#5Books: The Perils of Reviewing Different Genres

#5Books for the week ending 16 April 2017

I’ve been making a concerted effort to broaden my horizons and genres when it comes to my reading, and more and more I find myself straying into women’s fiction — or … is there another descriptor I’m missing for the books like this that I’ve been reading.

Some I like and some I’m ambivalent about, like The Missing Pieces of Us. I like my angst and I like my secrets and lies — you might have picked that up here and there and everywhere in my blog. Heh. I felt a wee bit that I wasn’t appreciating it properly for what it was… which is when read this: if it’s not a HEA or a HFN then it’s not romance.

So this article makes the point that a romance without a HEA or HFN (Happily For Now) isn’t a romance. It’s like having a mystery without the mystery. Which kind of made me rethink my review of The Missing Pieces of Us. I still maintain that there is missed potential there, but I’m also speaking as someone who likes their angst before we get to a HEA Or HFN — and this isn’t a genre that deals in angst a whole lot. So do I mark it down if it doesn’t have the angst? Or maybe, I’m still navigating this new genre and I will probably recognise the type of book that gives me the shot of angst I need.

So my resolution? Be a little more open-minded with the books I read, especially if they’re a new genre I’m trying. To understand the genre at least, you have to understand the tropes. And that’s part of the point of reading new genres: learning new tropes.

How do you do it? Reviewing new genres? What do you include and how do your usual genres affect your reviews? Or am I overthinking this?

But for this week, at least…I have, yes another YA novel about the internet and all the dangers of it — I think I am definitely getting a type when it comes to YA these days. Not complaining though, because the books are diverse takes on the whole plot.

The Takedown

Kyla is the popular, perfect student. And then she’s not when someone fakes a video of her and her English teacher having sex. Which kind of affects her chances of everything, including getting into university. So Kyla takes charge, and starts trying to get the video off the internet and figuring out who did this to her. But what’s curious about this is the setting — a future Brooklyn where privacy is a luxury AND… how does tech turn against you? Because that line is a killer way to end a blurb.

What happens when the Pope and the Dalai Lama take a vacation? This:

The Delight of Being Ordinary

This is like the craziest and fun road trip ever: the Pope and the Dalai Lama escape the Vatican and head off across Italy to experience it as ordinary people. They’re accompanied by the Pope’s cousin, his estranged wife and a hairdresser, because that’s how they roll. How hilarious does this sound?!

And then we have a feminist fantasy based on Snow White, with some seriously good characterisation, I think.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass 

This is the story of Mina and Lynet, separated by years between them and magic. Mina’s father replaces her heart with one made of glass — yes, he’s a vicious magician father and not kind (to say the least). When she sees the king of Whitespring Castle, she decides that she’s going to marry him and finally feel love. But with that plan comes her being a stepmother. And that means Lynet.

Lynet discovers a magician (Mina’s father?) created her out of snow in her mother’s image and on her father’s orders. But all Lynet wants to be? Is like Mina. Except, you know, when her father makes her a Queen of the southern territories in their lands, and taking that from Mina, things get frosty. So Lynet has to decide what to do — does she win back Mina, the only mother she’s ever head? Or defeat her?

Is there any middle ground for mother and daughter? Because that’s who they are. This is going to be vicious if those are her choices.

As much as I am trying to change things around in terms of my reading, I am still the same in some ways:

Crime Song

This is the second in a series, so it’s entirely doable getting into this now. Frank Marr is a former detective and now PI, who has a drug habit. This particular case begins when he’s trying to find the perfect drug dealer to steal from for his fix, and takes an entirely different turn when he finds out he’s been burgled and his gun has been stolen. And the guy he robbed? Is found murdered, he realises that the two are related. Is he being framed? Why? And who has been watching him to do all this? Frank though is what grabs me here — he’s an addict and hiding it successfully by all accounts. How did he come to be this person?

And last, how does an act of kindness chance Eleanor Oliphant?

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor’s life is fine. Just fine. It’s not living but it’s just the way she likes it… and then an act of kindness changes everything. How? Why? I need to know, because this is a blurb that tells you nothing but that things are going to change for her, and that’s such a loaded word isn’t it? And well, sometimes when life is too routine don’t you find yourself wishing something did change?

Alright, what are you looking forward to this week? And what do you include in reviews outside your normal genres?


  • Silvia says:

    I approach every book the same way, so I don’t think new genres affect my reviews in a particular way. I’m always honest and I treat my reads equally, but of course there are always those that work better than others in the end, and genres I end up enjoying the most (we all have a fave cup of tea). However, I’m very open-minded and I do like to challenge myself with something new from time to time—there’s an example of that in the review I posted today.
    Bottom line, you can’t know for sure if you like or dislike something after you tried it, so give it a go and see where it goes 😉

    • Verushka says:

      That’s true, if you do approach it the same way it can be a great way to approach review. I guess what I should have said better was that I was afraid I was disliking the very things that make a (new, for me) genre the things others like it for, if that makes sense. I was afraid I was being too… closeminded. I do that sometimes 🙂

      • Silvia says:

        And to make perfect sense, my bottom line should have said ‘until you try it‘, LOL
        I get it, though, and the best thing we can all do is always trying to be as open-minded as possible, but also never worry about disliking what people think makes a genre so great/special. Definitely do not overthink when you grab something new. If it (the genre) works, fine, if it doesn’t . . . C’est la vie 🙂

        • Verushka says:

          LOL, I do need to stop overthinking it, don’t I? I didn’t want to talk myself out of a genre without giving it a proper chance, I think.

  • I am a huge women’s fiction fan 🙂 I like to try new genres but it is hard to break from my favorites. The Takedown sounds awesome!!

  • Angela says:

    I’ve been trying to branch out and read different genres lately, too. It doesn’t really affect the way I review them, except for when I review mysteries/thrillers. Sometimes it’s hard to review those without giving too much away – I have to be creative in how I talk about certain aspects of the book!

    • Verushka says:

      Sometimes it’s hard not to give away things with mysteries, IA! I tend to veer towards atmosphere and characterisation instead in those cases.

  • I love reading all sorts of genres but find I read science fiction (which I’m trying to fix) and romance the least of all. I like chick lit from time to time but don’t read what I consider strictly romance (although I’m reading one now but it features a cute dog so no real surprise). I’m really interested in reading Girls Made of Snow and Glass and have seen it a couple of places this week.

    • Verushka says:

      I used to love LOVE scifi, but I fell out of love with it along the way when I saw urban fantasy and fell in love with that instead. Romance I am trying to figure out my way around. Some mysteries have more romance than usual and I find myself liking them, but not a straihgtforward romance novel, not yet.

  • Hmm… I don’t think I approach them differently. I read from most genres and their sub-genres all the time. Well, actually, maybe I do approach some differently. Because I may not review a dark romance the same as I do a clean YA contemp. Idk, now you have me thinking …. lol

  • Lily says:

    I tend to keep in mind what I am reading. If I want a thriller I’ll read a thriller. If I want a HEA I’ll look for romances specifically in that. Not all romances end in HEA, but If I wanted that than I’d need to do a bit of research. You’ll find that you will not find too much angst in woman’s fiction or romance. It does happen, but if it’s something you knew was going to happen with every book, I’d say NA would prob be a hit with that XD. I like my romances to have build up and not have stupid people.

    What do I expect from books when I go into them as someone who reads multiple genres? Great character development, characters that don’t annoying the living poop out of me, and for the ending to make sense. If it’s a thriller and it has romance, that’s a bonus. If it doesn’t, I don’t mark it down for that, I take it as it is. Would it be nice? always, but not necessary that is not what I read it for. If a thriller has a stupid reckless female lead, or a romance, or a historical fiction or whatever, yeah I’d mark it down. I never go into books saying I want a reckless idiot for a MC. heh

    • Lily says:

      I could be wrong. There might be more angst in women’s fiction than I realized? and somehow have not stumbled upon them yet.

    • Verushka says:

      I’m trying to train myself to take things as is and not stress if it’s not to my liking I think. I’ve been thinking about earlier reviews of different books and wondering exactly that — that I should have taken those plots as is. That’s what promoted all this in part lol

  • I think I’m fairly consistent in my review approach regardless of what genre I’m reading and I definitely like to explore different ones. I just tend to stick with an honest discussion about what I liked and didn’t like. If I consistently start to have more dislikes than likes in books of a certain genre, then at a certain point, I’ll just decide that genre probably isn’t for me and will move on to another one.

    And side note, I totally need to read The Delight of Being Ordinary. That just sounds like a fantastic and fun read!

    • Verushka says:

      I think my fear is that sometimes I find myself too closeminded about what I like and don’t like, so when I read a book outside my genre, I make an effort to see things differently than I usually would. i just wondered if everyone else was thinking about them the same way 🙂

  • I just got my hands on a copy of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and am really looking forward to it. It sounds like such an interesting read. I will have to check out the other books that made your list.

  • sam says:

    This is really interesting to me, because I follow a bunch of bloggers, and I can tell which way they lean genre-wise. I consider myself a contemporary reader, and I am particular to contemporary romance. Therefore, I feel like I am not as demanding of the author with SFF books. If they give me a good story with great characters, I can love the book. Whereas, the hardcore SFF readers will look for all those other things, like world building, and they will find all the holes, and what not. I am trying to read outside of contemporary, but I will be happy when my co-bloggers have more time and can review some books, because they are way better with SFF than I am.
    Sam @ WLABB

    • Verushka says:

      That’s interesting — I was thinking I am being too demanding — or rather too set in my expectations of a book in a new genre and I kept forgetting that those genres are different. … it’s also possible I read too much angst! 🙂

  • I also like angst before the HEA! But if I review a book in a genre or subgenre I’m not as familiar with, I’ll usually just say that in my review. Other than that, I don’t give it much thought. I think you might be overthinking a little. Just talk about your thoughts on the book and the review will still be helpful whether you know the common tropes or not 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      I think I went through a selection of contemporary books and came away thinking they could’ve been better but when I got to reading something else entirely, it sparked me thinking about these books and whether I’d been unfair to them wrt to my expectations.

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