5 Things That Make a Great Book
- Complex Characters. Characters need to be real to me. They have to breathe on the pages & be multi-layered with potential to grow. Some, if not all, and especially the protagonist, should go through personal growth through the story. The characters, even the minor ones, should have depth & color.
- Character-Driven Plot. One of my biggest pet peeves is reading books where characters are puppets to the plot. They step out of character or even reality to do the author's bidding to fulfill a plot. When characters are not believable & the story-line doesn't shift because of the choices they make rather they change so the story-line can continue its path, the story ceases to interest me quickly.
- Imaginative World-Building. I love to feel immersed in the world of the story I'm reading. If I can seamlessly drift out of my world into the world of the book it is pure enjoyment. A well built world, for me, has history & layers as much as the characters do. It has secrets & unknowns as well as well-established boundaries such as set up caste systems or governmental laws.
- Intelligent Writing. Authors writing YA novels are not typically still young adults. Many are older with more life experience & the danger then becomes that they dumb down the story instead of writing to the target audience on their level. Intelligent writing takes into account that young adult readers are pretty much the booknerd set (hey, proud, life-long member of booknerdia here!) and not the kids they see on television dramas meant to appeal to the same age group. Use the big words. We have our dictionaries handy!
- Consistency. To me, a consistent book is one that carries through at a similar pace through each scene leaving you wondering how it wasn't written in one sitting. The characters stay in character (unless they are supposed to be a surprise villain or something similar) & the story sticks with its genre.
5 That Bring a Book Down
- GIPE Syndrome. That's "Good Idea - Poor Execution" & it runs far too rampant in my opinion. I have read too many books that sounded fantastic in the synopsis & then fell so sadly short of the goal the author set due to poor writing technique or unbelievability. Yes, one must suspend disbelief to read the sci-fi & fantasy that I enjoy, but not so much so that it defies normal psychology or common sense. Beings who have been around for 1000s of years don't behave like they are still in West Drama Queen High. They just don't. GIPE is when the book insults your intelligence.
- Repetition. People do dwell on thoughts. That is true in real life. They obsess & they go over & over things as they try to work them out. But it's just as annoying to read as it is to be in that unsure, unsettled position yourself. The same long thought twice in a row or the same bit of dialogue every other paragraph frustrate. And characters, especially in the midst of terror or flight should be distracted from that obsessive round & round not stuck in it in spite of what's happening around them. If zombies were coming after you, you wouldn't be wondering for the umpteenth time whether you should Bill or Joe.
- Overly Slow Pacing. I love a good, slow burn on a romance especially with character development & exposition all throughout. But if characters sit around for pages talking about what they did the morning before when the morning before has no bearing on the story whatsoever, the warning bell sounds. We're almost going backward, we're going so slowly! Slow burn is good but there has to be other things that are relevant to the plot or characters happening.
- Unsympathetic Characters. A protagonist who spends the first 350 pages of a 400 page book whining, being arrogant, being sadistic, or in any other way never growing as a character, is an unsympathetic character. That character is an infliction on the reader. Something they must endure until the end of the book where, on page 400, they may or may not still have grown somehow. Who wants to take the chance they never give up the whining or arrogance or what have you? I'd put the book down & I have.
- Cookie-Cutterism. It's true that there is nothing new under the sun. Sure. But creativity can take an already done idea & make it something new. So books that are almost direct rip-offs of others are a shame. And the books that seem to have been all plotted on the same outline but with somewhat different characters plugged into them are only slightly less a shame. For me, books lacking originality of some sort are the same as a blog using one of the default Blogger templates with no changes whatsoever. Blah.
5 Great ARC/Book Tour Sites
- Around The World ARC Tours. A great selection of all sorts of YA genres.
- SBB ARC Tours. These ARC tours are for southern bloggers only but if you're southern, it's worth it!
- The Teen Book Scene. Simple & to the point, this site has quite a few tours of mucho wanted books!
- Tribute Book Tours. An indie publisher who spreads the indie love by sending its books on blog tours.
- YA Bound Book Tours. This site is pretty popular so you have to act fast to be part of the book tours!
5 Great Blogging Memes
- In My Mailbox. Hosted by The Story Siren, this meme takes place on Sundays & involves sharing with readers what books you've received in the mail or from the library or wherever you get your books!
- Top Ten Tuesday. This is a weekly top ten list featured on Tuesdays at The Broke & The Bookish.
- Waiting on Wednesday. Breaking The Spine hosts this Wednesday meme for bloggers to show off the as yet unpublished books they are eagerly waiting to read.
- Fridays Fab Five. The always adorable Froggarita asks 5 questions for you to answer on Friday!
- Feature & Follow Friday. This huge meme is hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read with the purpose of getting bloggers to visit new blogs they may have never seen before.
5 Unfortunate Reviewing Techniques
- No Explanation. Writing a review means explaining why you thought about the book. Saying it was horrible & giving it 2 stars is not a review.
- Overly High Expectation. Another of my biggest pet peeves about blogging is reading negative reviews of YA books by people who are NOT the target audience who seem to think a YA novel should be held to the same standards as books aimed at older adults. It's a totally different audience with a totally different take on many aspects of fiction. Adjust your perspective to what young adults like or don't review YA books, please.
- Confusing Rating. If you loved the book & you rave about it but you gave it 3 stars... why? That's confusing. If the book is only worth 3 stars but you seem to have really enjoyed it, what was missing? What was wrong with it that it wasn't 4 or 5 stars? This gives me the impression that the blogger is just careless. Not good.
- Jaded Response. The idea of reviewing books is to give an objective opinion. Yes, opinions often biased by personal beliefs but those beliefs should be expressed as opinion & not fact. Giving a book a bad review simply because it centers on something you don't believe is bad form. That would be a review best left unposted, in my opinion.
- Price Issue. This happens more on book selling web sites than anywhere else usually but the worst form of a book review is to mark a book 1 or 2 stars because the book seller's eBook software didn't work or the eBook is more expensive than the print version. Those things are almost never the author's fault & giants like Amazon.com don't read your comments on books looking for that kind of feedback. Use the appropriate method of contact. Then pull up your big girl panties & get over it.