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Banned Books Week

banned venn


This is one of those things that isn’t true, but feels true. If someone thinks a book is the best book every written, there is someone who wants it banned from schools and libraries.  If there is a book that has been banned, it is someone’s favorite book of all time.

Because it is Banned Books Week, and as I librarian I’ve always loved this annual time when we celebrate the freedom to read, I was checking over the list of most banned and/or challenged books.  ALA has a lot of nice resources on their banned books week site including a list of the 100 books most challenged in the first decade of the 21st century.  In other words, RECENTLY.  And as usual, it makes me so sad that there are so many marvelous books that people want to surpress.  I grew up in a house full of books where I was allowed to read anything I wanted, whether it was appropriate for my age or not.  I WAS NOT HARMED.  I’m a (mostly) well-adjusted functioning member of society.  No book ever hurt me or scarred me. So yeah, I think banning books is just about the most pointless thing a person can do with their time and energy. (more…)

Genre Blend Covers

Probably the first way a lot of readers will interact with a book is through the cover.  Even in today’s online world where the covers are thumbnail images much smaller than a cover you would browse in the bookstore or library, the cover is still so important in creating the first impression of what’s inside. Genre blended books have a lot of challenges when it comes to marketing, including what cover to put on the book. Do you emphasize one genre?  Another?  Go for something neutral? One of the good things about the change we made with the Genre Blender to host cover images locally rather than serve them from Amazon is that I got to choose which cover to include in the database.  For all the titles here I saw the first cover served up and said….nope, that’s not it.  Sometimes it was because the cover was different from the one on my shelf, but sometimes the covers were surprisingly, completely different from what I expected, knowing what was inside the cover.

Less Genre-y Covers

Publishers sometimes change a genre over different editions to try to attract different audiences to a title.  Here are a few covers that started out more obviously genre and end up with fewer genre cues on the cover, perhaps to make them an easier sell to non-genre readers.

DoomsdayBook2   doomsday3sm   doomsdaybook          

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
One of my favorite genre books, this is the first of Connie Willis’ fantastic time travel SF/Historical blends. (more…)

The Evolution of Historical Romance Covers

I was working on a post about the covers that end up on genre blended books and I fell down the hole at the intersection of amazing and ridiculous that is romance covers.  Rather than do a whole post with link-y links, I simply have to throw some of these up there for your enjoyment. The best are no doubt the ones from the 1980s for sheer ridiculousness.  I’m sure I was reading the occasional romance in the 80s, but perhaps the fashion and style of the 80s was so terrible (in an awesome way) that they just washed off me like water flowing off thebare chest of a Fabio clone. The 1990s seems to be where some discretion came into the art departments for romances.  Lots more still lifes with flowers or swords or flowers and swords.  Broaches were big, too.  Then we moved into the period weith the headless pretty dresses, which we are mostly still in.   (more…)

About the Blender

Genre Blender = work in progress

blenderscreen Some folks have asked me where the idea for the Genre Blender came from. A few years ago, I was asked if I wanted to write a volume in a readers’ advisory series of guides from ALA Editions.  Spitballing ideas with the two editors of the series, I decided I would write my guide not on one genre (most of the good ones were taken!), but on books that blend genres.  The book will be out in a month or so, and can be ordered here: Reader’s Advisory Guide to Genre Blends.


Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach


TITLE:  Fortune’s Pawn
AUTHOR:  Rachel Bach
PUBLISHER:  Orbit, 2013
SERIES:  Paradox, Book 1

THE BOOK: Searching for a way to get noticed and get a spot with the Devastators, the elite king’s guard of Paradox, Devi Morris takes a security job on the most dangerous trading ship in the region, The Glorious Fool.  It doesn’t take long for Devi to realize why one year with this ship counts as five years with any other trader.   (more…)