Apologies to my author friend, Barb Taub http://barbtaub.com/2015/03/13/why-i-wont-review-your-book/ who came up with this idea for a post first, but after reading hers, I wanted to approach the topic from a slightly different slant.
I get lots of requests to review books. So many if I accepted them all, I’d be booked through the end of 2015 with no time to do anything but read. I average two requests a day that come in on my firstname.lastname@example.org email, and about a quarter of them have files attached. Really? You’re sending me your book when you don’t know me from Adam, and I never asked for it?
I shred those unsolicited manuscripts and ask the sender to please think before they send files because of piracy concerns, never mind I don’t want someone accusing me of stealing “their” ideas for my own books. Obviously, that’s its own set of problems, but there are many other reasons beyond being overwhelmed that I refuse reviews.
I won’t give a book less than three stars. I also won’t review a book if I can’t genuinely find some nice things to say about it. Some people—the ones who love to sling crap—are running amok in the review business. Like an author friend of mine said recently, “The mean girls found a new sandbox to play in.”
Like all of you, there are certain genres I absolutely love. Urban fantasy, for example, and paranormal romance. I also like some high fantasy if the worlds are believable. And science fiction, but I’m not crazy about space-based tales. I also like some historical romance. Within those genres, why would I refuse a book? Well, several reasons.
I’m old and crotchety, and I appreciate decent grammar, spelling, and overall paragraph construction. If I find multiple mistakes in the first few pages, it’s like nails scraping down a chalkboard. It can be the best story in the world, but if I have to wade through mismatched subjects and verbs and run on sentences or paragraphs, I’m unlikely to keep reading. Lookalike words that don’t mean what the author thinks they do grate too. It’s too bad, because some books could be great if they’d been edited.
I need characters who are vibrant, alive, and who react in believable ways to what the story world tosses their way. I also need dialogue that reflects how people actually talk. In the best of all possible worlds, character arcs bisect with plot arcs to build a number of nail-biting crescendos. By the end of the book, the primary characters have grown. Otherwise, there wasn’t much purpose to the book.
I prefer reading third person POV, past tense, but I can live with first person past tense. I really, really do not like first POV present tense. I realize The Hunger Games was written that way, but I listened to it on CD, which made it easier to deal with. Generally, all those –ing words drive me nuts.
Even with my picky reading preferences, there are so many truly excellent books to choose from, I still struggle with figuring out what I’m going to read next. And I’m always looking for new-to-me authors. I realize I was late to the party, but over the last three years, I've “discovered” Illona Andrews, Sherrilynn Kenyon, Laurell K. Hamilton, Nalini Singh, and KM Moning. J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts too.
Like someone once said: “So many books, so little time.” Someone else, maybe Mae West, said, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.”
Thanks for reading. #Rantover