Wednesday Witterings

Things I have never heard a reviewer say…

(Bitter ramblings provoked by a severe case of reviewer’s block…)

Like most of us, I read a fair number of book reviews on my travels around the blogosphere, agreeing with some of them and disagreeing with others, which is always a useful reminder of how subjective reading tastes are. Anyone who has read a few of my reviews, for example, will know that I grumble about first person present tense narratives on a regular basis, while recognising that other people enjoy them. But as I was trying desperately to think of something original to say in a recent review, I inadvertently achieved that state of empty-mindedness to which Zen masters have aspired for centuries, and into this vacuum unbidden popped the thought that there are some things I’ve never heard a reviewer say!

After hours (well, five minutes) of intense work aided only by copious supplies of coffee and chocolate cake, here’s my shortlist…

1. The plot was too believable…

2. I wish it had had more bad language in it…

no-foul-language

3. If only it had had a few more sub-plots to pad it out for another couple of hundred pages…

4. I wish the font had been smaller…

tiny font

5. It didn’t have enough descriptions of bodily functions…

6. It would have been better if the detective was an alcoholic…

Photo: drunkard.com
Picture: drunkard.com

7. I hate books written in the third person past tense…

8. I really enjoyed the foRmatting erro    rs

9.

10.

My cake was finished before I could complete 9 and 10, so please help by leaving your suggestions below. Or, in the unlikely event that you have used one of these phrases, tell us when – and why??? 😉

71 thoughts on “Wednesday Witterings

    • 😆 Good one! Though I did recently read a review with a really great line which was something like ‘I wish the serial killer had been more evil…’ It made me laugh even though I knew what the reviewer meant…

    • I know – and everyone complains about them, and authors keep creating them! Haha! Yes, it been a while since I complained about books being too short, that’s for sure… 😉

  1. How can we be expected to believe in a central character who’s male, middle-aged, grumpy, borderline-alcoholic and generally objectionable and yet doesn’t have beautiful women half his age throwing themselves at him?

  2. This gave me a smile. Thanks! 🙂 I hope you find a way out of your reviewer’s rut soon! It must be the time of year; one of my other book blogging friends recently posted about her reading rut.

    I’m not a huge fan of first person present tense narratives either, although I did enjoy The Hunger Games – I like that it’s written in Katniss’s voice.

    • I’m always OK if I either love or hate a book, but when it’s just OK I really struggle to find anything worth saying.

      I’ve read the occasional one that works too (I haven’t read The Hunger Games) but so often the author isn’t very good at it and it sounds clunky, I think.

  3. I wish the author had been far more liberal in their use of cliches

    I wish the author had been far more derivative

    I wish the author had been much more prepared to jump on the bandwagon of whatever everyone else is writing because books about ………… at the moment are HOT

    I wish the author had had a few more vampires/zombies/werewolves in the book!

    (Oh dear, I could go on and on) ………what about,………….I wish this commenter could be more succinct. And could comment less often!

    It’s clearly because i have no chocolate in the fridge, and won’t be near a shop that sells the stuff I like till the weekend

    • Yes, cliche is definitely one of the most appealing things in books, and bandwagons are so great! Where would we be if there was no ‘the next Gone Girl’? Tragically I have seen reviews calling for more vampires though! And I can’t accept your last one at all, I’m afraid! Nobody wants a succinct LF!! We’d worry…

      Bake a cake…

      • Too kind…………what an excellent idea (the cake one) Perhaps (see my later comment), I need to write a book about the savage and brutal murder of a beautiful female zombie, solved by an entire detective team of teetotal werewolves?

        The only problem is, it would ramble on for around 847 pages………………….

  4. Teehee! This gave me a good chuckle, thanks! How about…

    I wish the book was more like 50 Shades Of Grey, we need more stories like that

    Brilliant! Another Lord Of The Rings rip-off…

  5. Too funny! I’m reading The Girl on the Train right now and she could qualify for #6. I can’t believe there are people out there that like first person present tense. I demand to know why! How can a thought be completed in real time?? It just doesn’t happen! *grumble, grumble* (I’m grumbling for you today since you’re having reviewers block… Plus, I believe I’ve had too much coffee.)

    Suggestion for #10: I really wish there could have been killer bees in the novel.

    • Haha! Yes, having seen the reviews for that one, I’ve been avoiding it. One more alcoholic character and I swear I’ll take to drink! I know!! I read one where the narrator told us ‘I have fallen in the river. I am drowning.’ and all I could think was – lucky you were carrying a waterproof notebook and pen then.

      😆 Well, there was a time when I’d have agreed with that, but can’t you imagine the Professor saying exactly that?!?

  6. If only the detective had come into more conflict with his boss and solved the crime by breaking a few laws himself.
    Or…
    I loved the denouement where the unlikeliest suspect revealed his preposterous reasons for killing the victims before taking his own life.

    • Haha! You’ve read those books too, then? Sometimes I actually forget who the good guy is! Oh, for the days of white hats!

      Or – I’m really delighted that the author introduced a new character in the last chapter and made him the murderer!

  7. And here’s another one, from me.oh if only there could have been more tortured, dismembered, savagely and brutally murdered women at the start of this book. You almost never get a crime book where the victim is a bludgeoned and beautiful woman any more……………

  8. brilliant how about the twist at the end having absolutely no bearing on the myriad of clues scattered in the preceding 400+ pages or I’m so pleased that the character’s dialogue sounded nothing like anyone I’ve ever met in real life, this is especially good if one of the characters is in their teens. I also endorse the maverick detective comment already made, we need more of them. I do hope you manage to eat enough chocolate to get that review written soon 🙂

    • Haha! Yes! Those twists! And I love the dialogue one – specially when it’s an Oxford educated author trying to do Cockney! Unfortunately I’m too busy laughing at all these comments to concentrate on a review now…

  9. Loved all your ideas and the comments! How about:

    I do wish I could have spotted the killer more quickly and that there hadn’t been quite so many twists and turns in the book.

    If only the main protagonist (male) had been a little more like Errol Flynn/Harrison Ford/some cowboy or lone ranger out there and shot his way through the enemy lines against impossible odds before thorougly exploding the high-security compound and catching the evil international conspiracy members single-handed, with his bare fists.

    • The comments have been brilliant!

      Haha! Yes – sometimes having to wait all the way to the end to find it whodunit can just make the whole thing too tense!

      😆 The problem is that I’m pretty sure I can think of at least one regular commenter who is now wishing you’d hurry up and write that book! And actually, if you changed the hero to a young Clooney lookalike, you might be able to sell it to me too… 😉

  10. For #3: As you’re probably aware, Tolkien wrote massive histories and appendices for Middle Earth. I’ve heard one person say they were sorry that relevant* bits from the histories weren’t integrated into the main LOTR narrative. I swear this is true. Have no idea how this would have worked… more songs? 😛

    What about a 6A? “It would have been better if *both* detectives were alcoholics.” I’ve been seeing male/female detective pairs lately with silly will they (or won’t they??) tension. If both were alcoholics, this would allow for awkward, drunken hookups between them… something that should clearly happen more often in lieu of all those pesky plot points.

    • 😆 ‘Cos yeah, the three volumes really weren’t long enough! (Actually, I fear BigSister might agree with that sentiment!)

      Hahaha! Yes! But only if one or both characters is married so that they can then spend two hundred pages angsting over it, before losing their partner and children. and spiralling down into drink-sodden despair…

  11. Brilliant! I got much more food for thought from your post than from some of the books I’ve read (or failed to read) recently. One of the joys of aging is that you can give yourself permission to stop reading bad books, and trust your own judgement as to which they are.

    • Yes, I’m getting much more reluctant to struggle on with a book that’s failed to grab me. I still like to give them a good 20% or so to see if they pick up, but that’s about it. Unless they’re truly offensive in which case they get flung at the wall with out delay…

  12. *laughs* Can I have a slice of chocolate cake?

    I don’t think anyone will wish for 5, but 6…I could see myself thinking that. Imagine how great a drunk detective would be! The evil mafia would love a detective like that.

    Umm…I must admit that I love small print, usually… I know it’s odd. But the smaller the book, the better, see.

    And I think 10 should be: Please let’s have more kissing. *gags*

    • Hmm…my chocolate cake? Oh, I suppose so then… since it’s you!

      *hastily prepares list of 20,000 books with drunk detectives for Prof’s TBR*

      Pop back when you’re BUS’s age and tell me if you still feel the same way! It’s a sad fact that the older you get (so they tell me) the further away you have to hold the book to read small print – and eventually you reach the limit of your own arm length…

      *laughs lots* And more dancing!!

      • *pours lots of cherry sauce on it* Thanks!

        *dies* You should have my funeral in a nice church with a knight in the corner, please.

        *laughs* Oh, I’m older than BUS. But I do have a large print Bible…go figure. Not sure why it’s large print. A wonder. Maybe I am old.

        Yes, definitely! And baths.

        • We’d have to book that 1400-seater church to accommodate all the weeping girlies. And yet, oddly, there still won’t be room for Amelia… *carries grudge beyond the grave*

          *wide eyes* You must have incredibly long arms then!!! *thinks of Ben Hur, then King Kong* Mine has tiny print.

          And round butts! *giggles and blushes*

          • You mean the one I go to? *shakes head* Nah, they’ll be glad when I die, I’m sure! *laughing* But what about when she dies? You might forgive her then.

            No! Perish the thought. Not Ben-Hur! They usually do have small print. Well, mine was given as a gift, so…that either means that person thought I needed it, or it’s what he liked. What version do you have?

            Definitely those!

            • Well, it will give them an opportunity to wear dinky black hats admittedly… I don’t suppose it would look good if I splatted her with a blancmange at her own funeral… *wistful face*

              The King James version – can’t stand these modern language versions.

  13. I’ve just noticed you’re reading Howard Jacobson’s J. Be interested to hear what you make of it. And Gordon Ferris, who I haven’t read, oddly enough, though keep.meaning too – so some interesting reviews to look forward to!

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