Welcome to my new book review blog. By way of introduction, I'm Shelley Lee Riley. In my life, two major passions have influenced the paths I have chosen, the horseracing and publishing industry. Though I no longer train Thoroughbreds, I will never lose my passion for it. As far as reading goes, I will continue until I can no longer make out the words. Thank goodness for audiobooks.
I love to write reviews, not about finding fault, but sharing what I liked and didn't like about the books I've chosen to read. My intent, whenever I've written a review in the past has been to be candid and fair. There's nothing better than sharing a good read with another.
As an avid reader from a very early age, my library card was something I never misplaced. During the summer months, when school was out, my sister and I would walk from our home to the library at least once a week. A round trip of several miles, I carried ten books in my arms, in each direction.
In the beginning, the books I chose had to have a horse within the pages. My Friend Flicka, Black Beauty and Thunderhead among other far less notable books. Nothing made me happier than to turn to chapter one and find a young girl seated in a mudroom pulling off dusty riding boots that reeked with the smell of the stables. I was ready to pull those boots on and be that girl in my imagination. I didn't have a horse of my own until many years later and until that happened the only way I was going to have one was through the pages of those books I chose to read.
Charlotte’s Web, Call of the Wild, Old Yeller and so forth, come to mind as the years passed. I discovered Riki Tiki Tavi, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Old Man and the Sea, Don Quixote, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Of Mice and Men. I could go on and on as the books I picked became more diverse and eclectic.
I discovered horror and science fiction; Steven King, Dean Koontz, Mary Shelley among others. Then there were the romance novels. Sergeanne Golon and the Angélique series. The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Valley of the Doll’s by Jacqueline Susann. Not A Penny More Not A Penny Less by Jeffrey Archer. Lonesome Dove and The Bridges of Madison County by Larry McMurtry. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I could walk through decades of my reading memories right up to today. But I won’t.
As the decades passed, my hunger for good stories continued unabated, but there was a growing intolerance for bad writing. When great books like Lonesome Dove and The Lord of the Rings came to an end, I felt a real sense of loss that these colorful characters would no longer be a part of my life. I was saying goodbye to my friends. I felt real grief for Gus McCrae.
I used to feel, like most young people, that I had all the time in the world and so I would stick with a book to the bitter end. Now as my time grows short, be it counted in years or decades, I have determined I can no longer waste my time on boring books.
Because of this, I have begun to look to reviews for guidance. Well, maybe a wee bit of insight. I don't find reviewers who feel the need to belch out every bit of the storyline, very helpful. Reading the book becomes wholly unnecessary at that point. Admittedly it would save time if I read a synopsis for every story that piqued my interest.Just think how many books I could finish before my time is up? But where's the fun in that?
What I look for in a review, besides the obvious, like the author's name, the title of the book, the genre, and the theme is that the review itself needs to be short. An honest and unbiased opinion from the reviewer about what kept them reading to the end. Did they love it, like it, hate it or find it just okay? Would they recommend it? Even if they didn't love it?
For instance, I read a fantasy series where the author fat shamed the female protagonist relentlessly. It was so egregious that it felt like a societal commentary couched within the storyline. An accurate pitch line for this story would have been; Can a glutinous, self-hating fatty change her ways in time to earn the respect of her people and save the kingdom?
I know that reviews are subjective. Not everyone will agree with me, nor should they. We don't all have the same taste. I write reviews as a way to share, especially the books that I find so good I just can't keep it to myself. But that doesn't mean there aren't many books well worth reading though not necessarily destined to become literary giants. I read to be entertained.
I freely acknowledge that writing a book is hard work. There are plenty of reviewers out there that are more than happy to post overly critical reviews. I'm not one of them. But then again there might be times when I can't resist either. Like the self-image, assassin that I mentioned. I got pretty worked up over that one. If someone finds a burning need to call me out, please feel free. Critiques are welcome. Personal attacks hurt, however.
As of yet, I haven't determined how often I will be posting new reviews. So try to stop by every so often, the posts will name the title of the book I am reviewing. I'll post one or two older reviews every so often. Also, if you’re curious, there are some interesting archived posts on my horseracing blog. Casuallieskentuckyderby.blogspot.com
Thank you for coming by,
Shelley Lee Riley