SB Day!

Today’s SB topic will be book recommendations/quotes on book covers.A little background first. I watched The Wedding Date this weekend on DVD. I had long since read the book that it was loosely based on, Asking for Trouble by Elizabeth Young…which of course has been repackaged and reissued with the new movie title and cover photo from the movie poster. I would say that the movie was EXTREMELY loosely based on the book. Very little of the original book made it to the screen, other than the fact that a woman hired an escort to attend her sister’s wedding. [That’s not to say that the movie was awful, just not the same. Jack Davenport, better known as Steve from Coupling or as the Commodore from Pirates of the Caribbean, was excellent, and Dermot Mulroney is always watchable.] After watching the movie, I decided that I needed to reread the book, so I checked out a copy of the book (reissued copy) from the library. My SB topic for today was going to be movies based on books, but then I noticed the recommendation on the back and that topic fell by the wayside. Who was the recommendation from, you’re wondering? Sujata Massey, author of the Rei Shimura mysteries. I like Sujata Massey’s books; in fact, I have her most recent book checked out from the library right now and I’ve mentioned her in a couple of earlier journal entries. But the pairing of the Massey with Young’s Brit Chick Lit seems a little odd to me. The match does not seem intuitive to me. They have completely different styles; write in different genres; their voices are nothing alike. So now I wonder, how did Massey come to recommend Young’s book? I think Massey is published by HarperCollins, while Young’s reissue was from Avon. I’m not in the know about publishing houses; maybe they were matched up that way? Maybe there is some tracking done somewhere or somehow, and marketing people noticed that the two have similar audiences?This sent me on a recommendation blurb hunt. These are the ones I found in the stack of books on my bedside table: Lynn Viehl’s blurb on the cover of Dark Lover; Christine Feehan’s blurb on Undead & Unemployed; Jayne Ann Krentz on Ann Maxwell’s The Ruby; Jaid Black on Bella Andre’s Take Me; Mary Balogh and Mary Jo Putney on Gaffney’s To Love and To Cherish; Jim Butcher and Mary Jo Putney on Rachel Caine’s Windfall.Which leads to my first general question: who matches the recommending author to the book? Is it based on publishing house? Is an ARC sent to a bunch of other authors, within the same genre or subgenre or without, in the hope that a recommendation blurb will be provided? The matching of Putney and Balogh to Gaffney makes sense to me, because they all write, or at one time wrote, within the same subgenre — European Historicals. Bella Andre’s book, Take Me, is a contemporary and it’s pretty hot, but it has nowhere near the steam/sex content of Jaid Black’s books. How did the two of them hook up? Was Andre once an Ellorascave author? While Jayne Ann Krentz writes contemporaries with a little suspense, they are nowhere near as suspenseful or as well-researched as Elizabeth Lowell/Ann Maxwell’s books. Jim Butcher seems like a pretty good match, genre-wise, for Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden books; Mary Jo Putney seems a little less so, until you remember that she’s been moving toward more of the paranormal in her historicals.Next question is: whether the blurbs make a difference to purchasers? For me, they do and they don’t. I pay much more attention to the content blurb and the first few pages of the book; if it passes the five page test in the store or the library, then it will likely go home with me. I do look at the recommendations, but the blurb, the title, the bookcover, all come first. For example, I picked up a used copy of a traditional regency (Signet) at the library recently because there was a recommendation from Mary Balogh on the cover. I’ve pretty much given up trads in the past couple of years, because all the writers that I used to like have moved on to other romantic subgenres (Balogh and Putney) or are not being published at all (Carla Kelly). I haven’t read it yet, so I don’t know if I’ll like the book, but I know that I would not have put the book in my basket if I hadn’t seen the recommendation from Balogh. On the other hand, recommendations are just as likely to turn me off. Another example: I don’t care for Christine Feehan (blah to the Carpathians), so if I hadn’t already read and like Mary Janice Davidson’s work, her recommendation would have had the opposite effect on me — Thanks but no thanks, Ms. Feehan. Same with Lynn Viehl. In fact, I put down Dark Lover when I saw her recommendation, and only picked it up after reading some reviews and chat threads online. Putney’s reference to Laurell K. Hamilton would have put me off Caine’s Weather Warden series if I were relying on the recommendation blurb for a new-to-me author. (FWIW, I think LKH has degenerated to not very good porn in her writing. But that’s just my opinion.)Last question: have the recommending authors actually read these books? Or were the quotes given way back when, in reference to another book, and just been recycled by the publisher? Some of the comments are extremely generic and seem to refer only to the author’s style (Feehan for MJD), while other comments are extremely specific (Massey’s comment referred particularly to the heroine in Asking for Trouble).So, do author recommendations make you pick up new books and new authors? Do you ignore them? Take them with a grain of salt? Inquiring minds want to know.

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