The hunt for some reading magic….
Years ago, when I first started blogging, I would occasionally write about books I had read or was reading. I was, after all, a reader before I became an author, so it was natural for me to write about what I was reading. But two unfortunate side effects occurred that stopped me in my blogging tracks. I started getting review requests and friends wanted me to read their books and review them.
There is a big difference between mentioning a book you enjoyed reading and writing a review. Big difference. Huge. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a reviewer. Saying, “I like it” does not make you a reviewer. Reviewing is a skill, a craft, and a challenge that I don’t want to embrace.
Reviewers have to assess the books they read to the best of their ability. Some are better at it than others and reviewing, even by the most skilled, is inherently subjective. Oh, a reviewer can pick the plot and editing apart, but badly reviewed books still sell. Because reading is, IMHO, about connecting with the reader, having a personal chemistry about the way someone uses words to tell a story. Where the skill comes in is the ability to convey that chemistry to other readers. It’s “I liked it or I didn’t” in a lot more words.
And then there is the friend conundrum. Over the years, I’ve learned that I can like someone very much and still not connect with how they use words. (That’s one reason blogging is valuable to author and reader. It’s a peek into how an author uses words, what they think about, and what matters to them.) And that would be why I don’t review friends’ books on my blog. Because if I like a book, I say that. But if I don’t connect, then I can’t say that. My mom taught me, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.
So you see the problem. If I highlight some friends’ books, and not others, I don’t have to say, I didn’t like their book. It’s pretty freaking obvious. <—–insert wry grin here
And even worse, they’ll think that IF I haven’t gotten to it yet! <—insert horrified look here
Which would be another reason I’m not a reviewer, even though I’m still an avid reader. I’m too tender hearted.
And the last reason is time. At present, I probably have 1,000 books on my various ereaders (I LOVE technology like a hobbit loves mushrooms). I have loads of my friends’ books on my Kindle and some on my real shelves, all patiently waiting for me to get to them. I probably have enough books to read until I die. I have so many I’ve had to impose a personal ban on buying new books. I have to read a book before I can buy a book. Which still leaves me with 1,000+ books, but it’s a progress of sorts, right?
So, I sort of get around my own rule by Kindle sampling. I see an interesting book, or a friend has a new release, then I grab the sample so I won’t forget to check it out. Once a month, or sometimes every other month (cause time has still not expanded to make my days longer and when I’m writing I don’t always have time to read), I’ll have a sample day, where I go through and read samples. If I like what I read, the sample stays on my Kindle. If it doesn’t, off it goes.
This got me thinking that maybe sharing my keeper samples with my blog readers might be an interesting, occasional feature. I won’t mention the ones I didn’t keep, cause I’m still too tender hearted to do that, but I will mention a few that I kept. So, I am waking up my Kindle and taking a look….
Hmmm, a few unnamed deletions, wait, here’s one that looks promising. Okay, Ivey and the Airship by Cheryl Ammeter is the first sample that will linger for a while longer on my Kindle. It’s a steampunk tale and while the first sentence isn’t a grabber, there is something about the story that pulled me in. When there’s an opening in my TBR, I’ll take another look, but I’m curious to see how Ivey’s problems work out. There’s a whimsical quality to the writing that I like.
Here’s the book blurb from the author’s website: Ivey Thornton is a headstrong girl who refuses to accept the bonds of matrimony. Her dreams of adventure quickly turn into a series of nightmares when shape-shifting killers infest the airship Monarch. In her struggle to survive, Ivey learns the value of friendships based on respect and trust, and finds herself strangely drawn to the reclusive young inventor she never wanted to marry. This steampunk fantasy is book one of theAether’s Edge series and is geared for readers age 12 and older.
It’s available in digital and print.
More browsing, lots of samples going back into the ether, but wait, here’s one and it has a great first line:
“Minka Shokat lay flat on her back beneath her fourth-generation Wayfarer class-C airship and cranked on the bolt that held the resistor plates to the bottom of the hull.”
That’s from Zero Gravity Outcasts by Kay Keppler. This is a Carina Press title. Here’s the book blurb from their website:
Minka Shokat only needs two things in life: her fourth-generation Wayfarer spaceship, and two best friends and crewmates by her side. Anjali and Tex were the only people to stand by her after she was falsely branded a traitor and kicked out of Central Command five years ago.
Since then, Minka has kept as far from Command as the galaxy will allow. Working with her friends on their own terms beats flying warships any day. But keeping her junker of a ship flying takes money–money that Minka and her crew don’t have. As a last resort, she reluctantly accepts a job transporting cargo for Central Command.
Then she finds out what her “cargo” is: the very general who ruined her reputation and currently needs Minka to deliver him safely to a peace conference. Now Minka and her biggest rival must work together to fight off space pirates, commandos and rebels who are determined to stop their mission–or be blown out of the skies for good.
Carina Press books are only, I believe, available in digital, but the price is low and I actually prefer digital books. So, I guess this one also goes into the “wait for the next opening” list.
Well, I was going to try to post three sample-keepers, but I’ve run out of time. I always worry when I delete a sample, because it might be my mood that I didn’t connect with the sample, but then I remind myself of all the books I did buy. And I just have to move on and let them go.
Which brings me to the “question of the blog” moment. How do you find books that you like? Do you sample? Obviously I find many of my samples through word-of-mouth, but whose mouth do you trust? Any books you’ve read recently that you just had to tell your friends about? Share the love. I’ve always have room on my Kindle for samples.
And anyone who comments on a blog post in July will be entered to win a $10 AnaBanana Bath & Body Treats Gift card. Winner will be announced in my August 6, 2012 blog post.
Pauline Baird Jones loves her TBR, even though they haven’t interacted a lot lately (she’s writing, sigh). To find out what Pauline has been up to, pop over and visit her website.
“I never knew time could be so much fun or hold so much peril. Steamrolled is packed with adventure, romance, and danger. I loved the nanites. They were full of personality and added a real touch of humor to even the most deadly situation. In Steamrolled Pauline has produced the perfect blend of Science Fiction Romance and Steampunk making fans of both happy.”Mixed Book Bag