Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! The girls at The Broke and the Bookish have had me going in circles this week as I tried to work out how I would approach this topic. For starters, I have an insatiable appetite for reading. If you say the word book, I’m interested! For me, it’s not a matter of looking for something to read so much as deciding which of the thousands of books on my TBR continent I’ll pick up next.
Of course, as a book blogger, that’s often dictated by which books are releasing soon, or which blog tour is coming up. So that led me make a very natural tweak to this topic: namely, how do I choose which books I want to review?
* Cover graphics are affiliate links to Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to purchase through these links, but I do get a teensy tiny commission on the sale, which helps defray the costs of maintaining this blog.
There are some authors whose names will have me signing up to review with no more information than a release date. These are the first books to go on my review pile, even as much as a year in advance! At the risk of leaving out people who really should be on this list, here are a list of authors whose new releases automatically get a passport to my TBR country (in no particular order, and names link to the author’s Amazon page):
Ronie Kendig, Pepper Basham, Melissa Tagg, Crystal Walton, Jennifer Rodewald, Nicole Deese, Connilyn Cossette, Susan May Warren, Kristy Cambron, Kara Isaac, Becky Wade, Mesu Andrews, Tessa Afshar, Catherine West, Jocelyn Green, Joanne Bischof, Kristen Heitzmann, Roseanna M. White, . . . um, perhaps I had better stop now! 😊
But seriously, if you’ve ever wonder why book bloggers’ calendars fill up so quickly, now you have your answer. And sad to say, I still have some not-so-new releases from a few of these authors that are crying from neglect! 😭
2. Hooked on the Series
There are some series that are currently on my must-read list, too. Sometimes it’s because I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for something to resolve, and sometimes it’s just because I love revisiting favourite characters. For example:
I’m pretty eclectic in my reading tastes (so long as it’s not erotica or horror or along those lines, I’m likely to give it at least a passing glance), but there are so many books out there that it’s impossible to read even just the new releases in all the genres I enjoy. That said, there are two genres that tend to pique my interest more readily than others: Biblical fiction and historical fiction (particularly where actual historical events/characters have shaped the plot).
I LOVE discovering real history through fiction, even if it’s through the eyes of fictional characters. (And if there’s some romance in the mix, all the better!)
4. Cover Love
It might be touted as a big no-no, but I have to say I’m always judging books by their covers. Of course, it’s probably prevented me from discovering some gems, and there are times when I have been completely surprised by a book whose cover left me feeling blah, but after the author name, the cover tends to be the next thing that either says Pick me! or . . . well . . . not.
Here are a few covers (from authors I haven’t, or hadn’t read before) that shouted Pick me!
Read my review for Leaving Independence.
5. Recommendations and Social Chatter
The next thing that brings a book to my attention is chatter on social media, or lots of my book blogger friends raving about the book. Nothing catches a book-lover’s attention like having everyone else discuss a book or a character they haven’t met yet!
6. Unique Setting or Characters
If a book has something different to offer, that catches my attention too. For example, check out this list of books with unique settings that I came up with for last week’s Top Ten Tuesday post. I also love books with characters that offer something out of the ordinary, like Mike Nappa’s deception specialist, The Raven.
Read my review for The Raven.
I tend to be particularly interested in suspense/thriller novels where the investigator has a specialised area of expertise:
Read my review of When Death Draws Near.
For more about my love affair with crime solvers, check out this Top Ten Tuesday post.
7. Literary Connections
I love books that tip their hat to classic authors, such as:
Read my review for Austen in Austin.
Read my review for Close to You.
Read my review for Can’t Help Falling.
8. Book Blurbs
Even if none of the above have particularly caught my attention, if I haven’t been absolutely turned off by something then the book blurb is my next consideration, particularly if I’m considering a new-to-me author. Sometimes it is only by reading the book blurb that I can find out some of the above information anyway. However, it’s rare for a book blurb to sell me on its own. If I haven’t already decided to read or review a book before I get to the blurb, then the blurb will only confirm whether a book warrants further investigation.
I am a chronic review reader. I ALWAYS read reviews of a novel (or of an author’s previous novels) before deciding to either buy or sign up to review (if possible). In fact, even if I already know I want to review it! In fact, I can get rather distracted reading reviews, and I tend to head to the negative ones first. If the negative reviews aren’t particularly helpful (and they can tip me either way, not just against) then I’ll move up the scale toward the 5 star reviews to work out whether I’m still interested.
Many blogger/reviewers prefer NOT to read other people’s reviews before reading a book. I’m not one of them. 🙂
The biggest factor in my enjoyment of a story is the way it’s written. I love vibrant writing: writing that uses strong verbs, active voice, deep point-of-view, and imagery (without bombarding me with similes and clichés). Writing that shows rather than tells, writing that taps into all the senses, writing that brings a story to life. And that’s why I love reading sample chapters, or if that’s not possible, even the author’s website or blog posts, in order to get a feel for their voice and writing style. It can really make or break a book for me.
If you want some examples of authors who do this for me, refer back to point 1. 🙂
So, there you have it. What sort of things make a book a must-read for you? And do you read reviews before deciding to purchase a book?