Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Plodding through the To-Read Pile Without a Hook

What makes a book hook you? I'll be darned if I know. I'm one of those readers who likes to get lost in another writer's world ... whether it's set in the past, present, or future. I buy several books a week in hopes that one of them will keep me reading until 2 AM. Many purchases go on the trade pile after just a few pages or chapters beyond the opening that had intrigued me.

Just went through the second part of a what-turned-out-to-be a minor health crisis -- my kidney which seems to be okay but hospitals still freak me out. The biggest effect of the experience seems to have been in my head. I haven't be able to concentrate on much of anything. I haven't even been doing the social media efficiently. Got the first 1000 word of the introduction of my new short story done in the time it'd usually take me to finish the first draft. Did managed to get through seven new books in the past two weeks. Plus, I reread a couple of my favorites which I won't count.

Seven book in two weeks? How did I do that?
Well, I skimmed, mostly.
I'd start out with great hopes, be sort of interested, but the books
 didn't hook me enough to pull me under.
Why?
Let's discuss what pulled me out of a book rather than what I envied.

I had great hopes for Stacia Kane's Sacrificial Magic. She has a freshly conceived world of after the Church of Real Truth took over and controlled the magic disrupting people's lives. Within that world, Kane sets up a nice convoluted mystery involving ghosts. She even has some interesting secondary characters. One -- named Terrible who played the love interest -- kept me skimming, even though I knew, in spite of his suspicions, the MC and he would be together in the end. 

So, why did I end up skimming the book? Kane made up a dialect that my dyslexia found very hard to understand even though I figured out the linguistic rules. It may have been based on a local English dialect, but every time my eyes hit the dialog, I got bounced out of the story.

Devoured Charlaine Harris' Dead Reckoning. It was an adequate read with all the main-stay characters walking through the slight plot. Think it would have been better served as a novella.

G. A. Henty's The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades showed its age with its ponderous telling. I picked up a used reprint of his 1891 book, Winning His Spurs.

Sometimes, I'm a glutton for punishment. I read Thomas Dixon Jr.'s 1902 book, The Leopard's Spots. It focused on the Southern viewpoint of the aftermath of the Civil War and dripped with more sentimentality than Thackeray. The plot flow didn't even reach a ponderous pace, though some of the plot points were interesting. -- Again, too many points reiterated and said again.

I'll close this off with Trenton Lee Stewart's The Mysterious Benedict Society. I know the series is on the New York Times best seller list, but I found the plot predictable. The characters were also cliches. 

Cliched plots and characters pretty much sums up the other books I read. 


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