Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Move Over Perez Hilton—There’s a New Bitch in Town!

Written by Kathleen Shaw
Are you a smart lady interested in reading David Hasselhoff’s autobiography Don’t Hassel the Hoff? Or a hard-working student who would like to read a review of romance novelist Cassie Edward’s Desiree’s Blossom before actually putting money down on it? If you answered yes, or were even slightly curious about either of these questions, here’s your chance to get in on something great: women being smart...and indulging in trashy novels.

Are you a smart lady interested in reading David Hasselhoff’s autobiography Don’t Hassel the Hoff? Or a hard-working student who would like to read a review of romance novelist Cassie Edward’s Desiree’s Blossom before actually putting money down on it? If you answered yes, or were even slightly curious about either of these questions, here’s your chance to get in on something great: women being smart...and indulging in trashy novels.


Founders of smartbitchestrashybooks.com, Candy Tan and Sarah Wendell make no qualms about their intelligence or that of their blog’s devotees. The site is dedicated to reviewing romance novels, though they also review sci-fi, young adult, and graphic novels, and have been known to dabble in politics. Among other features is the “Covers Gone Wild!” section where the girls offer their snarky commentary on those lurid, Fabio-style romance novel covers you might recognize from your neighborhood supermarket; they’re especially keen on noticing what has become an infamous defining characteristic of these illustrations: the man-titty.


Though the trashy books are clearly crucial, non-romance readers should not shy away. In addition to a recommendation list of other great sites and links to thought-provoking articles, the posts and the commentary Tan and Wendell include cover a broad spectrum of topics. Recently, a question about the “alpha hero” in romances (think along the lines of me Tarzan, you Jane) turned into a much wider discussion of gender politics. Another current post was inspired by the inclusion of a gay couple in a Levi’s advertising campaign and the negative responses to the ad.


Clearly, Candy and Sarah are badass. They both have English degrees and describe themselves as over-educated liberal females. The two actually found each other online, and only recently, at the Romance Writers of America’s National Conference, met each other face-to-face for the first time. True Internet junkies through and through. After exchanging emails back and forth, the idea for SBTB came to them when they both discovered that they hated to spend money on books that were not good just because there weren’t enough straight-shooters writing reviews on romance novels. And so, a bitch was born. The name is as forthright as the reviewers, “who will always give it to you straight. No bullshit.”


Tan and Wendell will be the first to proudly admit that the whole operation has been sort of off-the-cuff. They started the site because it was something they shared an interest in, and they hoped a few others might be passionate about it too, but it doesn’t seem as though they expected to become the blogging superstars they have. They estimate that around 4,000-5,000 people visit the site on a given day, including readers, fans, authors, booksellers, and agents from all over the map, in varied age groups. And (drum roll please), they recently sealed a book deal for The Smart Bitches Guide to Romance Novels.


So, go poke around the site (dirty puns welcome), become a member, enter in one of the contests (sorry, the funniest, “LOLHoff: A Contest of Hofftastic Awesomeness,” is over, but please do look at the winners) and prepare to be generally amazed. It’s never too early to begin your career as a smart bitch.

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