Covers, Stories, Teasers, Stars, Grades

What makes a book appealing to you? For that matter, what makes a book appealing to anyone? For her February 3 TGIF feature, GReads asked the question “When you’re browsing Goodreads, the library, or a blogger’s reviews, what grabs your attention to make you want to read it?”

For this blog, that’s a two-part question.

  1. What makes a book appealing to me?
  2. What makes a book ‘feature-worthy’ for the weekly Ebook Review Central?

If books were food, I would be making the old joke about being on the “seafood diet”. The joke was that I “see food and I eat it”. In the case of books, I see books and I want to read them. Not all books, but too awfully darn many.

We all judge books by their covers, but I use it to judge what category the book might be. I see gears and I think “steampunk, cool”, and that goes into the “maybe, yes” column. I see a man in a kilt and think “Highland Scots romance, probably not”.  I have, I will again, but unless they are either paranormal or time travel or something otherwise supernatural, except for Diana Gabaldon, I may be done there for a while.

Spaceships or computer chips means cyberpunk, space opera or science fiction romance; again, count me in. But cover art only suggests, it doesn’t guarantee.

I also go for authors I know or whose series I have started. I don’t read a lot of mysteries per se, but I read a lot of mystery series where I’m neck deep in the series, and I’m invested. Or is that committed?

I also like stories where the author has tried something new, so if the reviewer says they didn’t just love the story, but also that there is something new and interesting going on, I might try the book. Particularly if I trust the reviewer. There are some reviewers whose “mehs” mean more than other reviewers’ 5 star ratings. Everyone has their own style.

But when it comes to Ebook Review Central, I use an entirely different criteria for determining which books get featured. Every Monday ERC features up to three books from the publishing output for the publisher(s) and the month in question. On January 30, the publisher of the week was Samhain Publishing, the month was December 2011. On February 3, the last December 2011 issue will feature Amber Quill, Astraea Press, Liquid Silver Books and Riptide Publishing.

I do look for books where there were a lot of reviews. If a title gets 15 or more reviews, that’s one I’ll definitely feature. At that point, they don’t even all have to be good reviews, although it helps. If something is worth talking about that much, then it’s a title that other readers might want to take a look at. In romance, after all, love and hate are often opposite sides of the same coin.

I also look for the tone of the reviews. When the reviewers are doing more than just giving a story five stars and A+ ratings, when the collective reviewing landscaping is searching for words beyond “everyone must read this NOW!” that’s a sign the book is worth showcasing.

When it comes to the Ebook Review Central, it really doesn’t have anything to do with my reading tastes. I might have read some of the books listed for the week, and I might not. And even if I did, I might not have agreed with the other reviewers. The books that get featured depend on the collective blogosphere.

Of course, sometimes I’ll see how much other reviewers loved a certain book, and I’ll be intrigued. There are also times when I’ll see that no one is reviewing a particular author’s books, and I’ll wonder why no one cared enough about the book to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Which leads back to that question again.  What makes a book appealing to you?

NaNoWriMo no, NaBloPoMo, yes!

Everyone has heard of NaNoWriMo. It’s the month where people all over the United States commit to writing so many words per day, in order to kick-start themselves into writing their novel. It’s like a global support group for novelists. NaNoWriMo is a not-quite abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. But I’m pretty sure it’s expanded way beyond the U.S. boundaries, at least unofficially.

NaNoWriMo is held in November every year. And it’s a really neat idea. But I’m not writing a novel. I write pretty much every day, but so far, there isn’t a novel screaming to come out of me. Someday, maybe, but not today.

Today, I’m here to talk about NaBloPoMo, which does not quite roll as trippingly over the tongue as NaNoWriMo, but is way more relevant for me.

NaBloPoMo is National Blog Posting Month, and is organized by the terrific ladies at BlogHer. Signing up for NaBloPoMo is a commitment to post something to my blog every single day for an entire month. The absolutely fantastic thing about NaBloPoMo is that it’s NaBloPoMo every month!

Yes, I’m committed. I’ve signed up to be one of the Book Bloggers on NaBloPoMo for the month of February. The complete list of February bloggers is here on BlogHer, so please take a peek at my fellow inmates. If you are interested in joining us, the blogroll will remain open until February 5.

Because my primary focus lies someplace in the ebook and book world, defined as broadly as possible to include libraries and bookstores, I always have something to write about because NetGalley kindly provides egalleys for me to review. There is never a lack of material. I run headlong into the “so many books, so little time” conundrum more than anything else.

For participants without that, let’s call it a saving grace, NaBloProMo provides a writing prompt that bloggers can use for inspiration if needed. The February prompt is “RELATIVE”.

My mind went to “relatives” as in family. Not so much to my own family as to families in books. J.D. Robb’s Celebrity in Death is due out at the end of February, and I’m looking forward to slurping it up as soon after midnight as my iPad will process the download. Eve Dallas is an orphan, and as we find out during the course of the series, for damn good reasons. But she does have a family. The family she made, not her birth family. And yet, they are very much her family, and they love each just as much, if not more, than many families. After all, they put their lives on the line for each other every day.

How many series, especially mystery/detective series, do you follow just to keep up with the “family”?


NetGalley Month Recap

October was NetGalley month., hosted by WilowRaven at Red House Books.

As I look back, I’m not sure which is more astonishing, that I knocked 14 NetGalley books out of my review queue, or that there are 34 more in that queue? And is that more, or again? I can never tell.

Also, and I am probably insane to admit this, but if I say I’m going to review something, I review it. Even if it gets archived and I have to either buy it or get it out of the library.

The other truly amazing thing to me is that I wrote something about all 14 books. And that I read another 14 books from other sources and blogged about most of them, too. Book blogging is a full-time job. And this would be why I read in the middle of the night.

Of all the NetGalley books I read in October, my favorite is still Dearly, Departed, by Lia Habel. While I adored The Iron Knight, as the conclusion of the Iron Fey, Julie Kagawa’s book was expected to be excellent. It would have been a surprise, not to mention an extreme disappointment, if it weren’t.

On the other hand, Dearly, Departed was not only original and delightful, it was also a first novel. I love those kind of surprises!

But here’s the entire rogue’s gallery, my month according to NetGalley:

















October is NetGalley month

Net Galley should be labeled an addictive substance for readers. I’m totally serious. A friend used to say that McDonald’s put something into their fries to make them so totally addictive that you can’t even get out of the drive-thru before you start eating them. Net Galley is like that. But with books.

I’ve been using Net Galley since June. See, it even sounds like an addiction!

And now I’m just a little scared. I’ve reviewed 43 books since June. 43! And I have 27 lined up. Except I’ve finished just finished two books and need to get the reviews written.

What is Net Galley? Really? It’s a service where publishers post the electronic galleys of their books for reviewers to pick up for reviewing. It has got to be saving some trees. It’s possibly also contributing to the US Postal Service’s deficit, but that’s a different post. It is easy to “shop” Net Galley for new books I might want to read, then send a request to the publisher. Anywhere from a minute to a month later, I get a response that the galley is available. After a quick download to my iPad, I have a new book to read. All I have to do in return is “sing for my supper”, so to speak. In exchange for the free book, I post my honest review of what I’ve read.

So far, 43 times.

And for those librarians out there, Net Galley publishers love librarians. Posting the review on your library’s website absolutely counts as posting the review.

I’m not just a big Net Galley fan, I’m also a fan of those Booklist and Library Journal webinars on what’s upcoming in this or that. This summer, I went through the Booklist archive of YA webinars, all at once. A whole year’s worth. And do you know what I found? You guessed it. Net Galley! A year ago, all the publishers had print galleys. Six months ago, half had print galleys, and half were on Net Galley. By the time I got to the new webinars, all the publishers were on Net Galley. Net Galley is clearly where it’s at.

So this post is my official declaration that I am participating in Net Galley Month. As far as I am concerned, every month is Net Galley Month. They’re the book blogger’s best friend.

A Post of Bloggers

We seriously need a collective noun for a group of bloggers.  Maybe it should be a post of bloggers? Or a specialty application, a shelf of book bloggers? After all, there’s a term for every other type of conglomeration–a gaggle of geese, an exhaltation of larks, a parliament of owls, an unkindness of ravens. I’ve even seen “a hush of librarians” proposed. That’s  evocative but seriously inaccurate.

This morning at the New England Library Association Conference, four noted YA book bloggers presented an awesome panel, and there certainly was no hush in the room, or anywhere at the NELA Conference. But about those book bloggers…

First of all, I found two terrific new book blogs that I hadn’t heard of before. I say two, because two were already on my list of daily “must reads”.

And one of those two “must reads” was the reason I was willing to attend a panel, any panel, at 8:30 am. I can be bright, or I can be early. I can’t be both at once. But I have read Leila Roy’s Bookshelves of Doom since I found her blog while researching for my YA “creature-feature” table talk for South Carolina, and I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to hear her in person. Her speaker’s “voice” is just as witty as her writing, But it was her reasons for starting her blog that resonated with me as a fellow blogger. The desire to share knowledge, the need to talk about books. The craving to remain part of the book community.

Jennifer Rummel’s “voice”, and her blog, were new to me, but now that I know about her, I’ll be keeping track of her blog, too. Not just because I liked what she had to say about books and reading, but also because her advice about keeping up with her blog was practical and helpful. All those thoughts about sitting in front of a keyboard 4, 5 or 6 days a week are daunting. I’ve been wondering about whether or not to participate in some of the blogging memes, and if so, which and how many. Hearing another librarian blogger discuss the subject, and say how valuable they are, provided a lot of insight. It was good to hear another blogger’s thoughts. And her site at YABookNerd is cool.

Andrea Graham’s blog, 4YA, is more about services to people who serve youth, than it is about books. But it contains some very neat links. And I’m fascinated with the way she markets her services. She also showed us all a really cool site. Pinterest, which is an online pinboard. It doesn’t necessarily have anything whatever to do with libraries, but it looks like a whole lot of fun. And we all need more fun.

Last, but not least, was Josie Leavitt, one of the bloggers at ShelfTalker at Publishers Weekly. I read all the blogs at PW, so I did know about ShelfTalker. Josie’s take on blogging was slightly different, since she blogs from a bookstore rather than a library. She doesn’t so much review books as talk about bookselling in general and the industry as a whole. So not an individual book about angels and werewolves being good or bad, but a teen coming into the store saying, “if I read one more book about an angel and a werewolf I’m going to puke,” or words to that effect.

Josie left all of us with some great advice, something all bloggers should keep in mind. “Never blog when you’ve been drinking.”

Definitely words to blog by.