Thursday, November 01, 2012

About those review copies . . .

It's been my policy not to review books that I just don't like. However, I think I might revise that for the following reason.

Usually I tell you what books I've accepted for review on my Nightstand posts every month. When someone mentions something on their Nightstand post that I think looks interesting, I'm always curious to hear what they thought about the read in the end. If I've mentioned anywhere in passing that I accepted something for review, I rather feel like I ought to tell you if I ended up not liking it and for what reasons. I am not the type of book blogger who blogs about books that I haven't read. (I MUST have read it if I'm going to talk about it.) But even listing it and then never saying what my thoughts were bugs me so this post is for myself if for no one else.

The following books are books that I received for review but didn't finish for one reason or another. Reasons are listed below.

This first title, I really wish I could have finished.

I particularly wanted to like Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere. If you like to talk books, and author Lauren Leto does, then you will want to like this book as well. The reason I didn't finish the read was because I eventually had my fill of foul language (minimal) and references to having sex. Again I must beg the question: "WHY!?" Why include such things? You do not have to use "colorful language" to be witty. And I'll never see the need to include blatant talk about sexual relationships in books as if that somehow makes them more "real." If books were movies, I'd probably give this one a PG-13 rating which is a shame, really, because it has so much potential to connect to readers of all types!

I got about halfway through this one before I stopped. Here are some of the passages I really connected with:

She makes a point out reading fluffy books for pleasure and then follows with this:

" . . . [S]illy books shouldn't be all we read. We have to acknowledge that there is a problem with an exclusive diet of the latest hot commercial fiction and non-fiction: after awhile you realize, the books blend together. The voices, the stories, the characters, the arcs of the drama - after a while, it can start to feel so . . . familiar. If we get too comfortable in our reading choices - too lazy - we're giving something up. Kids get turned off of reading before they even begin in earnest because they recognize the predictability of it all. Die-hard readers who stick to Nicholas Spark must have missed a few steps on the road to adolescence." (Commercial Confessions, page 9)

She provided a list of humorous Rules for Public Reading:

"Universal Guidelines for Waiting Rooms, Subways, and Everything in Between

Don't be awful. There is nothing cute about reading Twilight in public. Save that for nights alone, when you realize you've been single for far too long and there's no end in sight. Don't exaggerate emotions and never laugh out loud while reading. Furrowed brows are the hint of a smile are something acceptable, but a beaming mug is creepy. Why? You are not in the privacy of your living room, and you should be capable of harnessing some powers of self-control." (Rules for Public Reading, page 30)

And lastly this thought:

" . . . [G]rabbing a book because you like the actors in the movie version rarely correlates with success." (Survival of the Nerdiest, page 37)

You might find yourself with the ability to plow on through, making the most of Leto's quips and remarks on reading but I decided to bow out. Regretfully.

I was sent a copy of this book by Harper Perennial in exchange for my honest opinion.

Other books I started, but ended up setting aside:

And Now We Shall Do Manly Things: Discovering My Manhood Through the Great (and Not-So-Great) American Hunt. I accepted this one for the love of Coop. (Linked to my review of Coop.) I so enjoyed reading about Perry's adventures in becoming a farmer and I was hoping that Craig J. Heimbuch would approach the subject of shooting and hunting in a lighthearted, humorous manner as well. While it opened with promise, I quickly ran into foul language and "colorful imagery" that I'd just rather not spend the time with so I set it aside.

A copy of the above title was sent to me by William Morrow in exchange for my honest opinion.

I kinda feel badly about this next one.

I received The Keeper of Dawn from the author, J.B. Hickman to see what I thought. Here's the premise, stolen shamelessly from the Amazon description:

Groomed for greatness, 15-year-old Jacob Hawthorne is sent to boarding school against his will. With a self-absorbed mother, an estranged father, and an older brother on the other side of the world, only the unlikely friendship with his grandfather can lure Jacob back home. But home feels like a distant memory from the shore of Raker Island, the isolated campus of one of the Northeast's elite boarding schools. As the surrogate bonds of a cloistered all-boys school fall into place, Jacob finds himself among other sons of privilege who suffer the same affliction-growing up in their fathers' shadow. But when tragedy strikes, Jacob is forced to journey into the past to reclaim a well-guarded family secret.

I've been feeling like a good mystery and this one sounded intriguing. So, the book arrived and I gave it a go. But I wasn't connecting so I set it down and thought I'd try it again later. I tried it again and it just wasn't clicking. I came across nothing objectionable in my reading attempts and I really have no reason to tell you why I didn't really go for it. I just didn't click with this one. I can't speak to the story itself or the content. I skimmed a bit to see if I spotted anything that would give me clues to how I might feel about this book, should I choose to finish it. Nothing struck me as being "off" but again, I didn't finish reading it so I can't really say. If someone out there has read it and wants to tell us about it, please do in the comment section! In this case, I think the book and the reader simply did not jive together well.

I received a copy of this one, as I said, from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

As usual, in our reading lives, we all have hits and misses. What what person loves, another can't stand and vice versa. For me, these were misses, but for somewhat different reasons.


Shonya said...

Wow, you have some serious self-control. I have a very, VERY difficult time not finishing a book. I keep thinking "surely it will get better" but it's not uncommon for me to close the cover and think "nope,it never got better--what a waste of time!"

And that quote from "Judging a Book. . ." about reading in public: seriously? I never knew I had to hide my responses when I read in public. I have been that obnoxious person bursting into laughter on a plane. Oops. (Good thing I mostly read at home during naptime or the wee hours of the morning, huh?!)

Susanne said...

I had a couple of duds this year too, ones I thought I would love from authors I have read before and really liked. I hate it when that happens. I, alas, did not set them aside but kept plugging along.

Jennifer said...

For a while I thought not finishing books was a great tragedy, but with so many books in the world to read, I don't think I should spend my time with something uninteresting or inappropriate. My biggest problem now is reading too many books at one time!

Unknown said...

Haha -- I called "And now we should do manyly things!!"

It does sound like Judge a Book By It's Lover sounds pretty good for us readers.

Trish said...

Great post - it's always interesting to hear what caused someone to put a book down. I occasionally will mention a DNF if it seemed to have some value or might just click better with someone else, although at other times, I just delete it from my list and move on!

Cassandra said...

What a bummer on Judging a Book by Its Lover. It really did sound like a good title!

Barbara H. said...

That is a bummer about the language and explicitness of the first couple of books. I wish authors would realize that they lose readers by doing such things. It's too bad, because it sounds like it has some gems, but I don't want to wade through muck to find them.

And I don't think there is anything wrong with a good belly laugh or wiping away a tear while reading a book in public. Maybe people will wonder what they're missing. :-)

Stephanie Kay said...

Generally I can control myself in public but every once in a while a passage will be so funny a laugh slips out. Thanks for updating us on the ones you didn't click with.

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