Rider is Trent. Rachel takes him for a cross-country ride to fulfill his quest.
3.   Rachel wears the silver bracelet to prevent herself from pulling on leyline magic and thus exposing herself to the demon realm.
4.   Rachel did not choose isolation from her friends, she feels isolated because they are moving on with new relationships..
5.   The HAPA operatives haven't developed a weapon of mass destruction, they need Rachel's blood to make it work. Thus, the title, A Perfect Blood.
6.   Rachel couldn't come back from the dead because she wasn't dead in the first place.

Raven Cursed (Jane Yellowrock) by Faith Hunter
1.   Beast is a mountain lion whose conscientiousness shares Jane's body and mind, she's not a spirit.
2.   It's Kem, the African werecat, who first tells Jane about the grindylow; Jane finds the grindylow's fishy scent trail at the murders; and Beast follows the scent.

What’s missing:
1.   The omission of Jane's best friend and her best friend's family.
2.   The omission of Jane's boyfriend, Rick.
3.   The omission Jane's best friend's sister, Evangelina, who is central to the story;
4.   Leaving out the heart of the book -- the vampire negotiations.

The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
1.   McKenzie wasn't worried about taking eight years to get her BA; she was worried that failing the test for the third time would kill her chances at ever getting her degree.
2.   McKenzie's love for Kyol (who was fae) wasn’t taboo; the taboo was a hoax.
3.   The king didn't order McKenzie to find the rebels; the king ordered Kyol to retrieve McKenzie to help Kyol find the rebels.
4.   McKenzie is too busy trying to get back to Kyol to consider Aren's "just plea to join their side."
5.   Faerie is a land, a world, not a people. The people of Faerie are Fae.
6.   McKenzie has been in the fight willingly, but plans to quit the war once she can support herself.

Shadowfever  by Karen Marie Moning
1.   The Sinsar Dubh IS the book, it's not the "magical book of the dark Sinsar Dubh".
2.   Mac doesn’t think the Sinsar Dubh will tell her who she truly is.
3.   Mac doesn’t think the Sinsar Dubh will shed light on Alina's murder.
4.   Mac was never in the White Mansion with the Unseelie King.
5.   Mac will NOT do whatever it takes to achieve her goals.
6.   Mac was never an exile.

Shadows Before the Sun by Kelly Gay
1.   Alessandra has never offered help prior this time. It's not an "again".
2.   Circe is not someone's name. The Circe are three powerful witch sisters; it's plural.
3.   Tennin is barely mentioned and plays no role in this book.
4.   No. Ahkneri never wakes up. It simply didn't occur.
5.  "Which places Atlanta in peril." No. Once again, it didn't happen.
6.   The entire second paragraph is false.

What’s missing:
1.   The murder in the Pendaran’s grove which is part of the set up for the book and connects the beginning with the end.
2.   Charlie’s visions which are a critical element of the unfolding events.
3.   Cassandra’s central role.
4.   Two mysterious, powerful beings who become significant players of the present and future.
5.   Detail about the horrendously evil Circle.

Somebody to Love by Kristin Higgins
1.   James doesn't ask Parker to accompany her to help flip the place.
2.   "Parker begins to learn living without a gold spoon means accepting decisions you hate." No.  Not even a consideration.
3.   The Jefferson Airplane allusion fits nowhere.
4.   Parker learned to see her family, friends, and James as they are.
5.   There is absolutely no epiphany about the “1%” economic and social freedom.

The Hour of Dust and Ashes by Kelly Gay
1.   The trials by sylphs have nothing to do with Charlie's decision to go to Charbydon.
2.   "The two sleuthing partners . . ." Charlie and Hank aren't sleuthing partners. They're detectives who've been partnered together for many years.

What’s missing:
1.   Hank's back story
2.   The hellhound.
3.   Charlie's husband's release.
4.   The fascinating relationship Bryn has with her boyfriend.
5.   Charlie's daughter Emma,
6.   Charlie's continued evolution
7.   The near-death trials imposed on Charlie by the sylphs.
8.   Charlie's most terrible choice about the man she has fallen in love with.

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones
1.   Reyes Farrow is not a hybrid and he is not half human.
2.   Charlie’s Dad encouraged Charley's dangerous path, hasn't supported her since his remarriage, sacrificed her, and then jailed her because he can't bend her to his will.
3.   Stepmom could care less.
4.   Her sister and her uncle care too much to ask her to change careers.
5.   Dad and the rest of the family didn't know anything about the biker gang.

1.   A sadistic murderer who’s after Charley.
2.   Charley not sleeping for weeks and the reason why.
3.   Reyes’ jail break.
4.   Hostage crises.
5.   Torture.
6.   Sister.
7.   Best friend.
8.   Guardian.
9.   Best male friend.
10. The haunted asylum.
11. Her ultimate break with Reyes?

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch
1.   "Kitty learns superbeings exist but unlike comic book superheroes they are not."  No.
2.   "As Jeff and Kitty are attracted to one another, she learns how to use weapons of evil alien destruction like hair spray." No, again.
3.   "Jeff and his peers from Alpha Centauri explain they came to earth tracking a nasty alien who has apparently taken control of a nasty terrorist chief." Wrong.

What’s missing:
1.   The threat of world domination.
2.   Kitty's awesome and funny parents.
3.   The real setting of the book that mostly takes place in Nevada.
4.   The romantic triangle.
5.   New friendships.
6.   The alien agency set up to help protect humanity.
7.   Showdowns with the monsters.
8.   All of the interesting secondary characters.
9.   The betrayals.
10. The unexpected trials that have to be overcome.


Malleus said...

All very true. But really, do we need to even worry about it? It's icing on the cake. No one can read multiple books a day, every day of every week of every month of every year for decades. Harriet started defecating reviews — under her current account, that is — in late November 1999. It's thirteen years. She wants you to believe she reads, on average, seven books a day for the last thirteen years.

Embee said...

Yeah, I agree. It is icing on the cake. But for the mainstream public who may stop by, they don't know this. Saying it without proving it typically doesn't convince most people.

So, I like to show people as well as say it. A number of Harriet's defenders argue that they read multiple books a day, which I don't accept, but many others might. They try to help justify Harriet's reading and reviewing rate, in spite of her profiles and quotes that say otherwise.

Just a thought!