Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Updates to the Review Policy?

I have three review blogs. One for middle grade, young adult, adult. (That would be Becky's Book Reviews). One for Christian books (for all ages). (That would be Operation Actually Read Bible.) One for children's books: board books, picture books, early readers, chapter books. (That would by Young Readers.) Because I have three blogs, it can be a struggle to balance my reading. You should NOT expect a review a day on each blog. My goal is to review four to six books a week between the three blogs.

Comfort-Zone Genres

Historical Fiction (Adult, YA, MG) -- I love, love, love historical fiction. These can be historical romances, historical fantasies, historical mysteries, or just plain old historical fiction. Some time periods I enjoy more than others. I would say I am *especially* interested in: World War II, World War I, Regency England, Victorian England, Elizabethan England/Tudors. But I enjoy reading outside these time periods too. 

Speculative Fiction: (YA, MG, Adult) I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy. I especially enjoy dystopias and apocalyptic fiction. I also enjoy time travel and alternate realities. Though I don't mind these being plot-driven or action-driven, I am not fond of heavy-handed message-driven novels. Characters remain (for me) the most important thing. And one dimensional characters would need an absolutely amazing oh-so-thrilling premise to "redeem" it.

Realistic Fiction (MG, YA) -- These can range from light comedies to dark tragedies. The "problems" addressed can range from new-school woes to eating disorders or depression. Not every book can be Speak or Thirteen Reasons Why But not every book should be. I am not interested in sports-focused books.

Romance (YA, Adult) -- Typically, I always prefer a "clean" romance to a "smutty" one. There are exceptions to the rule. If I absolutely love and adore an author's style or  characterization, for example, I will read it no matter what. I love, love, love Julia Quinn. I just love the way she tells a story. And so while there are exceptions to the rule (and I'm open to trying new authors), I will probably continue to enjoy Georgette Heyer more than Mary Balogh. There might be a percentage of smut exception. If 96% of the book is "clean" except for a few, brief sentences. Well, I might not be so nitpicky. When it comes to YA literature, I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott. (I would say those are two of my favorite-and-best authors in any genre.) What I'm looking for in a romance is the opportunity to feel giddy.

Classics -- Though I doubt I'll be receiving any classics for review, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read classics. I do. Right now, my "guilty pleasure" is Victorian Literature. I love Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, etc.

Other Genres I'll Read 

Supernatural/Paranormal/Urban Fantasy -- This is not a favorite genre. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and zombies don't thrill me. The more un-Twilight your novel is the better your chances are that I'll give it a try. It's not that I've never liked a book in this genre. It's not that I never read them. It's just that when all is said and done, I prefer other things more. For me, to "love" a book in this genre, it will need to be incredibly well written, clever, original, compelling. And it almost goes without saying, but the characters need to be fully developed. Let's be honest. I might review one or two books from this genre in a three or four year period. I am not really looking for more.

Nonfiction -- Depends almost completely on the subject. Also the author. For example, Russell Freedman or Jim Murphy, I'll read anything you write. My interest in nonfiction has increased, however!

Literary/Contemporary Fiction/Chick Lit -- This isn't a genre I read in regularly--just a handful a year, perhaps. I'm not opposed to this category, it's just not a favorite-and-best of mine. But a great cover, a great review could just persuade me to seek a book or author out.

Mysteries -- I tried my first mystery in 2010, I am looking to read more in this genre. BUT. I think I am more likely to enjoy cozy mysteries than any other "kind" of mystery. I do not want the focus to be on blood and violence. I want to be charmed by the narrator. I want to enjoy watching someone I like solve a crime. For now, the library will probably be my preferred place to find mysteries. I am happy to consider cozy mysteries for review.

Poetry -- I want to like poetry more than I actually do. I try to stay current on poetry for children and young adults. But that's about it.

Short Story Collections -- I have found a few authors that can write really great, amazing short stories. My two favorites would be Ray Bradbury and L.M. Montgomery. But. I'm sure there are others out there for me to discover. Still, this genre is more of a challenge for me than others. Since characters are the MOST important thing to me, it can be difficult to become attached when I'm reading short stories. You have to make me care. And that's not always easy in ten or twelve pages.

Graphic Novels -- I enjoy the occasional graphic novel. Babymouse would probably be my favorite series for younger readers. I enjoy graphic novel classics as well. But I'm still out of my comfort zone when it comes to reading these.

Thriller/Suspense/Horror -- I'm MUCH more likely to pick up paranormal/supernatural than I am thriller/horror. (And that's saying something.) I do not like bloody violence. I do not like action-packed violent adventures. I do not want to be scared.

Don't Bother Trying 

I am NOT interested in self-help or how-to books. I am NOT interested in business, finance, or economics. OR politics.

Restating the BASICS

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

Publishers, authors, etc.:

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!


About format. I am NOT looking for e-books. Nothing against authors who choose to publish primarily/exclusively in this format. But it's not convenient for me to read in this format. Now, with picture books or early readers--maybe I could make an exception. If it's a book that could be read in under ten or fifteen minutes--comfortably. But for the most part, it's going to be a no for e-books.

About publishers. I am open to considering books published independently. That wouldn't be an automatic no for me. There are things that matter to me when I make a decision, but who published it isn't near the top of my list. 

About blog tours, I'm interested in participating in some blog tours some of the time. Life is busy. And some months I've just got too much going on to commit to a blog tour. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate being invited to participate. Just don't expect an automatic yes. It depends on the book, the author, the type of tour, and the time of the tour. (Sometimes I'm interested in the book, but the timing for the tour just doesn't work out for me to participate.)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Shirley said...

Becky, I don't know how you have enough time to read six books per week!! Do you get too many books from authors and publisher that you cannot read them as soon as you'd like?

I'm wondering how I can make those connections as I too have a book blog. Any tips?

or my blog http://shirley-mybookshelf.blogspot.com/

Thanks and Merry Christmas!

Becky said...

Shirley, while I read a good many books per week/per month. I don't read nearly as many as I would "need" to in order to stay caught up with my tbr pile!

It can be overwhelming when you think about it. So I try to just stay in the moment as much as possible. To think about the book I'm reading now, not about all the others.

Jill said...

Please tell me that no one complained that you weren't posting a review a day on any of your blogs! Thanks for all the great reviews - you've never steered me wrong. :-)

readingmom said...

Have you ever read Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes? I was going to search your reviews to see if you'd read it, and then I saw that you don't read many mysteries. This one is different from the usual mysteries--I'm curious what your opinion of it would be.

Unknown said...

Hey, I just discovered your blog, and I'm totally amazed. I too, love reading and I agree with on many of your reviews. I want to start putting reviews on my blog (juschuermann.blogspot.com) but I don't know how; what 'gadgets' or applications to use etc. Could you help me out a bit? Maybe just a little tip. I'd really appreciate it.

Keep going with your blog though, I've discovered many books, which I really wanna read now. I find your reviews very interesting!

Have a fab day, best regards from Germany :) x

Sue @ Kid Lit Reviews. said...

Great site! I love your review policies so much I am thinking of changing some of my own. I especially laughed at your "If you want to steal . . . " with steal marked out. Perfect!

Good luck with your three sites. I think I am going to stop by every now and again, but leaving a comment has never been my strong suit, but I'll try.

di said...

I started following you years ago when I was still in high school. I've been out of the reviewing game for some time, but now that I'm back it's great to see that you are still active and writing great reviews.