Friday, May 01, 2009

Free stuff is fun!

I've not won many prizes via random competitions before, so this was a big deal for me. Being a Waterstone's Cardholder, I rarely receive a parcel from them without knowing in advance, so I was surprised one morning, coming back from an all-nighter, to get a fairly hefty white envelope.

Inside was a letter informing me that I'd won an unproofed edition of Martyr by Rory Clements to read and would I be so kind as to submit an online review when I'd finished.

First of all, I mentally and physically prepared myself.

I remembered entering the draw for the book, thinking that I wouldn't mind reviewing a light historical murder mystery, a little light reading in bed would be fun. At the same time, I was wondering whether I would be able to be objective about it, as I've not read that many pseudo-historical thrillers before (Phillipa Gregory - I'd better read one of hers after this to compare)

What makes a good read, for me, is something I've never thought about; this might be interesting as an introspective for myself!

Firstly, I guess I like it when a book is easy to get stuck into - ie if the language is not too fancy, sentence construction isn't too long . In other words, how 'readable' it is.

I also like it when the scene/setting is painted naturally - ie descriptions flow from the pages naturally, making it easy to picture the surroundings without feeling as if the author is trying to draw my attention to each and every object present in order to make me believe in the authenticity/accuracy of his writing.

Descriptions of food are a bonus, I personally like it when meals are described in books, besides making me hungry, it helps to keep me in the scene, as it were.

Pacing of the plot would do quite a lot to keep me reading. I found books with slow plotlines very dull to read. This goes also for books with obscure references to events that only become clear when I keep reading. However some books reward persistence when the plot picks up a little way on; I found Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell very hard to get into at first-by the end, I didn't want it to stop.

Books with difficult-to-follow plots are an issue. Most murder mysteries, court-case-based books (John Grisham) are not on my reading list because most of them require a lot of attention to really be able to get the most out of them.

Based on the above, I'm actually quite a superficial reader!

However bearing all that in mind, I enjoyed this particular book, because it ticked all the boxes above. Plus I felt that since I'm not a writer, I shouldn't have been too harsh when I genuinely enjoyed it:-)

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