Day 14: What are your deal breakers?
What will make me put a book straight back on the shelf without a second glance?
- Stories about adultery/affairs. Especially if the book is from the point of view of the person having the affair. I'd find it very difficult to respect such a protagonist or have any sympathy for them.
- Narrators describing their appearance in the mirror. "I stare into the glass, and a twenty-something year old woman looks back at me, her brown straight hair framing a round face with an overlarge nose, and eyes that were somewhere between blue and grey." Bleugh! No one thinks like that. It's lazy writing, and it shows that the first thing the writer wants you to know about your heroine (and it's always a woman) is every last detail of what she looks like, because that's the most important thing about a female lead. Don't ever do that. Ever.
- Telling, not showing. I have a thing called the "Danielle Steel test," where I pick up a book, open it at random, and see how far I can read without wanting to hurl it across the room. Generally this is due to descriptions such as: "Jane thought that Kevin was being very unfair." "Sarah might not show it but really she was very fond of her sister." "James wished he could control his temper." Show me, then. Make me believe it.
- Multi-volume novels. Trilogies are in vogue at the moment, particularly in the teen fantasy genre, but I wonder how many are necessary, and how many could, with a bit of editing, be condensed into a single book. If I begin a story, I want to see it through to the end - but if I'm not sure whether I'll like it or not, and if I have to wait three years to reach the end, I'll think twice about whether I'm prepared to commit to the story. I'd prefer series which are one book = one story; related and in order, sure, but which work as stand-alone novels. This one is a difficult thing to categorise, though, because there are some really engrossing series out there, which are worth the years of commitment. (Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Hunger Games.) But if I've read a hundred books since the last installment of the Fairypocolypse Chronicles, will I still care enough to carry on with book 2?
- Books with grey and black minimalist covers, usually featuring ribbons, jewellery, rippling fabric or the like. You know the ones. It's not prudishness on my part - it's boredom. Less is more.
Day 15: Who are your book blogging mentors?
Anna, Ginger and Smash have been very influential when I found myself becoming involved in the book blogging community, in particular as adult readers of YA fiction. They have run some great regular features, discussion posts and memes, and inspired me to think up new ideas for the blog aside from just the book reviews. (I hadn't actually visited Smash Attack Reads in a while: it now appears to be a collaborative blog with not one but FOUR fantastic bloggers.) Meanwhile, Ellie and Hanna have a more informal approach to blogging, with eclectic mixtures of book reviews and personal posts, which have encouraged me to be more relaxed about blogging even if I don't feel inspired to write a structured review. Rants and reading-journal-format posts also make great blogging. And I've only recently started following Laura and Sarah, whose reviews have inspired me to want to take out my credit card and buy ALL the books.