Monday, January 18, 2010

Random Thoughts: Book Reviews - For Good or Bad?

Originally, I wanted to make my title "Book Reviews - For Good or Ill?" But in the subject, the word "Ill" came out as "lll", so I changed it to "Bad" instead. Oh-kay, that aside, what I want to discuss here is: Did the book reviews I read online steer me toward books I want to read?

To a certain extent, I would have to say "yes". Because of bloggers' and readers' recommendations, I've found excellent books that I love such as Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas, Roxanne St. Claire's Bulletcatchers series, and Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James. Indeed, my life would be far less richer if I hadn't read those books. Seriously! I love NQAH so much I told everyone about it and even lent my cousin my dearly beloved copy (she has orders to return the book to me in the same pristine condition on pain of death!). I can't wait to see what else Sherry Thomas has in store for me, and I hope I love it as much as NQAH. Julie James, too. In fact, I pre-ordered her next book, Something About You.

However, not all books are created equal, not even if they're written by the same author. I didn't like Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas so much. In fact, I stopped reading after the first few pages and went on to other books before I came back to it.

With regard to the much lauded Tairen Soul series, I found it a bit tedious, the way the story was being dragged for sooooo long, over what--five books now? (Silver and I still disagree on this. We may write a conversation review some day. It's more exciting when parties have differing opinions.) I still like King of Sword and Sky because we see Fey'bahren and Rain's development as a character (which we didn't see in the previous two books), but neither Rain nor Ellysetta nor their relationship developed in Queen of Song and Souls, and the revelation of Ellysetta's origins and her time in Elvia just made for tedious reading, making me want to scream and put my claws onto Tairen Soul, the final book in the series, where I'm sure all the juicy details are.

That aside, I'd say book reviews do more good than bad for me. Without them, I wouldn't be brave enough to try new authors. I was burned once and threw away good money on an author who pens adult fiction with juvenile writing. Needless to say, I steered clear of her ever since, not even when her other series was being lauded by some bloggers/readers. I guess the saying "once bitten, twice shy" applies to me.

Also, there are so many good books out there and not enough time to read. Hence, it really helps that the good books are sifted out.

However, that's not to say I only read what bloggers/readers have recommended. No, I do still venture forth into the bookstores (both online and brick-and-mortar) and browse through the books to get the ones that catch my attention, whether it's the gorgeous cover, the back summary (like Stephanie Tyler's Hard to Hold) or the name of my favorite author.

And there are as many opinions as there are people. This is to say that a book that may be judged as good by one person may be disliked by another, as I've proven above. It's always good to see differing opinions on a certain book, although that does make it more confusing for the reader. Should I buy the book or not? I think, in such a case, I'll fall back to the library, and if it turns out that I love the book, I then go out and buy myself a copy.

What about you? How are your book buying patterns being influenced by book reviews?


Mandi said...

I pretty much rely on book bloggers or talk on Twitter before I buy a book these days. You come to learn which bloggers have the same tastes as you, and even if they don't, it is fun to try a book that you would have never tried otherwise.

Silver @ TRR said...

Hiya, Mandi! :)

Shana, yes, you know how much I love the Tairen Soul series, and I discovered it through repetitive recs from bloggers. (I'm a great lurker.) I've read Stephanie Tyler's Hard to Hold and I have to say I can't get past chapter 2, though there was a positive review of it at Dear Author. I guess, like Mandi said, the trick is to find bloggers whose taste run along the same lines as yours and you'll find books you more or less will like. There may be times when you disagree, but then, a certain price also needed to be paid in order to discover new authors. Remember how happy you were when you discovered Jacquie D'Alessandro?

As for me, I can't wait to read Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, which I heard of first at Rex Robot Reviews with glowing reviews. We'll see if I've found a new author that I'll like. :) I'm currently reading Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen, which I also discovered through bloggers, and all I can say is wow. The prologue already packed quite a punch.

Wendy said...

I honestly don't follow book bloggers' reviews that much, unless they're those who are also friends and that I know have similar taste and even then we might have conflicting opinions on a book.

I think that it comes down to the reader, THEY know what they like, and while reading reviews gives you an idea of the book, it's not definitive because they are, after all, subjective.

ErotRomReader (Janna) said...

I'm with Mandi, I rely on book bloggers of whom I know if they share my tastes. She's one of them :)

I'm reading Hard to Hold right now and although I've read a lot of positive reviews about it, I can't really get into the love story yet (I'm at p 110 of 265). So, it can still happen that I end up not liking it that much, despite all the good things I read about it!
@Silver, did the multiple and frequent POV change keep you from finishing HTH? I find them really distracting and I wish we could stay a little longer with the main couple at a time *sigh*

My book buying patterns are def influenced by book reviews because I always mark a book as to-buy in GoodReads when I read a good review from one of my favorite book bloggers :)

Silver @ TRR said...

Hi Janna, re Hard to Hold, I think the frequent POV changes is one of them. Another is that although I was prepared to like the story (my usual attitude when approaching any book), I just couldn't get into either the hero's or the heroine's POV/situation. Isabelle, especially, turned me off. And when I can't stand to read about either the hero or the heroine so early on in the story when I'm not yet invested in either character or their developing romance, there's no point in reading further.

Harsh, I know, but I read to be entertained, not to torture myself unnecessarily. Anyway, I'm loving Nightkeepers right now! Am on page 35 of 400+ and if I don't have to sleep or go to work, I just might finish it in one day or two. ;) And then I have Red Fire by Deidre Knight (new to me) waiting for me, as well as Passion Unleashed and Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione. I can't wait to get into the latter two, since I loved her first two Demonica novels so much.

Carole said...

I'm with Wendy. I don't really sit in front of the computer for long and I don't browse blogs as much as Silver does. Hence, my book recommendations come mainly from friends. I also browse the shelves of bookstores to see if a cover or a back summary would interest me enough to buy the book, especially if the author's someone whose books I've never read before.

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