What I Look For In Books

New topic today.  I mean, yes, as usual, I’m having another battle with depression and stress…job situation has made it worse than ever.  But I literally can do nothing but go and suck it up, so I try to divert myself where possible.  Some of that is reading.  And occasionally, I review books.

I’ve noticed over the past few years that anyone can review anything.  Sites like Goodreads and Yelp encourage it, and it’s a good thing, IF you remember: a. most of these people are offering opinions, not necessarily “professional” reviews (granted, I’m not sure what would even constitute that, like…how do you train to review for the Times or something?), and B. they aren’t always impartial.  Yes, the sites try to keep them impartial, but we all know there are awful books out there that somehow garner thousands of 5 star reviews, and we know that one bad social gaff or bad customer interaction that gets a video on Facebook could net a restaurant a hundred 1-star reviews…from people who’ve never set foot in the place.

So I offer up what I like and dislike in books (I’ve done a few reviews here, I also have a page on Pinterest that is exclusively book reviews) with this warning: this is what I like.  You may like what I don’t.  You may not care about spelling or grammer, whereas I do.  So, it’s my opinion, and take it as you will.

“YA”.  I don’t even know what this means anymore.  I thought it was “young adult”, but it covers a huge range.  And I’ve liked some; I’m not disparaging all, but I see patterns that I distinctly don’t like.  If you’re selling point is about paranormal entities or super powers or dragons, that’s what I want.  I don’t want a high school romance with the occasional “Wow, I can read his mind?  Does he know I think he’s so hot?”  Folks, I did high school, long ago.  Reading is my escape, not my return to times better left behind.  And if I want a romance, I’ll pick up a romance.  Not to mention, everyone in these books is ridiculously gorgeous, horny (what age group was this for again??), they smirk, they sneer, they all have goofy hair/ eye color-combos (no supernatural being could just look like a person) and their lips curl in every direction.  Very rarely I find one that’s more original.  I wish I could find more.

First Person.  I have always hated first-person viewpoint.  It seems like there really wasn’t much of it until self-publishing and Kindle came along.  I hate writing it because of the constant use of “I” (feels awkward).  It’s limited in viewpoint.  Some authors switch the narrative every chapter or so, which is super annoying if they don’t make the switch clear, and slightly annoying if every character has the same “voice”.  I feel third person is far more fluid.  Again, my opinion and preference.

Bad Editing. Or no editing.  Mistakes happen, I get it.  The occasional typo, or missed letter…or the differences in reading an English author.  But there have been a few with some absolutely horrific spelling booboos.  Beyond the usual you’re, your, too, to, two, etc, I’ve seen “a ewe bow” (made out of a sheep?  really?) , murderess intent, move passed (“past” is a word and a tense, folks)…and don’t get me going on the overuse and underuse of commas.

“If you like so and so”.  If the only way you can push your book is to compare it to someone well-established, I’m not interested.  “If you like Harry Potter”…yes, I do.  That doesn’t mean I want to read some hack imitation.  Push your book on it’s own merits.  Other young wizards can exist, as long as you’ve built your own world and not shamelessly copied Rowlings’.  Right now I’ve started the Iron Druid series, and I admit, they are similar to Butcher’s Dresden books, but there are enough differences.  I do like the whole “magic practitioner living among us” deal, but you can come up with dozens of ways to present it.  Use them, and show them to me, instead of trying to ride the tails of someone you don’t even know.

That’s about it.  I don’t care for romance, certain “catchwords” (haha, hilarity ensues and all that).  Beyond that, I’ll try almost anything once, and I fluctuate.  Sometimes I tire of fantasy and I’ll read more mysteries or horror.  I enjoy historical fiction, too..again, not romance (“but will she be able to resist the sexual throbbing of handsome Lord Whimsey?”  /barrrrrfffff!).  And I will certainly review books for a free copy, although I ask about 2-3 weeks to do so.

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