You’re more than just a book to me, Elizabeth Fama.


September 29, 2012 by Heidi

You’re more than just a book to me is an oft neglected, but always heartfelt feature here at Bunbury in the Stacks.  Because there are a lot of authors out there who I love for so much more than their books, and I think everyone should know why.

Elizabeth Fama Signing

Image via the author’s website.

Earlier this week I posted a fairly snarky review of a book that really was not the right book for me: Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama.  I really didn’t like it, and I’m not sure if I’ll be reading the author’s previous work (partially because I have a pretty big fear of open water and Overboard sounds terrifying to me), but that’s okay!  I still want to tell you all that I think Elizabeth Fama is a pretty fantastic person.

This isn’t an apology for my review, it’s more of a case of me wanting to point out a time when an author reacted very admirably to a bad review.  We here in the book blogosphere have seen a lot of drama this year with authors, their publicists, or their fans reacting very badly to negative criticism.  Elizabeth, however, did not.

Instead of getting upset or trying to change my mind about her book, Elizabeth engaged me in a conversation about some of the points I disliked/didn’t really understand and expressed her take on them.  Some bloggers might find this intrusive, but in a day and age where we openly communicate with the authors whose books we read on a regular basis, I relished this discourse.  I feel like now I understand the book better, and even though I still don’t like it, I really appreciate understanding where Elizabeth Fama was coming from.  Namely, it became a pretty interesting discussion about souls and what they impart on a body, along with the nature of various relationships throughout the book–neat, huh?  She even thanked me for taking time to read and review her book.

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama book cover

I mentioned at the bottom of my review that I feel that Elizabeth Fama is very gracious to her readers, and I want to reiterate that.  I loved Lauren’s recap of the Monstrous Beauty book launch event, and the fact that she was willing to personalize and send a copy of her book all the way to Singapore for Chachic is pretty awesome in my book.  She interacts regularly on Twitter, does lots of events, and seems like an all around nice person.  I can’t guarantee that I’ll like her next effort, Plus One, but I would like to give it a go.

I usually use this feature to talk about authors whose books I love that are cool in real life too, but I thought it’d be fun to talk about an author I think is cool even though I don’t like her book.

So go forth and make up your own mind about Monstrous Beauty without the fear of being attacked for hating or loving it.  You can find Elizabeth at her website, and on Twitter.


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  1. Chachic says:

    How awesome is this post? I think it’s a great feature, Heidi. There are so many authors out there who are wonderful people and it makes me sad whenever I don’t fall in love with their books. I’m so thankful that Elizabeth was willing to send a copy of her book all the way over here, I’ve been pretty excited to read it ever since we bonded over our love of Megan Whalen Turner’s books. It’s good to know that she reacted well to your not-so-positive review (haven’t read it yet because of the spoilers).

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Chachic! Yeah I felt bad because I really did want to like Monstrous Beauty, but I’m glad I had the chance to talk to Elizabeth Fama about it regardless. How can you not like someone who has a healthy love for Megan Whalen Turner?! Yes, please don’t read my review until you’ve read the book and decided for youself–I hope you love it!

      • Chachic says:

        Yes, exactly. Forgot to mention that she’s a Melina Marchetta fan as well, she did a guest post for me about Jellicoe Road for Marchetta Madness. I hope I love her book! But even if I don’t, I’ll always think of her as an awesome person.

  2. Don’t take this the wrong way, Heidi, but I think I’m in love with you. I’ve been avoiding all drama like the plague that it is and it’s so nice to see a negative review lead to a mature, productive conversation. There’s nothing wrong with discussing things, I don’t think it’s intrusive at all, as long as everyone respects the other’s right to an opinion. So although I’m quite sure this book isn’t for me, I’ll definitely check out Fama’s next project.

    You can expect my love letter in the next couple of days.

    • Heidi says:

      Hahaha, thanks, Maja! Yes, I get really bummed out every time I read about drama and negativity in this community, so I really wanted to highlight an experience I had that was GOOD and NON-DRAMATIC. Elizabeth Fama completely respected my opinion, and getting to see some of the lore/characters through her eyes helped me to understand why other people are loving this book even though it wasn’t for me. I hope you do check out her next project!

      I will be waiting by my mailbox anxiously. 😛

  3. I think this is an absolutely marvelous post. In all honesty, after your review, I was debating picking it up to see if I would agree or not. Now? After this post? I will definitely pick this one up, because when an author acts with class? I want to now more about them and their writing!

    We aren’t all going to love every book we read. For different reasons. And I loved your review for being honest, just as much as I love this post for being honest and to the point.

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks so much, Jac! I really hope that you do pick up Monstrous Beauty and decide for yourself where you fall. Elizabeth Fama is all that is classy when it comes to being an author, I really respect her and want everyone to decide for themselves if her writing is for them or not. Like you said, we’re not all going to love every book or the same books–this community would be incredibly boring and redundant if we did!

  4. Holly says:

    This is so cool, Heidi, or I should say Elizabeth Fama is so cool. So I hope you don’t mind me asking, did your constructive dialogue with her take place via email or through social media?

  5. Brandy says:

    This is awesome. I am an even greater admirer of both of you now. :)

  6. I loveee this feature, Heidi, and I love that Elizabeth Fama took the time to address your grievances with her novel. I love when that happens and the fact that there are authors out there who can be civil, kind, and take negative reviews in their stride is simply fantastic. While I am skipping this one, I’ll be sure to check out Elizabeth’s future novels – I haven’t written HER off, just this book. Thanks for this fantastic post, Heidi! 😀

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Keertana! Yes, it was extremely kind of her. She took responsibility to parts that seemed unclear, because she said that’s her fault if it doesn’t come across in the writing, but she also explained to me some things that I had just interpreted differently because of who I am. She never told me ‘the way you saw it is wrong’ she just let me know how she saw it. I really appreciated that, and I’m certainly a full supporter of her even if I didn’t enjoy Monstrous Beauty. :)

  7. Ah, I love that you (and Elizabeth Fama, indirectly) did this. Death to internet drama!

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Catie! Yeah she was so wonderful about the whole thing that I felt like I needed to put it out there into the blogosphere–we will kill drama with warm fuzzies!

  8. I can hardly tell you how much I love this post! This is incredible! Thank you so much for sharing such a positive experience. I’m actually more inclined to read Elizabeth’s writing now simply because she seems like such a stand up lady. It’s so refreshing!

    Fantastic post. Fantastic author. Fantastic blogger. <3

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks so much, Danielle! 😀

      I thought Elizabeth Fama was absolutely wonderful, and I really hope that more people are inclined to read her books because of my experience with her. It was totally refreshing, and made me really happy about what we all do here in the book community.

  9. janicu says:

    This is just nice all around – on both your parts. Always good to see respect on both sides, even if you have differing viewpoints.

  10. This is a great post, Heidi! And I always enjoyed this feature. I think that it is wonderful that you and Fama sat down and discussed things. It reaffirms my faith in the blogger/reviewer/author relationship and illustrates that two people can have differences yet still respect each other enough to talk it over and in the end agree to disagree. Awesome post, thanks for sharing:)

    • Heidi says:

      Thanks, Heather! Yes, I think there are so many great author/reader relationships out there that get overlooked for all of the negativity that exists these days. It’s nice to be able to highlight a bit!

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While the source for each book I review is posted within its review, please assume unless otherwise stated that books reviewed on Bunbury in the Stacks were received free from the author or publisher in exchange for an honest review.