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Guest Book Review: HOLD STILL by Sally Mann

May 17, 2015 – 10:57 pm | 2 Comments

This review is by contributor Thuy Dinh, editor of Da Mau Magazine.
The cover photograph of Sally Mann’s memoir, Hold Still, shows the author as a prepubescent tomboy, airborne against a gray expanse of sky. She …

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Books & writing »

When Is a Spoiler a Spoiler?

May 14, 2015 – 10:47 pm | 12 Comments

I had two extremely annoying reading experiences recently and it brought to mind a question I’ve had for a while so I thought I’d seek outside opinions.

Here’s what happened, with two books in a row. I was reading the first ARC while using the accompanying press release as a bookmark. I hadn’t read the release because I’m so spoiler averse, I rarely read synopses, except to maybe skim the first sentence and the last to get a very rough idea of plot.

At one point I put the book down to grab a snack, a vital part of my reading ritual. When I inserted the press release into the book to keep my place, I accidentally glanced at the first sentence at the top of the page.

FullSizeRender (1)It mentioned the death of a character. In bold. I was on p. 52, the death hadn’t occurred, and it wasn’t something I was anticipating. I was super annoyed by the spoiler and haven’t picked up the book again.

The next ARC I read, I made sure to not use the press release as bookmark. But like the other book, I dove in without knowing anything about the plot. When I took a break, I put the book front cover down.

And that’s when I saw the synopsis on the back—with the very first sentence IN BIG FONT mentioning the death of a character I’d thought would be the protagonist. I was on p. 35 and the death hadn’t occurred.

Why are spoilers being given away so freely?? In press materials, no less. As I asked myself this, the obvious answer was: Because other people don’t think these are spoilers.

Which brought me to this question: When does a plot point become a spoiler if revealed? To me, if something happens before p. 5—maybe p. 8—it’s OK to mention it in a release or review. If a major development happens after that, best to keep mum or be vague when addressing it.

Not everyone agrees with me, though. Some reviewers have told me anything that happens before p. 30 is not a spoiler. Some people say p. 50 is their cut-off mark.

What do you think? When does something become a spoiler to you?

Book Review: OH! YOU PRETTY THINGS by Shanna Mahin

April 27, 2015 – 8:38 pm | 4 Comments
oh you pretty things

Jess Dunne, the protagonist of Shanna Mahin’s Oh! You Pretty Things, is 29 years old, recently divorced, third-generation Hollywood and not sure what to do with her life. The story opens with her quitting a …

Nerdy Special List April 2015

April 8, 2015 – 8:20 pm | 4 Comments
spinster

April is always a big month for me. Not only is it my birth month, it’s also that of my mother, husband, goddaughter, and two close friends. I should buy stock in Hallmark considering how …

Book Giveaway: THE MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK

March 19, 2015 – 10:35 am | 8 Comments
MWA cookbook

A couple weeks ago, I received a cookbook for review. Since me in the kitchen is the equivalent of a child running with scissors while chased by wild dogs across a freeway, I might seem …

Book Review: A TOUCH OF STARDUST by Kate Alcott

March 11, 2015 – 10:53 pm | One Comment

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Last year was the 75th anniversary of the movie Gone with the Wind, and now Kate Alcott’s novel A Touch of …

Nerdy Special List March 2015

March 5, 2015 – 11:53 pm | One Comment
life or death

Though we’ve been enjoying gorgeous weather in Southern California, my family and friends on the East Coast are soooo over all the snow and freezing temps. But they’ve had lots of snow days, which means …

Book Review: CANARY by Duane Swierczynski

March 4, 2015 – 9:06 pm | 3 Comments
canary cover

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Sarie Holland, the protagonist in Duane Swierczynski’s Canary, is a 17-year-old college student who’s busted after unwittingly helping another student on a …

Book Review: ONE STEP TOO FAR by Tina Seskis

February 10, 2015 – 5:08 pm | One Comment
one step too far

This review originally appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
At the start of British author Tina Seskis’s debut novel, One Step Too Far, a married lawyer named Emily Coleman is running …

Watch Oscar-Nominated Film for Free This Weekend

February 4, 2015 – 9:14 pm | 5 Comments

Last October, I raved about the Rory Kennedy-directed/produced documentary, Last Days in Vietnam (my review here). Last month, it was Oscar nominated for best documentary feature.
This weekend, from February 5-7, you can stream this film …

Nerdy Special List February 2015

February 2, 2015 – 11:34 pm | 7 Comments
touch of stardust

January always seems like it lasts a year, with post-holiday blues and crappy weather, and I didn’t have many good reads last month. But February is here, bringing with it more promising books.
Here’s what my …

Movie Review: CAKE

January 29, 2015 – 4:49 pm | 4 Comments
cake one sheet

Last fall, when raves came out of the Toronto International Film Festival about Jennifer Aniston’s “Oscar-worthy,” vanity-free performance in Cake (in limited release now), I was doubtful. Just because an actress goes without makeup doesn’t …

Quick Thoughts on SAG Awards 2015

January 25, 2015 – 9:18 pm | One Comment
lupita sag awards 2015

The SAG Awards may have a lower profile than the Golden Globes and the Oscars, but it’s the most personal awards show for me because I get to vote for the winners.
This year I did …

Thoughts on Oscar Nominations 2015

January 15, 2015 – 10:56 am | 6 Comments
Laura Dern as "Bobbi" in WILD.

Since the Oscar nominations were announced at dark o’clock this morning, many articles have appeared griping about the snubs. I’m surprised, too, that certain frontrunners weren’t nominated—Gillian Flynn being ignored for Gone Girl‘s screenplay is …