Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Book Reviews Inside Out or My Views on Reviews

I’ve dipped my toes into the lake of book reviews and am now ankle deep. Let me share some thoughts.

For starters, there are some excellent writers putting out some excellent books. I’ve said this before, but if you haven’t tried Christian fiction for several years, you may want to do some investigating. If you are concerned about finances, see what’s available at your public library. Many libraries have a budget for new books and will buy requested books, or they will do an inner library loan and borrow it from another library. Most authors would love to have you request their book(s) at the library.

I always try to slant my reviews on a positive note but some of the books I’ve read I wouldn’t have finished because they just weren’t my cup of tea. Amazon lets me rate a book 1-5, with 5 being the best. I’ve read many 4.5’s but only give them 4 because 5, to me is as close to perfect as it gets. I would probably not review a 2 on Amazon because I would struggle with finding redeeming things to say.

My taste differs considerably from many of you. Powerful writing, the kind that paints pictures and draws me to a wistful state makes me weak in the knees. Humor is huge for me, if I laugh, I can overlook other smaller issues, and clever or twisted humor is the very best (go figure). Pain also grabs my heart, as does suspense when it forces my heart into my throat. I like to learn but not with long pages of technical or historical facts but with the characters by experiencing what they encounter.

In general, sweet romance novels make me gag. But if it’s twisty, funny or edgy I can fall in love with romance. Sci-fi is not on the top of the list of books I like to read. Comic-book style writing, where the action is so non-stop that I never get to know the character or care that an assassin approaches, leaves me cold. Christian platitudes tossed in, or use of dialogue to explain things to the reader by using characters who wouldn’t have that conversation in real life bugs me. Anything that becomes author intrusion like a repeated pet phrase, or telling, or passive writing pulls me out of the story.

Peace Like a River sucked me in and drove me to the next word, thought, phrase and page. It didn’t let go of my heart until the story finished and I released a satisfied sigh. I compare other books to that reading experience. If I put a book down with wistfulness at the ending of a poignant read, the book is a 4+ working toward a 5. If the story is good, but I find myself distracted by mechanics I’m going to give it a 3+ working toward a 4.

High points are awarded for quirk. With a healthy dose of humor I will overlook several author mechanical issues or negatives because the novel becomes so fun to read.

Now you know a little bit more about the way my mind works. Scared?