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Monday, May 21, 2012

DISCUSSION POST: What makes a book work for you?

I will be the first person to admit that my pile of to-be-read books has grown out of control.

My name is Amy and I am addicted to books.

I have noticed though that the books I have bought and added to the pile seem to have certain things in common.  Some of these things are good and some of them are bad.  You know how it is when you get a book that has had so much hype that you just buy it and not even really know what it is about?  Yep, that has happened to me.

I have also been noticing that many of the books have been grating on my nerves lately.  I am not sure if it was the recent reading slump that I was going through, or if the book really didn't fit for me.

There are always certain things that will make me put down a book and there are always things that keep me interested.  Lately though, those aggravating things are growing.  I wanted to share a few things that will quickly turn me off to a story -- no matter the genre -- and make me shy away from further books like them.

COVERS
--Time for confession two.
My name is Amy and yes I will judge your book by your cover.
Now I am not saying that if the cover is horrible I will never try the book.  Let's put this in a different perspective though.  Imagine walking along the shelves at your favorite book store.  You are gazing at all of the books and wondering which book you should pick up.  You see one that catches your eye and you pick it up to read the back blurb.  Did you just do what I think you did? Yes, you picked up a book based on the cover -- which can include the title font, artwork, or author name - and picked it up instead of the other 30 or so books on that shelf.  If your cover is done poorly or doesn't catch my interest within the few seconds I glance at it, chances are I am going to move to the next book. First impressions mean more than you think.

SEXY SCENES
When reading in the romance genre -- whether it be erotica, PNR, UF, or just contemp -- the main thing a reader is looking for is some sexy scenes.  Yes, there is an inner smut monster inside of my brain.  I will devour a book in no time flat if the romance and chemistry lead to amazing sex scenes.  It is a fantasy and an escape for a reader when we read these scenes.  Not only does the writer need to walk the fine line of too much info and not enough info in these scenes, but they also need to create the scene to be believable.  Sex in the shower?  Yes it can be sexy, but one that isn't too much of a thrill for me unless you work the scene correctly. Don't give me images of pressing that woman against the glass shower door and pounding into her!  When I hear this, all I can think about is that girl probably breaking the glass or sliding all over.  When that glass breaks, it won't feel so sexy.  Also what is up with authors thinking sex in the woods or dirt is sexy?  Bark burns hurt and who the hell wants dirt, leaves, and rocks trying to wedge in your hoo-ha? Not too sexy is it.

ALPHA CHARACTERS
Alpha characters in books can be the best thing ever!  Whether it is a man or a woman who is in charge of the scenes in a book, there is no denying the appeal that can be there for the reader when they command our attention.  Just remember though,  when that character is in full Alpha mode, we need a character to balance them.  I can't stand when a woman alpha gets all high and mighty and doesn't have a friend, partner, or hell even an inner goddess to put her in her rightful place.  The same goes for the male Alpha.  He needs a counterpart of some kind to bring him down when he gets too high on his ego.  Seriously, well rounded characters are ones that have someone who is keeping them in line.

These are just a few examples that will make your book or break it for the reader -- at least in my opinion.

What are some deal breakers for you as a reader that will make you give up on a book?
What makes them great hits for you when they rise above your expectations?

8 Comments:

Blogger BNM said...

have you read any books by Jackie Collins? love her books :)
I judge by the cover too! lol

May 21, 2012 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Johannah said...

I'm a passionate Photographer and I have a degree in Design. So, I also judge a book by it's cover - and font, if the picture is crisp and clean and the type of print gloss they use... yeah, I totally do that.

One thing that will drive me from a book is bad grammar. I'm not an English major, but if little old me notices a grammar issue... you know that editor wasn't doing his job.

Another thing that will have me drop a book is if it's BORING. I like a book to take me away, forget where I am, loose myself in. If the Author can't do that. I will not continue to read it.

May 21, 2012 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger C.J. Listro said...

I will totally judge a book by its cover. I may still read it anyway, but only if I notice it or know about it. Like, I don't care what the cover for Crime and Punishment looks like because I'm seeking that book out. But that new YA urban fantasy with the poorly done cover just waiting on the shelf...well, I may never pick it up.

Insta-Romance
Please. Make it stop. I know all the Twihards claim that Bella and Edward weren't. But come on. This trend is grating on my nerves. A few stolen glances and even some hardcore making out does NOT equal LOVE TO LAST THE AGES. I appreciate all the books trying to build real relationships for their heroines. Yeah, some intense romance is fun, but then don't call it OMGLOVESPARKLYRAINBOWS. Just accept it: it's infatuation.

Bad Writing
I was an English major. Aka I'm a snob. I don't mind flat writing if the story is GREAT....but the story has to be pretty damn great. Most of the time, I'm just going to skim through it and never remember that I read it. You don't have to be Nobokov, but it would be nice if writers focused a little more on the mechanics and the poetry of writing, rather than just throwing down any old words. Or going metaphor-crazy.

C.J.
Sarcasm and Lemons

May 21, 2012 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Mandi said...

I think covers play an important part in books. They should never be underestimated.

I want a good courtship. And hot smex ;)

May 21, 2012 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Laura Hartley said...

hahah 'inner smut monster' .. I couldn't agree more!! ;P

http://whats--hot.com

May 21, 2012 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Alexa said...

Lol yes we all need a certain level of smut in our lives!

Big turn offs for me include instant love and dull characters. Of course it is really hard to tell if either of those will occur until I'm reading the book lol.

Some of my favs to have in a book include sarcasm/witty conversations between the male and female character, a smart female character, sex scenes that seem reasonable and older teen books that actually include a little touch of steam because I don't know of a 17 year old alive that isn't thinking about doing something!!

Thanks for the great post!

May 22, 2012 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Alexa said...

Lol yes we all need a certain level of smut in our lives!

Big turn offs for me include instant love and dull characters. Of course it is really hard to tell if either of those will occur until I'm reading the book lol.

Some of my favs to have in a book include sarcasm/witty conversations between the male and female character, a smart female character, sex scenes that seem reasonable and older teen books that actually include a little touch of steam because I don't know of a 17 year old alive that isn't thinking about doing something!!

Thanks for the great post!

May 22, 2012 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Angela Donner said...

Great discussion post. It is interesting how something that works for one reader can be a turn off for another.

I added this post to the linky at http://bookbloggerscollaborative.com/ for Top Post Thursday :-)

May 24, 2012 at 3:19 PM  

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