Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Handle the Bad Book? You tell me.

Man, I was so this lady last week. Put a Kindle in place of the laptop and you have me, not finishing two friggin' books!

I like shifters. I like menage stories. Hell, I like m/m stories. Yet both of these shifter stories by well known authors annoyed the piss out of me. (And no, I'm so not talking about Shelly Laurenston's new Bear Meets Girl, which I read through the way dark hours when I should have been sleeping. Damn that woman for writing such killer good books! And damn her again for having such long lag times between releases!)

Ahem. Anyway, my peeve with the other books I read. How to begin? First, I'd love to mention them but don't want to offend the authors. Nor do I want to post negative reviews of books others apparently love. Both of these books have been bestsellers. But honestly, I couldn't make it through either one.

Let's take the menage. Three shifters, two men, one woman. I don't think there's any m/m play in the book, but I couldn't read far enough into it even for the sex. Man. I don't think I've read such an immature heroine in a good long while. She literally beats on her lovers-to-be. Physical fighting to hide emotion? Very fourth grade. And the giggles and dialogue just weren't what I'd expected from this author I've heard so much about. It killed me because I wanted so badly to like the book. But even the heroes came across as weak. They both want her. Why? Nature, I guess. They will fight to have her. They must fight to have her. Then between one blink and a heartbeat, decide to share her. What the hell? Like a side of beef. Meh.

And then the other shifter book. The author has a huge following. I've read another of her stories and really liked it. Read a follow-on I didn't much care for. But this one had a great cover, seemed intriguing, and well, fell flat. Again, more unrealistic dialogue. One hero doesn't much care how the other hero (yes, a m/m romance) makes fun of him, time and time again. Just lust, all over the place, while the sexy but mean hero constantly feels lust and love (???) for the other, but I have no idea why. They never connect. Lots of spooning and talk about sex, but no sex, and then bam, mean guy just loves other guy he's spent the better part of the portions I read annoyed by him. And all the giggling. Really? Do grown men giggle? Do they say "golly" and "eep" and "wowzers"? ARGH. I wanted to pull my hair out.

I just can't get these books out of my head. I was angry after reading--trying to read--these. I wanted badly to like them. They looked terrific. They got great reviews. Yet I couldn't finish either one. Maybe I need some time to wait and go back later and try again. It hurts to spend money for a book and not like it, especially when you want badly to add another author to your auto-buy list.

And there it is! Suddenly I'm that reader who jeers. Granted, I didn't write a nasty or mean-spirited review here. But I get why some reviewers are mean. No, I don't think it's right, but I understand it. As an author, I appreciate the time and effort those other authors put into writing their books. Obviously other readers liked them, because they appear to be selling quite well. But I felt almost betrayed that my expectations weren't met. So how did I get over that?

Time and other books.

It was difficult, because I was REALLY jonesing for new romances to read, and I thought to give these somewhat new-to-me authors a try, but when they didn't work, I went back to some tried and true stuff. Some older shifter romances by authors I like. Another read-through of one of my newer works, which isn't due to be released until later this year. A glance at a JAK and a Christine Feehan. Those made me smile and put a better taste in my mouth, while also reminding me how much writing is subjective.

I honestly couldn't tell you why other readers liked the stories I couldn't finish. But then, I can't tell you why some folks don't like my work either, when if you ask me, they're the best things since sliced bread. :) Who the hell knows? But at least I persevered, and I am back in my happy place reading great books again.


Elle said...

I know exactly what you mean- several of the books I've downloaded recently left me very disappointed, including one by a favorite author. Again, each of those books had great reviews and I really WANTED to like them, but the characters fell flat and I found myself rolling my eyes and skipping entire sections of dialog.

Like you said, I appreciate the time and effort an author puts in to writing a story and I can't bring myself to bash that effort... even if I couldn't finish the book because it was so blah.

Now, bashing the idiots who write such glowing reviews about these (IMO) terrible books? They're fair game. ;)

Marie Harte said...

Yeah, Elle. It really made me question how so many people can just love books that bad. I'm thinking a rabid fan base, maybe. Then I'm wondering where the authors got those fans. :) It's been my experience that readers have no problem leaving negative reviews of my work on Amazon or B&N. In a way I like that, because it's real. But in another, I wish they'd all lie. haha

Anonymous said...

Hey now wait just a minute Elle ... I'm a reviewer and I'm not an idiot LOL Well ... unless you ask my husband or my sister ... then ... ok never mind maybe I am an idiot LOL

Anyway, reading is much like art and music and even movies ... EXTREMELY subjective. What I like others may or may not. Maybe we agree and maybe we don't.

And while to a certain extent I appreciate the time and effort a writer puts in, I sometimes wonder what the hell they (and their editor) was thinking?

A great example of this for me is the book Wicked ... I wanted to like it, I TRIED to like it, the premise was SOOOOOOOOOOO promising ... and then ... I wanted to chuck the book at his head. And it got RAVE reviews from pretty much EVERYONE ... EVER. I mean it's even a Broadway musical for goodness sake. And I'm sitting here scratching my head wondering what the hell I missed. Is it me? Am I too critical? Too intelligent? Not intelligent enough? expected too much from it? What?

Why can't I love that book like so many others before and after me?

In the end the reasons don't matter. I didn't like it. I couldn't finish it (we won't talk about what I wanted to do with it LOL). So I walked away and said "Well that's not someone I'll read again".

I don't like paintings that are just paint splatters either. Doesn't mean they aren't still art in someones eyes. Just not mine.

I have never in a review bashed the author. I have said "I don't like the way this author substituted every third word for the biggest word they could find in the thesaurus" or "the characters were stereotypes and flat" or "maybe I just don't get it". But I have never and will never (and the site I review for doesn't allow it anyway) personally attacked an author.

And marie ... tell me in private who and what books :) LOL I'm always curious to see if I agree or disagree with someones take on a book :)

Angi Clingan

Paty Jager said...

It's all subjective. A book I didn't/couldn't finish because the characters were acting out of character, for me, and one dimensional has won an award. Go figure. I bought the book because other readers on a loop were raving about it. It didn't work for me.

I've stopped reading three e-pub but not all self-pubbed books because of all the typos, missing words, and wrong words.

I know every author has their heart and soul in a book but I wonder at some of the ones that get published while there are books that are fantastic that can't get a publisher or agent to look at them.

But variety is the spice of life. Great post, Marie!

Diana Mcc. said...

Great post! I agree with you, I don't like spending money on a book I have to throw against the wall. I never waste my time finishing a book that is boring or full of mistakes. I find it happening more and more with self-published books. Not all of them but some. Sometimes even if there is a sample chapter which is good, the book will have grammatical errors, plot errors etc.

Karen Duvall said...

Great points, Marie! I'm sad to say I come across a lot of books lately that I can't finish. It's usually because they fail to hold my interest, which isn't necessarily the author's fault. I've just come to accept that I've become a more critical reader over the past few years. As Anon said, reading tastes are subjective. I think part of my problem is that I get impatient when the story doesn't move as fast as I want it to. I lean more toward YA books because they do seem to match a pace I'm more comfortable with.

Marie Harte said...

Hey Angi.

I'll have to get with you offline. I hate to disparage any book. And I recently learned that the m/m I couldn't get through is part of a series. That helps to understand why I was somewhat confused at times, but it still doesn't clear up the romance I couldn't fathom.

Marie Harte said...

Diana--yeah, the grammatical errors and such really grate. That's the problem with a lot of self-pubbed books. The editing. And hey, I've had books with my other pubs that we go through over and over, several edits, and still miss things. ANd that's with several pairs of eyes. It's tough!

Karen--a book not holding your interest is a problem. I read romances expecting a HEA and interaction between the characters. So if I don't get that, or if it's unsatisfying, I'm more than annoyed. :) Though that does make me turn a hard eye on my own stuff, from a reader's perspective as well as a writer's.

Marie Harte said...

Paty--that's a huge deal with me too. Characters who don't stay true to type. Unfortunately, that was a problem in one of the books I read. In the other, the type was "immature" and I was really hoping the heroine would break out of that! She might have. Like I said, I didn't read the whole book, so I'm not qualified to review it. But I just couldn't get through any more pages.