I’m an avid reader. My favourite day was Saturday as a kid because that was when Mum would take us down the library. I bounced out of bed nice and early so I could have a good morning there perusing books. It was wonderful!
I’m here today as Reader Holly. A lot of this blog is about Author me, but I’m hiding that away to talk to you as a reader. My mother-in-law was kind enough to give me a Kindle Unlimited subscription as a birthday gift, I squee’d over that almost as much as I did over the Paperblanks she gave me! I felt like a kid in a sweet shop, so many awesome books to read!
This is what I personally look for in a book to read, and I’m the first to admit that I’m a very fussy reader! My time is precious, I have very little patience for books that don’t grab me pretty much immediately. Out of the twenty-three books I downloaded in the free promo I was part of I put down five (so far) within the first chapter. They didn’t grab me. There was nothing technically wrong with them, they just weren’t for me.
First things first – the cover has to be professionally done and all purdiful, to use the technical term. It has to be a cover that fits my ideas of what I want in a book – no bare chested men, no cartoony graphics, no quaint little cottage on the hill. They’re all clues that a book isn’t going to be the type of story I enjoy reading.
Once I’ve got past the cover and the blurb’s caught my interest, we have the story itself. Remember how I said I was really fussy? Books get about two paragraphs to grab me. I’ve put some down after just one, I’ve given others half a book. Generally speaking, they get one or two kindle pages.
The voice, the narrator’s tone and way of giving me the information, has to be one I enjoy. I have a very low tolerance for angst, or super-flowery descriptions. I want something that I can slip into and be whisked away with ease. That’s a lot of why I’ve put down so many books so quickly – the overall voice has bugged me in some way. Some were because the protagonist was trying far too hard to be a bad-ass, others were because I found them dull or tedious, one was because of the huge amounts of slang and turns of phrase.
Then I need fun, interesting, well-developed characters. They’re my main focus, I can sort of forgive a sloppy plot and maybe be ok with a shallow world, as long as those characters grab me. They have to be vivid and interesting enough that I can picture myself hanging out at a bar with them. They also have to be the type of people I’d like to hang out at a bar with. Again, none of this whiny, angsty, thing. I’m completely fine with sadistic, calculating villains as long as there’s more. My favourite character from ADSOM (A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab) is Holland.
Give me deep, fascinating characters. If they’re flat, or whiny, they’re done.
There has to be a good plot too! I decided not to continue with the Mercy Thompson series because the shallow flimsy plot in book one bugged me. I got halfway through book two, because I did enjoy the characters, before I went ‘nope. No more.’ I can forgive a few faults in the plot, it doesn’t have to be unique, just look at my thoughts on Panacea . It can’t be absurdly predictable, nonsensical, or rushed though. It also can’t drag it’s heels, I have a very low tolerance for slow-paced books. Don’t give me that look, I love fast-paced, action-packed books. I read primarily Urban Fantasy, with a dose of supernatural and theological thrillers.
The world for me has to be vivid enough that I can form it in my mind, but it’s the bottom of my list out of the holy trinity – characters, plot and world. It needs to make sense. It needs to be well enough described that I can pull it up in my mind when away from the book. I don’t demand unique, or even too complex though. I think this is why I’m not a huge fan of V.E. Schwab, her worlds are everything, her plot comes third to the world and characters. And that’s awesome! But not for me.
As some people have found this blog with the search term ‘people who hate romantic subplots’ I’m adding this in there. I have no problems with romantic subplots! I just very rarely read full-blown romance. I adore a well-done, slow-burn romantic subplot. I need to read some more of the Toby Daye books so I can see how Tybalt and Toby work out. The romance in Incryptid was wonderfully done too, it was so fun!
It has to be a subplot though, unless I’m reading a true romance. It has to be something that develops slowly in the background, something that adds to the plot and the character development. A wonderful slow-burn that makes me grin when they finally get together is my preference.
To a very minor extent. I’m not going to sit and translate a heap of typos and horrible grammar. I’m also not going to swoon over elegantly constructed sentences and glorious prose, if they’re there purely for the sake of that. They have to do something more, they have to add to the characters and plot. If they happen to be there, then fantastic, I’m not going to go looking for it though. Take The Night Circus, that’s without a shadow of a doubt one of my favourite books. It’s a sumptuous, delicious, work of art. The prose is absolutely stunning on artistic and technical levels. The characters and the world are what really grabbed me and pulled me along though.
Now tell me, what do you look for in a good book?