Saturday, April 26, 2014

April's Round Robin Blog Fest

Welcome to April's Round Robin Blog Fest!!
Hope you like our new photo. I wasn't going to participate in this month's blog circle due to an abundance of activities going on in the "real world," but here I am!
This month's topic is:
 You loved the blurb. First page sounded interesting. You bought the book. What makes you throw the book you're reading across the room, stomp on it, and go find another?

I have read two novels that I've grown frustrated with. One at the beginning of the book, the other at the ending. Both were "critically acclaimed," but not books I'd ever recommend.

The first was The River King by Alice Hoffman. While I loved the idea of the story, the actual plot itself was difficult to follow. Just as the reader is absorbed into the thoughts and story of one character, another character passed by and we'd hop into his head, then he'd pass a neighbour sitting on her front porch and we'd hop into her head, suddenly a dog ran past and we ran along the river barking at a duck. No focus. No explanation, just continuous head-hopping as the story flowed along like the river outside the Haddan School. Apparently, this meandering form of storytelling is a tendency of Hoffman's and one reason I don't read any more of her work.

The second book was one I read recently, Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer. I have to admit, I read this one for a local "One Book, One County" program. I even paid for it, met the editor who helped publish it, and will get to meet the author next month at a wind up party. While I normally don't read much in the sci-fi genre, Sawyer's writing is crisp and clean and, up until the bitter end, I actually enjoyed the book.

Then came Chapter 50. Without giving away the ending, the book lost all the credibility for me. Up until then, I'd suspended all doubts and enjoyed the plot, characters, and plausibility. 

I didn't throw the book against the wall, as much as I wanted to. I did vent to my other friends who'd already read the book and came away with the same impressions I had. The ending of Triggers was a cop-out. 

I have read books-traditionally published as well as self-published-that have broken several "rules" but still tell a great story. I've also read books that should have had a few more solid edits before being released to the general public. So what turns me off a book?
* If I have to work too hard to weed the story from miscellaneous, unnecessary information.
* I have to suspend all belief at the end of a really good novel to accept a "feel-good" ending.
* Dialogue tags for a character that are a paragraph away from the dialogue.
* If, as in one book I read, an entire chapter is devoted to character and a situation that has nothing to do with the story whatsoever.
* I can't stand the main character and want him/her dead by the end of page 3.
* The plot is totally unbelievable. I'm not slamming fantasy or sci-fi novels here. Sometimes novels that aren't realistic can still become believable. Stephen King novels, Dracula, even The Hunger Games, are all "unrealistic" novels I can read and manage to temporarily suspend all disbelief to become part of their worlds. Twilight, not so much. 
* The ones I hate the most: Books written and/or edited by people who cannot write or edit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a book snob! I love to read new authors, up and coming authors, and anything my friends have written. I'll gladly read anything once and will happily promote and review those books I love. I know how hard it is to follow your dreams to write and edit books and I have learned a great deal working with my friends, my agent, and my publisher!

To all my fellow writers:  Don't Give Up! Fiona McGier hasn't! Click on her name to visit her blog and find out what books she's thrown against the wall!

Our participants in the Round Robin Blog this time around:

* Heidi M. Thomas
* Ginger Simpson
* Rhobin Courtright


  1. Great post Diane. I rarely venture into sci fi, but I do agree that the world there also needs to be believable to be worth the effort. Anne Stenhouse

  2. Oh dear, I do write sci-fi and fantasy -- but I read historical and contemporary romance, too, and just finished a historical where I wished the heroine dead at HEA. I so agree with you on all counts.

  3. I read sci-fi and fantasy, but I write contemporary. My muse refuses to give me any great worlds to build, alas.

    But I've read some very much acclaimed sci-fi books that made me gnash my teeth at the rampant misogyny in them. Someone recommended an author from the 70s as being the best series of sci-fi every written, a book that changed his life. I read the first one and will never read anything else by that author because his women are docile decorations, good only for being sperm-receptacles, which his heroes manage to create by the gallon! Yuck! Talk about dated? Yet it was recommended highly recently. Not my cuppa! I didn't toss it because it was a library book, but I'm greatly pleased that I didn't give the author any of my money!

  4. Good reasons, but now you've given two fellow authors permission to trash your work. One of the reasons I don't name names, but you've got grit girl...I'll give you that. You've mentioned some great reasons for disliking the content in places. I cannot stand headhopping, although I admit it's customary with novice writers. You don't expect it from pros. Nora Roberts is said to be the queen of the vice, but I think that's because she does it so quickly you don't notice you've been in someone else's head. Me...I try to steer totally clear and stay in one person's perspective for at least the entire chapter if not book. Great post.

  5. I too love reading and supporting new authors. But nothing turns me off faster than trying to read what appears to be a "first draft" with no editing!

  6. I'm a book snob and proud of it. LOL

    I have a number of reasons to throw a book across the room. I, too, must like the protagonist, or I won't read it. Once I read part of a horror book where, by page 3, I wanted all of the tween-agers to die. HAHAHA


  7. Excellent post and some really good points. I agree, a well-written book, no matter the genre, you can suspend your belief and just enjoy the story. But a copout ending - just to end the story? If you have crafter a well-written story to trap yourself in a corner, you better be able to craft a way out of that corner that doesn't mean a helicopter suddenly flies over for no reason and drops you a rope.

  8. A let down feeling at the end is just like a movie with a bad ending.
    Well said, Diane.
    I follow what I was told when judging contests...if the first three pages haven't hooked you, you can stop reading.
    To give the entries full credit I would grit my teeth and read all the submissions through to the end but that was difficult to do with some!



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