bad book reviews

Ann Rule Sues Biased Book Reviewer; African to Behead Gays

Ann Rule Sues Biased Book Reviewer

Authors are not particularly litigious about anything. I’ve seen three cases of blatant theft where unknown authors have stolen romance books just this summer alone and put them up on Amazon for sale, and so far I have not heard one single case where the authors who were allegedly plagiarized have brought suit against one single thief. Authors don’t usually think that way.

And the last thing we ever see is an author file suit against a book reviewer, especially a well known author like Ann Rule. But Rule seems to feel strongly about this, and for highly valid reasons.

In this article, it states the review was written by a freelance writer named Rick Swart for Seattle Weekly.

Titled “Ann Rule’s Sloppy Storytelling,” the Weekly’s cover story also contained “other inflammatory comments, including ‘evil,’ ‘sociopath,’ ‘bunch of lies’ and ‘straight out slander,’ ” Rule’s July 18 complaint alleges.

But, the interesting part is that the book Swart reviewed so poorly, “Heart Full of Lies,” was closely connected to him personally and he failed to disclose this to his readers and his publisher. Swart, the book reviewer, was engaged to a woman named Lyisa Northon who was on trial for killing her husband in 2000. This woman who killed her husband, Northon, claims she was abused by him. Ann Rule’s book, “Heart of Lies,” was based on this murder case, and the book claimed Northon was a sociopath interested in getting insurance money from the husband she murdered.

Northon later sued Rule for defamation, but a federal judge tossed out the case in 2007 and ordered Northon to pay more than $60,000 for Rule’s legal fees after an unsuccessful appeal.

Clearly, Northon is far more litigious than Rule, which always tends to be the case.

The publication, Seattle Weekly, was owned by different people at the time, and also at the time, the editor of the publication wrote a public letter two weeks after the book review was published stating that the Seattle Weekly did NOT know the book reviewer, Swart, and Northon, were engaged to be married. So the paper did try to disclose everything…although after the fact. And I think this next quote is extremely important to understand…for authors and all those who call themselves book reviewers.

Bremner said Tuesday the newspaper’s actions haven’t gone far enough.

“It’s appreciated, but it doesn’t suffice,” she said. “That headline’s still out there — it’s all over the Web. You can still find this article on (the Weekly’s) site. It just doesn’t go so far as to say it was false.”

Twenty years ago the magnitude of something like this wouldn’t have sparked a lawsuit by any author. It would have been buried in the archives of Seattle Weekly and only a handful of people would have seen it. But nowadays, when dubious book reviewers write defamatory reviews they are out on the Internet for all the world to see thanks to search engines and they never disappear. Never. They will always be there. Even if the book reviewer is eaten in a shark attack, they will always be there.

First, I think this brings up the topic of full book reviewer disclosure, which I mentioned in a post about BEA 2013. From my comments:

It’s a good piece about objectivity and disclosure…in part. I take the above paragraph to mean that if the reviewer is reviewing an erotic romance novel and he or she doesn’t like erotic romance as a rule, he or she should disclose this up front…or at least somewhere within the review. I’ve read more than a few bad book reviews for erotic romances and I’ve always appreciated when the reviewer makes this disclosure up front. This way I know where the reviewer is coming from, so to speak.

The good thing about all this is that I think we’re reaching a point where Wilbur and Orville Wright are going to be turning things over to the aviation professionals, so to speak. In other words, all book reviewers (including me) are going to be more professional than ever as more authors become more litigious and online readership begins to lose the Wild West appeal.  
Writing serious book reviews is no longer a hobby. And it’s becoming more important than ever to disclose certain information that might make a book reviewer bias. And I think book reviewers everywhere (including me) are going to be held more accountable, as cases like this lawsuit with Ann Rule continue to happen. In other words, if I decide to review Courtney Milan’s newest release, I’m going to tell you up front that I think romance novels that have book covers with women in long flowing gowns are typically the worst forms of literature ever written. I might love Milan’s novel and review it well. You never know. But I’m still going to disclose that I’m biased anyway…whether I like the book or not. That’s called being an honest, responsible book reviewer.

I’ve set up google alerts for this case, and I’m going to follow it and see how it unfolds. Many times cases like this really do depend on the judge. And if this comes before a judge who is in any way familiar with some of the sleazy practices that have been happening in book reviewing all over the universe in the past ten years, I have a feeling Rule might have a case. In any event, I’m glad she’s decided to sue. I’m not particularly litigious myself. I once gave a tenant back his entire security deposit in spite of the way he left an apartment, just to keep from going to court. However, sometimes you just can’t take the easy way out and forget about it. And if Rule were to win a case like this, it would set higher standards for book reviewers everywhere (including me).

African to Behead Gays

In a chilling duo of articles I read over the weekend, it seems the African President, Robert Mugabe, thinks that gays are worse than pigs and he wants them beheaded. The idiot also thinks homosexuality is something that is a “practice,” and it’s not an equal right. But it gets even better: he’s waiting for two men to procreate.

“If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come up with two children and they fail to do that, then we will chop off their heads,” Mugabe said emphasising that he would ruthlessly deal with homosexuality.

On top of all this, he thinks that he’s going to uplift the status of women, get this, by encouraging them to have more babies.

In this article, he claims that countries like the US are threatening to stop AID if he doesn’t accept “the practice of homosexuality.” First, someone should inform him we don’t “practice” homosexuality. We are born that way.

“This thing (homosexuality) seeks to destroy our lineage by saying John and John should wed, Maria and Maria should wed. Imagine this son born out of an African father, (US President Barrack) Obama says if you want aid, you should accept the homosexuality practice. Aah, we will never do that.”

According to the article to which I’ve linked above, Mugabe gave this speech about gays being worse than pigs before thousands of supporters who cheered him on. I don’t know what the overall feeling is about gays in Zimbabwe, but I do know that he’s been referred to as a dictator, not a president.

I think someone should tell President Mugabe the story of Marie Antoinette.

On the same day, her hair was cut off and she was driven through Paris in an open cart, wearing a plain white dress. At 12:15 p.m., two and a half weeks before her thirty-eighth birthday, she was beheaded at the Place de la Révolution (present-day Place de la Concorde).[131][132] Her last words were “Pardon me sir, I meant not to do it”, to Henri Sanson the executioner, whose foot she had accidentally stepped on after climbing the scaffold. Her body was thrown into an unmarked grave in the Madeleine cemetery, rue d’Anjou, (which was closed the following year).

 
 

2012 Favorite Book Review for "Fifty Shades of Grey"

When I say this is my favorite book review of 2012 for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” I should probably add it might be my favorite book review of all time. I joke not about this. I’ve mentioned this review before but never actually linked to it until now. If you do a blog search above, you’ll find a few posts.

Brief back story: At first I didn’t like the review. I posted about all that here.

But all that changed fast.

I now I love this book review because it is such a cutting, scathing, head-bashing book review…not to mention looooonnnngggg…it helped me find FSoG before it actually went mainstream, before millions of people started reading FS and talking about it, and before FS turned into one of the biggest books of 2012…if not this decade.

This review not only turned me on to FSoG, it helped me fall in love with it.

It’s also extremely entertaining, as far as reviews go in a general sense.

And that deserves a huge round of applause, a big old gold dart trophy, and all the recognition we can give it.

So let’s hear it for:

REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James

Photo of dart trophy from morguefile.com