There's something weird about being a book blogger, especially one in the kidlitosphere. There's a weird symbiosis about writing about books and interacting with their creators. Others have oft noted it and bloggers have been accused of being unable, as non-professional reviewers (a whole different beef), to be objective about the task. I think it's bullshit, at least as it pertains to me (the only case I'm qualified to talk about). Because, trust me, I can like you and not think your book is anything special - I'll try to be nice about it, though. But even basing my argument on "trust me" opens me up to valid accusations of self-referential, fact-free, unprofessional writing (cue eye roll).
What does this mean to you, my reader? Well, it means that you may well find from time to time that I'm talking about a book by an author I've somehow become friends with. So how does a blogger review a book written by a friend without appearing biased or unreliable? This is a growing concern for me as I immerse myself deeper into this kidlit world and start creating friendships with the people whose creative work I may well criticize in this space. Most of the time, I've simply chosen to either not read or review books of authors I consider friends. But that's not really fair, either - to me, or them.
For instance, in this very case - I really, truly, like A la Carte, I want it to do well, and I want readers who maybe haven't seen this title to be aware of it - or better yet - pick it up. And not because the author is my friend - but because I liked that book. I've had a hard time with this. It doesn't have anything to do with the book - it's the all about the author. See, Tanita S. Davis? I've never met her, but I would absolutely not hesitate to call her my friend. If I were in Scotland, I'd absolutely stop by and have a cup of tea. Or force them to feed me something more substantial than that (b/c she and her husband have a food blog. A food blog that always makes me hungry.) Or even, if I suck up really well, stay with them. Three years ago, Tanita and I served as nominating panelists during the very first year of the Cybils. During that process received she her contract for A la Carte. We were a tight group. We bonded. I'm still very attached to the members of that group. They are amazing women whom I watch to this day with interest and love (me = total sap). Can I judge the products of Tanita's imagination without bias or predisposition?
Ultimately, it's up to you to decide if you find my content unbiased and of quality. I suspect you will, and that I'm far more likely to lose (and have lost) readers due to my irregular posting. A point I'm not willing to adjust, since I'd rather have a life than be a star blogger (of course, if someone wanted to PAY me, the whole equation is null). If you don't like what I review, the way I review, or how I review, well, I'm not quite sure why you are even still here, so I'm not terribly concerned about that.
Like I've said, I've struggled a great deal with this decision, but ultimately, I've decided that, to over simplify the whole damn thing, it's my blog and I'll blog about what I want to, regardless of who wrote it and how much I like that person. Since really, as we all know, liking a particular book isn't what makes me talk about them here. And *that* more than anything, should tell you whether to give credence to what I say, as I think I've proved with the content of this blog that I can like something just fine, and still have negative things to say, and dislike something and still have good things to say. So, as I said in my last angst-ridden post, I'll speak up when I have something to say. 'Cause I'm not reviewing the author, I'm reviewing the book. I hope you'll stick around.