All Reading is Subjective

I mentioned a week or so ago that I was judging another contest. This contest was for published books. A few weeks ago, I received four books in the mail.

They were all historical romance novels.

3 were by NYT Best Selling Authors--I recognized all these authors, in fact, I'd previously read books by all three of these authors
1 author had only published 3 books--I didn't know this author

3 were single title length novels--these books are long--around 90,000 - 110,000 words
1 book was a Harlequin Historical (HQH)--75,000 words max.--Harlequin Historical series release 6 books a month.

2 stories took place in Regency England
1 story took place in Scotland, post-Battle of Culloden
1 story took place in Texas--post Civil War

2 of the NYT Best Selling author books were total duds -- and a totally forgettable waste of my time
1 NYT Best Selling book had 4 romances intertwined within one story --  WOW!

Those are a few stats about these books, but I have a few observations I want to make.

  • Just because an author is a New York Times Best Selling author, it doesn't mean that all the author's books are excellent. It just means they sell a lot of books, which puts them on the list.
  • Sometimes a longer word count doesn't mean a more exciting book. It can mean that the author dithers around about nonsense for far too many pages.
  • Don't assume that if you've never heard of the author before that the book can't be good
  • Don't assume that a Harlequin Series book isn't as good as a single title novel--sometimes they are better because they have to be written more tightly, which increases the pacing.
  • Because I love or hate a story, it doesn't mean you will have the same reaction.
Though I won't reveal the two dud books, I will mention the two stories that really worked for me. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the Scottish warrior looks like this guy!


Karen Duvall said...

Oh, I LOVE Jodi Thomas. I met her for the first time at a conference last September. She gave a wonderful talk that was enlightening and extremely entertaining. She's a funny lady. :) I have her TEXAS RAIN novel.

Margaret Golla said...

Both these books were so much fun to read, Karen! I woke up at 3:30 this morning to finish reading Jodi Thomas's book. Intertwining 4 romances in an exciting well-plotted story deserves recognition. No wonder the woman has a RITA!

Twisted Sister said...

I agree with you, Margaret! I'm judging in the same contest. The one NYT Best Selling book is a drag.
I picked up a 1st time author and it is a WOW! A keeper even though I'm moving!

Margaret Golla said...

I think some of those old-timers need to be upping their game. You can fool your readers some of the time, but if you do it consistantly, they will stop reading your stories. I stopped reading Julia Quinn after her worst book actually GOT a RITA. IMO: That was about as bad as pity sex.

Karen Duvall said...

I kind of blame the editors who don't catch this kind of thing. They may be slacking off because the author is tried and true, and they assume the book is going to be great when it really isn't. Editors need to do a better job of editing.

Margaret Golla said...

I think it can also be because of unrealistic deadlines--authors and editors. When I hear of authors doing major edits in a week, it makes me suspect of the final product.