Friday, March 11, 2011

Reading the not-quite blockbuster books

Playing around on GoodReads earlier today (how much do I love GoodReads, by the way?!) and I noticed a feature that allows me to see a list of books I've read and order them by the number of ratings the books have recieved. This is something that I've been thinking a lot about recently - reading books that aren't necessarily the huge blockbusters or the popular books that EVERYONE is raving about.

Sometimes, I'd much rather read reviews of books that I've never heard of than the 20th review of the same book. I'd like to be a blogger who reads the less-than-blockbuster books and also one who supports them. I won't say that I'll stop reading the popular books, just that to balance it out, I'd like to have a look at other books too. Especially when I see so many great books (see below) having so few ratings. I think a lot of book bloggers really focus on new or upcoming books (including me!!), but let's not forget about all the other wonderful books out there!

Here are the books that have 10 or fewer ratings on my GoodReads account. Perhaps another day, I'll do a post on the books with 10-20 ratings!

The Killer's Daughter by Vivian Oldaker - 2 ratings I was lucky enough to have this book sent to me direct from the author. I read it during Anti-Bullying Week last year and really loved it. I think the novel really touches on some interesting subjects, from school bullying to justice. Despite the overly pink cover, I think it is one that would be enjoyed by both male and female readers.

Our main character, Emma, is forced into moving away from her home after allegations that her father was involved in the death of her grandmother. Despite the taunting and bullying that Emma is met with at her new school, she also finds a friend in Bruce. Together, Emma and Bruce travel to Greece in order to gather any information available in order to clear her father's name.

There's a bit of murder-mystery there and some very tense moments, but there's also a very sweet and believeable, burgeoning relationship between Emma and Bruce. Honestly, this book was absolutely lovely to read and I would love it if more book bloggers were behind this book.

Boy Vs. Girl by Na'ima B. Robert - 5 ratings Here's another book that I recieved direct from the author. I'm really glad as well, particularly as I feel it's very important that people from all backgrounds and perspectives are shown within literature - diversity, for me, is very much wanted and needed. And this book, and another book by the same author (From Somalia With Love), gives a voice to teenage Muslims.

In this book, a brother and sister struggle with fitting in, falling in love and peer pressure. But they must also do this under difficult circumstances - how do they balance out the traditionalism of their parents with modern Britain? How does their Muslim faith affect their lives and how they are treated and viewed by those around them?

I really loved the gentleness of this novel. I loved the way in which Ramadan played an importance to the book, giving a peek into the lives of a typical British family. A very sweet and gentle story, it was a really refreshing book to read.

The Dead by David Gatward - 9 ratings I won this book in a competition on Twitter. I hadn't read many YA horror books before it, but I found myself quite drawn into the gruesomeness of The Dead.

I love that it's the first book in a new series of books that won't be drawn out at all (I've already seen the sequel floating about!) and that's so action-packed. There's lots of gory scenes and frightening events that could really appeal to male readers.

Lazarus Stone and his best friend Craig are just two typical teenagers, when one night they learn that the thin veil that separates their world from that which the dead reside will soon burst open and a torrent of angry demons will rip through and cause death and destruction to life as they know it. Lazarus must track down his father and along the way piece together all of the new information he's learnt recently in order to what he can to protect his way of life. I loved the emphasis on how little children (and this can be of any age) really know of their parents.

I thought it a very promising start to a horror series!

Slog's Dad by David Almond - 10 ratings I'd heard absolutely nothing about this book before I picked it up at the library and read it while my boys were playing in the children's section. I admit, it is quite short, and I was finished in less than half an hour. But with text by David Almond and the illustrations by Dave McKean, I felt like it was a book I really couldn't pass up on.

The story itself is quite sweet. There's two boys, Slog and his friend Davie. Davie doesn't believe that people come back after death, but Slog does. In fact, he's convinced that the homeless man he sees in the street is his dad come back to check on him.

The reader is then told the circumstances of the death of Slog's Dad and with Dave McKean's haunting illustrations we can see the effect that it's had on poor Slog and his mother. The hope that still burns brightly within Slog is both sweet and hard to read.


So there we have it. Which books have you read that nobody else seems to have read? How do you feel about these lesser-known books or the focus that bloggers have on the new, popular books? Would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Great post and great list! There are so many wonderful books out there that you don't hear much about. I think the smaller number of Goodreads ratings can sometimes be a case of a book being targeted to a younger age group, though - I don't think there are all that many very young readers on Goodreads. (I may be wrong, but it's the impression I get!)

    I love reading about lesser-known books on people's blogs.

    Thanks for this great post.

  2. Great post, will add The Killer's Daughter to my TBR list.

  3. Great post, and I'm intrigued by a few of the books that you mention.

    I'm finding it hard to strike a balance with my own reading at the moment. I'm very fortunate to be getting some great adult books dropping through my letter box for review, but at times I definitely feel pressured to start on the next one of those. I love being able to mooch in the library and find something random and brilliant - I've found a few of my favourite authors that way, and branched out into new genres by doing this too.

  4. Great post! I want to review less well-known books too.

  5. Luisa - I think it's an interesting point you've raised about a younger age being targeted and these lower rated books! Very interesting to think about.

    Willa - Thank you, I really enjoyed The Killer's Daughter, I hope you do as well.

    Jenni - Oh, tell me about it! I think all of us book bloggers struggle with what to read. I was just saying to someone else that I'd love to go back to a time where I read more spontaneously. As it is now I have a pretty set schedule of which books to read in which order in order to fulfill all of my commitments. When I get a chance though...

    Kulsuma - Thank you! And I think it's definitely something to be aware of..

  6. Great post! I love Goodreads, it has so many awesome features that inspire me to read all kinds of books I would never have heard of otherwise.

  7. Anything with David Almond has got to be awesome!

  8. Thanks very much for mentioning my book and I was so glad you liked it. It's very hard to get noticed in such a huge marketplace.
    I like the sound of "Boy vs Girl" and will now add it to my own TBR list - thanks!

  9. I love Good Reads too,I'm going to have a look at which books I've read that don't have many ratings!I agree it's nice to see reviews of different books and that's one of the things that got me following your blog,I like the variety of styles and range of books and authors you write about :)

  10. Rachel - Thank you. I do think Goodreads is a fun tool to use sometimes :)

    Vivienne - It was pretty good, if a little bit short!

    Vivian - I imagine it must be quite hard to be noticed sometimes!

    Boy vs Girl is very good, different to most of the books I normally read.

    Hayley - What a lovely comment, thank you :)

  11. I read and review quite a few books that aren't covered by many other book bloggers. A lot of those I write about are books that I remember reading about years ago but have only just found copies of, some of them are now out of print. I like doing this as I think it adds a bit of variety to the blogosphere. I could probably do a similar post, if you wouldn't mind me borrowing this wonderful idea!

  12. Julianne - Definitely DO write your own post about it, it wasn't initially MY idea either :) Would love to read about the lesser-known books you've read!


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