Book Reviews / On a personal note...

5 1/2 elements in a book that leave a lasting impression

Trends are expected in all parts of life.

As a teen and young adult I was never one to succumb to the trends. Not because I didn’t want to. Yes, I had the Dorothy Hamill haircut in the early 80’s (bad look for me) and then a perm with big bangs in high school (another bad choice) but never really fully emerged myself in the hottest trends because: A.) I couldn’t afford many of them and B.) I felt like a copycat, a follower.

Quote-Haruki-Murakami-If-you-only-read-the-books-that-everyone-else-is-reading[1]But with books, I was always reading what I wanted to or felt I needed at the time. This has carried over as an adult and my tastes in reading and music are very eclectic. I love everything! Cliché, I know, but when someone asks “what’s your favorite band/song/book/author”, I have a terrible time picking just one. My favorites are what engage me at the time or are the ones that I will reference to a part of my life that left a lasting impression; they evoked a feeling that I just couldn’t shake.

When I read this article about current book trends by Tracey Garvis-Graves, I was so appreciative that an author and reader put this out there because I feel the exact same way and applaud her honesty. http://www.traceygarvisgraves.com/2013/07/lets-talk-about-trends.html

So, in keeping with her original post, here is what I am looking for in my next book selection. When I go on Goodreads, frequent the library, read book bloggers’ reviews, and talk to friends, I want:

1.) Something different/original.  It’s a very general statement but speaks volumes in my choosing. I do read the latest trends because they peak my curiosity and I want to see what “all the buzz” is about. Twilight for example, was so new in that vampire/teen scene that I enjoyed the ride. I had also read many of the Sookie Stackhouse books (before Twilight) which were more edgy, steamy and graphic but saw a lot of parallels. The market became everything “vampire/paranormal” and just couldn’t keep my attention. In my book club we moved onto the “Dystopian” phase with The Hunger Games. Again, I enjoyed the series but everything following that trilogy became redundant. Then Fifty Shades of Grey took hold and books right now seem to try and up the ante using more shock and awe with dominant/submissive characters and tortured pasts.

Something different/original for me is a book that takes a risk from the current trends. That’s why I fell in love with Tracey Garvis-Graves’ book On The Island. It was her first book and she didn’t need thirty books in her repertoire to impress me. Her story was engaging, thrilling and new with the teacher/student twist. She became an instant favorite author of mine and I will read anything by her.

2.) No more sequels/series.  I am over them! Now let me preface this by saying that some authors write amazing sequels and series that are necessary to the original book. Harry Potter is a prime example where every book was different and added to the first. I couldn’t wait to see where the wizards were heading in their schooling and if Harry would emerge the hero.

Colleen Hoover (Hopeless and Slammed), Jessica Park (Flat-Out Love), and Gayle Forman (If I Stay and Just One Day) are some of the best sequel writers to name a few. I am sure there are many other authors who do this well who I haven’t experienced yet so let me know who they are. When I read the sequels I was excited about the new scenes, loved hearing from different characters’ POVs and satisfied with the additional text that tied up loose ends.

The ones I am “so over” are the ones that promise a new story or continuation but just re-write the entire first book from another character’s perspective. I felt cheated and spent good money on the anticipated follow-up only to be disappointed. And then some authors don’t finish the second book only to have you read a third, maybe a forth. Ugh! By the time it comes out I am really not that interested. Authors, your fans love your writing so give us something new (back to #1). We will stick with you. Give me a strongly written epilogue or a novella to follow up an amazing story and I’m good. Hint: Uncharted. And if a sequel/novella/epilogue/series is not your thing as an author, guess what? I love pretending I am one and get to make up my own.

if-a-book-is-well-written-i-always-find-it-2[1]

You said it, Jane!

3.) Shock me. Have me screaming at the book while at the same time completely and utterly speechless. One that stands out is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. She blew me away with her writing and the story was incredible. I love dark, edgy stories with a twist and they are probably hard to pull off but when they do…help me! I’m a total wreck and I LOVE IT. I was an instant fan and had to read her two previous books, Dark Places and Sharp Objects which were just as gritty and satisfying. Megan Abbott’s The End Of Everything and Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife kept me up all night reading and had twists that I didn’t see coming.

4.) Whisk me away with the romance.  I am a hopeless romantic – there I said it. I want to be swept off my feet and fall in love with the characters as they navigate through their feelings hoping they will have their HEA. I am not biased to YA/Teen/Adult. If it’s well written and honest, you’ve convinced me. Kristan Higgins has been consistent with her ratio of humor, quirky characters and romance building.  I just want to see them banter, swoon, romance each other and get to the good stuff. 🙂 It’s a very difficult formula to get right. Too much too soon is unrealistic and taking too long loses me in all the turmoil. Jane Austen is, to me, the master of this but contemporary author like Jojo Moyes is high up on my list. Me Before You and The Last Letter From Your Lover are epic love stories that have all the right ingredients for romance at it’s finest. Her characters are real and flawed and yes, real. Which brings me to #5.

5.) Characters that are flawed, interesting and intriguing…but not tortured. This ties into the romance category for me as well because as much as I want to read about people falling in love and finding each other irresistible, I don’t want to read about how the main characters are unbelievably perfect. Perfect bodies, glorious hair, wear the right clothes and talk about it the entire time. They actually engage in conversations and connect on other levels. Rainbow Rowell is a breath of fresh air with her character development in books such as Attachments and an absolute favorite, Eleanor and Park. Jonathan Tropper is another master of the flawed, realistic characters and did I mention that I love the male author’s perspective on relationships? More please. David Nicholls’ One Day was excellent as well.

And one more trend that is just overkill lately is the horrifically tortured main characters especially in YA/NA books. I love to read about overcoming life’s tragedies but it seems like authors are trying to up one another in the tortured souls area. I read a book recently where the story was so promising and then the main character: was abused, lost a loved one, joined a band, became a cutter, met a great guy who ended up with a brain tumor and then got pregnant! I hope I didn’t give the book away, but enough already!

Being a woman in my late thirties, ahem, I want to read about more women like myself: educated, complex yet simple, our flaws are sexy while we navigate through the marriage/mommyhood/career dynamic with dreams, goals and humor. I always turn to Kristin Hannah and Elizabeth Berg, who nail it every time. I had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth Berg at a book discussion/signing and she is a remarkable woman as well as fantastic author.

5 1/2) The element of writing. This gets a 1/2 from me because simple, easy writing is not a turn off if the story can pull its’ weight. I am not a master of the English language having being raised in an Italian and Scottish household with English grammar in school. I am sure I have many grammatical errors on these posts that my English major friends cringe at. <–a preposition at the end of a sentence! But that doesn’t mean that poor editing is acceptable. It’s too distracting. Although, I am a bit of a language nerd and love, love, love literary fiction that is elegantly written, lyrical and layered, which is just so delicious to read. John Green’s books, sigh.

There are numerous authors who answer my wish list with their books. Many newer, indie authors whom I am very excited for and feel their success will be justly deserved as well as seasoned pros who never disappoint. I would list them all here but it would go on for pages and this post is long enough with all the ramblings. Just know that if I reviewed their book on this blog, they left an impression. If they were not reviewed, I read it long before this blog started and added them to The Daily Dosage’s Goodreads Favorites list that you can also check out. But if these authors are not on either, then please comment with your suggestions, for I have yet to have the pleasure of becoming acquainted with their work.

So in keeping with Tracey’s post, what is on your wish list as a reader? What are you tired of? What do you think will be the next big trend?

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