The light at the end of the tunnel, the end of the winter's march over the mountain: I'm on my last Rita book. It's clear to me that I'm STILL in a foul mood** and one of the first indications was that I couldn't find a single book beyond meh in my pile. Eight books and nothing that grabbed? Not SOP for me.
This last book is perhaps the best, but I'm still skipping through chunks. It, like most of the eight, has features I dislike in stories, as in if I picked it up at a store, I'd put it right back on the bookshelf again. But those features are personal preference and I do think a judge is obliged to ignore anything she can.
On various loops, people argue that if you hate a secret baby book and get one in the contest, you're allowed to take off points. I say nope, no way. Nuh uh. A judge and a reviewer are two different animals.
Tangent time: If we were judging in the 80s when books were full of rapey heroes, would you take off points for that? I'm not sure. Alpha Asswipes were considered the standard for that time. If it was a well-written AA, and his behavior made sense given his background, time period, yadayada, I guess no points should be subtracted. Same for passive, damp-dishcloth heroines. I recall reading a couple of those books waybackwhen and disliking the DD and AA . . .
Back on topic: Good thing I don't share the philosophy that judging is about personal preference, otherwise I'd be giving most of these books absurdly low scores. I'm not. In fact, I'm giving decent scores. I'm not sure what's me and what's real, so I curve grades toward giving the writers credit.
I think once I get past this chunk of frozen winter in me, I should pick up these books and see if it was entirely me.
** they don't usually last this long. I'm wondering how much of it is habit now.