Monday, March 28, 2011

What I Am Reading: Book Shopping, The Vespertine, and The Goddess Test

What makes you want to read a book? Do covers, blurbs, and recommendations, play a big part? A small part? Do blurbs from well-known authors impact your choice? If the whole world is raving about a book, does that make you want to read it more?

I thought it would be interesting to find out what first entices a reader, so I asked the Paper Hangover crew to share their preferences.

An interesting title will make me pick up a book, a pretty cover will propel to go on, but it's mostly the summary that ultimately decides whether I read/buy a book. I don't read the first few pages before purchasing/borrowing a book, so it's all summary. - Emy
 For my sister, it's the cover and the cover ONLY. For me, Jacket Blurb, recommendation and first chapter. If I like the first chapter I will buy the book. For my daughter, the same as me but throw in a good cover. She doesn't buy ugly books. She said that, not me! - Adrienne
I definitely like a dark, mysterious cover, but I usually always know what books I want when I enter a store based on recommendations. Or sometimes I'll look for favorite authors. - Pam
 For me it's always a combination of things. I'm not an 'absolute' kind of guy. It's almost like dating. Initially, you're attracted by the superficial stuff (interesting cover design, preferred genre) but then you open up a conversation (reading summary and/or first few paragraphs/pages) to help you decide how interested you are.Sometimes you can make an immediate judgment: I am or am not interested in pursuing this further. Other times you're not sure until you spend more quality time together (actually reading the whole damn book or just some of it). I have my turn ons and turn offs like everyone else. But I've also been surprised, both pleasantly and negatively. So, I try not to rely on absolutes. There are none. - Michael

Depends on the mood I'm in. I keep a list on Goodreads of books I've heard good buzz about, or had a friend recommend.  A lot of times, I'll pick a book off that list and that's the only determining factor.  
Other times I'm a little more adventurous.  I like to go into the bookstore with a different kind of list.  Say, I'm looking for a book by a debut author, published within the last 3 years, that I've never heard of before.  (I change my qualifications each time)  From there, I decide based on the jacket copy and cover.  It's a lot of fun to do!  Everyone should try it out.  I've found some of my favorite authors that way. - Holly

Interesting responses! For me, it can be a number of things: a cover might intrigue me enough to read the summary. Or if I already know what the book is about, then the first page will affect whether or not I buy it. Front-cover blurbs by authors (well-known or otherwise) mean almost nothing to me. In fact, I rarely notice them. It all comes down to the actual book.

Case in point, I read two fabulous books this week:

The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell. I saw the gorgeous cover and was instantly intrigued. Then I read the summary (and first page) and could not stop reading! The romance was fantastic. The characters, the settings, and the plot were all brilliantly executed. There were unexpected twists and turns that had me gasping, but the best thing about this book was the author's beautiful writing and her ability to weave paranormal elements into the story seamlessly. If you read YA historical fiction, you want to go grab your copy now!

It’s the summer of 1889, and Amelia van den Broek is new to Baltimore and eager to take in all the pleasures the city has to offer. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset—visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. However, a forbidden romance with Nathaniel, an artist, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own—still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him.
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia’s world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she’s not the seer of dark portents, but the cause.

I also read an ARC of The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter. I'll admit--I didn't love the cover--but the book's name was enough to get me to read the premise. The fact that NYT bestselling author Cassandra Clare blurbed it completely escaped my notice until about five seconds ago.
Every girl who has taken the test has died. Now it's Kate's turn. 
It's always been just Kate and her mom--and now her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall. 
Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld--and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests. 
Kate is sure he's crazy--until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. 
If she fails...
When I read the summary, I was in. And pleasantly surprised. The Goddess Test is one of those books you can't help but read in one sitting. I really enjoyed Kate's voice and could feel her desperation as she fought to keep her mother alive and her heart in check. All this while trying to stay alive herself. The author offers a different take on Greek mythology than what is out there, and if you enjoy a twist on the Hades/Persephone myth, grab your copy April 26, 2011 (Harlequin Teen).

So, how do you pick out your books? I especially love Michael's analogy: picking out books is a lot like dating, and everyone approaches it differently!

PS: Congrats on winning the Bumped/Half-Brother contest, Sophia! Send us your mailing address (paperhangover at gmail dot com).


Marquita Hockaday said...

I agree with pretty much everything you guys stated. I have done at least all of these things when purchasing a new book. Recommendations and book covers are at the top of my list, though. The books you reviewed here sound really cool- especially the one that does a different view on Greek mythology!

Alicia Gregoire said...

I do a little bit of everything when I look for a book. If something's been getting a lot of praise and sounds interesting, I'll read a few pages of it to see if it's really for me. Sometimes I go based off of title, cover, and blurb. The Goddess Test sounds really interesting and I just added that to Goodreads.

Michael L. Martin Jr. said...

I would date both these books. lol That wouldn't be considered cheating though, would it?

Thanks for the recommendations, Hannah.

Holly Dodson said...

I've been hearing such great things about The Vespertine. I'll have to read it soon. :) Thanks for the recommendations!

Racquel Henry said...

For me, it's a combination of things. Sometimes I'll pick a book based on recommendation. Other times, if I'm browsing, I'll read the back cover. If that interests me, I'll read the first page. If the first page sucks me in, I pretty much buy the book. I pay attention to what people say about books and most times I pretty much know what I want. :)

blueeyedadri said...

Blog posts like these are a sure fire way to get someone interested in a book. I will add these to my 'To Be Read' list. Thanks Hannah!

blueeyedadri said...

Saundra Mitchell has a rockin' blog, if anyone is interested...

Sophia Richardson said...

Holy cow, I won! I actually said out loud 'you mean me?' and raced to check there wasn't another Sophia who entered. I love Michael's choosing a book=dating analogy and Holly's random book generating questions sound like a lot of fun! I'm all about the summary and where possible read the first few pages on Amazon to see if the writing holds up to my hopes for the book.

Thanks so much for the contest, I'm so excited to read Bumped you would not even believe.
- Sophia.

Hannah said...

Can't wait to hear what you all think of these books! :)
Michael-- Haha, depends. Your WIPs might have something to say about it.
Adrienne-- Thanks! Just added the link to my post.
Sophia-- Congratulations! :D

Amalia T. said...

Goddess Test is going on my wishlist immediately. Thanks for the heads up about it!

Either the title or the cover have to zing for me to pick the book up and check the back summary. But if the summary doesn't grab me, I put it back and move along!

Sophia the Writer said...

Actually there is another Sophia! But it's probably not me :( I'll write you and find out!