Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Word Count Wednesday & Do You Think There Should Be Book Guides?

So my word count is zero again.  But I thought about it more this week.  I think that's progress.  Or at least I'm calling it progress.

I've been reading a lot of books instead of writing. (I know, I know, but maybe it will inspire my muse to come back or something.)  But I've been reading historical fiction to be exact.  And some books are definitely better than others.  There are some I wish I hadn't paid for and that could come with a warning or rating of some kind.  You know, like on IMDb there's a parental guide that says what kind of violence, language, and sex scenes are in a movie, that's what I want to find for books.  I know there's some sites out there for YA and kids books, but I sort of wish there was something out there for adult books as well.

Case in point:  I read a book that had great reviews on Amazon (remind me to take all of those reviews with a grain of salt from now on) and it also had the recommendation of a few friends who'd read it and rated it on Goodreads.  I thought I was pretty safe buying it, and it was on sale, so I did.

The first twenty pages were actually pretty good.  I was turning each page, anxious to see what happens.  Then the heroine, who is supposedly a proper and innocent girl in Regency England, goes into a man's bedroom, stares at his bare chest, then when he awakens and seems shocked to find her in his room, she goes over and kisses him.  And if you've read regencies before, you know this is a big no-no.  Of course things escalate from there and several other implausible things happen, but the book degenerates into mindless sex scenes about every other page.  Like, scenes that don't even make sense, that don't contribute to the characters or the plot, and are just there to . . . annoy me? Sell books?  Show that the book has no real plot so it needs something to fill the pages?  It reduced the main characters to one-dimensional cardboard types and the story ended up just making me shake my head and think, really?  REALLY? No rhyme or reason to it at all.

I was so disappointed and could not imagine how I'd spent good money for a book like that.  And it's not the first time I've been disappointed.  I wish there was some way to have a book guide that said something like:

Violence: None
Language: Some
Sex Scenes: About 35 or so
Plot Cliches: About Seven.  Maybe More.
True to Setting (Regency or otherwise): On a scale of 1-10 about 3
Character Depth: On a scale of 1-10 about a 1. Maybe a 0
Chance you should spend money on this book:  0

I know, I know, people's tastes are different, but really, just some sort of guide would be nice sometimes.

What do you think?  Guides like Goodreads and Amazon reviews have to be enough?  Guides would be too subjective to be helpful?  Smacks too much of censorship?


Debra Allen Erfert said...

This is why I rely so heavily on book reviews--from people I respect and with values that are similar to my own. I don't take the chance anymore buying "suggested" books off Amazon, especially when the front covers have bare-chested men and women with torn or very low-cut bodices. Those are little clues to what the stories may hold. Since I read my first LDS romance, I can't stomach what society deem acceptable in romances. I really do wish there was a rating system to book similar to what the theater has with movies. I don't think that will happen, at least mandatory. We, as reviewers can warn readers, just like you did with this "unnamed" book.

I read four regency books in the last four days. Sarah Eden's books are clean and romantic, and I love that these four books were all "related" with characters in common.

Since I was very busy reading, I didn't get anything written, and my word count is ZERO!

Now to take down my Christmas decorations (the last ones on our block).

Sonia said...

I have wished this for many years, actually. When I rate something on Goodreads, if it is bad then I am sure to post why (graphic sex, language, etc). Maybe if enough of us start asking, it will happen. (Just not good enough myself to do it alone.)

C. Michelle Jefferies said...

Even if the "rating" didn't include things that we all look at objectively. (plot character development) There could be a "sex, suggestive, violence, vulgarity, cussing" rating. I actually had somone ask my mom why Deseret Book carried my book because of the # of "killed" in it. I guess some one somewhere is going to be more sensitive than some one else. Sigh!

M. R. Buttars said...

Man, do I wish there was a book rating system. I read, and write, mostly YA, but that genre isn't even safe anymore. It is appalling what people think is appropriate for teenagers to read. I read one book recently that I was sure had to be an adult book, but accidentally put in as YA.
This book received:
Violence: Mild
Language: Foul
Sex Scenes: Every five pages (No actual sex, but plenty of innuendos, and almost encounters that were far too explicit. Plus the dude never seems to wear a shirt, ever!)
Plot Cliches: 4-5
True to setting: 7
Character Depth: 2
Too buy or not: Not
I think that may be my new formula for reviews on goodreads. ;)

Word count: I'm editing, so a little hard to track at the moment.

Melanie Goldmund said...

Do I think there should be book guides? Well, they'd be nice, but on the whole, I think they'd probably be too subjective to be helpful.

And if there were such guides, you can just bet there'd be people out there saying, "What? Sex scenes only come up every five pages? That's not enough -- next!"

As for my own experiences, I usually stick to historical mysteries, where the protagonists are too busy finding out whodunnit to actually be doing anything themselves. But then, I've never really liked romances anyway.

I recently started a YA book that could probably be best described as the YA version of paranormal romance, but I was hoping for more paranormal and less romance, or teen love, or whatever you'd call it. Unfortunately for me, it was the other way around. I got bored halfway through and gave up. But there's a girl in my ward who would absolutely love that kind of thing, and I was so kind to lend her the book on Sunday. So ... everybody's different!

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Debra, I can't wait to read Sarah's new regency. It looks so good. :)

Sonia, I think I'm going to follow your example. It's a good idea to do that!

Michelle, that's what I'm afraid of, too. Everything is subjective.

M.R. It always stuns me, too, when I see what's in YA these days. Glad I'm not the only one.

Melanie, you're probably right. *deep sigh*