Review of Book Review Blogs (Part 2)

A week ago, I wrote a review of five of my favorite book review blogs. Today I am following up with a review of five more. I won’t go as far as to call this a top ten list, but a collection of blogs that exemplify what I think a great SF blog should be (and where I aspire to go with this blog). In my original post, I commented on the qualities of what makes a good SF book review blog.

A good book review blog has an identity. The reader goes to it not just for book recommendations, but also for entertainment and enlightenment. A good book review blog also has a strong voice, both in narrative style, but also in trying to advance the genre. This will often come in the form of criticism on a particular topic, be it gender issues or frustration with the Hugo ballots. Finally, a good book review blog establishes a personal connection with the readers. The comment streams are active and the blogger responds personally to the comments. The best bloggers do this with regularity.

The following five blogs have personalities that seep through the pixels. I know this because I can talk about them beyond being just review outlets. Each one I read with regularity and thorough enjoyment, better informing me of the genre and entertaining me along the way.

A Dribble of Ink: Aiden’s blog has made a name for itself over the last six years or so. The site is flawlessly designed with an iconic header, minimalist (but sufficient) sidebar content and a professional-caliber footer where one can find all of the necessary blog information not found otherwise. Content-wise, the blog is a potpourri of SFnal goodness, ranging from book reviews to cover reveals to general fandom. There are also high-profile guest posters that make occasional appearances, leaving no doubt that this blog belongs on a Hugo shortlist for any given year. The blog trends a little more toward fantasy than science fiction, but can proudly boast its diversity. It is generally optimistic and rarely controversial, but maintains a strong enough voice that has me refreshing my feed reader each morning to check for new entries. A Dribble of Ink should be near the top of any SF fan’s blogroll.

Far Beyond Reality: Stefan Raet’s blog burst onto the scene a little over a year ago and from the get-go, operated like a veteran SF blog. Like a few of the other bloggers on this list, Stefan has written for TOR.com and found and moderates the Goodreads forum, Beyond Reality (a book club similar in format to Sword and Laser). He has a nice blend of science fiction and fantasy reviews and frequently has interviews and giveaways on his blog. My only criticism is that the navigation on the site could be slightly improved (navigating archived content is a challenge and the auto-refreshing at the bottom of the screen is a nuisance). But the header graphic is cool and leaves no doubt that Stefan’s interests span the entirety of the genre. I must admit my rabid jealousy admiration for how far his blog has come, considering that Odd Engine is about the same age.

the Little Red Reviewer: Andrea is a bona-fide SF fan and her perky posts are completely contagious. You best wear a face mask, or the electrovirus will soon have you shelling out your hard-earned dollars to buy a fantasy book she reviewed or searching used bookstores for a vintage SF paperback that she squeed about. Andrea started another site called BookStore-BookBlogger Connection, which connects book bloggers with indie bookstores to make the various venues or book titles more visible. She also recently started a monthly column on SF Signal about attending conventions — something I have not yet ventured other than a small GenreCon at the Sarnia Public Library, near Port Huron, MI. I enjoy Andrea’s honest and extremely positive approach to blogging — it is what geek fandom is all about.

Lady Business: Okay, don’t be quick to judge that I have to hand over my (jock) man-card to put this blog on my list. For me, it’s a moot point anyway, because college football has begun and I am writing a post about SF book blogs. But men — let’s be honest — where would we be without voices of reason to keep us straight? A couple of months ago I became painfully aware that my reading habits were heavily biased toward male authors. I’m not talking 60-40; I’m talking something much more pathetic. In a genre like SF, which is forward-looking not just in technology, but in culture and society as well, diversity is of the utmost importance. I’ve only been reading Lady Business for a month or so, but I admit I’m addicted. It has a definite and unique perspective, dissecting fiction with a clear female point of view. This is helpful to a white male like myself. The blog is edited by Renay, Ana, and Jodie, but it comes across as one cohesive whole. It is a wonderful thing when a blog can offer a strong perspective that the reader can glean so much from with so few words. I also like that they post links to other book reviews at the bottom of their own reviews, which recognizes multiple perspectives — something this blog helps to achieve.

Neth Space: Even though Ken’s posting frequency has dropped recently, I still include Neth Space on my list of book review blogs that I hold in the highest of esteem. In addition to great book reviews and author interviews, Neth has added his personal touch by doing whisky reviews. I’ve only partaken of the single malt a couple of times,   savoring both an Oban 14 and Macallan 18. My ignorant palette can only tell you they were nummy. And like many things in life, if scotch/whisky wasn’t so darn expensive, I might enjoy it more often.

I digress.

Neth’s blog has stood the test of time, up and running since 2006. He has interviewed Brandon Sanderson, George R. R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, Patrick Rothfuss, and many other of the who’s who in SF. The content now is primarily mini-reviews, but for its longevity and high level of quality, I wanted to include it on the list.

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There you have it, ten book review blogs that I consider to be the crème de la crème. There are many other notable blogs that I have omitted (for instance, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, Wertzone, and Elitist Book Reviews), but it was not because I find them less worthy. My focus tended toward single or dual-edited blogs with a distinct identity and a primary focus on SF book reviewing. I believe the ones I have listed all incorporate the necessary elements of what a good SF book review blog should contain and are good models for aspiring bloggers.

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6 Comments

  1. Thanks for the kind words! I didn’t know you were a fellow Michigander, any chance you’ll be at ConFusion in Dearborn in January?

    Reply
    • I’ve tried to go the last two years, but something has come up both times. I hope to go this year — hopefully they land some good authors. If all else fails, I also heard the NA SF Convention (as opposed to worldcon) is at the Ren Cen in July.

      Reply
      • I’m hoping to go NASFic too, so hopefully we’ll run into each other at one, or the other, or both. 😀 I’ll be saving my pennies between January and July, that is for sure.

  2. I designed Stephan’s header for Far Beyond Reality. GIMME THAT CREDIT 😉

    Reply

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